ES101 Midterm Textbook notes.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Environmental Studies
Robert Mc Leman

Chapter 1: Environmental Problems: An Introduction and Overview  Environment – everything that affects a living organism  Ecology – biological science that studies the relationships between living organisms and their environment  Environmentalism – social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life support systems for us and other species  All life and economies depend on energy from the sun (solar capital) and the earth’s resources and ecological services (natural capital)  Solar energy includes direct sunlight and indirect forms of renewable solar energy such as wind power, hydropower and biomass  Natural capital includes the planet’s air, water, soil, wildlife, forest, rangeland, mineral, energy resources, and the processes of natural purification, recycling and pest control  Biological incomes are renewable supplies of resources like wood, fish, underground drinking water, etc.  Environmentally sustainable society meets the needs of its people without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their needs  Perpetual resources include direct solar energy, winds, tides and flowing water because they are renewed continuously  Nonrenewable energy includes fossil fuels and minerals  Renewable resources include fresh air, fresh water, fertile soil and plants and animals  Sustainable yield is the highest rate at which a renewable resource can be used indefinitely without reducing its available supply  Environmental Impact = People + resource per person + technology (I=P+A+T) Chapter 2: Environmental History: Learning from the Past  Three major cultural changes – agriculture, industrialization, and globalization  Hunter-gatherers exploited the environment but overall had a low effect because of small populations and lack of technology  Agricultural revolution – began 10000-12000 years ago. Provided more food and people lived longer and healthier but environmental degradation increased  Slash and burn cultivation was practiced and because a lot of land was available, early farmers were able to practice sustainable cultivation by moving to a new area and allowing old areas to regenerate nutrients  The industrial-medical revolution began in mid 1700’s and brought more people, longer lives, more production and a larger ecological footprint  The information and globalization revolution began in 1950 bringing mass communication and information  Early conservationists included Henry Thoreau who wrote “Life in the Woods” and George Marsh who published “Man and Nature”  Clifford Sifton was the first chair of the Commission of Conservation and has been called the father of conservation in Canada  James Harken was the first commissioner of national parks and was called the father of national parks  John Muir founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and became leader of the preservationist movement  In 1916, Congress passed the National Park Service Act, declaring parks to be maintained and unimpaired for future generations  Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring” to illustrate the effects of pesticides on birds Chapter 3: Science, Systems, Matter and Energy  Scientific Process: observation, question, hypothesis, test hypothesis, result, new hypothesis, experiment, result, conclusion  Frontier science is scientific results that have not been confirmed  Sound science is results that are well tested and widely accepted  Junk science is untested ideas presented as sound science  A system is a set of components that function and interact in some regular and theoretical understandable manner. They usually have inputs, throughputs and outputs.  First law of thermodynamics: we can never create or destroy energy  Second law: whenever energy changes forms we end up with less usable energy Chapter 4: Ecosystems: What are they and How do they Work?  Organisms can be classified by taxa such as kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families and genera  Atmosphere is a thin envelope or membrane of air around the planet  Troposphere extends only about 17 km above sea level and contains most the earth’s air  the stratosphere extends above the troposphere from 17-48km  The hydrosphere consists of earth’s water  The lithosphere is the earth’s crust and upper mantle  The biosphere is where all living and non-living things interact with the environment  The sun, cycles and gravity sustain the earth’s life  Biomes are regions such as forests, deserts and grasslands characterized by a distinct climate and specific species  Aquatic life zones are the water equivalent of biomes  Ecosystems consist of nonliving and living components or abiotic and biotic components  Populations of different species can thrive only under certain physical and chemical conditions and this is called a range of tolerance  The law of tolerance – the existence, abundance and distribution of a species in an ecosystem are determined by whether the levels of one or more physical or chemical factors fall within the range tolerated by that species  The limiting factor stops populations from growing too large due to availability of matter and energy resources  Limiting factor principle – too much or too little of any abiotic factor can limit or prevent growth of a population even if all other factors are at or near the optimum range of tolerance  Producers or autotrophs make their own food from compounds in the environment (plants)  Consumers or heterotrophs get energy and nutrients they need by feeding on other organisms  Decomposers recycle organic matter by breaking down dead organic material to get nutrients  Omnivores e
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