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Annual Editions: Environment 10/11 (Annual Editions: Environment)
Synopses & Reviews
The Annual Editions series is designed to provide convenient, inexpensive access to a wide range of current articles from some of the most respected magazines, newspapers, and journals published today. Annual Editions are updated on a regular basis through a continuous monitoring of over 300 periodical sources. The articles selected are authored by prominent scholars, researchers, and commentators writing for a general audience. The Annual Editions volumes have a number of common organizational features designed to make them particularly useful in the classroom: a general introduction; an annotated table of contents; a topic guide; an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites; and a brief overview for each section. Each volume also offers an online Instructor's Resource Guide with testing materials. Using Annual Editions in the Classroom (available in print and online) is a general guide that provides a number of interesting and functional ideas for using Annual Editions readers in the classroom. Visit www.mhhe.com/annualeditions for more details.
Table of Contents
Annual Editions: Environment 10/11
UNIT 1: The Global Environment: An Emerging World View
1. IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers, Susan Solomon et al. (eds.), In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
This article summarizes the results of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winning effort by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on our “understanding of the human and natural drivers of climate change.” Importantly, it presents estimates of how global warming will affect future climates. The degree of confidence of the assessments is indicated. Even the cautious consensus reached by this large group of scientists from around the world is troubling.
2. Global Warming Battlefields: How Climate Change Threatens Security, Michael T. Klare, Current History, 106, 2007
What are the societal effects of climate change identified by the IPCC report on “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”? They are not limited to humanitarian disasters. It is likely that ethnic conflict, insurgencies, and civil violence due to diminished supplies of vital resources. Diminished rainfall and river flow, rising sea level, and more frequent and are also causes severe storms will affect the ability of underdeveloped societies to meet basic sustainability levels. Water scarcity, limited food availability, and coastal inundation are all effects that will be felt across the entire planet.
3. China Needs Help with Climate Change, Kelly Sims Gallagher, Current History, 2007
Until recently, the U.S. was the “bad boy” of climate change, emitting 25% of CO2 while having only 5% of the population. While the U.S. remains a high per capita emitter, overall, China has overtaken the U.S. as the biggest CO2 emitter. Chinas growth rate is breathtaking, doubling every three and a half years. In this article, the author argues that the U.S. and China need to work together to develop technologies and strategies to lower CO2 emissions.
4. Where Oil and Water Do Mix: Environmental Scarcity and Future Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, Jason J. Morrissette and Douglas A. Borer, Parameters, Winter 2004¿2005
Much of the past history of conflict in the North African/Southwest Asian culture realm has been based in religion, ideology, and territory. Future conflict in this area is more likely to be based in environmental scarcity—such as too little oil and not enough water—to support the population growth that is far outpacing economic growth.
Unit 2: Population, Policy, and Economy
5. Do Global Attitudes and Behaviors Support Sustainable Development?, Anthony A. Leiserowitz, Robert W. Kates, and Thomas M. Parris, Environment, November 2005
Sustainable development is necessary in order to meet human needs and maintain the life-support systems of the planet. Advocates of achieving sustainability on a global scale recognize that significant change in values, attitudes, and behavior in human societies will be necessary before sustainability can be achieved.
6. Paying for Climate Change, Benjamin Jones, Michael Keen, and Jon Strand, Finance & Development, March 2008
How much should be spent on climate change remediation? To address this question, Jones et al. argue that economists are needed to assess the costs of the threat and the remedies. Individuals, firms, and governments do not have monetary incentives to limit carbon emissions, and any benefits from voluntary reductions benefit the entire community rather than those making the sacrifice. This article assesses the cost-benefit analysis of taxing emissions, predicting R&D breakthroughs, and the very-long term effects baffle economic theory. And if thats not enough, who sacrifices, who pays?
7. High-Tech Trash: Will Your Discarded TV or Computer End up in a Ditch in Ghana?, Chris Carroll, National Geographic, January 2008
Over the next few years, 30 to 40 million PCs will become obsolete. How does one dispose of a PC, and what is its fate? More than 70 percent go to landfill, toxic components be damned. Of the 20 percent that is recycled, a large amount ends up in third-world countries, where valuable components, such as silver and gold, are extracted. Unfortunately, the environmental conditions of such recycling are appalling.
8. Down with Carbon: Scientists Work to Put the Greenhouse Gas in Its Place, Sid Perkins, Science News, May 10, 2008
If we cant stop burning it, how about getting rid of it? Down with Carbon discusses possible carbon sequestration (or carbon storage) possibilities—Ideas such as fertilization of the oceans (to increase algal blooms), extracting CO2 directly from smoke stacks and pumping it back into the ground, and burying dead wood are all considered. Each idea has pros and cons.
Unit 3: Energy: Present and Future Problems
9. Gassing up with Hydrogen, Sunita Stayapal, John Petrovic, and George Thomas, Scientific American, April 2007
Hydrogen is a super-clean fuel that has been touted as the ideal substitute for gasoline. In this Scientific American article, one of the formidable obstacles to a hydrogen economy is discussed, namely hydrogen containment or storage. Hydrogen is a very powerful fuel, but it occurs normally as a non-compressible gas, making it very difficult to store on a car. Numerous futuristic options for storage are discussed.
10. Wind Power: Obstacles and Opportunities, Martin J. Pasqualetti, Environment, September 2004
Wind power is one of the oldest energy sources, used to power mills and water pumps for thousands of years. It is now one of the most promising of the alternative energy strategies. But in spite of its environmental attributes, wind power meets with considerable local resistance because of aesthetics, noise, and potential damage to bird populations. The proper strategy is to develop wind power in sites where it meets the least resistance.
11. A Solar Grand Plan, Ken Zweibel, James Mason, and Vasilis Fthenakis, Scientific American, January 2008
“By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions.” Sound too good to be true? This article gives an overview of the state of the art and future possibilities in relation to how a significant portion of our electricity could be generated by this clean, renewable resource.
12. The Rise of Renewable Energy, Daniel M. Kammen, Scientific American, September 2006
Solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels are discussed as possible clean, renewable energy sources for the future. Daniel Kammen is hopeful that “renewables” can replace fossil fuel as as our major energy source. If the United States puts more money into research and development and has the political will to change, a major switch is possible. This energy change will be facilitated by the dramatically increasing prices of petroleum and natural gas.
13. What Nuclear Renaissance?, Christian Parenti, The Nation, May 2008
Where are the new nuclear power plants? There has been a great deal of hype for this carbon-free power supply. And yet, construction of the most recent nuclear power plant in the United States began in 1973. Why havent more been built? The reason, according to Parenti, is that they cost too much and carry too much risk. Investors simply arent willing to put up the cash for new construction, even with huge government subsidies. Costs and terrorist concerns are simply too high.
14. The Biofuel Future: Scientists Seek Ways to Make Green Energy Pay Off, Rachel Ehrenberg, Science News, August 1, 2009
Both fossil fuels and biofuels can be burned to generate electricity. The difference is that biofuel burning is carbon neutral; the CO2 generated from biofuel burning was only recently drawn out of the atmosphere during plant photosynthesis. But biofuels can only work if they produce more energy than it takes to make them. And they cannot displace large amounts of valuable agricultural land that is needed for our food supply. Ehrenberg discusses the pros and cons of our biofuel future, describing the hurdles and promise.
15. Putting Your Home on an Energy Diet, Marianne Lavelle, U.S. News and World Report, October 19, 2008
This is a short article with helpful suggestions for reducing home energy budgets. Realizing that “The cleanest and cheapest kilowatt-hour is the one we do not have to produce,” the author points out that a 40 percent savings on electricity could be realized by building “green” and by simple energy savers such as turning off “vampire electronics”.
Unit 4: Biosphere: Endangered Species
16. Forest Invades Tundra . . . and the New Tenants Could Aggravate Global Warming, Janet Raloff, Science News, July 5, 2008
Temperatures in the Arctic are climbing at a rate of twice the global average. Scientists are now finding that the boundary between northern forests and the Arctic tundra is slowly creeping northward as temperatures rise. The snow covered tundra typically reflects light, keeping temperatures low. As trees invade the tundra, they absorb sunlight raising temperatures. Drought and fire have hurt both the tundra and forests. Throw in advancing shrubs, active microbes, and you have a seriously disturbed ecosystem.
17. Americas Coral Reefs: Awash with Problems, Tundi Agardy, Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2004
Americas coral reefs—the rain forests of the oceans—are in trouble. This delicate ecosystem has declined by 80 percent over the last three decades. Overfishing, fertilizers, sediment input, and ocean warming all contribute to the dramtic decline in this invaluable resource, both a thing of intrinsic beauty and economic value. The public is generally unaware of the destruction going on beneath the waves, but as author Jeffrey McNeely explains, there is hope. Public and private efforts can ultimately reverse the fate of these national treasures.
18. Seabird Signals, Doreen Cubie, National Wildlife, August/September 2008
Cassins auklets are the “canary in the coalmine” of the ocean. On a remote island, the nesting pairs have decreased by a factor of five. The ecosystem is changing, the food web is unraveling and the auklets population is plunging. Possible explanations include warming ocean temperature or changing ocean circulation patterns.
19. Taming the Blue Frontier, Sarah Simpson, Conservation Magazine, April/June 2009
Fish farms or aquaculture reduce overharvesting of the oceans wild stocks. But large fish farms also generate huge amounts of fish waste and spread disease. Author Sarah Simpson discusses cutting-edge technologies that drastically reduce the environmental damage and create sustainable aquaculture practices. Some remarkable ideas are being tested.
20. Natures Revenge, Donovan Webster, Best Life, November 2008
What happens when a city surrounded by forests is abandoned virtually overnight? This experiment, though not planned or anticipated, is playing out following the tragic nuclear accident at Chernobyl. The radiation-blanketed city is uninhabitable, creating one of the largest wildlife preserves in Europe. The forest is taking back the city. Donovan Webster is given a creepy tour of the highly radioactive ghost town.
Unit 5: Resources: Land and Water
21. Tracking U.S. Groundwater: Reserves for the Future?, William M. Alley, Environment, April 2006
The term groundwater reserves implies that the supply of groundwater, like other limited natural resources, can be depleted. Current rates of extraction for irrigation and other uses far exceed the rates of natural replacement, placing this precious water resource in jeopardy. The depletion of groundwater reserves has gone from being a local problem to a national- and probably even global one.
22. How Much Is Clean Water Worth?, Jim Morrison, National Wildlife, February/March 2005
When the value of a clean water resource is calculated in monetary terms, it becomes increasingly clear that conservation methods make both economic and ecologic sense. The tricky part is manipulating the economic system that drives our behavior so that it makes sense to invest in and protect natural assets—like clean water.
23. Searching for Sustainability: Forest Policies, Smallholders, and the Trans-Amazon Highway, Eirivelthon Lima et al., Environment, January/February 2006
Commercial logging in the Amazon has traditionally been an ecologically destructive process, as cleared areas were occupied by farmers who extended the clearing process. The development of the major economic corridor of the Trans-Amazon Highway illustrates how logging can be converted from a destructive force to one that promotes sustainable development.
24. Diet, Energy, and Global Warming, Gidon Eshel and Pamela A. Martin, Earth Interactions, December 2006
Want to save the planet? Forget driving a Prius. Become a vegetarian instead! Using a thorough set of facts, statistics, and calculations, the authors conclude that your carbon footprint can be drastically reduced if you change your diet to a less energy-intensive one. Animal-based foods require far more energy for their production, compared with vegetarian foods, and there appear to be no negative health effects associated with a balanced vegetarian diet.
25. Landfill-on-Sea, Daisy Dumas, Ecologist, February 7, 2008
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in an area covering twice the size of France, there is a non-degradable plastic garbage dump. 100 million tons of plastic are used each year, and discarded plastic entering the Pacific Ocean will ultimately end up in the Central Pacific Gyre, contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And the garbage patch is growing. The toxic side-effects of the non-biodegradable plastic are very hazardous to animals at all trophic levels.
Unit 6: The Politics of Climate Change
26. The Truth about Denial, Sharon Begley, Newsweek, August 13, 2007
In this remarkable exposé, Sharon Begley describes the sophisticated efforts by the oil industry and lobby to dispel the science behind global warming. Much as the tobacco industry did a generation ago, big oil is working hard to sow doubt about global warming and to even question whether it is such a bad thing in the first place. Although the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is a serious threat to humanity, Begley explains how the powerful oil-funded “denial machine” is succeeding at spreading confusion and thereby preventing any action to combat this global threat.
27. Swift Boating, Stealth Budgeting, and Unitary Executives, James Hansen, World Watch, November/December 2006
The scientific thesis that anthropogenic climate change is altering the global environmental system has reached the point of consensus among scientists. The few scientists who do not accept global climate change are referred to as contrarians. Unfortunately, they approach the global warming problem as if they were lawyers, not scientists, whose job it is to defend a client rather than seek the truth.
28. The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus, Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolly, and John Fleck, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008
One of the most common arguments used by climate change skeptics is that scientists dont really know whats going on. One has to only look back to the 1970s, when they thought the world was cooling, not warming. Or so the argument goes. Peterson et al. explore this common perception and find that the myth is not true. The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed articles from the time predicted that temperatures would rise, not fall. The global cooling argument used so commonly by climate skeptics is simply not supported by the facts.
29. How to Stop Climate Change: The Easy Way, Mark Lynas, New Statesman, November 8, 2007
We become further convinced that climate change is real and that something must be done. Are we doing anything? Mark Lynas suggests three straightforward ways to reduce our carbon consumption: (1) Stop debating, start doing; (2) focus on big wins; (3) use technology. By looking at the overwhelming problems in pieces, it becomes clear that we can move forward with environmental protection.
30. Environmental Justice for All, Leyla Kokmen, Utne, March/April 2008
Low-income communities suffer from urban pollution to a far greater extent than other groups. The reasons are obvious: Property values are low, the financial resources of a low-income community to fight the incursion of a polluting factory are limited, as is its ability to litigate against health hazards. A new factory located in a depressed area brings not only pollution risks, but jobs. And so a delicate balancing act must be performed. The trick is to fight poverty (bring in the jobs) and pollution at the same time.
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