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.

Selected article

Pied Currawong, an invasive species in Australia
Invasive species are widespread non-indigenous species. The introduction of these non-indigenous species can be accidental or intentional. It can be damaging to the local ecosystem as invasive species compete resources with local species. Most of the time the non-native species cannot survive in the new environment and died out. However, there is a chance that they managed to survive and no natural predator in the new environment. This can wipe out local species as the population of the invasive species increases, thus negatively affecting biodiversity.

Scientists propose several mechanisms to explain invasive species, including species-based mechanisms and ecosystem-based mechanisms. It is most likely a combination of several mechanisms that cause an invasive situation to occur, since most introduced plants, biotic and animals do not become invasive.

Did you know...

  • ... that the concept of reduce, re-use, and recycle as three equal options, but they are instead meant to be a hierarchy, in order of importance?

Current events

Selected biography

Lester Brown
Lester Russel Brown (born March 28, 1934) is a United States environmental analyst, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. BBC Radio commentator Peter Day calls him "one of the great pioneer environmentalists."

Brown is the author or co-author of over 50 books on global environmental issues and his works have been translated into more than forty languages. His most recent book is World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011). Brown emphasizes the geopolitical effects of fast-rising grain prices noting that "the biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries," and one that could "bring down civilization".

The recipient of 26 honorary degrees and a MacArthur Fellowship, Brown has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers". As early as 1978, in his book The Twenty-Ninth Day, he was already warning of "the various dangers arising out of our manhandling of nature... by overfishing the oceans, stripping the forests, turning land into desert." In 1986, the Library of Congress requested his personal papers noting that his writings "have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources," while president Bill Clinton has suggested that "we should all heed his advice."

Selected image

Chernobyl reactor number four after the disaster, showing the extensive damage to the main reactor hall (image center) and turbine building (image lower left)
Credit: Cbuckley & Jpowell

Recycling is the reprocessing of materials into new products. Recycling prevents useful material resources being wasted, reduces the consumption of raw materials and reduces energy usage, and hence greenhouse gas emissions, compared to virgin production.

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

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.

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