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Everything around us

Evironmental Science

How humans interact with the environment


The biological science that studies how organisms interact with one another and with their environment


A set of organisms within a defined area that interact with one another and with their environment

Reliance on Solar Energy

The sun provides enerygy for photosynthesis, which provides energy for plants,which provide energy for non-plants


Large variety of organisms allows life to survive almost any condition. Also provides renewal of topsoil, pest control, air and water purification, etc.

Chemical Cycling

Circulation of chemicals from environment into organisms and back to environment. Allows same materials to be used over and over

Natural Capital

The natural resources and services that keep us and other life forms alive

Natural Resources

Materials and energy in nature that are essential, or useful to humans, classified as renewable and non renewable

Natural Services

Processes in nature (e.g. air and water purification)


Anything humans can gain from the environment to meet our needs and wants

Perpetual Resource

A lasting, continuous supply (e.g. sunlight)

Sustainable Yield

The highest rate at which we can use a renewable resource indefinitely without reducing its supply

Non-Renewable Resource

Resource that exists in a fixed quantity


Using a resource again in the same form


Collecting waste materials and transforming them into new materials (different form)

Economic Growth

An increase in a nation's output of goods and services

Gross Domestic Product

The annual market value of all goods and services produced by all busineses

Per Capita GDP

Economic growth per person

Economic development

Using economic growth to improve living standards

Natural Capita Degradation

Environmental degredation (e.g. destroying ecosystems, decrease in biodiversity)


Any presence in the environment of any agent at a level harmful to the health, survival, or activites of organisms

Point Source Pollution

Single, identifiable source

Non-point Source

Dispersed, difficult to identify

Output Pollution Control

Cleaning up or dilluting pollutants after they have been released into the environment

Input Pollution Control

Reduces or eliminates the production of pollutants

Ecological Footprint

The amount of biologically productive land and water needed to provide the people in a particular area with an indefinite supply of renewable resources

Per Capita Ecological Footprint

Average ecological footprint of an individual in a particular area


Population x Affluence x Technology
Estimate of how much humanity is degrading the natural capital it depends on

Ecological Tipping Point

An often irreversable Shift in the behavior of a natural system (i.e. collapse in fish populations, premature extinctions, and long term climate change)


The whole of society's knowledge, beliefs, technology, and practices

Sustainability Revolution

Change in human behavior hoped to come within this century, would involve reducing ecological footprint to live more sustainably

Agricultural Revolution

Humans learned how to grow and breed plants and animals for food, clothing, etc.

Industrial Medical Revolution

Large scale production of goods in factories, medical advancements

Technology Revolution

Technology for gaining access to information on a global scale


People unable to fulfill needs for food, water, shelter, health, and education, leads to environmental degredation, pollution leads to poverty, lack of hygene, premature deaths

Environmental Wolrd View

Set of assumptions and values reflecting how you think the world works

Environmental Ethics

Beliefs about what is right and wrong with how we treat each other

Stewardship Worldview

We should manage the Earth for our benefit, but we still have ethical responsibility

Planetary Management World View

We are seperate from and in charge of nature, only exists to meet our needs and wants

Environmental Wisdom Worldview

We are a part of and dependent on nature, nature exists for all species, not just us

Four Basic Causes of Environmental Problems

1) Population growth
2) Wasteful and unsustainable resource use
3) Poverty
4) Failure to include the harmful environmental costs and service goon on resource prices

Environmentally Sustainable Society

Meets current and future basic resource needs of its people in a just and equitable manner, without compromising the resource needs of future generations

Natural Income

Renewable Resources such as plants, animals, and soil provided by the earth's natural capital, not depleting or degrading the natural capital, and providing humans with adequate access to it for the forseeable future.

Social Capital

Getting people with different views and values to talk and listen to one another to solve environmental problems, trade off solutions


An appropriate representation or simulation of a system

Scientific Theory

A well tested and widely accepted group of hypothesises

Peer Review

Publuishing Details of Methods, models, and results, for other scientists to review

Scientific Law (law of nature)

A well tested and widely accepted description of what we find happening repeatedly in nature

Tentative (frontier) Science

Has not been widely tested or accepted yet so it id not considered reliable


Has mass and takes up space


Fundamental type of matter


Combo of 2 or more elements


Smallest unit of matter to which an element can be divided

Atomic Theory

All elements are made up of atoms (most widely accepted theory in science)

Atomic number

Number of protons in the Nucleus

Mass Number

Mass of one atom of the element


Same atomic number, different mass


Has pos or neg charge


Measure of acidity

Chemical Formula

Number of each type of atom in a compound

Organic Compound

Contains Carbon Atoms

Matter Quality

How useful a form of matter is to humans as a resource based on availability and concentration

Physical Change

No change in chemical composition

Chemical Change

Change in chemical composition, usually irreversable

Law of Conservation of Matter

We cannot create or destroy atoms on earth (except nuclear)

First law of Thermodynamics

Law of conservation of energy, energy is never created or destroyed

Second Law of Thermodynamics

Whenever energy is converted from one form to another, there is a loss of usable matter (lowers quality)


Set of components that function and interact in some regular wat


Any process that increases or decreases a change in a system

Positive feedback loop

Causes a system to move furhter faster in a certain direction (e.g. ice caps)

Negative Feedback Loop

(Corrective) Causes a system to start moving the opposite direction (e.g. thermostat)

Time Delay

Lack of response during a period of time between the input of a feedback stimulus and a response

Threshold level (tippinng point)

Fundamental Shift


Two or more processes interact so the combined effect is greater than the sum of the effects (can be good or bad)

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