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01:460:101 Study Guide - Quiz Guide: Ecosystem Services, Natural Capital, Ecological Footprint

Geological Sciences
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Study Guide

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Chapter 1 Review Questions Section 1-1 and 1-2
Review Questions
1. Core Case Study. Summarize the authors’ vision of a more sustainable world, which could be attainable
by 2065.
A small but growing number of people had begun shifting to more environmentally sustainable lifestyles
by 2018. By 2065, the loss of species and degradation of land had slowed to a trickle. The
atmosphere, oceans, lakes, and rivers were cleaner. Energy waste had been cut in half.
By 2050, significant atmospheric warming and the resulting climate change had occurred as many
climate scientists had projected in the 1990s. However, the threat of further climate change and air and
water pollution had begun to decrease because of greatly reduced energy waste and the gradual shift
in human use of energy resources from oil and coal to cleaner energy from the sun, wind, flowing water,
and other renewable resources.
Section 1-1
2. What are the key concepts for this section?
Key concepts: Nature has been sustained for billions of years by relying on solar energy, biodiversity,
and chemical cycling. Our lives and economies depend on energy from the sun and on natural
resources and ecosystem services (natural capital) provided by the earth. We could shift toward living
more sustainably by applying full-cost pricing, searching for win-win solutions, and committing to
preserving the earth’s life-support system for future generations.
Define sustainability.
Define environment.
The environment is everything around us.
Distinguish among environmental science, ecology, and environmentalism.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with living and nonliving
parts of their environment.
Ecology is the biological science that studies how organisms, or living things, interact with one
another and with their environment.
Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life-support systems for
all forms of life.
Distinguish between an organism and a species.
Every organism is a member of a certain species: a group of organisms that have distinctive traits
and, for sexually reproducing organisms, can mate and produce fertile offspring.
What is an ecosystem?

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An ecosystem is a set of organisms within a defined area or volume interacting with one another
and with their environment of nonliving matter and energy.
What are the three scientific principles of sustainability derived from how the natural world works?
The three scientific principles of sustainability are: (1) dependence on solar energy, (2) Biodiversity,
and (3) chemical cycling.
What is solar energy and why is it important to life on the earth?
Solar energy is the energy imparted to the earth system by the sun. The sun warms the planet and
provides energy that plants use to produce nutrients. The sun also powers indirect forms of solar
energy such as wind and flowing water.
What is biodiversity and why is it important to life on earth?
Biodiversity is the variety of genes, organisms, species, and ecosystems in which organisms exist
and interact. The interactions among species provide vital ecosystem services and keep
populations from growing too large.
Define nutrients.
Nutrients are chemicals that plants produce that are necessary for their own life processes as well
as those of other organisms.
Define chemical or nutrient cycling and explain why it is important to life on the earth.
Chemical cycling is the circulation of chemicals necessary for life from the environment, through
organisms, and back to the environment. Organisms must recycle chemicals continuously in order
to survive.
3. Define natural capital.
Natural capital is the natural resources and natural services that keep us and other species alive
and support human economies.
Define natural resources and natural services, or ecosystem services, and give two examples of each.
Natural resources are materials and energy in nature that are essential or useful to humans.
Examples of natural resources include water and oil.
Ecosystem services are processes provided by healthy ecosystems. Examples of ecosystem
services include renewal of topsoil and pollination.

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Give three examples of how we are degrading natural capital.
We degrade natural capital by cutting down trees faster than they can grow back, replacing
diverse and sustainable forests with croplands, and adding harmful chemicals and wastes to
streams and oceans faster than they can cleanse themselves.
Explain how finding solutions to environmental problems involves making trade-offs.
The search for environmental solutions often involves conflicts. In these cases it is important to
make trade-offs, where both sides get something out of the deal.
Explain why individuals matter in dealing with the environmental problems we face.
History has shown that almost all of the significant changes in human systems have come from
the bottom up, through the collective actions of individuals and from individuals inventing more
sustainable ways of doing things. Thus, sustainability begins with actions at personal and local
What are three social science principles of sustainability?
The three social science principles of sustainability are: (1) full-cost pricing, (2) win-win
solutions, and (3) a responsibility to future generations.
What is full-cost pricing and why is it important?
Full-cost pricing involves adding detrimental costs to the environment and human health to the
prices of goods and services. Full-cost pricing would give consumers better information about
the environmental impacts of their lifestyles, and it would allow them to make more informed
choices about the goods and services they use.
4. What is a resource?
A resource is anything we can obtain from the environment to meet our needs and wants.
Distinguish between an inexhaustible resource and a renewable resource and give an example of each.
Inexhaustible resources have continual supplies, and renewable resources will be replenished as
long as we do not use them too rapidly. Solar energy is perpetual and wood resources are
What is the sustainable yield of a renewable resource?
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