Concepts of Environmentalism

Environmental Studies 301

Concepts of Environmentalism

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Study Guide Questions

Humans in the Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

Chapter 1

  1. How have the activities and range of individual humans and families changed over the past 200 years?
    • In the past, people lived in one place for their whole life.
    • They ate food from gardens nearby.
    • They wore clothes made from fibers grown in villages near them.
    • By the year 2000, economic development changed peoples activates.
    • People’s material livelihoods are no longer local. Imported from many countries.
  2. How have the impacts of humans on ecosystems changed in the past 200 years.
    • These changes have environmental implications, such as the greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Wiping out plants and animal species.
    • Changing weather patterns.
    • Transforming landscapes.
  3. What is the ultimate question that must be faced at this time if we are concerned about the world 25-50 years from now?
    • Will our environmental system be sustainable in the next 25-50 years from now?
  4. In which year will you be 70 years old? If you have children, in which year or decade will he/she/they be 70 years old?  If you have grandchildren, which decade are they likely to be 70 years old?  Is it possible that you could have great grandchildren and in which decade could that be?
    • I will be 70 in year 2063.
    • My son will be 70 in year 2086.
    • No grandchildren.
  5. What problems do the authors describe as grand problems?
  • Climate, biodiversity, urbanization, sustainable development.
  1. On page 6, the authors state that the issues on the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California help us to “…begin to see the ways in which local events are connect to the global forces of human society.” What is the evidence and what are the details they present for this insight?
    • Three events at different space and time together caused the population of the Channel Island fox to decline. The introduction of the feral pigs, the decline of valuable plants from the use of pesticides, or urbanization was not the fox problem.
    • Human actions had altered the patterns of nature in each of these ecosystems. When the altered patterns overlapped, the number of Channel Island fox declined.
  2. What is “science–based conservation” as stated near the bottom of page10.


  1. Describe the images that come to mind when people hear the word “environment” and how is it a political word?


  1. Describe the images that come to mind when people hear the word “sustainability.”


  1. What is the intended meaning of the term “sustainability?”


  1. How is “sustainability” a political word?


  1. Why does “sustainability” have a moral claim or element to it?


  1. How do the authors of this text intend to change the approach to education about the environment from previous “sustainability courses?”


  1. How has our view of the relationship of environment and humans changed since the 1800s?


  1. What is the conventional view of the term “human institutions” and what do the authors wish to have us understand the term to mean?


  1. What is an integrative approach to environmental problem solving?

Include natural sciences, social sciences, humanities/arts, engineering, education, i.e., a liberal education.


  1. Describe the classical environmentalism approach to environmental problem-solving?


  1. What is/are the short-coming(s) of the classical environmentalism approach according to the authors?


  1. Why has the concept of sustainability as promoted by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 and endorsed again in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit not been effectively implemented to any significant degree?


  1. What does income inequality have to do with sustainability?


  1. What is your feeling or emotional reaction to the statement at the top of p. 17? “The human race is stuck in a paradox…”


  1. What is your feeling or emotional reaction to the statement on page 17? What we do have at present, on the other hand, is a growing understanding…”


  1. Describe integrative problem-solving.


  1. How do the authors suggest that we think about environmental studies?


  1. What is the difference between a “student of environmental studies” and an “activist?”


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