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Geophysical and geochemical aspects of environmental degradation

In: Handbook of Environmental Economics


  • Bolin, Bert


The environmental system is characterized by an interplay of geophysical and geochemical processes that provide a setting for life. Now that human interventions are affecting the global system as a whole, it is important to distinguish between changes of natural origin and changes brought about by human activities. Major difficulties arise in doing this because of the nonlinear and chaotic nature of the interactions between the environmental and human systems. Following an initial review of basic earth science principles, this chapter focuses on five fundamental issues that are important in all quarters of the world. Two sections deal with purely atmospheric issues, air pollution near the earth's surface and depletion of ozone in the stratosphere. These sections are followed by a closer look at water pollution and water management. A specific issue, acidification of freshwaters and soils, is next dealt with in more detail. The final issue addressed in the chapter, global climate change, requires an analysis of the total environmental system. All of these environmental issues have a bearing on how humankind might be able to secure sustainable development for the future, which is touched upon in the concluding section.

Suggested Citation

  • Bolin, Bert, 2003. "Geophysical and geochemical aspects of environmental degradation," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 7-59, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:envchp:1-01

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    Cited by:

    1. Goel, Rajeev K. & Saunoris, James W., 2020. "Spatial spillovers of pollution onto the underground sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    2. Rousseau, Sandra & Telle, Kjetil, 2010. "On the existence of the optimal fine for environmental crime," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 329-337, December.
    3. Christos Kollias & Stephanos Papadamou, 2016. "Environmentally Responsible and Conventional Market Indices’ Reaction to Natural and Anthropogenic Adversity: A Comparative Analysis," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 493-505, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General


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