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   Course Title    Environmental Problems and Sustainability
Lecturer    Serguei Ostroumov
Institution    Moscow State University
Country    Russia


Introductory remarks

The course is intended to show the problems of the modern environment and importance of the fundamental concept of sustainable development. It is important to make a point in stressing the role of science in finding the solutions. The course is intended for the university students mainly of the 2nd and 3rd years of education but can be adapted for students of other years as well. The course can be included in the program of education of the students majoring in both science and humanities. The lecture course can be supplemented by the assignment of writing a course work on any relevant topic mentioned in the course. The course work can be focused on a scientific aspect of environmental change or on environmental law or on implementing environmental law and agreements. The course is structured into 9 blocks that are labeled below as 'parts'. Because the parts are of unequal size, they do not coincide with the division into lectures.

Part 1 (lecture 1)

The fragility of the world we live in. The fundamental concepts of the world and environment: global environment, the biosphere, the Gaia Hypothesis. Life-support systems and processes in the biosphere. Some important facts on the history of environmental science. V.I.Vernadsky. J. Lovelock.

Part 2 (lecture 1 continued; lecture 2; lecture 3)

The state of the main components of the environment and the relevant environmental problems.

-Air and relevant environmental problems;

-Water (freshwater and marine environments) and relevant environmental problems;

-Soils and relevant environmental problems;

-Biodiversity and relevant environmental problems.

Role and importance of biodiversity for maintaining and functioning of life-support systems of the biosphere.

Problems of conservation of biodiversity at various levels of life systems (molecular-genetic; organisms level; populations and species; ecosystems; biosphere).

Problems of specific types of ecosystems. Terrestrial ecosystems and biomes (tundra, boreal and temperate forests, grasslands, deserts and desertification, tropical forests, agroecosystems). Aquatic ecosystems. Freshwater and marine aquatic resources. Wetlands.

Problems of environmental pollution and assessing toxicity and environmental hazards from chemicals. Problem of formulating adequate criteria for assessing environmental hazards from chemicals. The system of three criteria for chemicals that pollute the aquatic environment (acute toxicity, bioaccumulation; biodegradability).

The global aspect of modern environmental problems: the threat of global change. Climate change and extreme weather events.

Part 3 (lecture 3 continued)

The possible answer to the challenge: The fundamental Concept of sustainable development.

The modern concept of the strategy of nature conservation and three main components of nature protection and protection of biodiversity.

Part 4 (lecture 3 continued; lecture 4)

Response to the challenge of environmental and global changes: law and regulation.

Environmental law. Examples at national and international levels.

Most important international treaties and conventions to protect the environment, aquatic resources, biodiversity and the biosphere.

International agreements to prevent global change.

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992). Rio documents (the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, a statement of 15 principles, Agenda 21). Kyoto protocol.

International law and agreements in the European Union. The key provisions in the treaties relating to environmental policy: 1957 Treaty of Rome –EEC; 1957 Treaty of Rome – Euratom; 1987 Single European Act and its Articles 100a (now 95), 130r (now274), 130s (now 175), and 130t (now 176); 1992 Treaty on European Union and its Articles (now 2, 3, 5, 174, 175, and176); 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam and its Articles 2, 6, and 174.

National level. The main environmental laws in the Russian Federation. The laws on environmental protection, on the protection of water resources, on the protection of the animal world, on environmental assessments etc.

Part 5 (lecture 5; lecture 6)

Implementation of environmental law and international agreements.

Organizations and agencies to implement environmental law: national and international. United Nations commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

National level. National organizations involved in implementation of environmental law in the Russian Federation. Ministry of National Resources. The Russian Register for potentially dangerous chemical and biological substances.

The system of protected areas in the world and in the Russian Federation. Role of protected areas. Various categories of protected areas. Terrestrial and marine protected areas.

Part 6 (lecture 7)

Problems and realities in implementation of the concept of sustainable development. United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, CSD). Seeking a proper balance between the pressure of economic factors and the requirements of environmental law. Ecological management.

Part 7 (lecture 7 continued)

Problems in developing environmental policy and implementation of the concept of sustainable development in the Russian Federation.

Environmental Policy. Learning from positive examples in some W. European countries, USA and Canada.

Part 8 (lecture 8)

Role of scientific development in the field of ecology and environmental science. Ecology as the science of natural mechanisms of the sustainability of the biosphere. New findings on the role of biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability. Role of ecology and biological sciences in developing the scientific basis for protection of biodiversity and for sustainable development. The science of Conservation Biology. New scientific discipline of biochemical ecology (e.g., book by S.A.Ostroumov. Introduction to Biochemical Ecology).

Role of bio-remediation. Phyto-remediation.

Relevant scientific programs. International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) of the International council of Scientific Unions. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and others.

Part 9 (lecture 8 continued)

Role of environmental education and ecological ethics. EcoEthics International Union (EEIU)

 

Literature :

(some of sources; the list is to be supplemented and revised every year):

Andrews J.E., Brimblecombe P., Jickells T.D., LissP.S. An Introduction to Environmental Chemistry. Blackwell Science. Oxford. 1996. 209 p.

Allaby M. Basics of Environmental Science. 2nd ed. Routledge. London and New York. 2000. – 323 p.

Choucri N. (Ed.) Global Accord. 1993.- Cambridge: The MIT press.

Drake J., Mooney H., di Castri F., Groves R., Kruger F., Rejmanek M., Williamson M. (Eds.) Biological Invasions: a Global Perspective. Tiptree: Courier International. 1989. - 525 p.

Edgerton L. The Rising Tide: Global Warming and World Sea Levels. -Washington DC: Island Press. 1991.- 140 p.

Kemp D.D. The Environmental Dictionary. Routledge. London and New York. 1998.- 464 p.

Kinne O., Polikarpov G.G., Ostroumov S.A. Solving major problems caused by global changes requires a new construct of ethics: eco-ethics // Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions, 2000. Vol. 3. p. 12 -13.

Lazzari M. (Ed.) Environmental viewpoints. -Detroit: Gale Research Inc. -Vol. 3. -1994.- 528 p.

McCormick J. Environmental Policy in the European Union. Palgrave Press. Houndmills and New York. 2001. – 329 p.

Ostroumov S.A. Introduction to biochemcal ecology. 1986. Moscow. Moscow University press.

Ostroumov S.A. Role of aquatic organisms in preventing global change // Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions, 2000. Vol. 3. p. 24.

Ostroumov, S.A., 2001. Biological effects of surfactants on organisms. MAX Press, Moscow. 334 p.

Ostroumov, S.A. Biodiversity and water quality: the role of feed-backs. DAN. 2002. vol. 382. No. 1. P.138-141.

S.A. Ostroumov. Polyfunctional role of biodiversity in processes leading to water purification: current conceptualizations and concluding remarks. Hydrobiologia. 2002. v. 469 (1-3): 203-204.

Ostroumov S.A., Dodson S. et al. Medium term and long-term priorities in ecological studies for the 21st century // Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions, 2000. Vol. 3. p. 25-27.

Park C. The Environment. 2nd ed. Routledge. London and New York. 2001. – 660 p.

Ricklefs R.E. Ecology. 3rd ed. N.Y.: Freeman and Co. 1990. 898 p.

Rosenbaum W., Environmental Politics and Policy. -Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc. - 1991.-336 p.

State of the World 2001. Norton Co. New York and London. 2001. 275 p.

Vellinga P., van Verseveld W.J. Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events. Gland: WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature. 2000. - 46 p.

World Resources 1994-95. Oxford University Press. New York . 1994. 402 p.

Yablokov A.V., Ostroumov S.A. Conservation of Living Nature and Resources: Problems, Trends and Prospects. Berlin, N.Y. : Springer press. 1991.- 272 p.

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