Governments And Laws

Governments and laws can play a critical role in solving environmental problems. In the United States, governments at the local, state, and federal levels have used laws, policies, and public funds to address environmental issues. Government actions include legally protecting endangered species and habitats, setting aside land for public use, cleaning up pollution, regulating destructive activities, conducting scientific studies, and encouraging responsible resource use through education and economic incentives.

However, many environmental problems cannot be solved by a single government or law. Ecosystems cross political boundaries. Whooping cranes migrate between the United States and Canada. Pollutants emitted by factory smokestacks in Ohio can fall as acid rain in New York. Storms in Africa blow dust and microorganisms into Europe and out to sea. Thus, to solve many environmental problems, governments must cooperate with each other.

Internationally, countries regularly meet and make agreements to decrease pollution, protect endangered species, or plan for future human activities. Sometimes, many countries agree and solve problems successfully. For example, an agreement to reduce CFC use worldwide seems to have slowed the thinning of the ozone layer. However, countries have had less success agreeing on ways to decrease the threat of global warming. Most countries agree that they need to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere, but they do not agree on how much responsibility each country should have. With many environmental issues, the interests of countries that are more developed differ from the interests of countries that are less developed.

Many developing countries have little money but large amounts of unique habitat and natural resources. This situation presents the opportunity of a debt-for-nature swap. In this exchange, richer countries or private organizations pay some of the debts of a developing country and the developing country takes steps such as preserving undeveloped land or educating its citizens.

Evaluating Environmental Issues in the News

Materials newspapers, magazines, television news broadcasts, or other news sources Procedure Find a news article or watch a news broadcast about a current environmental issue. First, record its title or topic and its date of broadcast or publication. Then, as you read or watch, take notes, and write down your immediate thoughts and questions. Finally, reread your notes, and write any additional thoughts that you have. Analysis Did the report relate to any of the information in this chapter? Did the report present the issue accurately and fairly? Was more than one view of the issue represented? Was scientific information included in the report? Describe how you might have presented the report differently.

Careers in BIOLOGY

Urban Ecologist

Job Description Urban ecolo-gists are scientists who study the relationships between humans, animals, and the cities in which they live. Some urban ecol-ogists manage parks, reserves, or water quality. Urban ecologists can work in universities, government agencies, parks, botanical gardens, and private industry.

Focus On an Urban Ecologist

"I like big cities and I like the outdoors!" says urban ecologist Charles Nilon. As a boy, Nilon loved to catch frogs and turtles. "Ecology deals with the things that I like to do." Today, Nilon studies urban wildlife ecology and conservation. "The 'wildlife' portion of my job focuses on learning how different kinds of animals live in urban areas. The 'conservation' side studies how to manage the contact—both good and bad—between people and animals," says Nilon. Nilon helps local governments manage park areas to protect key wildlife sites. "I also work with private landowners and developers to help them design subdivisions in ways that will enable wildlife to thrive even when there are lots of houses." Nilon's job is all about finding the right balance.

Education and Skills

• High school—three years of science courses and four years of math courses

• College—bachelor of science in biology, including course work in n

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