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Earth as a living planet

Environmental history of the US

o John James Audubon (Painter)
Birds of America: First book in which people could see bird
in nature
o Henry Thoreau
Naturalist and writer
o George Marsh
Wrote man and nature How human activity was
affecting nature
o 1st national park (US Grant, 1872)
General Revision Act (Major environmental law)
o Gave the president authority to establish forest reserves
Theodore Roosevelt (1901- 1909)
o Fought monopolies
o Conservation as a national duty
o Created US forest service
o Created first national forest service
o Signed Antiquties act (1906) Law with the purpose of
preserving landmarks with value for future generations
o He also created federal bird reservations Pelican Island (FL)
o Most importan figure in the environmental conservation
Two types of people in the environmentalist movement
o Utilitarian Conservationist
Use the land wisely value of natural resources comes from
its usefulness
o Biocentric conservationist
John Muir
Protect nature because all life deserves respect
20th century naturalist
o Leopold A Sand County Almanac Shot wolfs
o Stegner Wilderness Essay Wilderness Act
o Paul Erhlich The Ppulation Bomb
o Rachel Carson Silent Spring
Most important ecologist of the 20th century
Researched birds
Heightened awareness of DTT and pesticides (These were
killing birds through the food chain)
Small things leading to significant unintended
Some important Federal Environmental Legislation
o Clean air act
Intended to reduce the most common air pollutants that
we have in cities
Primarily carbon dioxide
o Clean water act
Economics and the environment
o Economics: Is the study of how people use limited resources to
satisfy unlimited wants
o Environmental problems arise when the market fails due to two
Externalities: The producer of good does not pay the full
cost of producing the good
Inefficiencies: Scarce resources are not used well
o Optimum amount of pollution: Where the cost of polluting
offsets the value of the assets provided
Necessity to identify
Marginal cost of pollution
Marginal cost of Abatement
o Strategies for pollution control
Command and Control Solutions
Government agency limits emission of pollutants
Environmental Taxes/ Tradable Permits
Cap & Trade
o Critiques of Environmental Economics
o Environmental Justice
Important topic
Idea in which every citizen should have access to a clean
environment regardless of the race, social class or gender
Low income and minorities usually have environmental
threats and less voice
Erin Brockovich
o Environmental Ethics
Western Worldview
Humans are the dominant species. Therefore, we
have the right to exploit the world as much as we
Deep Ecology Worldview
All species have an equal worth to humans
The scientific method
Basic steps of the scientific method
o Identify the problem
o Collect data
o Propose hypothesis
o Test hypothesis
o Use of results that are not reproducible to develop hypotheses
that are not testable
Environment and Ecosystems
o Eco house & logy study of
o Ecologists are interested in the levels of life above that of
o Species: A group of similar organisms whose members freely
o Population: A group of organisms of the same species
o Energy: The ability or capacity to do work
o Energy exists in 2 ways:
Potential (Stored)
Kinetic (Energy of motion)
o Laws of Thermodynamics
First law of Thermodynamics
Energy cannot be created or destroyed (Law of
conservation of energy
Second Law of Thermodynamics
When energy is converted from one form to
another some of the energy is lost in this process
o Photosynthesis
Biological process by which energy from the sun is
transformed into chemical energy of sugar molecules
In this process glucose + water + oxygen is created
o The Food Chain
Human being is the predominant specie has we have a
disproportionate impact in the environment
Very simplistic representation
o Food Web
More realistic way to represent the complex relationships
in a certain environment
o Ecological Pyramids
Graphically represent the relative energy value of each
tropic level
3 types of pyramids:
o How many organisms are there in an
o Fewer organisms occupy each successive
Measure of the total amount of living material
Amount of energy at each trophic level
o Ecosystem Productivity
Gross primary productivity
Total amount of energy that plants capture
o Human Impact on NPP
Humans represent 0.5% of land-based biomass, but use
32% of land-based NPP
Chapter 5: Ecosystems and Living Organisms
Evolution is the accumulation of genetic variation over time
o Current theories proposed by Charles Darwin in the 19th century
o Occurs through natural selection
Individuals with more favorable genetic traits are more
likely to survive and reproduce
Based on four observations about the world:
High reproductive capacity
Significant variation
Limited resources
Differential reproductive success Survival of the
Modern Synthesis
o Combined natural selection with modern understanding of
genetics for unified explanation
o Importance of mutations (Changes in DNA)
Principles of Population Ecology
o Population Ecology
Study of populations and how and why number changes
over time
Important for
Endangered Species
Invasive Species
Proper Management
o Group of individuals of same species living in the same
geographic area
Population Density
o The number of species per unit area
Growth Rate= Births Deaths + Immigration - Emigration
o Can include dispersal in equation. (Account for emigration/
Reproductive Strategies
r- selected strategies K-selected species
Small body size Large body size
Early maturity Late maturity
Short life span Long life span
Large broods Small broods
Little or no parental care Require parental care
Mosquitoes Human beings

Survivorship Curves
o Type 1: Humans (Most of the newborns will survive)
o Type 2: Lizards
o Type 3: Fish (Very few newborns will survive)
o A set of local populations among which individuals are
distributed in distinct habitat patches across a landscape
o Source habitats
High quality habitats
o Sink Habitats
This habits lack of a good characteristics. Therefore,
creatures need to live this habitat and look for a more
suitable place to live.
o Ecological Niche
The totality of an organism adaptations, its use of
2 types:
Fundamental niche: Potential range of foods and
predators for ma given organism
Realized niche: What the organism is eating or
being preyed by.
o Intraspecific: Within the same species
o Interspecific: Between 2 species
Symbiosis: An intimate relationship between members of 2 or more
o Result of coevolution
o 3 types
Mutualism (Both species benefit)
Commensalism (One benefits, the other dont)
Parasitism (One benefits, the other is harmed)
Predation: The consumption of one species by another.
Pursuit and Ambush
Plants defenses against herbivores
o Spikes
o Thorns
o Poison
Chapter 6:
Earths major Biomes
o A large, terrestrial region with a similar climate soil
Triangle considering latitudes and temperature
o Treeless biome in the far north with harsh, cold winters and
extremely short summers
o Nutrient poor soil with little organic material
Permafrost present. Permafrost is full of methane which is
a very powerful gas with dangerous greenhouse effects
for the atmosphere.
o Low species richness
o Low primary productivity
Boreal Forest
o A region of coniferous forests in the northern hemisphere
o Cover 11% of Earths land
o Important economically and ecological
Temperate Rainforest
o Coniferous biome with cool weather, dense fog and high
Temperature Deciduous Forest
o Forest with maple, oak, chestnut
o Topsoil is rich in organic material
o Hot summers, cold winters and to little precipitation to support
o Also known as prairies
o Also called a Mediterranean Climate
o Southern California
o Greece
o Vegetation is dense and shrubby
o Lack of precipitation limits growth
o Temperature swings a lot here because there is no clouds here.
o They are important because they reflect radiation
o Tropical grassland with widely scattered trees
o Productive ecosystem
o Herds of hoofed animals
o Large predators like lions, hyenas
Tropical Rainforest
o Species-rich biome that occurs where climate is warm and moist
throughout the year
o Most productive biome on planet earth
o 3 distinct canopy layers
For the quiz, we will have to match biomes with their relevant
Aquatic Ecosystem
o Fundamental Division
Aquatic Ecosystems also affected by
o Dissolved oxygen level, light penetration, pH, presence/absence
of currents
Three main ecological categories of organisms
o Plankton free floating
o Nekton
Lakes and ponds
o Body of freshwater that does not flow
Littoral zone close to the shore
Limnetic zone open water beyond the literal zone
Profundal zone: beneath the limnetic zone of deep lakes
Thermal stratification
o Lakes tend to have different temperatures depending on the
depth of the lake
Marshes and Swaps
o Lands that shallow, fresh water covers for at least part of the
o They contribute to flood protection
o Where freshwater and saltwater mix

The water cycle

Residence time is the given amount of time that a molecule will remain
where it is.
The residence time is influence by fluxes
The atmosphere is what we call an exchange pool. Exchange pools usually
have short periods of residence times
There are 6 nutrients that we consider important because living organisms
need them to survive
o The big six:
Carbon (CO2, CH4, CO)
Nitrogen (N2, N20, NO2, NO, HNO3)
For the exam study only, the following cycles (Focus on differences
between them and implications for humans)
o The carbon cycle: Biological impact for photosynthesis and then
back to the atmosphere through respiration
One of the ways human impact the carbon cycle is by
changing the land use. (Fossil fuels extraction are also
affecting this cycle)
o Nitrogen Cycle: Bacteria and fungi decompose plants. This
decomposed waste is then used by the plants again. Humans
impact this cycle by burning fossil fuels. Nitrogen and sulfur are the
main components of acid rain. Food production contain synthetic
nitrogen fertilizer and this disrupts the cycle
o The Phosphorus Cycle
Fertilizers, deforestation and sewage alter the phosphorus
Phosphorus and Nitrogen combined cause Eutrophication in
water biomes
The danger of Eutrophication is that they produce algae
blooms that can block sunlight. Furthermore, the death of
this algae causes a reduction in oxygen levels in the water.
o Solar Radiation
Sun provides energy for life, power biochemical cycles, and
determines climate
Albedo: The reflectance of solar energy off earths surface
(Measure of reflectivity)
Dark colors: Low albedo (Black)
o Forests and oceans
Light colors: High albedo (White)
o Ice caps
o Temperature Changes with Season
Seasons determined by earths tilt (23.5)
Causes each hemisphere to tilt toward the sun for half of the
Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the sun from March 21 to
September 22
The southern hemisphere does not have snow because they
have less land
o The atmosphere
Mostly nitrogen (78%); Oxygen (21%)
Less molecules when you move to the top. Density decreases
as you get farther from earth
o Atmospheric Layers
Troposphere (0-10KM)
Where weather occurs
Stratosphere (10-45KM)
Here is the ozone layer which absorbs UV radiation
Coldest layer
Ch 9, Ch 2, Ch3, Ch5, Ch6, Ch4

Exam 2

Atmospheric circulation
o Near equator
Surface winds
o Winds blow from high to low pressure in the absence of other
forces. However, earth's rotation influences direction of wind. This
is the reason why winds do not follow a straight path
Coriolis effect: influence of earth rotation on winds
o Nil at the equator stronger at the poles
Weather and climate are different terms
o Conditions in the atmosphere at a given place and time
o Temperature precipitation cloudiness
o Average weather conditions that other in a place over a period of
o Influenced by temperature and precipitation
Rain shadows
o Mountains force humid air to rise
o Air cools with altitude, clouds form and precipitation occurs
o Powerful funnel of air associated with severe thunderstorm
o We use the fujita scale to classify tornadoes
o Wind velocity up to 300 mph
Tropical Cyclone
o Giant rotating tropical storms
o Many names: Hurricanes, Typhoon, Cyclone
o Wind speeds over 75 mph
o Diameter of 150 and 500 miles
o Strong winds pick up moisture over warm surface waters and starts
to spin due to Earth's rotation
o Spin causes upward spiral of clouds
o Main ingredient
Warm water
Peak season of hurricanes is September
Tropical storms require hot water to occur
Latent vs. Sensible Heat
o Sensible heat is typically heat that cause a temperature change in
an object
o Latent Heat energy absorbed or released by a substance during a
change in its physical state (phase) that occurs without changing its
o Overall circulation is due to Coriolis Effect produced by earths
o Low pressure zone at sea surface draws in moist water
o Concentric rings of clouds produce spiral rain bands
Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale
o Ranks hurricanes according to the potential damage hurricanes can
create, wind speed and storm surge.
o Storm surge
o A characteristic of certain chemicals that are extremely stable
and may take many years to be broken down into simpler forms
o The buildup of toxic substances in an organisms body
o The increase concentration of toxic chemicals in the tissues of
organisms that are at higher levels in food webs
o Everything that is in the preys tissue will end up influencing the
Mercury is one of the scariest toxins out there. Humans are vulnerable
to its impact trough the consumption of fish. Excessive fish
consumption can create mercury poisoning
Minamata Bay was a famous case study of how direct exposure to Hg
(Mercury) can harm human population
Endocrine Disrupters
o A chemical that mimics or interferes with the actions of the
endocrine system in humans and wildlife
o Examples includes:
o Case Study: Lake Apopka, Florida
1980 chemical spill
Male alligators began to exhibit low testosterone levels
and high estrogen levels
Endocrine Disrupters and Humans
o Infertility and hormonally relate cancer are increasing
Breast and testicular
Phthalate have been implicated as potential endocrine
Examples include:
o Plastics, PVC, Nail Polish, Medication, Toys
Determining Health Effects of Pollutants
o Toxicology is the study of the effect of toxicants on the human
Toxicant Chemical with adverse human health effects
o Toxicity measured by dose and response
o Acute toxicity
Adverse effects occur within a short period after exposure
to toxin
Measured by the LD50 Lethal dose that kill 50% of aa
test sample
o Chronic Toxicity
Adverse effects occur after prolonged use
ED50 Effective dose that produces a quantal effect in
50% of the population that takes it
o Chemical Mixtures
Most studies look at one chemical, but humans tend to be
exposed to chemical mixtures
Automobile exhaust
Chemical mixtures interact by
o Ecotoxicology
The study of contaminants in the biosphere and their
harmful effects
Helps policy maker determine cost and benefits of
industrial and technological advances
Dilution Paradigm is not valid
Dilution is the solution to pollution
Boomerang Paradigm is accepted
What you throw away can come back and hurt
o Case study: The Ocean
Land based nutrient and pollution runoff into ocean is
affecting microorganisms
Ex: Red Tide

The Science of Demoraphy

o Branch of sociology that studies population, statistics,
structure and growth
Carrying capacity (K)
o Humans have artificially increase the carrying capacity of
the world using fertilizers
o Overuse of land can cause a decrease in carrying capacity
Population and chronic hunger
o Food security
Condition in which people live with chronic hunger
and malnutrition
o Effects of chronic hunger
Weakened immune system
Cultural Traditions
o Culture influences and controls individuals behaviors
Marriage age
If infant and mortality rates high, couples tend to
have more children
Children often work in family business
Religious values
Social & Economic Status of Women
o Most important factor when determining fertility rates
o Women with more education marry later and have fewr
Government policies and fertility -China
o Controversial family planning policy
o Social pressure to abort a second child
o Pressure to abort/kill female first child
o More boys than girls in china
Government policies and fertility India
o Severe population pressure
First country with government sponsored family
Introduced compulsory sterilization
Recently, focused on education
Properties of water
o Composed of 2 hydrogens and 1 oxygen
o High heat capacity
Use a lot of energy to increase its temperature
Resists temperature change
o Sticky Attracts other molecules
Surface tension
Capillary action
o Water is never completely pure in nature
o Amazon is the largest watershed in the world
Water problems
o Water quality/pollution
o Too much water
o Too little water
o Government restrictions on building
Urban vs. Pre-Urban Floodplains
o In pre-urban environments almost, half of the precipitation will
become groundwater. 40% will evaporate and 10% will become
Floods of summer 2011
o Heavy rains and abundant snowmelt high in Mississippi river
o Extensive flood control mechanisms
Too little water
o Development in arid sites
o Problems
Overdrawing water
Aquifer depletion
For the exam study the slides starting:
From atmosphere
Population growth
Global water problems
o Water and climate change
Climate change affects the type and distribution of
Snowfall affects downstream water supplies
Processing minerals
o Smelting
Process in which ore is smelted at high temps to separate
impurities from the molten metal
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)
Environmental Impact of Refining Minerals
o Iron 2958 tons 60% waste
o Copper 1663 99% waste
80% or more of mined ore consists of impurities called tailings
o Tailings are usually put on giant ponds
Smelting plants emit large amounts of air pollutants
Requires a lot of energy (fossil fuels combustion)
Fossil Fuels
Fall Line cities
o Geologic features create falls and therefore water presence in
these areas allowed humans to establish cities
o These falls were also sources of energy in previous times where
humans needed water energy to power their mills
Energy sources used to be local now they are worldwide
Developed nations have a much higher per capita consumption
compared to undeveloped nations
Fossil fuels
o Combustible deposits in the Earths crust
o Formed 300 million years ago
Climate was mild
Vast swamps covered much of the land
Dead plant material decayed slowly in the swamps
Over time, layers of sediment accumulated over the dead
plant material
o Coal
Occurs in different grades
Based on variations in heat and pressure during burial
Prefered type of coal burns better
US has 25% of worlds coal supplies
Known coal deposits could last 200 years
2 types of coal mining
Surface mining
o Chosen if coal is within 30 m of surface
o Mineral and energy resources are extracted
near earth surface by first removing the soil
and subsoil
Subsurface mining
o Extraction of mineral from deep underground
Fly ash (Important)
o Environmental Impacts of Burning Coal
Release large quantities of CO2 into atmosphere
Greenhouse gas
o Relases other pollutnats into atmosphere
o Making coal cleaner
Fluidized Bed Combustion
Oil and Natural Gas
o Oil and natgas migrate upward until they hit impermeable rock
Deepwater Horizon disaster (2010)
Worst environmental disaster in American history
Blowout prevention failed, and the drill caught fired
180 million barrels of oil were released to the sea
Protecting coastal/marine environment
o Chemical dispersants
o Removal (burning, skimming)
o Barrier islands (conflict between local/state, federal
governments, science)
Environmental impact
o Most of the damage happens quickly
o Kills marsh grass, erodes wetlands
Wetlands are breeding ground for oysters and shrimp
o Easy to remove from rocky breaches, not from sand or grass
decadal impact
1989 Alaskan Oil Spill
o Exxon Valdez hit a reef and spilled >260,000 barrels of crude oil
into sound
o Largest oil spill in US history until now! (Deepwater Horizon >5
million barrels)
o Led to oil pollution act
Synfuel and Other Fossil Fuel Resources
o Synfuel (Synthetic Fuels)
o A liquid or gaseous fuel that is synthesized from coal and other
naturally occurring sources
o Used in place pf oil or natural gas
o Include:
Tar sands (bitumen) Keystone XL pipeline
Oil shales (Kerogen)
Gas hydrates
Liquified coal
Coal gas
o US Energy Strategy
Objective 1: Increase energy efficiency and conservation
Requires many unpopular decisions
o Decrease speed limit to conserve fuel
o Eliminate government subsidies
Objective 2: Secure future fossil fuel energy supplies
2 oppositions
Objective 3: Develop alternative energy supplies
Objective 4: Meet the first three objectives without
further damage to the environment

Biological Diversity
Number/Variety of earths organisms
Consists of three components
o Genetic diversity
o Species richness
o Ecosystem diversity
Why we need organisms:
o Food
o Clothing
o Shelter
o Pollination of crops
o Antibiotics and medicines
o Biological processes (nitrogen fixation)
Genetic engineering
o Incorporation of genes from one organism into a different
o Provides
New vaccines
More productive farms animals
Agricultural plants with desirable characteristics
Medical importance of organisms
o Death of the last individual of a species
o Elimination of species from earth
o Irreversible