*Environmental Science-Environmental Science incorporates information obtained through biology, chemistry, earth science, and geography about the problems facing our environment and incorporates the social aspect of our environment in order to help find solutions to environmental problems.
*Population-The earth is expected to house between 8.9 billion people by 2050 that is 2-4 billion more than now. The rise in population is going to take a huge toll on our natural resources and ecological systems.
*Climate Change-The release of “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere changes the earth’s climate patterns. This can lead to population declines, droughts, floods, water supply, and other major catastrophes.
*Hunger-Over 60 million people around the world face food shortages. Progress has been made in the field of agriculture with things such as fertilizers and hybrid disease resistant plants.
*Clean Water- By 2025 the United Nations projects that three-fourths of the world will be in countries where the supply of water is below the demand.
*Energy Resources- Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas make up 80% of energy used. Burning of these fuels adds to other environmental problems but we need to focus on cleaner renewable energy to use instead of these depleting fuels.
*Air Quality- Air pollution is a major problem that not only hurts the area where the pollutants are released it travels. Smog in North America can be traced back to Asia.
*Biodiversity Loss-Over Population and the destruction of habitats around the world are causing species to become extinct. Over 800 species have disappeared and over 10,000 are endangered. Forest and nature preserves and the slowdown of deforestation are helping save environments where these species live.
* Marine Resources- the Ocean is a food source that cannot be replaced. It is estimated that over 90 percent of large predators have been removed from the ocean. Awareness and Marine Reserves are helping protect areas where new fish population can grow.
Sustainable Development- Our goal is to create an environment that will meet the basis needs of this generation without ruining or compromising the resources for future generations.
An amazing example of this was in the case study of Apo Island. There, they figured out a way to work with their resources and hopefully leave the world better for future generations.
Systems- The way we look at processes and components that work together. In an open system is a system which receives matter and energy from its surroundings with some production leaving the system. A closed system receives energy and matter from its surroundings but all production stays within the system.
Matter- Is everything that makes up anything. Matter is portrayed in three forms: solid, liquid and gas. Conservation of matter is a principle that in Cunningham’s Principles of Environmental Science states: “Under ordinary circumstances, matter is neither created or destroyed, but rather recycled over and over again.” Matter consists of elements, of which there are 115 known elements. Only 4 of the 115 make up majority of living organisms. These are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
Energy- Energy is the force in which matter move and stay connected to each other. There are four types of energy.
*Kinetic Energy- Energy displayed in moving objects.
*Potential Energy- Energy waiting in matter that can be used.
*Chemical Energy- Energy that is inside matter that is consumed and then released as other forms of energy.
*Heat- Energy that is exchanged between matter of different temperatures.
The greatest source of energy is the sun. The following two illustrations show the flow of energy. Figure 1 shows how energy is transferred from the sun to green plants called photosynthesis. Figure 2 illustrates how the energy flows from plants to the rest of living organisms.
Ecosystems – An ecosystem is a combination of a biological community (organisms living and interacting in one area) and the physical environment that those organisms live in. When we look at an ecosystem we learn characteristics of that system such as the food web. A food web is a description of how organisms maintain life in an ecosystem.
We can also see where an organism rates in the food chain by looking at a trophic level of the ecosystem.
Cycles – The elements and compounds that make up our environment are cycled endlessly through our atmosphere. These are illustrated through diagrams such as the hydrologic cycle which shows the water flow in our environment. There are also carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur cycles.
Evolution – Charles Darwin researched and came up with the theory of evolution. He believed the earth was able to change gradually over time and the species would profoundly change over time, passing the best traits and adapting.
*Adaption – Species evolve in order to survive in a kinetic environment.
*Natural Selection – Species pass on their best qualities. “Survival of the Fittest.”
*Ecological niche – Role of a species in a community and the environmental factors a species can survive in.
Diversity – Evolution leads to diversity among organisms.
Interactions – Taxonomy is the study of the relationships of organisms. Organisms compete with and sometimes prey on other organisms, even teaming up with each other in a process called symbiosis. All of this in order to acquire the necessary resources needed to survive.
Communities – A community is all species in an area. Communities have many different factors including structure, diversity, complexity, resilience, productivity and stability. These characteristics maintain the community and influence evolution over time.
Biomes – Biomes are the classification of a community based on its temperature.
Terrestrial Biomes- There are nine different categories of terrestrial biomes.
Marine Environments – These environments consist of the oceans and seas.
Freshwater Environments – Are smaller and not as complex as marine environment, but are a necessity for biodiversity. These include rivers, lakes and ponds.
Biodiversity – Is the combination of many different species in a biome. There are three crucial parts to biodiversity.
*Genetic diversity – Amount of different traits within a species.
*Species diversity – Amount of different species in an ecosystem.
*Ecological diversity – Amount of variety and complexity of elements such as trophic levels, niches and recycled materials in an ecosystem.