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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.

More about the environment...

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...

Chemical structure of carbon dioxide

Current events

News
    • January 15: British surfers catch more than waves: Scientists find antibiotic-resistant bacteria
    • November 4: U.S. government report says climate change is human-made
    • October 5: Researchers find preserving spotted owl habitat may not require a tradeoff with wildfire risk after all
    • July 7: India Supreme Court overrules High Court: rivers Yamuna, Ganga no longer living entities
...Environmental news at Wikinews

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

Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm England
Credit: Harald Pettersen/Statoil

Wind Power is the conversion of wind energy into more useful forms, usually electricity, using wind turbines. The energy is generated in the form of electricity by converting the rotation of turbine blades into electrical current by means of an electrical generator. Wind power is used in large scale wind farms for national electrical grids as well as in small individual turbines for providing electricity to rural residences or grid-isolated locations.

Selected organization

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The panel was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

One of the main activities of the IPCC is to publish special reports on topics where it supports the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is essentially the document behind the Kyoto Protocol. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. The IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

The stated aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IPCC does not carry out research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change; implementation of the UNFCCC led eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. The IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP.

IPCC reports are widely cited in almost any debate related to climate change. National and international responses to climate change generally regard the UN climate panel as authoritative. The summary reports (i.e. Summary for Policymakers), which draw the most media attention, include review by participating governments in addition to scientific review.

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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