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Portal:Environment

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Welcome to the Environment Portal
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Introduction

A biophysical environment is a biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development, and evolution. A biophysical environment can vary in scale from microscopic to global in extent. It can also be subdivided according to its attributes. Examples include the marine environment, the atmospheric environment and the terrestrial environment. The number of biophysical environments is countless, given that each living organism has its own environment.

The term environment can refer to a singular global environment in relation to humanity, or a local biophysical environment, e.g. the UK's Environment Agency.

Selected article

Thermal (top) and vegetation (bottom) locations around New York City via infrared satellite imagery. A comparison of the images shows that where vegetation is dense, temperatures are cooler.
An urban heat island (UHI) is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. The temperature difference usually is larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. Seasonally, UHI is seen during both summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island is modification of the land surface by urban development which uses materials which effectively retain heat. Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor. As a population centre grows, it tends to expand its area, and increase in its average temperature.

Monthly rainfall is greater downwind of cities, partially due to the UHI. Increases in heat within urban centres increases the length of growing seasons, and decreases the occurrence of weak tornadoes. The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams, which stresses their ecosystems. Despite concerns raised about its possible contribution to global warming, comparisons between urban and rural areas show that the urban heat island effects have little influence on global mean temperature trends.

UHIs have the potential to directly influence the health and welfare of urban residents. As UHIs are characterized by increased temperature, they can potentially increase the magnitude and duration of heat waves within cities. Research has found that the mortality rate during a heat wave increases exponentially with the maximum temperature, an effect that is exacerbated by the UHI. The nighttime effect of UHIs can be particularly harmful during a heat wave, as it deprives urban residents of the cool relief found in rural areas during the night

Not all cities have a distinct UHI. Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-coloured surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.

Did you know...

Chemical structure of carbon dioxide

Current events

News
    • October 8: UN Report on Global Warming calls for rapid 'unprecedented' changes globally to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degree C
    • August 29: Brisbane, Australia Magistrates Court charges two cotton farmers with $20m fraud
    • August 9: New South Wales, Australia government says entire state in winter 2018 drought
    • June 24: India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force
...Environmental news at Wikinews

Selected biography

Amory Lovins
Amory Bloch Lovins (November 13, 1947 - ) is Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient (1993), and author and co-author of many books on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Lovins has worked professionally as an environmentalist and an advocate for a "soft energy path" for the United States and other nations. He has promoted energy-use and energy-production concepts based on conservation, efficiency, the use of renewable sources of energy, and on generation of energy at or near the site where the energy is actually used.

Lovins has provided expert testimony in eight countries and more than 20 US states, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books (including Winning the Oil Endgame, Factor Four with Hunter Lovins and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, and Natural Capitalism with Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken).

Selected image

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 for Green Peace
Greenpeace, originally known as the Greenpeace Foundation, is an international environmental organization founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1971. It is best known for its campaigns against nuclear weapons and campaigning against whaling. In later years, the focus of the organization turned to other environmental issues, including bottom trawling, global warming, ancient forest destruction, nuclear power, and genetic engineering. Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. Greenpeace has national and regional offices in 46 countries worldwide, all of which are affiliated to the Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International.

The global organization receives its income through the individual contributions of an estimated 3 million financial supporters, as well as from grants from charitable foundations, but does not accept funding from governments or corporations. It is often the subject of criticism and ridicule for supposedly over-the-top protesting.

On its official website, Greenpeace defines its mission as the following:

Selected quote

Al Gore
Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several "tipping points" that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization.
Al Gore, giving a speech at NYU Law School in 2006
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