You are on page 1of 5

Unit I: understanding Our Environment

Ecology as compared to Environmental Science

Environment It is derived from the French word environner, which means to encircle or surround. The circumstances and conditions that surround an organism or a group of organisms. The social and cultural conditions that affect an individual or a community. Ecology It is derived from the Greek word oikos, which means household; and logos, which means knowledge. It is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of life and the interactions between organisms and their environment. The word was coined by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel in the year 1866. He defined it as the comprehensive science of the relationship of the organism to the environment. Environmental Science It is the systematic study of our environment and our place in it. A relatively new field, it is highly interdisciplinary. It integrates information from biology, chemistry, geography, agriculture and many other fields. It is inclusive and holistic, mission oriented and implies that we all have a responsibility to get involved and try to do something about the problems we have created.

Thinking about Thinking

Analytical Thinking It asks, How can I break this problem down into its constituent parts? Creative Thinking It asks, How might I approach this problem in new and inventive ways? Logical Thinking It asks, How can orderly, deductive reasoning help me think clearly? Reflective Thinking It asks, What does it all mean? Steps in Critical Thinking What is the purpose of my thinking? What precise question am I trying to answer? Within what point of view am I thinking? What information am I using? How am I interpreting that information? What concepts or ideas are central to my thinking? What conclusions am I aiming toward?

What am I taking for granted; what assumptions am I making? If I accept the conclusions, what are the implications? What would the consequences be if I put my thoughts into action?

Environmental History Timeline

Rachel Carson (1907 1964) Biologist and author of Silent Spring, a book that animated the environmental awakening of the 1960s. Benjamin Franklin (1706 1790) Publisher and statesman who fought for public rights and against water pollution early in his career in Philadelphia. George Washington Carver (1865 1943) Agronomist and pioneer of chemurgy movement for renewable bioenergy systems. John Sow (1813 1858) A London doctor who proved that polluted water was spreading cholera and took action to stop it by breaking the handle on the Broad Street pump. Ken Sara-Wiwa (1941 1995) Environmentalist and leader of the Ogoni people whose homeland was ravaged by oil industry wastes. Executed by Nigerian doctorship November 1995. Alice Hamilton (1869 1970) A doctor who studied the dangerous trades, Hamilton was the first woman on the Harvard University faculty. John Muir (1838 1914) Author and advocate for wilderness and founder of the Sierra Club.

Environmental History Timeline


Air pollution was common in large towns long before the industrial BC 1200 ADrevolution. Pollution came from dust, wood smoke, tanneries, animal manure. Water pollution was less severe in some civilizations. Israeli and Hindu cities tended to have less water pollution due to strict religious codes about cleanliness. Ancient Rome was notorious for sewage-filled streets. Timbering stripped the forests of Babylon, Greece, Phonecia (Lebanon) and Italy with the rise of civilization. The wood energy crisis led Greeks to use passive solar energy by orienting their cities and houses toward the sun. Romans made some use of solar energy but imported wood for timber and fuel from as far away as the Black Sea. Both

Middle Ages and Renaissance 1200 1750

Enlightenment 1750 1830

Greeks and Romans kept sacred groves of trees from being timbered. Soil conversion was not widely practiced in the Mediterranean, but cultures in China, India and Peru understood the long term impact of soil erosion and tried to prevent it. Lead poisoning was common among upper class Romans who used lead-sweetened wine and grape pulp sweetened with sugar of lead as a condiment. Plague devastates Europe but leads to the beginning of a public health system. Water pollution tends to be less of a problem for dispersed populations than it would later become. Timbering in the forests of England, France, and Germany leaves large tracts totally denuded by around 1550 in England and the 1600s in Europe, forcing a switch to coal. Soil conservation was not widely practiced in the Mediterranean, but cultures in China, India and Peru understood the long term impact of soil erosion and used terracing, crop rotation and natural fertilizer to prevent it. Occupational diseases are investigated by Bernardo Razzimazi and begin to be recognized as public health problems. Reason begins to be better appreciated as an antidote to superstition. Ben Franklins fight against water pollution, James Linds fight against scurvy, the movement to clean up slums and prisons begins with an enlightenment philosophy that holds individual citizens to be valuable. There were, as Rumford said, other kinds of glory than that of victory in battle. Thomas Malthus predicts that eventually, food and resources will run out as populations explode new technologies create new pollution Town gas from coal drips tar into the rivers. Vulcanized rubber plants discharge noxious chemicals directly into the streams. Coal smoke chokes the air in big cities. Chemical factories operate without thought to people downwind. Living conditions in urban areas horrify reform minded commissions in London in the 1840s and America in the 1850s and 60s. Progress is slow but the common interest in pure drinking water and sanitation is spurred by epidemics of typhoid and cholera. Water pollution carried diseases, but no one knew exactly why until the 1880s. Some concerned reformers didnt wait for the exact knowledge: John Sow, a London physician, traced a part of

Industrial Revolution 1830 - 1890

Progressive Era 1890 1920

1920 30s

the cholera epidemic to a contaminated water pump in 1855. Smog episodes begin killing residents of large cities like London. Conservation of wilderness areas begins with the falling of an enormous tree, called the Mother of the Forest in 1851. The outrage over the act leads to calls for a national park system. Reform was the common concern. Reform of working conditions, slum housing, food adulteration, sanitation, drinking water, polluting industries and more. Teddy Roosevelt and his forester Gifford Pinchot characterized the era with ideas about conserving large tracts of land and putting other forests to wise use. John Muir opposes the wise use idea and fights for outright preservation of unspoiled wilderness. Social activists and reformers like Ellen Swallow Richards, Jane Addams, Florence Kelly and Alice Hamilton innovate and find limited success. New organizations like the womens clubs and the Sierra Club help champion natural preservation, conservation and municipal reform. National Coast Anti Pollution League is formed by municipal officials from Atlantic City to Maine who are concerned about oil and sewage pollution detracting from tourism. Led by Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelts forester, the league succeeds with an international oil dumping treaty passed by Congress in 1924. Nothing but a murderer is the way Harvard M.D. Alice Hamilton privately describes Charles Kettering of General Motors, the inventive genius behind leaded gasoline. Hamiltons fight to point out alternatives does not succeed and leaded gasoline becomes the standard fuel for most of the world. The Radium Girls are dying of radiation induced cancer and court delays seem outrageous to crusading journalist Walter Lippmann who works with Alice Hamilton to bring their case to the public. A settlement at least gives then medical care and compensation for their families. Civilian Conservation Corps is founded by FDR during the depression. Chemurgy movement is a Midwestern populist and scientific phenomenon. Demands include replacement of petroleum with farm alcohol and other industrial uses for agricultural crops. Movement suffers when leaders die and new leaders with secret ties to the oil industry take over.

1940s 50s 1960s 70s 1970s 80s

1980 90s 1990 2000 2000 to present