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Lecture 2

GEOL 103 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Gaia Hypothesis, Thermodynamics, Resource Depletion


Department
Geology
Course Code
GEOL 103
Professor
Gray Dean
Lecture
2

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Physics Laws !
-1st Law of Thermodynamics - Conservation: Energy is neither created nor destroyed,
only changes form. !
-2nd Law of Thermodynamics - Entropy: Physical systems move from high energy
states to low energy states (equilibrium). !
Environment as a System !
-A system is a “set of components functioning together as a whole” !
-Most systems are hierarchical, composed of smaller systems that are made up of
smaller interacting parts. !
-The global environment can be analyzed in terms of three key system traits. !
1. Openness!
Openness refers to the degree of isolation of a system !
The Earth is open to energy, which flows into & out of it !
Energy conforms to the 1st and 2nd Laws !
Cannot be recycled !
Moves from more organized/concentrated forms to less organized/
dispersed forms !
Earth is essentially closed to matter, which cycles over & over through the 4
spheres !
2. Integration !
Integration refers to the strength of the interactions among the various parts of
the system. !
Ex. Does biology play a role in climate? !
The degree of integration of the global environment is under debate. !
Highly integrated (Gaia hypothesis)? !
Most likely moderately integrated !
3. Complexity !
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