Environmental Exam 3

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Unconfined aquiferAquifer open to receive water from the surfaceGroundwater flow- Most of the precipitation that is not transpired by plants or evaporated - Infiltrates through soils and flows through rocks and sediments - Discharges into riversPorosity- Total volume of sediment that is occupied by pore spaces - High porosity does not equate to a high permeability because pore spaces may be poorly interconnectedPermeability- Ease with which water and other fluids migrate through geological strata (sediment) or landfill liners - Permeable = connected poresDarcy's Law- Fundamental equation for flow through porous media - Velocity of groundwater depends on the permeability and porosity of the soil and the slope of the water tableWhat is natural gas hydraulic fracturing?A new technique for extracting natural gas from within deep shale depositsDoes natural gas hydraulic fracturing require the use of freshwater?Yes, the process requires almost a million gallons of water per day (with chemical additives) for each operating wellWhat are the two benefits if natural gas hydraulic fracturing happens in the Catskills?1) Provides a substantial increase in domestic energy supplies 2) Viable solution to the economic challenges facing many rural communities in the region → revenue from gas leasing and potential income from royaltiesWhat are the risks/problems associated with natural gas hydraulic fracturing?1) Gas well sites require about five acres of farm or forest land cleared and dedicated to drilling operations, considerably altering the landscape 2) Increased truck and construction traffic on local roads adds to stress on regional infrastructure 3) Drilling operations and vehicle traffic result in increased air, noise, and light pollution 4) Large volumes of wastewater, of which about a third is contaminated and requires special treatmentWhat is the main message of this diagram?Groundwater in valleys appears to be more likely affected than water further upslopeHydrological cycle- The movement of water between the atmosphere and the earth's surface - Solar energy is the driving force because it facilitates evaporation - Evaporation and transpiration move away away from the earth's surface to the atmosphere - Precipitation moves water from the atmosphere to the earth's surfaceWhat factors determine how fast water can travel through an aquifer?Porosity and slopeWhat is a forest's role in water cycling?- Transpiration: release of moisture from within the leaf to the atmosphere - Leaves provide a surface on which water can collect and then drip to the ground (interception) - Roots enhance water storage capacity of soil and prevent flooding and erosion - Evapotranspiration: plant roots absorb rain water and return some of it locally to the atmosphere through transpiration - Roots of the trees and the microbes in the forest soil filter the waterHow does fracking contribute to drinking water contamination in all stages of the process?1) Acquiring water to be used for fracking 2) Mixing the water with chemical additives to make fracking fluids 3) Injecting the chemical fluids underground 4) Collecting the wastewater that flows out of fracking wells after injections 5) Storing the used wastewaterFive potential environmental effects of fracking1) Water quality → surface spillage, well leakage, waste water disposal 2) Air quality → increased traffic, flaring, other site emissions 3) Climate change → methane emissions 4) Noise 5) EarthquakesPollutionUnwanted alternation of natural systems as a result of human activityPoint source pollutionWater pollution from a distinct, limited discharge source such as a factoryBiodegradable pollutant- Can be broken down into less harmful components by bacteria (only works to a point because biota can be overwhelmed by excess pollution) - Examples: sewage, paper, wood, cloth, leather, wool, plant matterNonpoint source pollutionDiffuse, unbounded charges from many contributors, such as runoff from city streets or agricultural fieldsNon-biodegradable pollutant- Can not be broken down or metabolized - Accumulate over time and therefore become more dangerous - Examples: PCBs, DDT, dioxin, heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead)How do pollutants get into the water?- Industry waste - CSOs - Septic systems - Agricultural runoff - Leaking landfills - Golf courses and suburban lawns - Illegal dumping - Parking lot runoffWhat is mercury?Pollutant and neurotoxin from coal-fired power plants and incineratorsBiomagnificationThe increasing concentration of a substance, such as a toxic chemical, in the tissues of tolerant organisms at successively higher levels in a food chainWhat happens when mercury falls on land?- It is absorbed by soil and by fallen leaves that are consumed by worms and insects - Songbirds then feed on the bugs, absorbing the mercury, which interferes with reproductionBioaccumulationThe gradual accumulation of substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in an organism that occurs when an organism absorbs a substance at a rate faster than that at which the substance is lost by catabolism and excretionWhat is lead?Cumulative toxin that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young childrenChlorinated hydrocarbons: DDT, PCBs- Lipid soluble - Long-lived - Suspected human carcinogens - Hormone mimickers (endocrine disrupters) - Circulate globally in food chains - PCBs are oily solvents used in the electrical industryWhat is the goal of the Clean Water Act of 1972?- Protect surface water quality - Reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoffHow have CWA programs evolved over the last decade?Shift from a pollutant-by-pollutant approach to more holistic watershed-based strategies (emphasis on protecting healthy waters and restoring impaired ones)What is the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (SDWA)?Main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking waterWhat are the sources of lead pollution?- Mining, smelting, manufacturing, and recycling activities - In some countries, the continued use of leaded paint, leaded gasoline, and leaded aviation fuelHow do pollutants get into the air?Human-made sources: - Factory smokestack emissions - Coal-fired power plants - Motor vehicle exhaust - Gasoline vapor Industrial sources: - Chemical factories - Refineries - Incinerators Small industrial and commercial sources: - Dry cleaners - Printing shopsWhat are the various modes of lead exposure for people?1) Inhalation of lead particles generated by burning materials containing lead 2) Ingestion of lead-contaminated dust, water, and foodWhy are we concerned with particles emitted into the air from diesel engines?Particles make it difficult for humans to breatheWhat are the health effects of lead poisoning in children?Profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous systemHow do coal-fired power plants produce electricity?1) Coal is burned to heat water 2) Water is turned into steam 3) Stream drives turbine generators to produce electricityWhy are pigeons ideal for making comparisons with human health?- Live in proximity to people and eat much of the same food - Tend to spend their entire lives within the same square mileWhat do coal-fired power plants release?- Sulfur dioxide - Particulate matter - Nitrogen oxidesWhat was Dr. Calisi's experimental method and main result?- Method: examined data on 825 pigeons from various neighborhoods from 2010 to 2015 - Result: Manhattan neighborhoods that had many children with elevated blood lead levels also had pigeons with elevated lead - Scientists may be able to use the birds to predict lead contamination in the environment1990 Clean Air ActEPA has regulated both large and small sources of air toxics, but has mainly focused efforts on larger sourcesWhat is the first step taken to protect the city's drinking water supply?Protecting land that surrounds the streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.Catskill/Delaware watershed encompasses more than a million acres (provides 90% of the city's water): What additional steps has the city taken to protect the water?1) Upgraded septic systems and wastewater treatment plants in communities around the watershed 2) Helped build municipal salt sheds and manure sheds on dairy farms to prevent harmful runoffWhat mechanism allows water to flow from the watershed to the city?GravityHow are the water quality measurements constantly obtained and which method collects the most measurements?- Field scientists are constantly monitoring temperature, pH, nutrient and microbial levels - Methods: robotic buoys and samples collected by field scientists from reservoirs, streams and aqueducts upstate - All of the data is fed into a centralized computer systemWhat are two ways the NYC water supply is disinfected?Chlorine and UV radiationWhich federal organization regulates contaminants in drinking water?EPAHow much CO2 is emitted by a geothermal power plant compared to a fossil fuel power plant of the same size?5%What are three things that can be done to reduce CO2 emissions?1) Shifting to renewable energy sources 2) Increasing energy efficiency 3) Carbon sequestrationWhat happened to the CO2 that was injected underground at this pilot test site in Iceland? What did it react with and what did it create?- The CO2 dissolved in water was then carried away by the slowly flowing groundwater - Reacted with the basalt in the aquifer - More than 95% of the CO2 precipitated out as solid carbonate minerals in less than two yearsCarbon sequestrationRapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissionsWhat is the suggested cause of death of the New York bay scallops and how does it work?- Human activity driving climate change has threatened scallops with extinction - High water temperatures and the accompanying low oxygen levels - Unable to tolerate water hotter than the mid-80s and are particularly stressed by temperature spikes that also stimulate them to spawnWhat are the five steps in the linear model of the materials economy?1) Extraction 2) Production 3) Distribution 4) Consumption 5) DisposalWhat are externalized costs?The real costs of making products are not captured in the price Examples: loss of natural resources, loss of clean air, increasing asthma and cancer ratesPlanned obsolescence ("designed for the dump")Companies make products that are designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will go buy a new one Examples: plastic bags, coffee cups, cameras, computersPerceived obsolescenceConvinces us to throw away products that are still perfectly useful by changing the way it looksWhat are three headaches for the recycling industry?1) Diapers → tend to be made of composite materials, including more than one type of plastic, and contain organic waste 2) Plastic bags → gum up multimillion-dollar machinery 3) Juice boxes → layers typically made up of 74% paper, 22% polyethylene, 4% aluminumIn the CCS method, what percent of the CO2 is captured and mineralized in the process?80-90% was mineralized within a yearWhat does the International Energy Agency (IEA) do?Forecast global energy trends to 2040Why does the IEA have future projections for increased global wind farms, solar installations and battery-powered cars?- These technologies keep getting cheaper - Countries like India keep ramping up their clean-energy targetsWhy could global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise for the next 20 years?- The world's appetite for energy keeps surging, and the rise of renewables so far hasn't been fast enough to satisfy all that extra demand - As a result, fossil fuels use, particularly natural gas, keeps growing to supply the restCould renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower surpass coal as the world's dominant source of electricity by 2030?Yes, renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower are predicted to grow to 42% of global generation and coal will drop to 34%Could offshore wind become a vital tool for slashing emissions in the years ahead?Yes, if developers can overcome regulatory and permitting hurdlesThe United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its electric grid, largely by switching from coal to less-polluting natural gas. What is meant by electric grid?Interconnected network for delivering electricity from producers to consumersEmissions from transportation have remained stubbornly high. What is meant by transportation?Passenger and freight trafficWhat were the two main ways that was U.S. was going to meet its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement (now being dismantled)?1) Increase fuel economy standards in cars and trucks 2) Implement the Clean Power PlanWhat are the main provisions of the Green New Deal?- Calls on the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy - Aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industriesWhat is the purpose of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act?To adopt measures to put New York on a path to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 and net zero emissions in all sectors of the economyWhy are cities so important in climate change?- Half of humanity now lives in cities - The vast share of planet-warming gases come from citiesWhat are the three main ways that city dwellers can reduce their contribution to global warming?1) Changing how they get around → new Metro line, bicycle paths 2) Changing how they heat their homes → burning garbage in a new high-tech incinerator, wind turbines 3) Changing what they do with their trash → incineratorsWhat is the simplest way to curtail energy use in relation to your electronic gadgets?Use a power strip to group appliances so you can turn them all off at the same timeWhat is the United States Climate Alliance?Bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris AgreementWhy can we be optimistic about fighting climate change?1) Solar and wind electricity will soon be cheaper than electricity from fossil fuel plants 2) Several American utilities have announced plans to replace natural gas and coal plants with cheaper electricity from wind and solar farms 3) The fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. are solar installer and wind turbine service technician 4) The number of electric vehicles on the road increased by 450% in the past four years 6) More buses are electric 7) Sustainable production alternatives are being pursued by more companies 8) More farmers are avoiding plowing and focusing on building soil health by sequestering CO2 in the groundHow much of electric energy produced in New York comes from renewables?Just under 25%U.S. Clean Power Plan (2015)First ever "federal" plan for clean power 1) Reduce carbon emissions 2) Develop low carbon technology and make it cheap to useWhat energy game changers do we already have?1) Wind (cheap) 2) Photovoltaic (PV) 3) Natural gas (controversial)Why and how have carbon emissions from electricity generation decreased by 25% over the last decade?Why → Using more natural gas and less coal - Substituting natural gas for coal How → More renewables are providing the electricity - Rapid growth of wind, solar, and biomass electricity in the U.S.What are some challenges with renewables?There are peak times of production and times of no producionWhat are some energy game changers on the horizon?1) CCS → salt water filled rock formations, depleted oil and gas reservoirs 2) Abiotic renewable fuels 3) Passive radiative cooling and night time lighting