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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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""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

""Crown-of-thorns starfish in Fiji
The "Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest "coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch for 2,600 kilometres (1,616 mi) and cover an area of approximately 344,400 km². The reef is located in the "Coral Sea, off the coast of "Queensland in northeast Australia. A large part of the reef is protected by the "Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Great Barrier Reef's environmental pressures include lowered water quality from runoff including suspended sediment, excess nutrients, pesticides, and fluctuations in salinity. The effects of climate change, including increased temperatures, storms and coral bleaching. Cyclic outbreaks of the "crown-of-thorns starfish, overfishing which disrupts food chains, and shipping routes which can result in oil spills or improper ballast discharge also damage the reef.

Did you know...

Current events

Selected biography

"Francisco Alves Mendes Filho (December 15, 1944 – December 22, 1988), also known as Chico Mendes, was a "Brazilian "rubber tapper, "unionist and "environmental activist. He fought to stop the "logging of the "Amazon Rainforest to clear land for "cattle ranching, and founded a national union of rubber tappers in an attempt to preserve their profession and the "rainforest that it relied upon. He was murdered in 1988 by ranchers opposed to his activism.

On 22 December 1988, Mendes was "assassinated by gunshot at his "Xapuri home. In December, 1990 rancher Darcy Alves Pereira and his son Darli Alves were sentenced to 19 years in prison for their part in Mendes' assassination.

Selected picture

""The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg
Credit: "NASA

"Ecological footprint analysis measures human demand on "nature. It compares human consumption of "natural resources with planet "Earth's "ecological capacity to regenerate them. It is an estimate of the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human "population consumes and to absorb the corresponding waste, given prevailing "technology. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how many planet Earth's it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle. While the measure is widely used, some also criticize the approach.

In 2003, the average biologically productive area per person worldwide was approximately 1.8 global hectares (gha) per capita. The "US footprint per capita was 9.6 gha, and that of "Switzerland was 5.1 gha per person, whilst "China's was 1.6 gha per person. The "WWF claims that the human footprint has exceeded the biocapacity (the available supply of natural resources) of the planet by 25%.

Selected organization

The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair "Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the "United Nations in 1983. The commission was created to address growing concern "about the accelerating deterioration of the "human environment and "natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for "economic and "social development." In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for "sustainable development.

The Report of the Brundtland Commission, "Our Common Future, was published in 1987. It was welcomed by the General Assembly in its resolution 42/187. The report deals with "sustainable development and the change of politics needed for achieving that. The definition of this term in the report is quite well known and often cited:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
  • the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

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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