Changes in systems may occur naturally or may be induced by humans. Many complex and far-reaching interactions can result. After reading this chapter you should understand:
- Why solutions to many environmental problems involve the study of systems and rates of change.
- How positive and negative feedback operate in a system.
- What are the implications of exponential growth and doubling time.
- That natural disturbances and changes in systems such as forests, rivers, and coral reefs are important to their continued existence.
- What an ecosystem is and why sustained life on Earth is a characteristic of ecosystems.
- What the Gaia hypothesis is and how life on Earth has affected the Earth itself.
- What the principle of uniformitarianism is and how it can be used to anticipate future changes.
- Why the principle of environmental unity is important in studying environmental problems.
- How human activities amplify the effects of natural disasters.