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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

Thick particles in the atmosphere can reflect back the sunlight. Photo taken by NASA's Aqua satellite
Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth's surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in the 1950s. The effect varies by location, but worldwide it has been estimated to be of the order of a 4% reduction over the three decades from 1960–1990. However, after discounting an anomaly caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, a very slight reversal in the overall trend has been observed.

It is thought to have been caused by an increase in particulates such as sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere due to human action. The switch from a "global dimming" trend to a "brightening" trend in 1990 happened just as global aerosol levels started to decline.

Global dimming has interfered with the hydrological cycle by reducing evaporation and may have reduced rainfall in some areas. Global dimming also creates a cooling effect that may have partially masked the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming. Deliberate manipulation of this dimming effect is now being considered as a geoengineering technique to reduce the impact of climate change.

Did you know...

London Smog

Current events

Selected biography

David Attenborough
Sir David Frederick Attenborough is one of the world's best known broadcasters and naturalists. His career as the respected face and voice of British natural history programmes has endured more than 50 years and is widely considered one of the pioneers of the nature documentary. He is best known for writing and presenting the eight "Life" series. In 2007, Attenborough presented "Sharing Planet Earth", the first programme in a series of documentaries entitled Saving Planet Earth.

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

Logo of World Conservation Union
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. Previous names include World Conservation Union or International Union for the Preservation of Nature (IUPN).

Founded in 1948, its headquarters is located in the Lake Geneva area in Gland, Switzerland. The IUCN brings together 83 states, 108 government agencies, 766 NGOs and 81 international organizations and about 10,000 experts and scientists from countries around the world.

IUCN's mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The first Director General of UNESCO, (Sir Julian Huxley), wishing to give UNESCO a more scientific base, sponsored a congress to establish a new environmental institution to help serve this purpose. At that first congress (held at Fontainebleau, France), on 5 October 1948, 18 governments, 7 international organizations, and 107 national nature conservation organizations all agreed to form the institution and signed a "constitutive act" creating an International Union for the Protection of Nature. From this beginning, the overriding strategy and policy of the institution has been to explore and promote mutually beneficial conservation arrangements that suit those promoting development as well as assisting people and nations to better preserve their flora and fauna.

At all times, the institution (in all its forms) has heavily emphasised as a key operating principle the strong need to cater for and address the needs of local nations, communities and peoples, so that those nations, communities and peoples can take ownership of future, long term conservation goals and objects in their local areas:

Protected areas and threatened species could most effectively be safeguarded if local people considered it in their own interest to do so. Working with rather than against local people became a major working principle for IUCN.

— Page 61

The IUCN's World Conservation Strategy (1980) was founded upon this kind of principle, and clearly announced the IUCN's ambitions to more effectively enter into dialogue with the promoters of human development. The strategy was internationally applauded by many and served to secure the IUCN funds from several donors who didn't themselves feel they could open up effective dialogue in the world's developing countries, nor that United Nations organizations and international banks would effectively engage in such dialogue.

The IUCN has now expanded into many of the nations around the world, making available the services of a large pool of mainly voluntary specialists, providing local level advice and conservation services, and expanding its networks of Committees and regional advisory bodies into increasing numbers of countries.

The Union has three components: its member organizations, its 6 scientific commissions and its professional secretariat.

Selected quote

Ronald Reagan
Cars don't cause pollution, trees do.

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