environmental functions

These are the functions of the environment that support human life and economic activity. The first of these functions is the production of raw materials from the natural resources of soil, water, forests, minerals and marine life (the Earth’s ‘source’ function). The second is the safe absorption (through breakdown, recycling or storage) of the wastes and pollution produced by production and human life (the Earth’s ‘sink’ function). The third is the provision of the environmental or ecosystem services that support life without requiring human action, for example, climatic stability, biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and protection from ultraviolet radiation (the Earth’s ‘service’ function). The fourth is the intrinsic recreational, psychological, aesthetic and spiritual value of environments (the Earth’s ‘spiritual’ function).