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Forests are considered the lungs of the planet, as they consume and store carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. These biomes, defined as ecological communities dominated by long-lived woody vegetation, historically have provided an economic foundation for growing nations, supplying wood for buildings, firewood for fuel, and land for expanding cities and farms. For centuries, industrial nations in Europe and the United States have relied on large tracts of forestland for economic prosperity. The research presented in this book reveals that population pressures are causing considerable environmental distress in even the most remote forest areas. Three detailed case studies are presented. The first provides an assessment of illegal logging deep in South America’s Amazon rain forest, a region closely tied to food and product demands thousands of miles away. The second examines the effect of increased hunting in Central Africa’s Congo forest, which threatens wildlife, especially mammal species with slower reproductive cycles. Finally the third describes encroachment on old-growth tropical forests on the Southern Pacific island of Borneo, which today is better managed thanks to the collective planning and conservation efforts of the governments of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Wetlands encompass a diversity of habitats that rely on the presence of water to survive. Over the last two centuries, these hard-to-reach areas have been viewed with disdain or eliminated by a public that saw them only as dangerous and worthless lowlands. Wetlands provides case studies that illuminate our changing perceptions of one of the world's richest and biologically productive biomes, including the Florida Everglades, the Aral Sea in Central Asia, and Lake Poyong in China. It also highlights efforts that have been undertaken to protect many of these areas.
In our drive to improve human standards of living, we have paradoxically paid scant attention to the need for clean air and water; the impact of acid rain on agriculture, lakes and rivers; the effect of pollutants on the ozone layer; the safe disposal of hazardous wastes, and the relationship between population growth and the environment. It seems that every time governments are faced with an apparent choice between economic development and the protection of the environment, priority is always given to the former. Short-term plans -- dictated by canons of political survival and expediency -- always seem to take precedence over long-term strategies, with politicians and decision-makers deftly relegating environmental concerns to the realm of rhetoric. This book is an effort to better understand the problems faced by our global ecosystems. It is also the result of the authors deep commitment to urge both citizens and their leaders the world over to work together for a better protection of the environment so that our planet may be saved for the present and for future generations.
Freshwater is our planet’s most precious resource, and also the least conserved. Freshwater makes up only 3 percent of the total water on the planet, and yet the majority (1.9 percent) is held in a frozen state in glaciers, icebergs, and polar ice fields. This leaves approximately one-half of 1 percent of the total volume of water on the planet as freshwater available in liquid form. This book traces the complex history of the steady growth of humankind’s water consumption, which today reaches some 9.7 quadrillion gallons per year. Along with a larger population has come the need for more drinking water, larger farms requiring extensive irrigation, and more freshwater to support business and industry. At the same time, such developments have led to increased water pollution. Three detailed case studies are included. The first looks at massive water systems in locations such as New York City and the efforts required to protect and transport such resources. The second shows how growth has affected freshwater quality in the ecologically unique and geographically isolated Lake Baikal region of eastern Russia. The third examines the success story of the privatized freshwater system in Chile and consider how that country’s water sources are threatened by climate change.
Covering 71 percent of the planet, these saline bodies of water provided the unique conditions necessary for the building blocks of life to form billions of years ago. This book explains how our oceans continue to support and influence life in important ways: by providing the largest global source of protein in the form of fish populations, by creating and influencing weather systems, and by absorbing waste streams such as airborne carbon. It is shown how oceans have an almost magnetic draw—almost half of the world’s population lives within a few hours of an ocean. Although oceans are vast in size, exceeding 328 million cubic miles (1.37 billion cubic kilometers), they have been influenced by and have influenced humans in numerous ways. The book includes three detailed case studies. The first focuses on the most remote locations along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where new ocean floor is being formed twenty-thousand feet underwater. The second considers the Maldives, a string of islands in the Indian Ocean, where increasing sea levels may force residents to abandon some communities by 2020. The third describes the North Sea at the edge of the Arctic Ocean, where fishing stocks have been dangerously depleted as a result of multiple nations’ unrelenting removal of the smallest and largest species.
Always awe-inspiring, mountainous areas contain hundreds of millions of years of history, stretching back to the earliest continental landforms. This book shows how mountains are characterized by their distinctive geological, ecological, and biological conditions. Often, they are so large that they create their own weather patterns. They also store nearly one-third of the world’s freshwater—in the form of ice and snow—on their slopes. Despite their daunting size and often formidable climates, mountains are affected by growing local populations, as well as distant influences, such as air pollution and global climate change. Three detailed case studies are presented. The first shows how global warming in East Africa is harming Mount Kenya’s regional population, which relies on mountain runoff to irrigate farms for subsistence crops. The second examines the fragile ecology of the South Island Mountain in New Zealand’s Southern Alps and how development threatens the region’s endemic plant and animal species. The third discusses the impact of mountain use over time in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where management efforts have been used to limit the growing footprint of millions of annual visitors and alpine trekkers.
‘For geographers across the globe this book provides the arguments for a return to the teaching of geography and why they should reject the politicisation of the subject by education policy makers and politicians. Standish’s careful critique shows the necessity of a depoliticised geography curriculum the irony of which would be that it would ensure that every child could point to Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan on a map.’ Prof. Dennis Hayes – Oxford Brookes University, UK 'A prescient and critical analysis of the changing face of geography teaching. This book deserves to be widely read and debated. Alex Standish's book puts current trends in geography teaching in historical and critical context. It comprises a forthright and timely defence of geographical education for its own sake.' Dr Jim Butcher, FRSA, Department of Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure, Canterbury Christ Church University. Since the early 1990s, educational policy makers and some subject leaders have been seeking to fundamentally change the teaching of geography in UK and US schools, from a subject which encourages students to explore spatial concepts, ideas and skills, to a more ethics based subject concerned with the promotion of environmentalism, cultural diversity and social justice. In this book the new approach is critically examined, within a historical and ideological context, addressing a number of fundamental questions: Should geography be used as a tool for the delivery of citizenship ideals? How does this affect the intellectual and moral value of geographical education for young people? If the state and teachers are taking more responsibility for the values, attitudes and emotional responses of students, how will they learn to develop these qualities for themselves? If global perspectives shift the focus of education from learning about the outside world to learning about the self, what is its vision of social progress and conception of social change? This book advocates a return to liberal models of education, arguing that the new approach to geography currently being promoted for schools fundamentally undermines the educational value of the subject, and the freedom of young people to shape the world in which they live. A vital resource for teachers and student teachers alike, Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum makes a significant contribution to the growing debate about the future direction of the discipline itself.

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