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EESA01H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Agroforestry, Coal Pollution Mitigation, Carpool

Environmental Science
Course Code
Carl Mitchell
Study Guide

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EESA01 Jed Blancaflor
EESA01 Final Exam Study Notes
Week 1: Introduction to Environmental Science
The objective of environmental science is to grasp the tools and information needed to make critical and
correct judgements about how things work and are related to the environment as well as understand the
short-sighted and destructive way in which modern society behaves with respect to the environment
Science is driven by curiosity focused towards a question that scientific methods can help to inform
The Scientific Method is a set of rules that prescribe how to derive knowledge that is valid and certifiable
Science often comes up with new knowledge and things that is known to be quite true but it rarely comes
up with new answers to questions about the world
In science, one cannot show a theory is right but only that it is not wrong; theory is good only until new
knowledge is gained which the theory cannot accommodate
Sometimes it is not easy or even possible to reason why certain knowledge today might be wrong due to the
constraint of current technology
There is no absolute truth in science but there are laws involving a natural phenomenon that has been
proven to occur invariably whenever certain conditions are met
The scientific method consists of observations (inspiration to examine and analyze an issue), questions
(what is the issue), hypothesis (what might be the cause of the issue which should be testable), predictions
(what is expected to be the result of an experiment based on the hypothesis), experiments, and results (did
they support the hypothesis; is further experimenting or research needed)
When the results do not support the hypothesis, think of a new one and repeat the method; scientists do not
learn anything until they make mistakes and realize what went wrong
There are 2 ways to test for hypotheses which depend on resources at hand; a manipulative approach or a
natural approach
In a manipulative experiment, it is conducted in a controlled environment so any correlations become more
evident but this is often not feasible especially when the experiment needs to be large-scale
In a natural experiment, it is conducted in nature where results correspond more to reality but there is often
poor control for many possible uncontrollable factors; however, these experiments are often conducted
multiple times for a better grasp of the correlation
Correlation does not equal causation meaning two things could be related but it does not mean that by
changing one, the other will also be affected
Tragedy of the Commons, a theory developed by Garrett Hardin, says that when resources are not
regulated, many will try to consume everything for their own personal satisfaction since there are no limits
Tragedy of the Commons can be related to resource extractors interested in maximum profit which is our
human nature to achieve; however, extractors become ignorant as to what is happening to the environment
and what will be left for other extractors and future generations
An example of Tragedy of the Commons was found on Rapa Nui where an entire civilization fell after they
had depleted the island’s palm trees to create canoes for fishing, sliders for their statues, and houses
The environmental issues faced today is a combination of world population growth and consumption
(specifically energy) far above what can easily be replaced or supported and a general ignorance to
recognize these issues for what is its true value
Week 2: Environmental Science and the Environmental Consequences of Population Growth
Science deals with developing new knowledge by building on current knowledge through reading peer-
reviewed scientific journal articles
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EESA01 Jed Blancaflor
Peer review is an extremely long and rigorous process involving experts in a certain field reading a
submitted journal article and giving advice as to whether it should be published
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary science involving many different disciplines and questions
crossing into these disciplines which include hydrology, biology, economics, political science, etc.
The basis of science is to not approach a problem from a biased view (i.e. be objective and open to having
things happen that do not follow the hypothesis) so environmental scientists are not the same as
environmentalists who have a specific view on society’s behaviour in relation to the environment
Ecological footprint puts a quantity of how much we are overusing resources which takes a person’s needs
and assigns a land area on Earth it would take to garner all its resources to sustain that person’s lifestyle
The world’s ecological footprint today has exceeded Earth’s total land area and our only option as a result
is to reduce our consumption so we do not deplete Earth’s resources for ourselves and future generations
Cornucopians are people who believe new technologies will eventually come up that will solve society’s
environmental problems such as lack of resources
Cassandras are people who believe society is screwed and should beg for help from supernatural beings
The belief of cornucopians is wrong since it did not save the people of Rapa Nui; in addition, Cassandras
are not doing anything to save the world despite their prediction of the world’s doom
The IPAT(S) model is an equation where the total impact (I) on the environment is a result of the
interaction between population (P) (more impact from increasing population), affluence (A) (more impact
from consuming more), technology (T) (more impact from faster extraction machines but less impact from
faster resource replacement), and sensitivity (S); the formula is I = P*A*T*S
The world has existed for 4.5 billion years, humans have been known to exist for 4-7 million years, and our
impact on the environment happened over the last 300 years
Doubling time is the number of years it takes, given a specific rate of increase, for a number such as a
population to double; the formula is 70/growth rate (%) (e.g. the current global growth rate is 1.2% so the
world will double its population in 58 years); however, this does not consider a changing growth rate
The world’s population has been growing exponentially with Earth’s population reaching 1 billion in the
early 1800s; in the last 200 years, Earth’s population has reached 7 billion
Carrying capacity is the maximum population size of a species that a given environment can sustain which
is influenced by limiting factors such as food, water, space, predators, and disease
Earth’s carrying capacity range between 10 million all living in luxury to 33 billion living in poverty
What happens at carrying capacity is uncertain since some populations level off, others fluctuate between
increasing and decreasing, and still others drop down to almost zero
There have been 4 distinct increases in carrying capacity for humans: the cultural revolution, the
agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the medical-technological revolution
The cultural revolution occurred during the Paleolithic period which involved the development of tools
with stone, bone, and wood to eat an omnivorous diet, the manipulation of fire, and the development of
speech and communication; during this time, the population was stable (births=deaths) because humans
were not able to keep themselves alive for very long but tools and speech allowed for a better diet and for
resources to be traded which increased life expectancy
The agricultural revolution occurred 10-12,000 years ago which involved the transition from travelling
hunters and gatherers to settled farmers that manipulated their surrounding environment to meet needs; this
reduced the area needed per person, created an excess of food, a whole population does not need to be in
food production, and the creation of new social structures such as priests and merchants
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EESA01 Jed Blancaflor
The industrial revolution occurred 300 years ago which involved the transition from rural farming to a
manufacturing, urban society; this improved sanitation and medicine, advanced agriculture to increase food
production, and increased the amount of energy and resources available for production
The medical-technological revolution occurring now involves further developments in sanitation, medicine,
and global communication which allows people to live longer and healthier lives but increases the gap
between the rich and poor
Demography is the study of human populations which considers population size, density and distribution,
age distribution, sex ratios, birth and death rates, and emigration and immigration rates
Population growth rates are highest in countries where GDP is lowest since they have no access to
contraception and people are trying to have lots of children to have hope for the future while populations
are densest in countries with a small area but have had a high growth rate as well as in coastal areas that
allow food and other resources to be transported in and out
If an age diagram is shaped like a pyramid, there are a lot of young people who will eventually make a lot
of babies so the population will rapidly increase; if it is relatively equal throughout all age groups, the
number of people born equal the number of people dying so the population is stable; if it is shaped like an
inverted pyramid, there are a lot of old people who will eventually die out so the population will decrease
Age diagrams do not consider immigration and emigration so countries like Canada are showing a
decreasing population in terms of births but it is actually increasing from immigration
Evolution has led to a slight favouring of male offspring with 106 males being born for every 100 females
but boys die more often than girls at old age
Because of cultural traditions and policies such as China’s one-child policy, boys are being favoured more
than girls since boys have a better chance at being successful in life and can carry on the family name; as a
result, girls are being aborted so there has been an uneven ratio of boys to girls in some countries which
causes problems in population stability since boys have no wives to reproduce with
Countries often go through a demographic transition which as 4 stages: pre-industrial stage (high birth and
death rates from lack of medicine and sanitation meaning a stable population), transitional stage (declining
death rates from better access to medicine and technology meaning a growing population), industrial stage
(declining birth rates from decreasing need for more babies), and post-industrial stage (birth and death rates
are equal again and population is stable again)
Factors affecting population growth include the education and the status of women which is lessening their
time at home as well as family planning from increasing access to contraceptives, poverty where more
people are being born in developing countries especially in environmentally-sensitive areas, and disease
especially HIV/AIDS causing high mortality
The Millennium Goals by the UN are international goals set up to be achieved by 2015 for the purpose of
making the world a better place; they include ending poverty and hunger, achieving universal education,
promoting gender quality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combatting diseases,
ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development
Week 3: Earth Systems and Ecosystem Ecology
A system is something where processes occur that can do work of some kind which require some sort of
input and output with work or processes in the middle
In an open system, there are lots of inputs and outputs of energy and matter with energy and matter
conversions in the middle but they are very wasteful since almost no energy or matter is recycled within
In a closed system, there are no inputs and outputs so there is a highly efficient use of energy and matter
within the system; however, no system is completely closed because all systems require energy to function
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