ENVS Week #1: Chapter 1-2
A field of research that is used to understand the natural world and our relationship to it—is extremely interdisciplinary. It relies on a range of natural and applied sciences (such as ecology, geology, chemistry, and engineering) to unlock the mysteries of the natural world, and to look at the role and impact of humans in the world. It also draws on social sciences (such as anthropology, psychology, and economics) and the humanities (such as art, literature, and music) to understand the ways that humans interact with, and thus impact, the ecosystems around them.
Environmental science is an empirical science: It scientifically investigates the natural world through systematic observation and experimentation. It is also an applied science: We use its findings to inform our actions and, in the best cases, to bring about positive change.
– What is the difference between a Hypothesis and a Theory?
– What is the relationship between facts and a Theory?
Hypothesis- A possible explanation for what we have observed that is based on some previous knowledge. (2.3)
Theory- A widely accepted explanation of a natural phenomenon that has been extensively and rigorously tested scientifically. (2.4)
In science there are degrees of certainty; we know some things better than others. The more evidence we have in support of an idea, especially from different types of experiments, the more certain we are that we are on the right track. These degrees of certainty are expressed mathematically in terms of probabilities using statistics. (2.4)
As more evidence is discovered in support of a hypothesis, it moves closer to becoming a theory.
We have something else in common with the Vikings of Greenland: Our attitudes frequently prevent us from responding effectively to environmental changes. (1.4)
2) Science follows certain rules and guidelines.
3) Facts versus opinions.
4) Science generally uses the formulation of falsifiable hypotheses developed via systematic empiricism.
5) Acceptance of scientific ideas is based on a process of publication and peer review.
6) Replication is also vital to good science.
In his book Collapse, University of California at Los Angeles biologist Jared Diamond details how wicked problems can lead to a society’s ultimate demise.
2. Failure to properly respond to environmental changes
3. Self-inflicted environmental damage
4. Hostile neighbors
5. Loss of friendly neighbors.
According to Diamond, the relative impact of each factor varies by society. (1.1)
– Self-inflicted environmental damage: Overgrazed land, deforestation, rapid population growth, all had lasting effects on the environment.
– Failure to respond to the natural environment: The Greenland Vikings did not conserve their natural resources (forests, grassland, etc.) and spent a significant amount of time, energy, and resources raising cattle. They also did not adopt a diet that contained fish.
– Hostile neighbors: The Greenland Vikings detested their indigenous neighbors, the Inuit.
Loss of friendly neighbors: The Greenland Vikings refused to seek friendship or counsel with the Inuit. Visits from European ships also declined.
Population size, resource use, pollution
Humans tend to rely on these. The most obvious example of this is our reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum, culled from deep within Earth, to power our society. Fossil fuels are replenished only over vast geologic time—far too slowly to keep pace with our rampant consumption of them.
Naturally sustainable ecosystems waste nothing; they recycle matter so that the waste from one organism ultimately becomes a resource for another.
They also keep populations in check so that the resources are not overused and there is enough food, water, and shelter for all.
Lastly, sustainable ecosystems depend on local biodiversity (the variety of species present) to perform many of the jobs just mentioned; different species have different ways of trapping and using energy and matter, the net result of which boosts productivity and efficiency.
Includes the tragedy of the commons, time delay, and sliding reinforce traps. All of these have a negative effect later on.
Deep pockets allow us (the United States) to exploit resources for wants, not just needs, and to exploit them all over the world, so that we can spare our own natural environments at the expense of someone else’s.
On the other hand, the underprivileged also exploit the environment in an unsustainable way. With limited access to external resources, they are often forced to over-exploit their immediate surroundings just to survive. (1.6)
– uranium mined for nuclear energy
– solar energy
– energy that comes from a resource that is replenished faster than it is used
– wind energy
Planting forests to replace timber used for wood products.
Installing solar panels on your home.
Switching transportation from car to bicycle.
All of the choices above are examples of sustainability.
None of the choices above is correct.
– Refusal to accept the scientific consensus that human activity is driving the changes
– Strong emphasis on meeting short-term human needs
– All of the above are challenges.
– Adoption of an anthropocentric worldview
– Increased demand for energy from fossil fuels
National Forest Service established
None; all of the above were effective in preserving the environment.
It is interdisciplinary.
It is used to systematically collect and analyze data.
It uses scientific conclusions to propose reasonable courses of action.
It uses social protest as a way to advocate for change.
It seeks to understand our environment and how humans interact with and impact it.
____________, ______________, ____________
We do not claim that the hypothesis is proven, only that it is supported (or confirmed). This is a hallmark of the tentative nature of science. “Proven” suggests we have the final answer; science, however, is open ended, and no matter how much evidence accumulates, there are always new questions to ask and new studies to conduct that could alter our conclusions.
None; all of the above should be taken into account.
It must be testable.
Predictions derived from the hypothesis must be falsifiable.
95% of experiments must produce evidence in support of the hypothesis.
A and B only
A and C only
Gases were observed moving upward in the atmosphere.
In the South Pole levels of NOx were found to have decreased.
In the South Pole levels of NOx were found to have increased.
Levels of ClO in the stratosphere were elevated.
Both B and D are correct.
– humanities such as literature
– social sciences such as anthropology
– applied sciences such as engineering
– natural sciences such as ecology
– All of the answers apply
– the living surroundings in which an organism exists
– the living and nonliving surroundings in which an organism exists
– the climate where an organism lives
– the nonliving surroundings where an organism lives
– developing pest control methods that do not include pesticides
– developing ultra-fast passenger trains
– producing models of the impact of various greenhouse gas concentrations on global temperature
– developing more efficient photovoltaic cells for electricity production