Unsustainable addiction to overconsumption and materialism exhibited in the lifestyles of affluent consumers in the United States and other developed countries.
Gradual shift from small, mobile hunting and gathering bands to settled agricultural communities in which people survived by learning how to breed and raise wild animals and to cultivate wild plants near where they lived. It began 10,000[[endash]]12,000 years ago. Compare environmental revolution, hunter[[endash]]gatherers, industrial[[endash]]medical revolution, information and globalization revolution.
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.
Sensible and careful use of natural resources by humans. People with this view are called conservationists.
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.
The time it takes (usually in years) for the quantity of something growing exponentially to double. It can be calculated by dividing the annual percentage growth rate into 70.
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.
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.
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Efforts by citizens at the grassroots level to demand that political leaders enact laws and develop policies to curtail pollution, clean up polluted environments, and protect pristine areas and species from environmental degradation.
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.
A social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life support systems for us and other species.
Person who is concerned about the impact of people on environmental quality and believe that some human actions are degrading parts of the earth’s life-support systems for humans and many other forms of life. Compare conservation biologist, conservationist, ecologist, environmental scientist, preservationist, restorationist.
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.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; responsible for managing federal efforts to control air and water pollution, radiation and pesticide hazards, environmental research, hazardous waste, and solid-solid waste disposal.
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.
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.
People who get their food by gathering edible wild plants and other materials and by hunting wild animals and fish. Compare agricultural revolution, environmental revolution, industrial-medical revolution, information and globalization revolution.
less developed country (LDC)
See developing 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.
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.
per capita ecological footprint
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. Compare ecological footprint.
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.
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.
A particular chemical or form of energy that can adversely affect the health, survival, or activities of humans or other living organisms. See pollution.
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.
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.
Positive force created when people with different views and values find common ground and work together to build understanding, trust, and informed shared visions of what their communities, states, nations, and the world could and should be. Compare natural capital.
Solar energy from the sun reaching the earth. Compare natural resources.
Ability of a system to survive for some specified (finite) time.
See environmentally sustainable economic development.
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.