Introduction to environmental studies
Three integrated elements of sustainability
The three integrated sustainability elements include the social, environmental and economic elements. They are identified to be interconnected.
What is an example of an initiative or decision that benefits people, the environment, and economic growth?
Some of the core items that are core in the environment include air and water. Careful purification of water and air is an initiative that is a beneficiary to the economic and environmental growth.
How many people are currently on the planet?
According to United Nations statistics, the world population is approximately 7.04billion
What is the single most significant discovery/change in humanity’s way of living on the planet that has sparked the exponential growth of the human population?
Oil is the most recent discovery that influenced humanity and their way of life
What countries are growing the fastest?
The fastest growing countries are China, Iraq and Mongolia
How does a country’s current demography (age class distribution) help predict population Growth in that country in the next few decades?
Population growth could be determined by the aptitude to classify population patterns and baby boomer groups.
What forces contribute to a reduction in a birth rate?
The major forces that contribute to birth rate reduction are political environmental and social aspects
What is the difference between an ecosystem service and ecosystem product?
There is a difference between ecosystem service and product. Ecosystem service refers to the processes that are carried out within the ecosystem. On the other hand, the ecosystem products refer to the things that are acquired from the ecosystem.
How is the value of ecosystem services or products determined?
The monetary value of the ecosystem products and services is determined using different methods of evaluation. These methods include the replacement costs, the factor income, contingent valuation and the avoided costs. These ways of evaluation are the most convenient ones.
Provide at least 3 examples of ecosystem services and 3 examples of ecosystem products.
Three examples of ecosystem services:
a. Control of floods
b. Adverse crop pollination
c. Absorption of treated wastewater
Three examples of ecosystem goods
a. Sea weeds
b. Food and fiber crops
c. Drinking and irrigation water
Know the Carbon Cycle, and the 5 main pools of carbon, and at least 5 processes that move carbon from one pool to another.
The carbon cycle is as illustrated above. It involves different ecosystem services that lead to yielding of ecosystem goods.
The five pools of carbon indicate where carbon can be identified. These include the lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, soil and the oceans.
The process those are responsible for the movement of carbon from one pool to the other areas discussed. The carbon element is one of the life building blocks. Ideally, the living organisms are composed of carbon. Atoms of carbon take myriad forms as they transverse the environment. Carbon is essentially found in the form of an organic molecule or inorganic molecule. As it shifts from one location to another, there are different changes that take place. The major pools include the bacteria, animals, vegetation, fungi, litter, waste, fossil fuels, industry and atmosphere.
For approximately how long have humans been cultivating the land in agricultural systems?
Agriculture has been factored as one of the major economic activities practiced for a long period. It has been practiced for approximately 10000 years
What is the Green Revolution?
This refers to the spread of new plants that produce a high-yield .These plants have been endorsed globally.
What is the relationship between fossil fuels, industrial revolution, green revolution and population growth?
Describe at least 3 methods that help preserve soil resources in crop agriculture?
What are the risks to water supplies from traditional agricultural practices?
Traditional agricultural methods have adversely affected water supplies due to non-organic fertilizers that spill into the water bodies. In addition, water supplies have been polluted by nitrogen oxide that condenses to mix with water.
What impacts do different forms of animal husbandry have on the environment?
The environmental resources are the influencing factors to animal productivity. Animals require water and food for quality production of end-products i.e. milk and meat. If these resources are consumed at a high rate, the environment may be adversely affected. For instance, water catchment areas may dry if high populations of animals are using the same source.
How can we best ensure that the growing human population has enough healthy food to eat?
Water Resources, Distribution and Conservation
Water Cycle—list the POOLS of water on the planet (in order of highest abundance), and describe how water moves from one pool to another.
The water pools that exist on the planet include the streams, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans among others. Water moves from the large water pools and evaporates towards the atmosphere and precipitates on the land. The precipitation that occurs on the land forms different pools of water that flows back to the lakes and oceans.
Describe the features of groundwater systems and how water gets into, moves through, and gets out of the ground.
Ground water exists beneath the surface of the ground. It is almost everywhere on the universe. Ideally, water moves into the ground by the process of infiltration. After infiltration, the water moves deeper into the soil through the process of percolation. Water is evolved from the groundwater system by the process of evaporation.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is defined as an area on the land where water that is underneath or drains into it goes back to the same place.
What factors influence water quality?
Some of the factors that influence the level and quality of storm water, the population density, urbanization effects and the level of effectiveness by the Animal feeding Operations
What natural and anthropogenic factors influence water quantity? (Answer separately for ground water vs. surface water).
The quantity of underground water is affected by factors such as irrigation, and high rate of evaporation. On the other hand, the quantity of surface water is mainly affected by the rate of evaporation and the rate of infiltration that occurs where surface water converts into ground water.
Where in the state, the nation, and across the world are fresh water resources severely stressed? What are the consequences of that?
In Africa and the rest of the world, there are countries that are essentially affected by the water stress. One of them is the Western Sahara region. The high level of water stress has led to increased level of food insecurity.
Structure of Rivers and Lakes
Explain the four dimensions of streams and how the stream changes across each dimension and how each dimension may change through time.
Vertical: This dimension depicts movement of Water from the bottom of the river to the top of the river stream
Lateral: This is a situation where water moves from bank to bank across the watercourse
Longitudinal: Water moves for the start of the stream to the other end of the watercourse based off slope.
What causes a stream to meander? Or to straighten?
Formation of a meander is formed when water movement in a stream erodes the river banks. This widens its valley that causes the inner part of the river to loosen and deposits its content. On the other hand, Straightening can result from bed erosion when the river bed erodes faster than the influence of a natural occurrence.
What influences the rate and consistency of flow in a stream?
The major that influences the rate and consistency of water flow is overspill of precipitation in the turning point.
What are some physical and biological differences between lakes and reservoirs?
The outstanding difference between lakes and reservoirs is their formation. Reservoirs are man-made and are made of concrete while lakes are natural influenced by glaciers and geological occurrences.
What are the costs and benefits of reservoirs? (And why are they not built as often now as they used to be?)
The main benefit of reservoirs is production of energy. In addition, it helps in controlling floods that adversely affect soil fertility. Moreover, reservoirs help in sustaining the society’s food production especially during dry season
However, they have distorted the climatic change pattern due to concrete production. They have also led to increase in green house thus leading environmental pollution from gasses that emanate from green house effects. This increases the cost of maintaining the environment
What directions do ocean currents flow in the northern and southern hemispheres?
The ocean currents that are found in the northern hemisphere move, in a clockwise direction. The ocean currents that are found that are found in the southern hemisphere move, in a counter clockwise direction.
What general temperature patterns do those current directions create on the east and west coasts of continents?
The currents because a warm water temperature on the east coast, and the west coast acquires cold water temperature.
Where is the majority of the productivity in the ocean found? WHY?
Majority of productivity is found in the pacific and the southern ocean regions. The reason behind the productivity of these regions is the presence of a high percentage of chlorophyll in water. It leads to increased biological productivity.
In what temperature waters are coral reefs and kelp forests found?
First, the coral reefs as found in an area where there are warm waters. These include the eastern coasts on the southern areas. The Kelp Forest is found in the cold waters which are mainly found in the West coasts in the northern areas.
Why do kelp forests and coral reefs represent such diverse and productive areas in the ocean?
The features that are found in these reefs are formed as a result of reprocess of nutrients and are depot for the oceanic resources. Ideally, this is the shallow zone of the ocean terrain where the land converges with the waters.
What is the intertidal zone, and what is something interesting about it biologically?
The intertidal zone is a zone where the land meets where the sea meets the land. It is usually between the low and tide. Marine animals that are found in this region are unique because they are able to endure the direct contact with air and thumping waves.
What is the main reason that humans stopped hunting whales on a massive scale?
The whales and dolphins play a pivotal role in the maintenance of the ecosystem. They are very essential in the food chain within the marine system. The overhunting of whales could have to a disruption of the ecosystem since it would have led to them being extinct.
Marine Conservation issues
What are some major threats to the ocean, both physically and biologically?
Extinction of coral reefs is a major threat to a survival of marine animals in the ocean due to human influence. This has resulted in food reduction of marine animals. Another threat is excessive carbon emissions to the oceans that have led to death of marine animals. Industrial effluents to the oceans are also a threat life in the ocean waters. Another major impact is overfishing which has denied maturity and increased reproduction of marine animals.
What is the sequence of events that generate dead zones?
Dead zones are found in oceans and large lakes in the world. They have low –content of oxygen are caused by extreme nutrient pollution by human activities. Inadequate oxygen complicates survival for marine animals and could result in death.
How common are dead zones?
Dead zones have been common since early 1990s and their impacts have escalated ever since. Over 166 dead zones have been recorded, according to the marine statistics. They are common along the coasts of many nations across the globe
What are the economic consequences of dead zones?
How is the increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere affecting the ocean? (Why should we care?)
Increased concentration of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere has both beneficial and detrimental effects. Carbon dioxide condenses and dissolves in water. Mollusks and corals absorb carbonate ions and form calcium carbonate. This chemical is used by these creatures to make their homes. However, excess carbon dioxide could lead to death of fish and other water creatures due to inadequate oxygen.
What are some techniques for fishing that can lead to unsustainable harvests?
Bi-catch is a method used by fishermen when they intend to catch a specific species. However, this method results in killing off fish and other water animals. This method results in low productivity of fish and other marine animals.
What is aquaculture, and what are some pros and cons to that approach?
Aquaculture refers to rearing and harvesting of all categories of animals and plants in ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans. This marine farming is the subject to production of varieties of fish and increased production of fish. One of the advantages of this practice is increased in variety of marine animals and food variety. However, it has environmental effects due to use of concrete in construction of reservoirs and dams. In addition, some marine animals may be affected by chemically induced water that may distort hormonal activity of animals