Principles of Environmental Science 8th Edition
UNDERSTANDING CRISIS AND OPPORTUNITY
Environmental science often emphasizes that while we are surrounded by challenges, we also have tremendous opportunities. We face critical challenges in biodiversity loss, clean water protection, climate change, population growth, sustainable food systems, and many other areas. But we also have tremendous opportunities to take action to protect and improve our environment. By studying environmental science, you have the opportunity to gain the tools and the knowledge to make intelligent choices on these and countless other questions.
Because of its emphasis on problem solving, environmental science is often a hopeful field. Even while we face burgeoningcities, warming climates, looming water crises, we can observe solutions in global expansion in access to education, healthcare, information, even political participation and human rights. Birthrates are falling almost everywhere, as women’s rights gradually improve. Creative individuals are inventing new ideas for alternative energy and transportation systems that were undreamed of a generation ago. We are rethinking our assumptions about how to improve cities, food production, water use, and air quality. Local action is rewriting our expectations, and even economic and political powers feel increasingly compelled to show cooperation in improving environmental qualityClimate change is a central theme in this book and in environmental science generally. As in other topics, we face dire risks but also surprising new developments and new paths toward sustainability. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, expects to begin reducing its emissions within in a decade, much sooner than predicted. Many countries are starting to show declining emissions, and there is clear evidence that economic growth no longer depends on carbon fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, but nations are showing unexpected willingness to cooperate in striving to reduce emissions. Much of this cooperation is driven by growing acknowledgment of the widespread economic and humanitarian costs of climate change. Additional driving forces, though, are the growing list of alternatives that make carbon reductions far easier to envision, or even to achieve, than a few years ago.
Sustainability, also a central idea in this book, has grown from a fringe notion to a widely shared framework for daily actions ( recycling, reducing consumption) and civic planning (building energy-efficient buildings, investing in public transit and bicycle routes). Sustainability isn’t just about the environment anymore. Increasingly we know that sustainability is also smart economics and that it is essential for social equity. Energy efficiency saves money. Alternative energy can reduce our reliance on fuel sources in politically unstable regions. Healthier food options reduce medical costs. Accounting for the public costs and burdens of pollution and waste disposal helps us rethink the ways we dispose of our garbage and protect public health. Growing awareness of these co-benefits helps us understand the broad importance of sustainability.
Students are Providing Leadership
Students are leading the way in reimagining our possible futures. Student movements have led innovation in technology and science, in sustainability planning (chapter 1), in environmental governance (chapter 9), and in environmental justice around the world. The organization 350.org (chapter 16) was started by a small group of students seeking to address climate change. That movement has energized local communities to join the public debate on how to seek a sustainable future. Students have the vision and the motivation to create better paths toward sustainability and social justice, at home and globally.
You may be like many students who find environmental science an empowering field. It provides the knowledge needed to use your efforts more effectively. Environmental science applies to our everyday lives and the places where we live, and we can apply ideas learned in this discipline to any place or occupation in which we find ourselves. And environmental science can connect to any set of interests or skills you might bring to it: Progress in the field involves biology, chemistry, geography, and geology. Communicating and translating ideas to the public, who are impacted by changes in environmental quality, requires writing, arts, media, and other communication skills. Devising policies to protect resources and enhance cooperation involves policy, anthropology, culture, and history. What this means is that while there is much to learn, this field can also connect with whatever passions you bring to the course.
WHAT SETS THIS BOOK APART?
Solid science and an emphasis on sustainability: This book reflects the authors’ decades of experience in the field and in the classroom, which make it up-to-date in approach, in data, and in applications of critical thinking. The authors have been deeply involved in sustainability, environmental science, and conservation programs at the University of Minnesota and at Vassar College. Their experience and courses on these topics have strongly influenced the way ideas in this book are presented and explained.
Demystifying science: We make science accessible by showing how and why data collection is done and by giving examples, practice, and exercises that demonstrate central principles. Exploring Science readings empower students by helping them understand how scientists do their work. These readings give examples of technology and methods in environmental science.
Quantitative reasoning: Students need to become comfortable with graphs, data, and comparing numbers. We provide focused discussions on why scientists answer questions with numbers, the nature of statistics, of probability, and how to interpret the message in a graph. We give accessible details on population models, GIS (mapping and spatial analysis), remote sensing, and other quantitative techniques. In-text applications and online, testable Data Analysis questions give students opportunities to practice with ideas, rather than just reading about them.
Critical thinking: We provide a focus on critical thinking, one of the most essential skills for citizens, as well as for students. Starting with a focused discussion of critical thinking in chapter 1, we offer abundant opportunities for students to weigh contrasting evidence and evaluate assumptions and arguments, including
What Do You Think? readings.
Up-to-date concepts and data: Throughout the text we introduce emerging ideas and issues such as ecosystem services, cooperative ecological relationships, epigenetics, and the economics of air pollution control, in addition to basic principles such as population biology, the nature of systems, and climate processes. Current approaches to climate change mitigation, campus sustainability, sustainable food production, and other issues give students current insights into major issues in environmental science and its applications. We introduce students to current developments such as ecosystem services, coevolution, strategic targeting of Marine Protected Areas, impacts of urbanization, challenges of REDD (reducing emissions through deforestation and degradation), renewable energy development in China and Europe, fertility declines in the developing world, and the impact of global food trade on world hunger.
Active learning: Learning how scientists approach problems can help students develop habits of independent, orderly, and objective thought. But it takes active involvement to master these skills. This book integrates a range of learning aids—Active Learning exercises, Critical Thinking and Discussion questions, and Data Analysis exercises—that push students to think for themselves. Data and interpretations are presented not as immutable truths but rather as evidence to be examined and tested, as they should be in the real world. Taking time to look closely at figures, compare information in multiple figures, or apply ideas in text is an important way to solidify and deepen understanding of key ideas. Synthesis: Students come to environmental science from a multitude of fields and interests. We emphasize that most of our pressing problems, from global hunger or climate change to conservation of biodiversity, draw on sciences and economics and policy. This synthesis shows students that they can be engaged in environmental science, no matter what their interests or career path.
A global perspective: Environmental science is a globally interconnected discipline. Case studies, data, and examples from around the world give opportunities to examine international questions. Half of the 16 case studies examine international issues of global importance, such as forest conservation in Indonesia, soy production in Brazil, and car-free cities in Germany. Half of all boxed readings and Key Concepts are also global in focus. In addition, Google Earth place marks take students virtually to locations where they can see and learn the context of the issues they read. Key concepts: In each chapter this section draws together compelling illustrations and succinct text to create a summary “takehome” message. These key concepts draw together the major ideas, questions, and debates in the chapter but give students a central idea on which to focus. These can also serve as starting points for lectures, student projects, or discussions.
Positive perspective: All the ideas noted here can empower students to do more effective work for the issues they believe in. While we don’t shy away from the bad news, we highlight positive ways in which groups and individuals are working to improve their environment. What Can You Do? features in every chapter offer practical examples of things everyone can do to make progress toward sustainability.
Thorough coverage: No other book on in the field addresses the multifaceted nature of environmental questions such as climate policy, sustainability, or population change, with the thoroughness this book has. We cover not just climate change but also the nature of climate and weather systems that influence our dayto- day experience of climate conditions. We explore both food shortages and the emerging causes of hunger—such as political conflict, biofuels, and global commodity trading—as well as the relationship between food insecurity and the growing pandemic of obesity-related illness. In these and other examples, this book is a leader in in-depth coverage of key topics.
Student empowerment: Our aim is to help students understand that they can make a difference. From campus sustainability assessments (chapter 1) to public activism (chapter 13) to global environmental organizing (chapter 16) we show ways that student actions have led to policy changes on all scales. In all chapters we emphasize ways that students can take action to practice the ideas they learn and to play a role in the policy issues they care about. What can you do? boxed features give steps students can take to make a difference.
Exceptional online support: Online resources integrated with readings encourage students to pause, review, practice, and explore ideas, as well as to practice quizzing themselves on information presented. McGraw-Hill’s ConnectPlus (www.mcgrawhillconnect.com) is a
web-based assignment and assessment platform that gives studentsthe means to better connect with their coursework, with their instructors, and with the important concepts that they will need to know for success now and in the future. Valuable assets such as LearnSmart (an adaptive learning system), an interactive ebook, Data Analysis exercises, the extensive case study library, and Google Earth exercises are all available in Connect.
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