Portal:Environment
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Portal:Environment

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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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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.

Selected article

Picture of the Hanford site nuclear reactors
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, operated by the United States federal government. Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project in the town of Hanford in south-central Washington, the site was home to the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the first nuclear bomb, tested at the Trinity site, and in Fat Man, the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.

During the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate, and government documents have since confirmed that Hanford's operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the Columbia River, which threatened the health of residents and ecosystems. The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the manufacturing process left behind 53 million U.S. gallons (204,000 m³) of high-level radioactive waste that remains at the site. This represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup.

Did you know...

London Smog
Incandescent light bulb
  • ... 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

Paul R. Ehrlich
Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born May 29, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is currently the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in 1957 from the University of Kansas. He is a renowned entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies). He is also well known as a researcher and author on the subject of human overpopulation notably for his 1968 book The Population Bomb. In the years since many of Ehrlich's predictions have proven incorrect, but he stands by his general thesis that the human population is too large and is a direct threat to human survival and the environment of the planet.

Selected picture

Aralship2.jpg
Credit: Staecker

The diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for irrigation has shrunk the Aral Sea dramatically. The sea's surface area shrank by approximately 60%, and its volume by 80%. In 1960, the Aral Sea was the world's fourth-largest lake, with an area of approximately 68,000 km² and a volume of 1100 km³; by 1998, it had dropped to 28,687 km², and eighth-largest. Over the same time period its salinity has increased from about 10 g/l to about 45 g/l. As of 2004, the Aral Sea's surface area was only 17,160 km², 25% of its original size, and still contracting.

Selected organization

The Wildlife Trusts partnership, or simply The Wildlife Trusts, is a partnership of 47 local wildlife trusts in the United Kingdom plus the Isle of Man and Alderney.

Wildlife Trusts are local organisations of differing size, history and origins, and can vary greatly in their constitution, activities and membership. However, all wildlife trusts share a common interest in wildlife and biodiversity, rooted in a practical tradition of land management and conservation. Almost all county wildlife trusts are significant landowners, with many nature reserves. Collectively they are the third largest voluntary sector landowners in the UK. The partnership's member trusts, between them, look after 2,200 nature reserves covering 80,000 square hectares.

Wildlife Trusts are local organisations of differing size, history and origins, and can vary greatly in their constitution, activities and membership. However, all wildlife trusts share a common interest in wildlife and biodiversity, rooted in a practical tradition of land management and conservation. Almost all county wildlife trusts are significant landowners, with many nature reserves. Collectively they are the third largest voluntary sector landowners in the UK. They often have extensive educational activities, and programmes of public events and education. The Wildlife Trusts centrally and locally also lobby for better protection of the UK's natural heritage, by becoming involved in planning matters and by national campaigning through the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. The trusts rely heavily upon volunteer labour for many of their activities, but nevertheless employ significant numbers of staff in countryside management and education. Thanks to their work promoting the personal and social development of young people, the Wildlife Trusts is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).

Selected quote

Margaret Thatcher
When you've spent half your political life dealing with humdrum issues like the environment, it's exciting to have a real crisis on your hands.

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  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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