There are conflicting views about how serious our environmental problem are and what we should do about them. These conflicts arise mostly out of differing environmental worldviews: how people think in the world, what they think their role in the world should be, and what they believe is right and wrong environmental behaviour (environmental ethics).
The different types of environmental world views are summarized in Figure 37. They can be divided into two groups according to whether they are individual centered (atomistic) or earth centered (holistic).
Atomistic Environmental world views tend to be human centered (anthropocentric) or life centered (biocentric with the primary focus on individual species or individual organisms). Holistic or ecocentric environmental worldviews focus on sustaining the earth’s natural systems (ecosystems), life forms (biodiversity), and life support systems (biosphere) for the benefit of humans and other forms of life.
The major human centered environmental worldviews: Most people in today’s industrial consumer societies have planetary management world view, which has become increasingly common during the past 50 years.
According to this human centered environmental worldviews: On the planets most important and dominant species are human, they can and should manage the planet mostly for own benefit. Other species and parts of nature are seen as having only instrumental value based on how useful they are to us.
All or most aspects of the worldview are widely supported because it is said to be the primary driving force behind the major improvements in human condition since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Life centered environmental worldviews: Some people believe any human centered worldview will eventually fail because it wror.gly assumes that we now have enough knowledge to become effective manager or stewards of the earth.
According to these analysts, the unregulated global free market approach will not work for two reasons. First, it is based on increased losses or degradation of natural capital that support all life and economics. Second, it focuses on short term economic benefits regardless of the harmful long terms and environmental and social consequences.
Environmental ethics can provide us the guidelines for putting our beliefs into action and help us in deciding what to do when faced with crucial situations. Some important ethical guidelines known as Earth Ethics or Environmental Ethics are as: (i) Develop respect or reverence for all life. (ii)Understand as much as we can about how the earth works and sustains itself and use such knowledge to guide our lives, communities and societies, (iii) Become seekers of environmental wisdom instead of vessels of environmental information.
• Understand and evaluate our environmental world view and see this as lifelong process.
• Learn how to evaluate the beneficial and harmful consequences of our choice of lifestyle and profession on the earth today and in the future.
• Foster a desire to make the world a better place and act on this desire.
Climate is a region’s general pattern of atmospheric or weather conditions over a long period. Average temperature and average precipitation are the two main factors determining a regions climate and its effect on people.
Small amounts of certain gases play a key role in determining the earth’s average temperature and thus its climates. These gases include water vapour (H,0), carbon dioxide (CO,) and synthetic chlorofluorocarbons (CFC).
Together these gasps known as greenhouse gases, allow mostly visible light and some infrared radiation (IR) and ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun to pass through the troposphere. The earth’s surface absorbs much of this solar energy. This transforms it to longer wavelength infrared radiation (heat) which then rises into the troposphere. Some of this heat escapes into the space, and some is absorbed by molecules of greenhouse gases and emitted into the troposphere is called the greenhouse effect.
Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, clearing forests and growing crops release carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. It is of great concern that large inputs of these gases into the troposphere can enhance the earth’s natural greenhouse effect and lead to global warming.
To ozone layer also creates warm layers of air that prevent churning gases in the troposphere from entering the stratosphere. This thermal cap is important in determining the average temperature of the troposphere and thus the earth’s current climates.
Various topographic features of the earth’s surface create local climatic conditions, or microclimates that differ from the general climate of a region. For example, mountains interrupt the flow of prevailing surface winds and the movement of storms. When moist air blowing inland from an ocean reaches a mountain range, it cools as it is forced to rise and expands.
This causes the air to lose most of its moisture as rain and show on windward slopes. As the drier air mass flows down the leeward slopes, it draws moisture out of the plants and soil over which it passes. The lower precipitation and the resulting semiarid or arid conditions on the leeward side of high mountains are called rain shadow effect.
Cities also create distinct microclimates. Bricks, concrete, asphalt and other building materials absorb and hold heat, and building blocks wind flow.
Motor vehicles and the climate control systems of buildings release large quantities of heat and pollutants. As a result, cities tend to have more haze and smog, higher temperatures, and lower wind speeds than the surrounding countryside.
Land ocean interactions affect the local climates of coastal areas by creating ocean to land breeze? During the day and land to ocean breezes at night.