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Introduction

A biophysical environment is a biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development, and evolution. A biophysical environment can vary in scale from microscopic to global in extent. It can also be subdivided according to its attributes. Examples include the marine environment, the atmospheric environment and the terrestrial environment. The number of biophysical environments is countless, given that each living organism has its own environment.

The term environment can refer to a singular global environment in relation to humanity, or a local biophysical environment, e.g. the UK's Environment Agency.

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Apples are among the most wasted foods in the UK - 190,000 tonnes per year are thrown away.
Food waste in the United Kingdom has been identified as a considerable problem and has been the subject of ongoing media attention, intensifying with the launch of the "Love Food, Hate Waste" campaign in 2007. A significant proportion of food waste is produced by the domestic household, which, in 2007, created 6,700,000 tonnes of food waste. Potatoes, bread slices and apples are respectively the most wasted foods by quantity, while salads are thrown away in the greatest proportion. A majority of wasted food is avoidable,[d] with the rest being divided almost equally by foods which are unavoidable (e.g. tea bags) and unavoidable due to preference (e.g. bread crusts) or cooking type (e.g. potato skins).

Reducing the amount of food waste has been deemed critical if the UK is to meet international targets on climate change, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and meet obligations under the European Landfill Directive to reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill. Equally great emphasis has been placed on the reduction of food waste, across all developed countries, as a means of ending the global food crisis that leaves millions worldwide starving and impoverished. In the context of the 2007–2008 world food price crisis, food waste was discussed at the 34th G8 summit in Hokkaidō, Japan. UK prime minister Gordon Brown said of the issue "We must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste". In June 2009, then Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the government's "War on waste", a programme aimed at reducing Britain's food waste.

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Lester Brown
Lester Russel Brown (born March 28, 1934) is a United States environmental analyst, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. BBC Radio commentator Peter Day calls him "one of the great pioneer environmentalists."

Brown is the author or co-author of over 50 books on global environmental issues and his works have been translated into more than forty languages. His most recent book is World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011). Brown emphasizes the geopolitical effects of fast-rising grain prices noting that "the biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries," and one that could "bring down civilization".

The recipient of 26 honorary degrees and a MacArthur Fellowship, Brown has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers". As early as 1978, in his book The Twenty-Ninth Day, he was already warning of "the various dangers arising out of our manhandling of nature... by overfishing the oceans, stripping the forests, turning land into desert." In 1986, the Library of Congress requested his personal papers noting that his writings "have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources," while president Bill Clinton has suggested that "we should all heed his advice."

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Radioactive.svg
Credit: Cary Bass

Radioactive contamination is the uncontrolled distribution of radioactive material in a given environment. It is typically the result of a spill or accident during the production or use of radionuclides (radioisotopes). Contamination may occur from radioactive gases, liquids or particles. For example, if a radionuclide used in nuclear medicine is accidentally spilled, the material could be spread by people as they walk around. Radioactive contamination may also be an inevitable result of certain processes, such as the release of radioactive xenon in nuclear fuel reprocessing.

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The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983. The commission was created to address growing concern "about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development." In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development.

The Report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, was published in 1987. It was welcomed by the General Assembly in its resolution 42/187. The report deals with sustainable development and the change of politics needed for achieving that. The definition of this term in the report is quite well known and often cited:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
  • the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

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Al Gore
Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several "tipping points" that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization.
Al Gore, giving a speech at NYU Law School in 2006

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