Ch. 1 Suggested Answers to End of Chapter Questions



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Ch. 1 - Suggested Answers to End of Chapter Questions


Review Questions


  1. Review the Key Questions and Concepts for this chapter on p. 6. What is sustainability and why should we care about it? What are the three principles that nature has used to sustain itself for 3.5 billion years, and how can we use these principles to live more sustainably?

  • Sustainability is the capacity of the earth’s natural systems and human cultural systems to survive, flourish, and adapt to changing environmental conditions indefinitely. It is important that we embrace sustainability to ensure that future generations have access to adequate resources.

  • The three principles are reliance on solar energy, biodiversity, and chemical cycling. These principles entail sustainability insofar as they guarantee that we will value and preserve biodiversity, live with renewable energy, and continue to recycle and reuse the earth’s valuable resources.




  1. Define environment. Distinguish among environmental science, ecology, and environmentalism. Distinguish between an organism and a species. What is an ecosystem? Define natural capital, natural resources , and natural services. Define nutrient cycling and explain why it is important? Describe how we can degrade natural capital and how finding solutions to environmental problems involves making trade-offs. Explain why individuals matter in dealing with the environmental problems we face.

  • The environment is everything around us.

  • Environmental science is an interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with living and nonliving parts of their environment.

  • Ecology is the biological science that studies how organisms, or living things, interact with one another and with their environment.

  • Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life-support systems for all forms of life.

  • Every organism is a member of a certain species: a group of organisms that have distinctive traits and, for sexually reproducing organisms, can mate and produce fertile offspring.

  • An ecosystem is a set of organisms within a defined area or volume interacting with one another and with their environment of nonliving matter and energy.

  • Natural capital—the natural resources and natural services that keep us and other forms of life alive and support our economies.

  • Natural resources are materials and energy in nature that are essential or useful to humans. These resources are often classified as renewable (such as air, water, soil, plants, and wind) or nonrenewable (such as copper, oil, and coal).

  • Natural services are processes in nature such as purification of air and water, which support life and human economies.

  • Nutrient cycling is the circulation of chemicals necessary for life, from the environment (mostly from soil and water) through organisms and back to the environment. This is a vital natural service because without it nutrients would become unavailable to living organisms.

  • We can degrade natural capital by overharvesting, or unsustainably managing resources. Solutions often involve conflicts necessitating trade-offs.

  • Individuals matter in dealing with environmental problems because what we all do on a daily basis has an overall impact.




  1. What is a resource? Distinguish between a perpetual resource and a renewable resource and give an example of each. What is sustainable yield? Define and give two example of a nonrenewable resource. Distinguish between recycling and reuse and give an example of each. What is economic growth? Distinguish between gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita GDP. Distinguish between more-developed countries and less-developed countries and give an example of a high-income, a middle income and a low-income country.

  • Perpetual resources have continual supplies, and renewable resources will be replenished as long as we do not use them too rapidly. Solar energy is perpetual and wood resources are renewable.

  • Sustainable yield is the highest rate at which a resource can be used without indefinitely reducing it’s available supply.

  • Nonrenewable resources are resources that exist in a fixed quantity such as copper or oil.

  • Reuse involves using a resource over and over as in washing a reusing a bottle. Recycling entails collecting materials and processing them into new materials, as in melting discarded aluminum cans to make new aluminum products.

  • Economic growth is the increase in the capacity to provide people with goods and services; an increase in gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Economic growth is usually measured by the percentage of change in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP): the annual market value of all goods and services produced by all firms and organizations, foreign and domestic, operating within a country. Changes in a country’s economic growth per person are measured by per capita GDP: the GDP divided by the country’s total population at midyear. GDP and per capita GDP indicators provide a standardized and useful method for measuring and comparing the economic outputs of nations. The GDP is deliberately designed to measure such outputs without distinguishing between goods and services that are environmentally or socially beneficial and those that are harmful.

  • The United Nations classifies countries as economically developed or developing based primarily on their degree of industrialization and their per capita GDP PPP. Most developed countries are highly industrialized and have a high per capita GDP PPP. Some developing countries are middle- income and moderately developed while others are low-income and least developed. The United States is a high-income country, Brazil is a middle-income country, and Haiti is a low-income country.

  1. Define and give three examples of environmental degradation (natural capital degradation). Define pollution. Distinguish between point source and nonpoint sources of pollution. Distinguish between pollution cleanup (output pollution control) and pollution prevention (input pollution control) and give an example of each. Describe three drawbacks to solutions that rely mostly on pollution cleanup. What is the tragedy of the commons?

  • Natural capital degradation involves using resources at an unsustainable rate. Examples include forests shrinking, topsoil eroding and deserts expanding.

  • Pollution is a presence in the environment that is harmful to the health, survival or activities of humans or other organisms.

  • Point sources have single identifiable sources, whereas nonpoint sources are dispersed.

  • Output control involves cleaning up after the pollutants have been released. And may involve physically removing a pollutant from the environment, while input control involves reducing or eliminating the production of pollutants, which may involve trapping the pollutants before they are released and then properly disposing of them.

  • The drawbacks of cleanup are that it may be a temporary “bandage,” cleanup may involve simply displacing the pollutant to another environment, and it may be too costly to reduce the chemicals to acceptable levels.

  • The tragedy of the commons is environmentally degrading many openly shared renewable resources.




  1. What is an ecological footprint? What is a per capita ecological footprint? Compare the total and per capita ecological footprint s of the United States and China. Use the ecological footprint concept to explain how we are living unsustainably. What is the IPAT model for estimating our environmental impact? Explain how we can use this model to estimate the impacts of the human populations in less-developed countries and more developed countries. Describe the environmental impacts of China’s new affluent consumers. What is an ecological tipping point?

  • Ecological footprint refers to the amount of biologically productive land and water needed to provide the people in a particular country or area with an indefinite supply of renewable resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by such resource use.

  • The per capita ecological footprint is the average ecological footprint of an individual in a given country or area.

  • The total ecological footprint for the United States in millions of hectares is 2810 versus 2050 for China. The U.S. per capita ecological footprint was about 6 times larger than China’s per capita footprint.

  • We are living unsustainably by over extracting resources, and not allowing adequate time for the processes of recycling and regeneration.

  • Impact (I) = Population (P) × Affluence (A) × Technology (T)

  • In less-developed countries, population tends to be a larger issue, while consumption is less of an impact. On the other hand, in more-developed countries, it is consumption that drives up the overall impact, with population being less of an issue. Technologies can either increase or reduce the overall impact in both cases.

  • China’s newly affluent consumers are putting immense pressure on the earth’s potentially renewable natural capital and its nonrenewable resources.

  • An ecological tipping point is a threshold level which causes an often irreversible shift in the behavior of a natural system.




  1. Define culture? Describe three major cultural changes that have occurred since humans were hunter-gatherers. What would a sustainability revolution involve?

  • Culture is the whole of a society’s knowledge, beliefs, technology, and practices, and human cultural changes have had profound effects on the earth.

  • Three major cultural changes have occurred during mankind's history. First was the agricultural revolution when humans learned how to grow and breed plants and animals for food, clothing, and other purposes. Second was the industrial– medical revolution when people invented machines for the large- scale production of goods in factories. This involved learning how to get energy from fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and how to grow large quantities of food in an efficient manner. Finally, in the information– globalization revolution we developed new technologies for gaining rapid access to much more information and resources on a global scale.

  • An environmental, or sustainability, revolution would involve learning how to reduce our ecological footprints and live more sustainability.

  1. Identify four basic causes of the environmental problems that we face today. What is exponential growth? Describe the past, current, and projected exponential growth of the world’s human population. What is affluence? How do Americans, Indians, and the average people in the poorest countries compare in terms of consumption? What are two types of environmental damage resulting from growing affluence? How can affluence help us to solve environmental problems? What is poverty and what are three of its harmful environmental and health effects? Describe the connection between poverty and population growth.

  • Some basic causes of environmental problems are:

    1. Population growth.

    2. Unsustainable resource use

    3. Poverty.

    4. Exclusion of harmful environmental costs from the market prices of goods and services.

  • Exponential growth occurs when a quantity such as the human population increases at a fixed percentage per unit of time.

  • The exponential rate of global population growth has declined some since 1963. Nevertheless, unless death rates rise sharply, there will probably be 9.3 billion of us by 2050 (up from 6.9 in 2010).

  • Affluence is wealth that enables the consumption of large amounts of resources far beyond basic needs.

  • The average American consumes about 30 times as much as the average Indian and 100 times as much as the average person in the world’s poorest countries.

  • Growing affluence results in high levels of consumption and unnecessary waste of resources.

  • Affluence can allow for better education, which can lead people to become more concerned about environmental quality. It also provides money for developing technologies to reduce pollution, environmental degradation, and resource waste.

  • Poverty occurs when people are unable to meet their basic needs for adequate food, water, shelter, health, and education.

  • Poverty has a number of harmful environmental and health effects. People who are desperate for short- term survival people deplete and degrade forests, soil, grasslands, fisheries, and wildlife, at an ever- increasing rate. They do not have the luxury of worrying about long- term environmental quality or sustainability. Other problems include malnutrition and lack of access to clean drinking water.

  • Poverty can drive population growth, as people in poor regions often have more children to ensure that they will have assistance with daily work as well as someone to care for them in old age.




  1. Explain how excluding from the prices of goods and services the harmful environmental costs of producing them affects the environmental problems we face. What is the connection between government subsidies, resource use, and environmental degradation? What is an environmental worldview? What are environmental ethics? Distinguish among the planetary management, stewardship, and environmental wisdom worldviews

  • Excluding the harmful environmental costs in the prices of goods and services can hurt the environment because the consumer does not realize the value being lost.

  • Environmentally harmful subsidies encourage the depletion and degradation of natural capital.

  • Environmental worldview is a set of assumptions and values reflecting how you think the world works and what you think your role in the world should be.

  • Environmental ethics are beliefs about what is right and wrong with how we treat the environment.

  • World view:

    • The planetary management worldview holds that we are separate from and in charge of nature, that nature exists mainly to meet our needs and increasing wants, and that we can use our ingenuity and technology to manage the earth’s life-support systems, mostly for our benefit, indefinitely.

    • The stewardship worldview holds that we can and should manage the earth for our benefit, but that we have an ethical responsibility to be caring and responsible managers, or stewards, of the earth. It says we should encourage environmentally beneficial forms of economic growth and development and discourage environmentally harmful forms.

    • The environmental wisdom worldview holds that we are part of, and dependent on, nature and that nature exists for all species, not just for us.




  1. Describe an environmentally sustainable society. What is natural income? What is social capital? Describe the environmental transformation of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

  • An environmentally sustainable society is one that meets the current and future basic resource needs of its people in a just and equitable manner without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs.

  • Natural income is the renewable resources such as plants, animals, and soil provided by the earth’s natural capital.

  • Building social capital involves getting people with different views and values to talk and listen to one another, to find common ground based on understanding and trust, and to work together to solve environmental and other problems facing our societies.

  • Chattanooga’s story shows that a key to finding solutions to environmental problems is to recognize that most social change results from individual actions and individuals acting together (using social capital ) to bring about change through bottom- up grassroots action.




  1. How long do some scientists estimate that we have to make a shift to more environmentally sustainable economies and lifestyles? Based on the three principles of sustainability, what are the three best ways to make such a transition as summarized in this chapter’s three big ideas? Explain how we can use these three principles to get us closer to the vision of a sustainable earth described in the Core Case Study that opens this chapter.

  • Many scientists argue that we must make changes now, as many would take as long as 50 years to take effect.

  • Rely more on renewable energy, protect biodiversity, and help to sustain the earth’s natural chemical cycles by reducing the production of wastes and pollution.

  • These strategies can help to reduce our ecological footprints, sustain the earth’s natural capital, and make a transition to more sustainable lifestyles and economies.


Critical Thinking
The following are examples of the material that should be contained in possible student answers to the end of chapter Critical Thinking questions. They represent only a summary overview and serve to highlight the core concepts that are addressed in the text. It should be anticipated that the students will provide more in-depth and detailed responses to the questions depending on an individual instructor’s stated expectations.


  1. Do you think that you are living unsustainably? Explain. If so, what are the three most environmentally unsustainable components of your lifestyle? List two ways in which you could apply each of the three principles of sustainability (Figure 1-3) to making your lifestyle more environmentally sustainable.

Answers may vary. Some examples include reducing energy consumption and relying more heavily on solar energy, reducing resource use and recycling when possible, and advocating a reduction in population growth.




  1. Do you believe a vision such as the one described in the Core Case Study that opens this chapter is possible? Why or why not? What, if anything, do you believe will be different from that vision? Explain. If your vision of what it will be like in 2060 is sharply different from that in the Core Case Study, write a description of your vision. Compare your answers to this question with those of your classmates.



Student answers will very based upon perspective.


  1. For each of the following actions, state one or more of the four scientific principles of sustainability (Figure 1-17) that are involved: (a) recycling soda cans; (b) using a rake instead of a leaf blower; (c) walking or bicycling to class instead of driving; (d) taking your own reusable bags to the grocery store to carry your purchases home; (e) volunteering to help restore a prairie; and (f) lobbying elected officials to require that 20% of your country’s electricity be produced by renewable wind power by 2020.

(a) Nutrient Recycling/Reliance on Solar Energy: In nature there is no waste, so recycling the aluminum soda can mimics nutrient recycling. As less energy is used in the aluminum recycling process than starting from raw materials such as bauxite, we are less dependent on nonrenewable energy sources.
(b) Reliance on Solar Energy: As no electrical or gasoline energy is expended by using the rake, we are less dependent on nonrenewable energy sources such as coal to generate the electricity to power the leaf blower.

(c) Reliance on Solar Energy/Biodiversity: By not using gasoline to drive the car, you are relying more on renewable rather than nonrenewable energy and positively impacting biodiversity in areas where oil drilling is having harmful ecological effects.


(d) Nutrient Recycling/Biodiversity/Reliance on Solar Energy: If you use a reusable grocery bag made from organically grown cotton, you will be relying on solar energy rather than nonrenewable energy sources that may have been used to make a plastic bag, which may or may not be recyclable; using paper bags can have an effect on the biodiversity of forest lands.

(e) Biodiversity/Nutrient Recycling: By restoring habitat you will be enhancing biodiversity and also helping the future recycling of nutrients from the plantings.


(f) Reliance on Solar Energy/Biodiversity: Promoting the use of renewable energy sources complies with the principle of relying on solar energy, and less reliance on nonrenewable sources such as coal and oil that adversely affect biodiversity in the extraction of these materials.

  1. Explain why you agree or disagree with the following propositions: a. Stabilizing population is not desirable because without more consumers, economic growth would stop. b. The world will never run out of resources because we can use technology to find substitutes and to help us reduce resource waste.

    Student answers will vary depending on their viewpoint but could include:




a. Disagree: The earth has a finite amount of resources. With ever-increasing numbers of consumers the economy may eventually max out as these resources are diminished and the costs skyrocket. This would lead to greater disparity between rich and poor people and end up promoting increased poverty rather than increased wealth.
b. Agree: Companies like 3M have reduced their waste by selling their generated waste products to other companies that need the materials for the manufacturing processes for goods that they produce. With an increase in such technology in the future, more materials have the potential to be reused and recycled indefinitely.

  1. What do you think when you read that: (a) the average American consumes about 30 times more resources than the average citizen of India, and (b) human activities are projected to make the earth’s climate warmer? Are you skeptical, indifferent, sad, helpless, guilty, concerned, or outraged? Which of these feelings help perpetuate such problems, and which can help to solve them?

    Again student answers will vary, but the benefit of such questions is that the instructor can facilitate a discussion that could help the students come to terms with the feelings they have on the issue and take the necessary steps to minimize their own ecological footprint. The instructor can help the students see how answers such as being indifferent to the issue, as in (b), lead to a perpetuation of the problem, and answers such as (f) may bring about a change in their own lifestyle.





  1. When you read that about 16,400 children age five and younger die each day (13 per minute) from preventable malnutrition and infectious disease, how does it make you feel? Can you think of something that you and others could do to address this problem? What might that be?

    Student answers will vary. The instructor could lead a discussion in which each student is asked to explain their answer. Through this discussion students be spurred into action.





  1. Explain why you agree or disagree with each of the following statements: (a) humans are superior to other forms of life, (b) humans are in charge of the earth, (c) the value of other forms of life depends only on whether they are useful to humans, (d) based on past extinctions and the history of life on the earth over the past 3.5 billion years, all forms of life eventually become extinct so we should not worry about whether our activities cause their premature extinction, (e) all forms of life have the inherent right to exist, (f) all economic growth is good, (g) nature has an almost unlimited storehouse of resources for human use, (h) technology can solve our environmental problems, (i) I do not believe I have any obligation to future generations, and (j) I do not believe I have any obligation to other forms of life.
    Student answers will vary and the instructor has the opportunity to lead a discussion where each student can elaborate on their own particular viewpoint.



  1. What are the basic beliefs of your environmental worldview? Record your answer. Then at the end of this course return to your answer to see if your environmental worldview has changed.

    Student answers will vary. This question provides the instructor with the basis for a discussion on individual worldviews and allows for each student to consider their own current beliefs. It is hoped that by the end of the course everyone in the class has gained a greater understanding of the environment and increased their environmental literacy. It also provides the instructor the chance to discuss specific actions individual members of the class can take to make sure that if they “talk the talk” they also “walk the walk” from an environmental perspective. This will help students to minimize their ecological footprint individually, as well as the class on the whole.




  2. Are the beliefs included in your environmental worldview (Question 8) consistent with your answers to question 7? Are your actions that affect the environment consistent with your environmental worldview? Explain.

Student answers will vary. This question provides the instructor with further basis for a discussion on individual worldviews and allows for the exploration of the implications of the students’ individual actions.

  1. List two questions that you would like to have answered as a result of reading this chapter.

    Student answers will vary and will provide a good starting point for a class discussion.



Ecological Footprint Analysis

If the ecological footprint per person of a country or of the world (Figure 1-13) is larger than its biological capacity per person to replenish its renewable resources and absorb the resulting waste products and pollution, the country or the world is said to have an ecological deficit. If the reverse is true, the country or the world has an ecological credit or reserve. Use the data below to calculate the ecological deficit or credit for the countries listed and for the world. (For a map of ecological creditors and debtors see Figure 6, p. S000, in Supplement 8.)



Place Per Capita Per Capita Ecological


Ecological Biocapacity Credit (+)

Footprint (Hectares per person) or Debit (-)

(Hectares per person) (Hectares per person)

World

2.2

1.8

-0.4

United States

9.8

4.7




China

1.6

0.8




India

0.8

0.4




Russia

4.4

0.9




Japan

4.4

0.7




Brazil

2.1

9.9




Germany

4.5

1.7




United Kingdom[[Could be deleted to save space if needed]]

5.6

1.6




Mexico

2.6

1.7




Canada

7.6

14.5




Data from WWF Living Planet Report 2006


  1. Which two countries have the largest ecological deficits? Why do you think they have such large deficits?

  2. Which two countries have an ecological credit? Why do you think each of these countries has an ecological credit?

  3. Rank the countries in order from the largest to the smallest per capita ecological footprint.


Answers

Place Per Capita Per Capita Ecological


Ecological Biocapacity Credit (+)

Footprint (Hectares per person) or Debit (-)

(Hectares per person) (Hectares per person)

World

2.2

1.8

-0.4

United States

9.8

4.7

-5.4

Canada

7.6

14.5

+6.9

United Kingdom

5.6

1.6

-4.0

Germany

4.5

1.7

-2.8

Russia

4.4

0.9

-3.5

Japan

4.4

0.7

-3.7

Mexico

2.6

1.7

-0.9

Brazil

2.1

9.9

+7.8

China

1.6

0.8

-0.8

India

0.8

0.4

-0.4

Data from WWF Living Planet Report 2006


    1. Which two countries have the largest ecological deficits? Why do you think they have such large deficits?

The United States has an ecological deficit of -5.4 hectares per person, and the United Kingdom has an ecological deficit of -4.0 hectares per person. This is likely due to affluence and overconsumption.





    1. Which two countries have an ecological credit? Why do you think each of these countries has an ecological credit?

Brazil has an ecological credit of +7.8 hectares per person and Canada has an ecological credit of +6.9 hectares per person. This may be due to low population sizes relative to available resources.




    1. Rank the countries in order from the largest to the smallest per capita ecological footprint.

U.S.


Canada

United Kingdom

Germany

Russia


Japan

México


Brazil

China


India


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