Introduction to Environmental Science

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Previous Lessons
Open Chapter Ch. 1: Science and the Environment
Lesson #1 The State of the Planet
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Lesson #2 Environmental Science and the Environmental Movement
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Lesson #3 3 Unifying Themes - Sustainability, Sound Science and Stewardship
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Lesson #4 Moving Towards a Sustainable Future
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Open Chapter Ch. 2: Economics, Politics, and Public Policy
Lesson #5 Economics and the Environment
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Lesson #6 Resources in a Sustainable Economy
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Lesson #7 Environmental Public Policy
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Lesson #8 Benefit-Cost Analysis of Environmental Public Policy
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Lesson #9 Politics and the Environment
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Open Chapter Ch. 3: Basic Needs of Living Things
Lesson #10 Organisms in Their Environment
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Lesson #11 Environmental Factors
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Lesson #12 Matter in Living and Nonliving Systems
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Lesson #13 Matter and Energy
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Lesson #14 The Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems
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Open Chapter Ch. 4: Populations and Communities
Lesson #15 Dynamics of Natural Populations
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Lesson #16 Limits on Population
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Lesson #17 Community Interactions
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Lesson #18 Evolution as a Force for Change
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Lesson #19 Implications for Human Management
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Open Chapter Ch. 5: Ecosystems: Energy, Patterns, and Disturbance
Lesson #20 Characteristics of Ecosystems
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Lesson #21 The Flow of Energy in Ecosystems
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Lesson #22 From Ecosystems to Global Biomes
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Lesson #23 Ecosystem Responses to Disturbance
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Lesson #24 Human Values and Ecosystem Sustainability
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Open Chapter Ch. 6: Wild Species and Biodiversity
Lesson #25 The Value of Wild Species and Biodiversity
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Lesson #26 Biodiversity and Its Decline
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Lesson #27 Saving Wild Species
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Lesson #28 Protecting Biodiversity Internationally
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Exam Exam 1
Open Chapter Ch. 7: The Value, Use, and Restoration of Ecosystems
Lesson #29 Ecosystem Capital
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Lesson #30 Consumption and Production
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Lesson #31 Biomes and Ecosystems Under Pressure
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Lesson #32 Protection and Restoration
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Open Chapter Ch. 8: The Human Population
Lesson #33 The Human Population
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Lesson #34 Population and Consumption: Different Worlds
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Lesson #35 Consequences of Population Growth and Affluence
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Lesson #36 Projecting Future Populations
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Open Chapter Ch. 9: Population and Development
Lesson #37 Predicting the Demographic Transition
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Lesson #38 Promoting Development
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Lesson #39 A New Direction: Social Modernization
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Open Chapter Ch. 10: Water: Hydrologic Cycle and Human Use
Lesson #40 Water: A Vital Resource
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Lesson #41 Hydrologic Cycle: Natural Cycle, Human Impacts
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Lesson #42 Water: Getting Enough, Controlling Excess
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Lesson #43 Water Stewardship: Supply and Public Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 11: Soil: The Foundation for Land Ecosystems
Lesson #44 Soil and Plants
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Lesson #45 Soil Degradation
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Lesson #46 Soil Conservation
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Open Chapter Ch. 12: The Production and Distribution of Food
Lesson #47 Crops and Animals: Major Patterns of Food Production
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Lesson #48 From Green Revolution to Gene Revolution
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Lesson #49 Food Distribution and Trade
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Lesson #50 Hunger, Malnutrition, and Famine
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Lesson #51 The Future: Feeding the World as We Approach 2030-2050
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Exam Midterm Exam
Open Chapter Ch. 13: Pests and Pest Control
Lesson #52 The Need for Pest Control
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Lesson #53 Chemical Treatment: Promises and Problems
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Lesson #54 Alternative Pest Control Methods
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Lesson #55 Making a Coherent Plan
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Lesson #56 Pests, Pesticides, and Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 14: Energy from Fossil Fuels
Lesson #57 Energy from Fossil Fuels
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Lesson #58 Exploiting Crude Oil
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Lesson #59 Drilling for Natural Gas
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Lesson #60 Mining Coal
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Lesson #61 Energy Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 15: Nuclear Power
Lesson #62 Nuclear Energy in Perspective
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Lesson #63 How Nuclear Power Works
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Lesson #64 The Hazards and Costs of Nuclear Power Facilities
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Lesson #65 More Advanced Reactors
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Lesson #66 The Future of Nuclear Power
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Open Chapter Ch. 16: Renewable Energy
Lesson #67 Strategic Issues
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Lesson #68 Putting Solar Energy to Work
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Lesson #69 Indirect Solar Energy
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Lesson #70 Renewable Energy for Transportation
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Lesson #71 Additional Renewable Energy Options
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Lesson #72 Policies for Renewable Energy
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Open Chapter Ch. 17: Environmental Hazards and Human Health
Lesson #73 Links Between Human Health and the Environment
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Lesson #74 Pathways of Risk
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Lesson #75 Risk Assessment
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Open Chapter Ch. 18: Global Climate Change
Lesson #76 Atmosphere, Weather, and Climate
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Lesson #77 Climate Change Science
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Lesson #78 Response to Climate Change
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Exam Exam 3
Open Chapter Ch. 19: Atmospheric Pollution
Lesson #79 Air Pollution Essentials
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Lesson #80 Major Air Pollutants and Their Sources
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Lesson #81 Impacts of Air Pollutants
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Lesson #82 Bringing Air Pollution Under Control
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Lesson #83 Destruction of the Ozone Layer
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Open Chapter Ch. 20: Water Pollution and Its Prevention
Lesson #84 Perspectives on Water Pollution
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Lesson #85 Wastewater Treatment and Management
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Lesson #86 Eutrophication
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Lesson #87 Public Policy and Water Pollution
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Open Chapter Ch. 21: Municipal Solid Waste: Disposal and Recovery
Lesson #88 Solid Waste: Landfills and Combustion
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Lesson #89 Better Solutions: Source Reduction and Recycling
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Lesson #90 Public Policy and Waste Management
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Open Chapter Ch. 22: Hazardous Chemicals: Pollution and Prevention
Lesson #91 Toxicology and Chemical Hazards
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Lesson #92 Hazardous Waste Disposal
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Lesson #93 Cleaning Up the Mess
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Lesson #94 Managing Current Toxic Chemicals and Waste
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Lesson #95 Hazardous Chemicals: Pollution and Prevention
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Open Chapter Ch. 23: Sustainable Communities and Lifestyles
Lesson #96 Urban Sprawl
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Lesson #97 Urban Blight
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Lesson #98 Moving Towards Sustainable Cities and Communities
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Lesson #99 Lifestyles and the Common Good
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Exam Final Exam

Assignments:

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Lesson Objectives:

- Forest ecosystems
- Ocean ecosystems
- Whaling
- Coral reefs
- Mangroves



Human activity has exerted more pressure on forest and ocean ecosystems than other ecosystems.

Forest ecosystems provide some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. They provide:
- habitats for biodiversity
- moderate temperatures
- prevent soil erosion
- store carbon
- food, fuel, medicine and income
- wood and timber
- raw materials for paper and other industries

Forests account for 50% of plant productivity. Deforestation continues at the rate of 18 million acres per year. Large-scale deforestation occurs in Africa where population demand is intense, and in the Amazon basin where farmers move in to graze cattle and build ranches. Cutting down forests prevents carbon storage and has increased climate change. Clearing forests have lowered productivity, created more erosion and destroyed habitats and biodiversity.



Ocean ecosystems account for 75% of Earth's surface area.

Fisheries provide employment for 200 million people and provide for 15% of human consumption of protein worldwide.

The Magnuson Act of 1976 in the United States extended limits of jurisdiction for countries to 200 miles offshore. This effectively removed fisheries from the international commons and placed them under the authority of particular nations. Some nations recovered fishing areas while others expanded to exploit fisheries.

Overfishing has led to the decline of larger fish like marlin, tuna and swordfish. Fishes are being depleted down the food chain. Aquaculture is the modern practice of farming aquatic organisms. After excessive exploration of fisheries, the government reauthorized the Magnuson Act, requiring regional councils to set catch limits based on sound science and to end overfishing. Annual catch yields have to be less than maximum sustainable yield. In addition, certain marine areas were protected (MPAs) to prevent damage to marine ecosystems. Tourism is allowed in these areas but commercial fishing and mineral mining is not.



Whaling is the process of killing whales that is very common in Japan, Norway and Iceland.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) put a ban on the hunting of several whale species starting in 1974. Since data collection was very difficult to obtain, IWC then put a ban on the hunting all whales since 1986.

Some limited whaling still occurs today. Japan, Norway and Iceland have pushed for the removal of the ban.



Coral reefs are diverse, biologically productive ecosystems consisting of reef-building coral animals that live in a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae.

Zooxanthellae are photosynthetic algae living in reefs.

Coral reefs attract huge variety of fish and shellfish and offer both food and trade for locals as well as tourism. Coral reefs generate $30 billion a year in fishing and tourism revenue.

Coral reefs are in decline near human populations. Since 1998, 20% of all coral reefs have been destroyed. Coral bleaching or whitening of colorful coral reefs happens due to high temperatures. Repeated bleaching due to rising temperatures kills corals. Ocean acidification from excessive carbon dioxide released into the air and turning seawater acidic, has also devastated both corals and all tropical fish and sea life.



Mangroves are trees that can grow in shallow marine sediments usually near coral reefs.

Mangroves protect the coastline from soil erosion and storms. Many marine fish live in mangroves.

50% of the world's mangroves (45 million hectares) have been cut down for coastal development, logging and shrimp aquaculture. This is common in Indonesia, the Philippines and Bangladesh.