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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.

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An average of several samples of δ18O, a proxy for temperature, for the last 600,000 years
100,000-year problem is a discrepancy between the climate response (as measured by proxies for the temperature and extent of glaciations) and the forcing from the amount of incoming solar radiation, or insolation, which has little power on a 100,000 year (100 ka) timescale.

Due to variations in the Earth's orbit, the amount of insolation varies with periods of around 21,000, 40,000, 100,000, and 400,000 years. Variations in the amount of solar heating drive changes in the climate of the Earth, and are recognised as a key factor in the timing of initiation and termination of ice ages. Spectral analysis shows that the most powerful climate response is at 100,000‑year period, but the orbital forcing at this period is small.

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Current events

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June Haimoff
June Haimoff is an English environmentalist who settled in Dalyan in southwestern Turkey (Muğla Province) after her retirement and has launched a successful campaign for the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) which lay their eggs in the İztuzu Beach in Dalyan. She relates the struggle and the victory for the preservation of these species in her book titled Kaptan June and the Turtles published in 1997.

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The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg
Credit: NASA

Ecological footprint analysis measures human demand on nature. It compares human consumption of natural resources with planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate them. It is an estimate of the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb the corresponding waste, given prevailing technology. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how many planet Earth's it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle. While the measure is widely used, some also criticize the approach.

In 2003, the average biologically productive area per person worldwide was approximately 1.8 global hectares (gha) per capita. The US footprint per capita was 9.6 gha, and that of Switzerland was 5.1 gha per person, whilst China's was 1.6 gha per person. The WWF claims that the human footprint has exceeded the biocapacity (the available supply of natural resources) of the planet by 25%.

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The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983. The commission was created to address growing concern "about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development." In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development.

The Report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, was published in 1987. It was welcomed by the General Assembly in its resolution 42/187. The report deals with sustainable development and the change of politics needed for achieving that. The definition of this term in the report is quite well known and often cited:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
  • the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

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Kofi Annan
All our efforts to defeat poverty and pursue sustainable development will be in vain if environmental degradation and natural resource depletion continue unabated.
[[Kofi Annan


"The Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System will provide the platform for our enforcement agencies to collect and share information on the trends and patterns of wildlife crime. Moreover, the cross-border nature of wild life crime underscores the need to enhance cooperation among our governments and to pool financial and human resources. I am confident that these measures will go a long way in enhancing our capacity to protect our wildlife resources.” - Mwai Kibaki.]]

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