Humans & the Biosphere

Course Description: 

• Population explosion in the XX century. Reasons and causes of this explosion. Demographic transition. Links between demographic explosion and social, political and environmental problems;
• Environmental indicators. Pressure-State-Response scheme and its modifications. Use of indicators for
description of various environmental issues. Consumption and technology factors;
• Atmospheric Transformations. Atmospheric Lifetime and Fates of Airborne Chemicals. Peculiarities of air
pollution at different scales;
• Local issues: problems associated with urban air pollution, major types of urban pollutants, Health effects of urban air pollution;
• Regional issues: acid deposition, problems associated with acidification in Europe, ways to diminish acidic
loads on the environment;
• Global issues: evidence of current climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change in the past, possible environmental consequences of changes in atmosphere at the global level;
• Ways to meet the challenge of atmospheric pollution: existing international agreements and their
implementation, current negotiations and debates on new agreements;
• Studying and constructing possible future scenarios (based on group exercise with the “World 3” model)
• Key environmental and social issues associated with agriculture and food security;

Learning Outcomes: 

Understanding key human-induced processes affecting the biosphere

Understanding main factors of population dynamics and related consumption and environmental issues

Ability to work with environmental indicators and knowledge of main indicator frameworks

Identify key environmental issues associated with agriculture

Assessment: 

Written Exam (40%)

Integrated ‘science module’ assignment (60%)

Prerequisites: 

None