Community Service Center

Educate Yourself! - Environmental Issues

Conservation is the management of resources such as water so as to eliminate waste or maximize efficiency of use. A related and complementary concept is sustainability. Activities are sustainable if they can be maintained over time without depleting the natural resource base.

Human-caused global warming brings serious threats from increased flooding to the spread of disease to the disruption of agriculture in many parts of the world.

Scientists tell us that stopping global warming is urgent -- we have just a few years to turn around the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst effects.

Local

  • According to the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, though the population of Ventura County has grown by almost 200,000 between 1997 and 2007, the county's ozone levels have been steadily decreasing. Ozone is one of the main ingredients of smog and even at low levels can cause respiratory problems, especially for individuals that are active outdoors. The county was over the California 8-hour ozone standard for about 170 days in 1997 and just over 60 days in 2007.

Visit http://www.vcapcd.org/air_quality.htm for more information on air pollution in Ventura County.

Domestic

  • The primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are:

    • Electricity production(33% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Electricity production generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Over 70% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.[2]
    • Transportation(28% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.[3]
    • Industry(20% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
    • Commercial and Residential(11% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.
    • Agriculture(8% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.
    • Land Use and Forestry(offset of 14% of 2011 greenhouse gas emissions) - Land areas can act as a sink (absorbing CO2from the atmosphere) or a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands have absorbed more CO2from the atmosphere than they emit.

Visit http://www.epa.gov/ for more information on environmental issues within the United States.

International

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), has issued their 4th Assessment report and has stated the following:

    Arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average

    Arctic sea ice has shrunk by about 3% per decade

    Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets have contributed 0.41mm per year to sea level rise from 1993-2003

    The top layer of permafrost has warmed by 3°C since the 1980s and the frozen ground area has decreased by 7%since 1900

    Significant drying trends have been observed in the Sahel, Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia and increased precipitation has been observed in eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia

    The tropics and subtropics have experienced more intense and longer droughts since the 1970s

    Extreme weather, including heavy precipitation events and heatwaves, has increased in frequency and tropical cyclones have increased in intensity

Visit http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_brief___ipcc_wg1_3feb07.pdf for more information on the IPCC's report on climate change.

Another update on International Climate Sceince can be found here: http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_1119_en.pdf

 

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