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Environmental Science

Study of how humans interact with the environment

3 main issues studied in Enviro

Understanding and solving environmental problems
understand how we use natural resources
understand how our actions alter the environment


number and variety of species that live in an area


condition in which human needs are met in such a way that human population can survive indefinitely

Natural Resource

Any natural material that is used by humans

renewable resource

resource that can be replaced relatively quickly by natural processes

nonrenewable resource

resource that forms at a much slower rate than the rate that it is consumed

Ecological footprint

shows the productive area of the Earth needed to support one person in a particular country


undesired change in air, water, or soil that negatively affects health, survival, activities


broken down by natural processes; problematic only when accumulate too fast

Non biodegradable

can't be broken down by natural processes

Tragedy of the Commons

When everyone is responsible for taking care of an area, no one does
Continues until collapse
Best long-term solution may be negative for individuals short-term


Small groups that migrated to forage/hunt food
Burned prairies to prevent trees; forced grasslands
Spread seeds while migrating
Little pollution, little waste

Agricultural Revolution

growing, breeding plants & animals for use
Farming allowed increased population size and concentration
Selective breeding & hybridization changed what plants grew & were eaten
Converting forests, etc. to farmland causes soil loos, flooding, water shortage, habitat destruction
Farming destroys the natural fertility of soil (requires artificial fertilizers)

Industrial Revolution

changed from using animals, water for power to using fossil fuels
use of machines requires fewer people and less land for farming
Population growth, concentration in urban areas continued
Fuel & engines allow food & goods to be transported long distances
more pollution & artificial substances

Supply and demand

for a limited supply of an item: the more people want it, the more one can charge for it
Solution to high prices: pay more, use less, or find new sources

Cost-Benefit analysis

balance the cost of doing something with the benefit one gets from it

Risk assessment

understanding the true likelihood of an undesirable outcome
Helps with cost-benefit analysis

Developed nation

higher avg. incomes, slower population growth, diverse economies, stronger social support systems

Developing nation

lower avg. incomes, rapid population growth, simple agrarian economies

Scientific method

Hypothesizing and Predicting
Organizing and Analyzing data
Drawing conclusions
Repeating Experiments
Communicating Results`

Control group

Does not receive treatment. You leave this how it would normally be




Middle value


most recurring value


relative arrangement of the members of a statistical population
(pattern that bars on a bar graph create when viewed as a whole)

How are statistics important to Environmental science?

collection and classification of numerical data
used to summarize, characterize, analyze, and compare data

Sample size

size of the group of individuals or events selected to represent the population

Decision-making model/process (& values)

Gather information
consider values
explore consequences
make a decision

Layers of the earth

CRUST - Lithosphere
MANTLE - Asthenosphere, mesosphere
CORE - Outer core, inner core

Biggest layer of earth


How do scientists learn about the composition of the interior layers of the earth?

When earthquakes occur
There are several spots around the globe that calculate the time it took for the movement to reach them, and then calculated their position relative to the others' to find out the properties of the matter in between

What causes earthquakes?

Collision or separation of tectonic plates

What causes volcanoes?

liquid bursts up through the plate
Sliding/slipping of tectonic plates

What causes mountains?

Collision of tectonic plates


All water on or near Earth's surface

% of earth covered by water


% of usable water


Mechanisms by which water changes form or moves

water cycle
movement of water through land, air, and back

Specific heat

high specific heat which regulates earth temperature

How does the ocean affect climate globally and locally

provides consistent heat when needed and absorbs heat as necessary

Layers of the atmosphere

(bottom to top)
troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere, magnosphere

Hot layers

stratosphere, thermosphere

Cold layers

troposphere, stratosphere


In the Stratosphere

importance of Ozone

Protects from UV rays by absorbing UV light

How do/can we effect the Ozone?

If it's too close to the earth - smog
Chemicals that react with O3 deplete the ozone layer in the stratosphere

Greenhouse effect

Gases trap heat near Earth by absorbing heat radiated by land and re-radiating it toward land

Where are the greenhouse gases?

troposphere (lower atmosphere)

Why are greenhouse gases important?

Because they keep the earth warm
move air in a circular motion

How do/can we affect it?

1. Decrease emissions (oil, coal, natural gas)
2. increase the Earth's albedo - how much sunlight a surface reflects (if we make the earth reflect more light, less light and heat will be absorbed, and the Earth will cool)


Shell of earth where life can exist
9 km up into the atmosphere, and 10 km down into hydrosphere

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