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The Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Britain, before spreading around the world. Coal, oil and gas (collectively termed fossil fuels) offered levels of energy production previously undreamed of, leading to shifts towards factory-based systems and the mass production of goods such as cotton. Fossil fuels, principally coal at …

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The way we treat our environment is determined by how we view it. Peoples perspectives on the environment, and mankind’s relationship with nature, have traditionally been divided into four general categories: stewardship, imperialism, romanticism and utilitarianism. These perspectives still account for the majority of opinions and attitudes most people have about the environment today. The …

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Population

Agricultural advances caused the world’s population to grow from 170 million during the Roman period 2,000 years ago to 900 million in 1800. By 1900 the industrialisation of large parts of the world had led to a trebling of the worlds population in only 100 years. This growth in population has increased the stresses on …

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How do we manage resources that seem to belong to everyone? Natural food reserves, energy resources like fossil fuels, a clean environment, with clean air, water and soil belong to everyone and yet are protected by no one. Today, protecting such common-pool resources has become a challenge, not only on the local scale but on …

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Humans

The Earth was formed about 4 billion years ago, with the first modern humans (Homo sapiens) only evolving between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago. If the history of the Earth was represented by one year beginning on 1st January, the appearance of modern humans did not occur until about 20 minutes to midnight on 31st …

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Ecocentrism (meaning values centred on ecology) and technocentrism (meaning values centred on technology) are two opposing perspectives concerning attitudes towards human technology and its ability to affect, control and even protect the environment. Ecocentrics, including “deep green” ecologists, see themselves as being subject to nature, rather than in control of it. They lack faith in …

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The two terms conservation and preservation are often confused and are used to mean the same thing, although differences exist. Conservationists include those who accept that change and progression are necessary for a better future, but only when the changes take place in ways that are not wasteful. What the conservationist opposes is not the …

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Pollution

The environmental impact of human beings has grown in scale, become more rapid, and changed in character. Whereas we once transformed locales or regions, today we can be said to be transforming the Earth on a global scale. Changes which once took decades or centuries are now taking place over the course of a few …

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Evolution

Evolution is the process by which life has developed on Earth; the species that exist today are the product of evolution. It is a process that continues today. Over the course of the Earth’s history, millions of different species have evolved, flourished, and then become extinct. Human beings are just once species that has evolved …

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Since the Industrial Revolution, the effects of human processes such as fossil fuel burning, urban expansion, deforestation and the use of chemicals, have put greater and greater strains on the environment, leading to problems such as pollution, resource depletion and the loss of biodiversity. Prior to the 1960s and 1970s these problems attracted relatively little …

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