CH 1: Environmental Problems, Their Causes, & Sustainability

The following terms need to be put in your understanding / memory so they can be commonly used throughout this course. Be able to give examples of each.

common-property resource


conservation biologist


developed country

developing country

doubling time

ecological footprint



economic development


environmental degradation

environmental ethics

environmental science

environmental scientist

environmental wisdom worldview

environmental world view


environmentally sustainable society

exponential growth


gross domestic product

gross world product

natural resources

nonpoint source

nonrenewable resource

perpetual resource

planetary management worldview

point source





renewable resource




secondary sewage treatment

solar capital

solar energy


sustainable living

sustainable yield

tragedy of the commons

Please pick one of the following to explain to the class. You may either produce a poster, an overhead, or a powerpoint for visuals to illustrate the concepts.

1. Distinguish between ecology and environmental science. Define Earth capital and solar capital. Explain the relationship between Earth capital and a sustainable society. Distinguish between living off of principal and living off of interest. Analyze which of these behaviors humans are currently illustrating.

2. Draw an exponential growth curve. Distinguish between exponential growth and linear growth. Describe what has happened to the length of the doubling time of the human population over the course of human history. Distinguish between gross national product. and gross domestic product; economic development and sustainable development; developedcountries and developing countries. Describe the wealth gap and its development since 1960.

3. Distinguish among renewable resources, potentially renewable resources, and nonrenewable resources. Distinguish between recycling and reuse as strategies to extend supplies of nonrenewables. Describe a connection between potentially renewable resources and the concepts of sustainable yield and environmental degradation. List and define the components of biodiversity. Explain the significance of biodiversity as a potentially renewable resource.

4. Describe the tragedy of the commons. List three approaches which might lessen this problem. Evaluate the significance of a prevention or precautionary approach.

5. Distinguish between point sources and nonpoint sources of pollution.

6. Distinguish between pollution prevention and pollution cleanup. Explain the limitations of pollution cleanup strategies.

7. Summarize the root causes of environmental problems. Describe a simple model and a complex model of relationships among population, resource use, technology, environmental degradation, and pollution. Evaluate which model is most useful to you. Assess which model would be most useful in explaining relationships to young children and which more closely resembles reality.

8. Define environmental worldview. Distinguish between a planetary management worldview and an Earth-wisdom worldview.

9. Evaluate the sustainability of human societies at this point in time. List guidelines which would move the United States toward sustainability.