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ID number:855477
Published: 06.06.2006.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 4 units
References: Not used

We all live with a complex environment around us, an environment that provides us with all we need: air, water, food and land. We, just as all life forms, also influence the environment intentionally or unintentionally. This influence has taken place as long as humans have existed. Although many changes were not negative, others were: sizeable areas were burnt, and animal species became rare or extinct in areas were they previously were abundant.
Environmental science is introduced with three ways: First, from the perspective of natural science. This includes environmental protection, sustainable development, and human ecology. Second, from a political perspective, the environment is placed in a social context that involves political change, that is political, economic and legal action. Third, from the perspective of historians, the environment is seen as part of how humans perceive nature, themselves and their lives both in the present and in the past.
Environmental impact by man is as old as human civilization. All over the world nomads and farmers alike have caused changes in the soil, plants and animals. In ancient Greece, deforestation in the global environment has taken place since the industrial revolution.
The origin of the history of the humans species, Homo sapiens, meaning “the wise man”- an epithet that my be questioned- originated in Africa some 150000 years ago.
When the human population was still very limited, any large impact on the environment only took place locally, e.g. in areas where there was a higher density of people, such as at the mouth of the large rivers in the mouth of the large rivers in the middle East- the Nile, Euphratus and Tigris. At the time of nativity, there were probably about 5 million people on the planet.
A steep increase in human population began in the 1700s. This coincides with early industrialization in England and a reorganization of agriculture, e.g. in many countries in Northern Europe.
The requirements for improved food production, better jobs and improved health became primarily a task for science and technology.
After the Second World War the situation changed dramatically. Western society became affluent as resource consumption increased three to fourfold over the time span of one generation, from the early 1950s to the oil price shock in 1973. The history of the human environment entered a dramatically new phase.
Deep concern about environment arose fairly recently, only during the last three or four decades. A hundred years ago, in the early 1900s, the first associations for the conservation of nature were formed in several countries in Europe.
Scientists were pioneers. The Danish chemist Sōren Jensen, working in Stockholm, discovered in 1962, that the common industrial chemical, PCB, was the substance that killed birds of prey. In 1967, the Swedish scientist Svante Oden placed acidification on the political agenda through a key article in the major Swedish newspaper. At the same time in the United States, the publication of the book “Silent spring” by oceanographer Rachel Carson, put environmental issues on the political agenda- environmental movement was born.
Following is a short overview of the most precarious environmental impacts facing us today. These exist on three levels: global, regional, and local.
Global environmental impacts are the most overwhelming, threatening, and difficult to address. They threaten the Earth as a whole, including humans. Two of them are addressed here: destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer and the enhanced greenhouse effect.
The stratospheric ozone layer protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that this layer is being continually depleted.

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