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Portal:Environment

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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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Environment

Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall, New Zealand.
The natural environment comprises all naturally occurring surroundings and conditions in which living things grow and interact on Earth. These include complete landscape units that function as natural systems without major human intervention, as well as plants, animals, rocks, and natural phenomena occurring within their boundaries. They also include non-local or universal natural resources that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water and climate.

The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

As human population numbers increase and as humans continue to evolve, human activity modifies the natural environment at a rapidly increasing rate, producing what is referred to as the built environment. The potential of the natural environment to sustain these anthropogenic changes while continuing to function as an ecosystem is an issue of major worldwide concern. Key environmental areas of interest include climate change, water supply and waste water, air pollution, waste management and hazardous waste, and land use issues such as deforestation, desertification, and urban sprawl.

More about the environment...

Selected article

The World Without Us is a non-fiction book about what would happen to the natural and built environment if humans suddenly disappeared, written by American journalist Alan Weisman and published by St. Martin's Thomas Dunne Books. It is a book-length expansion of Weisman's own February 2005 Discover article "Earth Without People". Written largely as a thought experiment, it outlines, for example, how cities and houses would deteriorate, how long man-made artifacts would last, and how remaining lifeforms would evolve. Weisman concludes that residential neighborhoods would become forests within 500 years, and that radioactive waste, bronze statues, plastics, and Mount Rushmore would be among the longest lasting evidence of human presence on Earth.

The author of four previous books and numerous articles for magazines, Weisman traveled around the world to interview academics, scientists and other authorities, he used quotations from these interviews to explain the effects of the natural environment and to substantiate predictions. The book has been translated and published in many countries, it was successful in the U.S., reaching #6 on the New York Times Best Seller list and #1 on the San Francisco Chronicle Best-Sellers list in September 2007. It ranked #1 on Time and Entertainment Weekly's top 10 non-fiction books of 2007.

Did you know...

Chemical structure of carbon dioxide
Incandescent light bulb
  • ... that each year in 22,500 cemeteries across the United States approximately 30 million board feet (70,000 m³) of hardwoods are buried as caskets?

Current events

Selected biography

Buckminster Fuller
Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American visionary, designer, architect, poet, author, and inventor.

Throughout his life, Fuller was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?" Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to find out what an individual like him could do to improve humanity's condition that large organizations, governments, or private enterprises inherently could not do.

Fuller published more than 30 books, inventing and popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetic, he also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their resemblance to geodesic spheres.

Selected picture

NEV-BlueZENN-RSFQ0244.JPG
Credit: Leonard G

ZENN (Zero Emission, No Noise) is a 2-seated car that runs solely on battery. It has a range of up to 60 km and does not exceed 40 km/h, the fuel economy is few cents per kilometer and the MSRP is $12,000.

Although the company is headquartered in Canada and the car manufactured in Canada, the vehicle was first introduced in United States because at the time of vehicle's design phrase, Canadian laws prevents this car to be driven on the roads, since 2000, British Columbia has allowed ZENN cars on its roads.

Selected organization

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The panel was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

One of the main activities of the IPCC is to publish special reports on topics where it supports the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is essentially the document behind the Kyoto Protocol, it bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. The IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

The stated aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IPCC does not carry out research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change; implementation of the UNFCCC led eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature, the IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

IPCC reports are widely cited in almost any debate related to climate change. National and international responses to climate change generally regard the UN climate panel as authoritative, the summary reports (i.e. Summary for Policymakers), which draw the most media attention, include review by participating governments in addition to scientific review.

Selected quote

Al Gore
Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several "tipping points" that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization.
Al Gore, giving a speech at NYU Law School in 2006

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