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   Course Title    Regional Ecology
Lecturer    Anatoly Yamskov
Institution    Moscow State Pedagogical University
Country    Russia


The state of environment in urban and industrial areas - general characteristics. Human ecology and social ecology of the large industrial cities: abiotic, biotic and social factors of the urban environment and their general impacts on human beings, society and economy.

Urban impact on health status and demographic characteristics of the human populations; urban populations in comparison with the rural populations (in modern Russia and in the world).

Factors of urbanisation; present trends in urbanisation in Russia and in the world.

Contemporary problems in developing urban ecology in Russia and some results of the anthropo-ecological studies in the Soviet/Russian cities.

Main characteristics of environmental situation in industrial cities, the ways /mechanisms/ and results of their impacts on health, demography and human behaviour:

  • chemical pollution of air, water/snow, soil;
  • changing physical characteristics of the urban environment (garbage and dust, noise, vibrations, heating of air and waters, artificial lights, electromagnetic waves, radiation);
  • changing biological characteristics of the urban environment (infectious micro-organisms and viruses, surviving within and spread by the numerous and dense populations of humans, pets, wild pets, wild urban animals and insects);
  • social characteristics of the urban environments (overcrowding and rising numbers of interpersonal contacts as causes of psychological stress; vivid social-economic stratification as a cause of psychological stress; enlarged spectrum of social-economic niches and corresponding modes of consumption as a cause of overwork and/or psychological stress).

Discussions on the concept of the "optimal urban population density".

The concept of the "Maximum Possible Concentration (MPC) of pollutants in the environment" in the former USSR and in Russia; environmental standards in Europe and North America (in comparison with the contemporary Russian approach). The use of such criteria in:

1. evaluating environmental situation in the cities or on the work places;

2. evaluation levels of possible /allowed/ emissions of pollutants into air and water by either the particular industrial enterprises or the major general sources of pollution (cars, industries, residence areas).

Main problems, arising from the predominant use of the concept of MPC in urban ecology:

1. problems in calculating levels of the possible /allowed/ emissions of pollutants into air and water by particular industrial enterprises, arising due to: (a) seasonal and weather-dependent variations in migrations of pollutants between atmosphere, hydrosphere, soils; (b) chemical reactions between various pollutants in air, water, soil, leading to emergence of the new chemical substances with either stronger or lower harmful effects;

2. different biological adaptability of humans to the impacts of urban pollutants due to: (a) age, (b) sex, (c) individual health status, life history and present life styles;

The long-time effects of urban pollution, permanently exceeding the MPC levels, and their impact on human health - differences between pathological functional changes in the human body (1st stage) and illness (2nd stage). The size of actual increases in mortality, caused by pollution in the cities.

The concept of the "Maximum Possible Level (MPL) of Concentration of pollutant in the human body", its advantages and disadvantages in comparison with the concept of the MPC .Major problems, arising from the use of the MPL concept in urban ecology.

Environmental situation in the worst Russian cities and industrial centers, its causes and effects.

 

The programme (totally 50 hours during the 5th academic year) generally consists of 6 parts:

  • part 1: "Introduction to the course <<Regional Ecology>>" [official educational standards in relation to the Course; major thematic parts of the Course and its main educational goals];
  • part 2: "Environmental situation and criteria for its appraisal" [bio- and anthropocentric approaches to evaluation of environmental situations; types of ecosystems (disturbed, slightly disturbed, practically undisturbed - based on: L. Hannah et al, 1994); ecological mapping and defining ecological regions; sustainable development - the concept and its regional aspects];
  • part 3: "Environmental situation in Russia" [environmental situation in Russia and in its major regions; environmental situation in the main Russian landscape zones (natural ecosystems, human impacts and environmental consequences); predicting ecological changes and possible environmental consequences of the global warming in the main Russian landscape zones; environmental risk, causes and ecological consequences of the natural and technological disasters (with the examples of the probable Sarez flooding and Chernobyl nuclear contamination)];
  • part 4: "Urban ecology" [see the detailed description above];
  • part 5: "Environmental problems in particular regions of Russia and of the C.I.S. states" [industrial pollution in the tundra ecosystems of the Far North (Taymyr - Norilsk industrial center); industrial development in the boreal coniferous forests (oil and gas fields of West Siberia); overgrazing and desertification in steppes and semideserts (North-Western part of the Caspian Lowlands - Kalmykia, North Dagestan and North Chechnya); depletion and agricultural pollution of water resources in subtropical oasis (Southern part of the Aral region - Karakalpakia, Tashauz, Khorezm)];
  • part 6: "Conclusions" [ecological crisis of the regional and local scale; discussions over possibilities and probable outcomes of the global ecological crisis (in respect to civilisation, human populations, biosphere].
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