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Portal:Environment

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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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Introduction

A biophysical environment is a biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development, and evolution. A biophysical environment can vary in scale from microscopic to global in extent. It can also be subdivided according to its attributes. Examples include the marine environment, the atmospheric environment and the terrestrial environment. The number of biophysical environments is countless, given that each living organism has its own environment.

The term environment can refer to a singular global environment in relation to humanity, or a local biophysical environment, e.g. the UK's Environment Agency.

Selected article

High-level radioactive waste management concerns management and disposal of highly radioactive materials created during production of nuclear power and nuclear warheads. The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to the extremely long periods radioactive wastes remain deadly to living organisms. Of particular concern are two long-lived fission products, Technetium-99 (half-life 220,000 years) and Iodine-129 (half-life 15.7 million years), which dominate spent nuclear fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years. The most troublesome transuranic elements in spent fuel are Neptunium-237 (half-life two million years) and Plutonium-239 (half-life 24,000 years). Consequently, high-level radioactive waste requires sophisticated treatment and management to successfully isolate it from the biosphere. This usually necessitates treatment, followed by a long-term management strategy involving permanent storage, disposal or transformation of the waste into a non-toxic form.

Governments around the world are considering a range of waste management and disposal options, usually involving deep-geologic placement, although there has been limited progress toward implementing long-term waste management solutions. This is partly because the timeframes in question when dealing with radioactive waste range from 10,000 to millions of years, according to studies based on the effect of estimated radiation doses.

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Selected biography

Amory Lovins
Amory Bloch Lovins (November 13, 1947 - ) is Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient (1993), and author and co-author of many books on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Lovins has worked professionally as an environmentalist and an advocate for a "soft energy path" for the United States and other nations. He has promoted energy-use and energy-production concepts based on conservation, efficiency, the use of renewable sources of energy, and on generation of energy at or near the site where the energy is actually used.

Lovins has provided expert testimony in eight countries and more than 20 US states, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books (including Winning the Oil Endgame, Factor Four with Hunter Lovins and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, and Natural Capitalism with Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken).

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Aralship2.jpg
Credit: Staecker

The diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for irrigation has shrunk the Aral Sea dramatically. The sea's surface area shrank by approximately 60%, and its volume by 80%. In 1960, the Aral Sea was the world's fourth-largest lake, with an area of approximately 68,000 km² and a volume of 1100 km³; by 1998, it had dropped to 28,687 km², and eighth-largest. Over the same time period its salinity has increased from about 10 g/l to about 45 g/l. As of 2004, the Aral Sea's surface area was only 17,160 km², 25% of its original size, and still contracting.

Selected organization

The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization for the conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in the United States and Canada. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting 15,000 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is a charity, with approximately 60% of its funding coming from voluntary donations by private individuals. 45% of the fund's income comes from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

The group says its mission is "to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment". Currently, much of its work focuses on the conservation of three biomes that contain most of the world's biodiversity: forests, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans and coasts. Among other issues, it is also concerned with endangered species, pollution and climate change.

Selected quote

Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

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