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:

- Climate change science
- Historical climate change
- Greenhouse gases
- Evidence of climate change
- Rising greenhouse gases
- Effects of climate change



In 1997, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report called the Fourth Assessment Report that declared that climate change was unequivocal. The report was comprehensive and detailed. The atmosphere is warmer, the oceans are warmer and there is more precipitation and extreme weather events. Two main questions that the IPCC looked at include:

What is the impact on society and ecosystems?
How can we manage the system through adaptation and mitigation?

The IPCC reported that it was more than 90% likely that climate change was the result of human-made greenhouse gasses that trap infrared radiation creating carbon dioxide.

Most of the carbon dioxide in the air that creates global warming comes from the burning of fossil fuels.



Climates in the past have changed dramatically from extremely cold temperatures in the Ice Age on one end to warmer temperatures that we now experience.

The Earth naturally alternates between very cold temperatures and warmer periods.

There are two water patterns in oceans, AMOC or Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and NADW, or North Atlantic Deep Water, that move large masses of water from the surface to the deep oceans and back. This intermixes warm shallow currents with cold deep ocean currents. In addition, there are oscillations that occur in the North and South that happen when there are big shifts in atmospheric pressure.



Climate is influenced by factors such as internal components (the oceans, ice) and external factors (solar radiation, the Earth's rotation).

Radiative forcing is the influence any factor has on the energy balance of the ocean-land system.

Water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere work in a way similar to a greenhouse where light energy is converted to heat energy. Hence, they are called greenhouse gases or GHGs. Infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere but most of it is absorbed and re-emitted by greenhouse gases, warming the Earth's surface.

Not all GHGs are radiated back out into space. Some are trapped like a heat blanket around the Earth, creating the greenhouse effect of warming the planet. Our climate is affected by GHGs. If these concentrations go up or down too much, they no longer act as positive forcing agents and we will experience significant changes in our climate and ecosystems.



Evidence of climate change is most noticeable in increasing temperatures. The first decade of the 21st century is the warmest decade on record.

Data from satellites shows that there is a correlation between surface temperatures and tropospheric temperatures. If one goes up, the other does as well, creating a greenhouse effect.

Additional changes include faster springs and delayed fall seasons with broad increases in temperature throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Rising Arctic temperatures have led to sea ice shrinking and melting and loss of ice in northern latitudes as well as down by the south pole. Glaciers are also retreating, and both fish and animal life have suffered as a result.

Oceans are warming up and sea levels are rising. As oceans soak up carbon dioxide, they are also becoming more acidic. This leads to the decline of coral reef and the animals that feed on reefs.



There is an increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs and halocarbons in the Earth's atmosphere. This is a disturbing trend as these gases create global warming and also deplete the ozone layer.

As temperatures rise, more water evaporates, creating more humid climates and also leading to more warming. This is called positive feedback.

Nitrous oxide, produced during agricultural processes and fossil fuel production, contributes to warming. Nitrous oxide is problematic because this gas lasts for a long time (114 years on average) and directly contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer.



Scientists expect climate change effects to include rising water and land temperatures, decreased snow and ice, acidification of coral reefs, more intense storms, less rainfall and changing ecosystems.

Tropical areas may become too hot to live in while growing seasons in areas at higher latitudes are longer. People may migrate to northern regions as the temperatures become more moderate.

Some scientific predictions have already occurred, such as heat waves, intense storms, heavy precipitation, rising sea levels and destructive hurricanes.