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Portal:Environment

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Welcome to the Environment Portal
(image link)

Environment

Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall, New Zealand.
The natural environment comprises all naturally occurring surroundings and conditions in which living things grow and interact on Earth. These include complete landscape units that function as natural systems without major human intervention, as well as plants, animals, rocks, and natural phenomena occurring within their boundaries. They also include non-local or universal natural resources that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water and climate.

The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

As human population numbers increase and as humans continue to evolve, human activity modifies the natural environment at a rapidly increasing rate, producing what is referred to as the built environment. The potential of the natural environment to sustain these anthropogenic changes while continuing to function as an ecosystem is an issue of major worldwide concern. Key environmental areas of interest include climate change, water supply and waste water, air pollution, waste management and hazardous waste, and land use issues such as deforestation, desertification, and urban sprawl.

More about the environment...

Selected article

Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is a compact five-door hatchback electric car manufactured by Nissan and introduced in Japan and the United States in December 2010, followed by various European countries and Canada in 2011. The US Environmental Protection Agency official range for the 2016 model year Leaf with the 30 kWh battery is 172 km (107 miles) on a full battery charge, while the trim with the smaller 24 kWh battery is 135 km (84 miles), the same as the 2014/15 model year.

As of December 2015, the Nissan Leaf is the world's all-time best selling highway-capable all-electric car. Leaf global sales passed the 200,000 unit milestone by early December 2015, five years after its introduction. As of November 2015, the top markets for Leaf sales are the United States with over 88,000 units sold, followed by Japan with about 57,000 units, and Europe with about 48,000 Leafs. As of September 2015, the European market was led by Norway with almost 15,000 new units, and the UK with about 11,500 units delivered.

As an all-electric car, the Nissan Leaf produces no tailpipe pollution or greenhouse gas emissions at the point of operation, and contributes to reduced dependence on petroleum. Among other awards and recognition, the Nissan Leaf won the 2010 Green Car Vision Award, the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year, and the 2011–2012 Car of the Year Japan.

Did you know...

  • ...that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can cause ozone depletion, and the ozone hole needs to take more than a decade to recover?
Incandescent light bulb

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 picture

Mai Po Marshes serves as a stop for migrating birds.
Credit: Baycrest

Mai Po Marshes is a nature reserve in Hong Kong. It is managed by World Wide Fund for Nature. The marshes have an area of about 1800 acres and is listed as a Ramsar site under Ramsar Convention in 1995. It provides a conservation area for mammals, reptiles, insects, and over 350 kinds of birds (including Saunders's Gull and a quarter of world's Black-faced Spoonbill population). It also has inter-tidal mangroves along with 24 traditionally operated shrimp ponds (called Gei Wai locally) to provide food for the birds. It receives 40,000 visitors annually.

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

Sir David Attenborough
Were we and the rest of the back-boned animals to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well.

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