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Midterm #1 Review Summary of notes from Chapter 1-8

School of Environment
Course Code
Barbara Murck
Study Guide

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Chapter 1
- environmental science – study of how the natural world works, how our
environment affects us and how we affect our environment
- the environment is made up of biotic and abiotic components
obiotic constituents ex: animals, plants, forests, soils ,etc
oabiotic constituents ex: oceans, clouds, rivers, and icecaps, etc
- Natural resources
oVarious substances and energy sources we need to survive
oRenewable natural resources (sunlight, wind, geothermal, etc) and non-
renewable resources (fossil fuels)
oRenewable natural resources might take awhile, restricted by rates of
physical processes, such as the infiltration of groundwater to replenish an
oResource management – strategic decision making and planning aimed at
balancing the use of a resource with its protection preservation
Balancing the rate of withdrawal from the stock with the rate of
renewal or regeneration
Stock – harvestable portion of the resource
oIt is vital to make efficient use of resource management so consumption is
not greater than renewal or regeneration
- Four significant periods of societal change appear to have triggered remarkable
increases in population size along with increase environmental impacts
oPaleolithic or Old Stone Age period
2.5 million years ago
When early humans made use of fire and stones
oAgricultural period or Neolithic or agricultural revolution
10000 to 12000 years ago
oIndustrial revolution
Urban society powered by fossil fuels.
Improved standards of living but marked the beginning of
industrial scale pollution and many other environmental and social
Decline in air quality, water quality
oMedical technological revolution
Right now
Medicine and sanitation = longer life spans and health
Keeping people alive longer
- Resource consumption exerts social and environmental impacts
oI = P x A x T
- Carry Capacity and the “tragedy of the commons”
oBiological productivity of a system; it is a measure of the ability of a
system to support life
oIn terms of the number of individuals of a particular species that can be
sustained by the biological productivity of a given area of land.

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oIf carrying capacity of and system is exceeded the population of that
species will decline of collapse or the system itself will be altered,
damaged or depleted
oTragedy of the commons
Each individual withdraws whatever benefits are available from
the common property as quickly as possible, until the resource
becomes overused and depleted.
- Ecological footprint
oMeasure of the land required to sustain an individual
oInverse of carry capacity (number of individuals that can be sustained by
an area of land)
- Environmental science can help us avoid mistakes made in the past
oLearn from failures to avoid them in the future
oRapa nui – overconsumption led to devastation of the entire
oJared Diamond
Identified five critical factors that determine the survival of
Climate change
Hostile neighbours
Trade partners
Environmental problems
Society’s response to environment problems
- Environmental science if an interdisciplinary pursuit
oRequires ecology, earth science, chemistry, biology, economics, political
science, demography, ethics, and many others
oNatural sciences + social sciences
- People differ in their perception of environmental problems
oExample DDT – people in the 1950s didn’t see the health problems it
posed but now we do
oRich people might not give a damn, poor might care more
- Environmental science vs environmentalism
oEnv science is the pursuit of knowledge about the working of the
environment and our interactions with it
oEnvironmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting the natural
- Scientific method
oTechnique for testing ideas with observations, it involves several
assumptions and a series of interrelated steps
oNot only one way to do it though, it is a theme with variations, scientists
pursue their work in many different ways
oRelies on a few assumptions
The universe function in accordance with fixed natural laws that do
not change from time to time or from place to place
All events arise form some cause and, in turn, lead to other events

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We can use our senses and reasoning abilities to detect and
describe natural laws that underlie the cause and effect
relationships we observe in nature
oBasic outline of the scientific method
Make observations
Ask questions
Develop a hypothesis
Attempt to answer their questions by devising explanations
that can be tested
Educated guess that explains a phenomenon or answers a
scientific question
Make predictions
Based on hypothesis, predict what will happen
Test predications
Experimentally, manipulate variables
Controlled experiments
Analyze and interpret results
Based on data obtained from experiment
oIf experiments disprove a hypothesis, the scientist will reject the
hypothesis and may develop a new one to replace it
oIf experiments fail to disprove the hypothesis, this outcome lends support
to the hypothesis but does not prove that the hypothesis is correct.
oIf repeated tests fail to disprove a hypothesis and evidence in its favour is
accumulating, the research may eventually conclude that the idea is well
- After an hypothesis has been proven, a scientific paper is produced
oPeer review – valuable guard against faulty science contaminating the
literature on which all scientists rely
oConference presentation presenting their work at profession conferences,
where they interact with colleagues and receive comments informally on
their research
oGrants and funding
oRepeatability – ability to reproduce the exact same experiment and results
with stay consistent
oAfter many processes, the hypothesis can become a theory; a widely
accepted, well tested explanation of one or more cause and effect
relationships, which has bee extensive validated by extensive research
- Science may go through paradigm shifts
- Sustainability is a goal for the future
oSustainable development – use of renewable and non-renewable resources
in a manner that satisfies our current needs without compromising future
availability of resources
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