Unsustainable addiction to overconsumption and materialism exhibited in the lifestyles of affluent consumers in the United States and other developed countries.
Variety of different species (species diversity), genetic variability among individuals within each species (genetic diversity), variety of ecosystems (ecological diversity), and functions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities (functional diversity).
Resource that people normally are free to use; each user can deplete or degrade the available supply. Most are renewable and owned by no one. Examples are clean air, fish in parts of the ocean not under the control of a coastal country, migratory birds, gases of the lower atmosphere, and the ozone content of the upper atmosphere (stratosphere). See tragedy of the commons.
Country that is highly industrialized and has a high per capita GNP. Compare developing country.
Country that has low to moderate industrialization and low to moderate per capita GNP. Most are located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Compare developed country.
Amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply each person or population with the renewable resources they use and to absorb or dispose of the wastes from such resource use. It measures the average environmental impact of individuals or populations in different countries and areas.
Study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with their nonliving environment of matter and energy; study of the structure and functions of nature.
Exhaustion of 80% of the estimated supply of a nonrenewable resource. Finding, extracting, and processing the remaining 20% usually costs more than it is worth. May also apply to the depletion of a renewable resource, such as a fish or tree species.
Improvement of living standards by economic growth. Compare economic growth, environmentally sustainable economic development.
Increase in the capacity to provide people with goods and services produced by an economy; an increase in gross domestic product (GDP). Compare economic development, environmentally sustainable economic development, sustainable economic development. See gross domestic product.
All external conditions and factors, living and nonliving (chemicals and energy), that affect an organism or other specified system during its lifetime.
Depletion or destruction of a potentially renewable resource such as soil, grassland, forest, or wildlife that is used faster than it is naturally replenished. If such use continues, the resource becomes nonrenewable (on a human time scale) or nonexistent (extinct). See also sustainable yield.
Human beliefs about what is right or wrong environmental behavior.
Cultural change involving halting population growth and altering lifestyles, political and economic systems, and the way we treat the environment so that we can help sustain the earth for ourselves and other species. This involves working with the rest of nature by learning more about how nature sustains itself. See environmental wisdom worldview.
Compare agricultural revolution, hunter-gatherers, industrial-medical hunter&endash;gatherers, industrial&endash;medical revolution, information and globalization revolution.
an interdisciplinary study that uses information from the physical sciences and social sciences tolerant how the earth works, how we interact with the earth, and how to deal with environmental problems.
environmental wisdom worldview
Beliefs that (1) nature exists for all the earth’s species and we are not in charge of the earth; (2) resources are limited, should not be wasted, and are not all for us; (3) we should encourage earth-sustaining forms of economic growth and discourage earth-degrading forms of economic growth; and (4) our success depends on learning how the earth sustains itself and integrating such lessons from nature into the ways we think and act. Compare frontier environmental worldview, planetary management worldview, spaceship-earth worldview, stewardship worldview.
How people think the world works, what they think their role in the world should be, and what they believe is right and wrong environmental behavior (environmental ethics).
A social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life support systems for us and other species.
environmentally sustainable economic development
Development that encourages forms of economic growth that meet the basic needs of the current generations of humans and other species without preventing future generations of humans and other species from meeting their basic needs and discourages environmentally harmful and unsustainable forms of economic growth. It is the economic component of an environmentally sustainable society. Compare economic development, economic growth.
environmentally sustainable society
Society that satisfies the basic needs of its people without depleting or degrading its natural resources and thereby preventing current and future generations of humans and other species from meeting their basic needs.
See nonrenewable resource.
Growth in which some quantity, such as population size or economic output, increases at a constant rate per unit of time. An example is the growth sequence 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and so on; when the increase in quantity over time is plotted, this type of growth yields a curve shaped like the letter J. Compare linear growth.
See common-property resource.
See gross domestic product.
global climate change
A broad term that refers to changes in the earth’s climate mostly as a result of changes in temperature and precipitation..
Broad process of global social, economic, and environmental change that leads to an increasingly integrated world. See information and globalization revolution.
gross domestic product (GDP)
Annual market value of all goods and services produced by all firms and organizations, foreign and domestic, operating within a country.
input pollution control
See pollution prevention.
See developing country.
less developed country (LDC)
See developing country.
Faulty nutrition, caused by a diet that does not supply an individual with enough protein, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for good health.
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Compare overnutrition, undernutrition.
See developed country.
more developed country (MDC)
See developed country.
Use of an ecosystem such as a forest for a variety of purposes such as timber harvesting, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and recreation.
Compare sustainable yield.
See natural resources.
The earth’s natural materials and processes that sustain life on the earth and our economies. Compare human resources, manufactured resources.
Large or dispersed land areas such as crop fields, streets, and lawns that discharge pollutants into the environment over a large area.
Compare point source.
Resource that exists in a fixed amount (stock) in various places in the earth’s crust and has the potential for renewal by geological, physical, and chemical processes taking place over hundreds of millions to billions of years. Examples are copper, aluminum, coal, and oil. We classify these resources as exhaustible because we are extracting and using them at a much faster rate than they were formed. Compare renewable resource.
output pollution control
See pollution cleanup.
per capita GDP
Annual gross domestic product (GDP) of a country divided by its total population at mid-year midyear. It gives the average slice of the economic pie per person.
Used to be called per capita GNP. See gross domestic product.
An essentially inexhaustible resource on a human time scale.
Solar energy is an example. Compare nonrenewable resource, renewable resource.
planetary management worldview
Beliefs that (1) as the planet’s most important species, we are in charge of the earth; (2) we will not run out of resources because of our ability to develop and find new ones; (3) the potential for economic growth is essentially unlimited; and (4) our success depends on how well we manage the earth’s life-support systems mostly for our own benefit. See spaceship-earth worldview. Compare environmental wisdom worldview, stewardship worldview.
Single identifiable source that discharges pollutants into the environment.
Examples are the smokestack of a power plant or an industrial plant, drainpipe of a meatpacking plant, chimney of a house, or exhaust pipe of an automobile. Compare nonpoint source.
An undesirable change in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of air, water, soil, or food that can adversely affect the health, survival, or activities of humans or other living organisms.
Device or process that removes or reduces the level of a pollutant after it has been produced or has entered the environment. Examples are automobile emission control devices and sewage treatment plants. Compare pollution prevention.
Device or process that prevents a potential pollutant from forming or entering the environment or sharply reduces the amount entering the environment. Compare pollution cleanup.
Inability to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
When there is scientific uncertainty about potentially serious harm from chemicals or technologies, decision makers should act to prevent harm to humans and the environment.
See pollution prevention.
Collecting and reprocessing a resource so that it can be made into new products. An example is collecting aluminum cans, melting them down, and using the aluminum to make new cans or other aluminum products. Compare reuse.
Resource that can be replenished rapidly (hours to several decades) through natural processes. Examples are trees in forests, grasses in grasslands, wild animals, fresh surface water in lakes and streams, most groundwater, fresh air, and fertile soil. If such a resource is used faster than it is replenished, it can be depleted and converted into a nonrenewable resource. Compare nonrenewable resource and perpetual resource.
See also environmental degradation.
Anything obtained from the living and nonliving environment to meet human needs and wants. It can also be applied to other species.
Using a product over and over again in the same form. An example is collecting, washing, and refilling glass beverage bottles. Compare recycling.
Solar energy from the sun reaching the earth. Compare natural resources.
Direct radiant energy from the sun and a number of indirect forms of energy produced by the direct input. Principal indirect forms of solar energy include wind, falling and flowing water (hydropower), and biomass (solar energy converted into chemical energy stored in the chemical bonds of organic compounds in trees and other plants).
View of the earth as a spaceship: a machine that we can understand, control, and change at will by using advanced technology.
See planetary management worldview. Compare environmental wisdom worldview, stewardship worldview.
Beliefs that (1) we are the planet’s most important species but we have an ethical responsibility to care for the rest of nature; (2) we will probably not run out of resources but they should not be wasted; (3) we should encourage environmentally beneficial forms of economic growth and discourage environmentally harmful forms of economic growth; and (4) our success depends on how well we can manage the earth’s life-support systems for our benefit and for the rest of nature. Compare environmental wisdom worldview, planetary management worldview, spaceship earth worldview.
Ability of a system to survive for some specified (finite) time.
See environmentally sustainable economic development.
Taking no more potentially renewable resources from the natural world than can be replenished naturally and not overloading the capacity of the environment to cleanse and renew itself by natural processes.
sustainable yield (sustained yield)
Highest rate at which a potentially renewable resource can be used without reducing its available supply throughout the world or in a particular area. See also environmental degradation.
tragedy of the commons
Depletion or degradation of a potentially renewable resource to which people have free and unmanaged access. An example is the depletion of commercially desirable fish species in the open ocean beyond areas controlled by coastal countries. See common-property resource.