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|-"As scientists, many of us have had profound experiences of awe and reverence before the universe. We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred. At the same time, a much wider and deeper understanding of science and technology is needed. If we do not understand the problem, it is unlikely we will be able to fix it."-|
|Carl Sagan - forefront of the environmental movement in the United States|
Many of you may not realize it, but ecology effects us daily. Every time you turn on the ignition in your car, you are changing the environment. Whenever you are concerned about overflowing landfills (or throw too much away), worry about global warming, the disappearance of tropical rainforests and the ozone layer, or the killing off of many animals to make room for houses, parking lots, and other public buildings.
The measure of environmental impact is embodied in the I=PAT equation: the scale of human impact (I) on the environment is equal to the product of the population size (P), consumption per person or affluence (A), and the damage done by technology (T). Since 1850, our population has increased fivefold, and the use of energy per person (A times T) has multiplied fourfold. Thus, in the last 150 years, our impact on the environment has increased about twenty fold! Just imagine what will happen as the population continues to multiply, people become richer, and technology grows bigger and more destructive!
We all must be aware of these ecological issues for one main reason: we only have one Earth! No one can replace good soil, fresh water, and other organisms that are parts of ecosystems that are indispensable to society. We cannot survive without nature, which among many other things, maintains the balance of gases in the atmosphere (due to photosynthesis), fertilize soils, produce fresh water, and maintain genetic diversity.