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Surface mining control and reclamation act

1977, requires coal strip mines to reclaim the land

Madrid protocol

1991, suspension of mineral exploration (mining) for 50 years in Antarctica

Safe drinking water act

1974, set maximum contaminant levels for pollutants in drinking water that may have adverse effects on human health

Clean Water Act

(CWA, 1972) set maximum permissible amounts of water pollutants that can be discharged into
waterways; aims to make surface waters swimmable and fishable

Ocean Dumping Ban Act

(1988) bans ocean dumping of sewage sludge and industrial waste in the ocean

Clean Air Act

(CAA, 1970) set emission standards for cars and limits for release of air pollutants

Kyoto Protocol

(2005) controlling global warming by setting greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed countries

Montreal Protocol

(1987) phase-out of ozone depleting substances

Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA)

(1976) controls hazardous waste with a cradle to grave system

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA)

(1980) "Superfund," designed to
identify and clean up abandoned hazardous waste dump sites

Nuclear Waste Policy Act

(1982) U.S. government must develop a high level nuclear waste site (Yucca Mtn)

Endangered Species Act

(1973) identifies threatened and endangered species in the U.S., and puts their protection ahead of economic considerations

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

(1973) lists species that cannot be commercially traded as live specimens or wildlife products

Magnuson-Stevens Act

(1976) Management of marine fisheries

Food Quality Protection Act

(1996) set pesticide limits in food, & all active and inactive ingredients must be screened for
estrogenic/endocrine effects

National Environmental Policy Act

(1969) Environmental Impact Statements must be done before any project affecting
federal lands can be started

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

(2004) Seeks to protect human health from the 12 most toxic chemicals (includes 8 chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides / DDT can be used for malaria control)

High Quality Energy

organized & concentrated; can perform useful work (fossil fuel & nuclear)

Low Quality Energy

disorganized, dispersed (heat in ocean or air wind, solar)

Ionizing radiation

enough energy to dislodge electrons from atoms, forming ions; capable of causing cancer (gamma, X-rays, UV)

Natural radioactive decay

unstable radioisotopes decay releasing gamma rays, alpha particles, and beta particles

Estimate of how long a radioactive isotope must be stored until it decays to a safe level

approximately 10 half-lives

Nuclear Fusion

two isotopes of light elements (H) forced together at high temperatures till they fuse to form a heavier nucleus (He). Process is expensive; break-even point not reached yet

Organic fertilizer

slow-acting & long-lasting because the organic remains need time to be decomposed

Best solutions to energy shortage

conservation, increase efficiency, explore alternative energy options


organic, dark material remaining after decomposition by microorganisms


deposit of leached material in lower soil layers (B horizon)

Parts of the hydrologic cycle

evaporation, transpiration, runoff, condensation, precipitation, infiltration

Cone of depression

lowering of the water table around a pumping well


El Niño Southern Oscillation, see-sawing of air pressure over the S. Pacific

Comparison of an El Nino year and a non El Nino year

During an El Niño year: trade winds weaken & warm water sloshed back to SA
During a non El Niño year: easterly trade winds and ocean currents pool warm water in the western Pacific, allowing upwelling of nutrient rich water off the west coast of South America

Effects of El Niño

upwelling decreases disrupting food chains; N U.S. has mild winters, SW U.S. has increased rainfall, less Atlantic hurricanes


decomposers convert organic waste into ammonia


ammonia (NH3) is converted to nitrate ions (NO3)30


inorganic nitrogen is converted into organic molecules such as DNA/amino acids & proteins


bacteria convert nitrate (NO3)-and nitrite (NO2)-back into N2 gas

How excess phosphorus is added to aquatic ecosystems

runoff of animal wastes, fertilizer, discharge of sewage

Largest reservoirs of C

carbonate (CO3)2-rocks first, oceans second


using waste heat to make electricity

R strategist

reproduce early in life; many small unprotected offspring

K strategist

reproduce late in life; few offspring; care for offspring


said human population cannot continue to increase exponentially; consequences will be war, famine & disease

Doubling time

rule of 70; 70 divided by the percent growth rate

Preindustrial stage

(demographic transition) birth & death rates high, population grows slowly, infant mortality high

Transitional stage

(demographic transition) death rate lower, better health care, population grows fast

Industrial stage

(demographic transition) decline in birth rate, population growth slows

Postindustrial stage

(demographic transition) low birth & death rates

Percent water on earth by type

97.5% seawater, 2.5% freshwater

Salinization of soil

in arid regions, water evaporates leaving salts behind

Ways to conserve water

agriculture = drip/trickle irrigation; industry = recycling; home = use gray water, repair leaks, low
flow fixtures


biological oxygen demand, amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic decomposers to break down organic materials


rapid algal growth caused by an excess of nitrates (NO3)-and phosphates (PO4)3-in water


when aquatic plants die, the BOD rises as aerobic decomposers break down the plants, the DO drops & the water cannot support life

Minamata disease

(1932-1968, Japan) mental impairments caused by methylmercury (CH3Hg)+ poisoning

Primary air pollutants

produced by humans & nature (CO,CO2,SOx,NOx, hydrocarbons, particulates)

Particulate matter

Source: burning fossil fuels and diesel exhaust
Effect: reduces visibility & respiratory irritation
Reduction: filtering, electrostatic precipitators, alternative energy)

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)

Source: auto exhaust
Effects: acidification of lakes, respiratory irritation, leads to smog & ozone
Equation for acid formation: NO + O2 = NO2 + H2O = HNO3
Reduction: catalytic converter

Sulfur oxides (SOx)

Source: coal burning
Effects: acid deposition, respiratory irritation, damages plants
Equation for acid formation: SO2 + O2 = SO3 + H2O = H2SO4
Reduction: scrubbers, burn low sulfur fuel)

Carbon oxides (CO and CO2)

Source: auto exhaust, incomplete combustion
Effects: CO binds to hemoglobin, reducing blood's ability to carry O2; CO2 contributes to
global warming
Reduction: catalytic converter, emission testing, oxygenated fuel, mass transit

Ozone (O3)

Formation: secondary pollutant,
NO2 + uv = NO + O O + O2 = O3, with VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
Effects: respiratory irritant, plant damage
Reduction: reduce NO and VOC emissions

Radon (Rn)

naturally occurring colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, found in some types of soil and rock, can seep into homes and buildings, formed from the decay of uranium (U), causes lung cancer

Effects of global warming

rising sea level (thermal expansion), extreme weather, drought, famine, extinctions

Causes of ozone depletion

CFCs, methyl chloroform or trichloromethane (CHCl3), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), halon
(haloalkanes), methyl bromide (CH3Br)— all of which attack stratospheric ozone

Effects of ozone depletion

increased UV, skin cancer, cataracts, decreased plant growth

Main component of municipal solid waste (MSW)

paper; most is landfilled

True cost / External costs

harmful environmental side effects that are not reflected in a product's price

Sanitary landfill problems and solutions

problem = leachate; solution = liner with collection system
problem = methane gas; solution = collect gas and burn
problem = volume of garbage; solution = compact and reduce

Incineration advantages

volume of waste reduced by 90%, and waste heat can be used

Incineration disadvantages

toxic emissions (polyvinyl chloride, dioxins), scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators needed,
ash disposal (contains heavy metals)

Best way to solve waste problem

reduce the amounts of waste at the source

Characteristics of endangered species

small range, large territory, or live on an island

In natural ecosystems, methods which control 50-90% of pests

predators, diseases, parasites

Major insecticide groups (and examples)

chlorinated hydrocarbons (DDT); organophosphates (malathion); carbamates (aldicarb)

Pesticide pros

saves lives from insect-transmitted disease, increases food supply, increases profits for farmers

Pesticide cons

genetic resistance, ecosystem imbalance, pesticide treadmill, persistence, bioaccumulation, biological

Natural pest control

better agricultural practices, genetically resistant plants, natural enemies, biopesticides, sex attractants

Electricity generation methods

using steam from water boiled by fossils fuels or nuclear reactions; falling water to turn a turbine to power a generator

Petroleum formation

microscopic aquatic organisms in sediments converted by heat and pressure into a mixture of

Pros of petroleum

relatively cheap, easily transported, high-quality energy

Cons of petroleum

reserves will be depleted soon; pollution during drilling, transport and refining; burning makes CO2

Steps in coal formation

peat, lignite, bituminous, anthracite

Major parts of a nuclear reactor

core, control rods, steam generator, turbine, containment building

Two most serious nuclear accidents

Chernobyl, Ukraine (1986) and Three Mile Island, PA (1979)

Alternate energy sources

wind, solar, waves, biomass, geothermal, fuel cells

LD50 (LD-50, LD50)

the amount of a chemical that kills 50% of the animals in a test population

Mutagen; Teratogen; Carcinogen

(in order) causes hereditary changes through mutations; causes fetus deformities; causes

Volcano and Earthquake occurrence

at plate boundaries (divergent= spreading, mid-ocean ridges) (convergent= trenches)
(transform= sliding, San Andreas)

Sources of mercury

burning coal, compact fluorescent bulbs

Major source of sulfur

burning coal

Temperature Inversion

layer of dense, cool air trapped under a layer of warm dense air, pollution in trapped layer may
build to harmful levels. Frequent in Los Angeles, California and Mexico City, Mexico.


process where water is absorbed by plant roots, moves up through plants, passes through pores (stomata) in leaves or other parts, evaporates into atm. as water vapor

Forest Fires

Types - Surface, Crown, Ground (in order) usually burn only under growth and leaf litter on forest floor;, hot fires, may start on ground but eventually leap from treetop to treetop; go underground, may smolder for days or weeks, difficult to detect and extinguish i.e. peat bogs.


cultivation of a single crop, usually in a large area

Threshold dose

the maximum dose that has no measurable effect

The Tragedy of the Commons

(1968 paper by ecologist Garret Hardin) global commons such as atmosphere and oceans are used by all and owned by none

Greenhouse gases

Examples: H2O, CO2, O3, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane (CH4). Effect: they trap outgoing
infrared (heat) energy, causing Earth to warm

Acid deposition

caused by sulfuric and nitric acids (H2SO4, HNO3), resulting in lowered pH of surface waters

Ways to decrease birth rate

family planning, contraception, economic rewards and penalties

First, second and third most populated countries

China, India, U.S.

Chlorine good and bad

good= disinfection of water; bad = forms trihalomethanes

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