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Intro to Environmental Science Ch. 1 and 2. I.What is Environmental Science? A. Environmental science (ES) is the study of the interaction between humans.

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Presentation on theme: "Intro to Environmental Science Ch. 1 and 2. I.What is Environmental Science? A. Environmental science (ES) is the study of the interaction between humans."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intro to Environmental Science Ch. 1 and 2

2 I.What is Environmental Science? A. Environmental science (ES) is the study of the interaction between humans and the environment. B.The environment includes all conditions that surround living organisms: 1.Abiotic – climate, air, water, soil, landforms, etc 2.Biotic – other living organisms and relationships What is the difference between abiotic and biotic?

3 C.ES is complex and interdisciplinary, and includes concepts and ideas from multiple fields of study:

4 II.Key Themes of ES A.Humans and nature are intimately connected 1.Success for one involves success for the other 2.Depend upon the environment for our existence and economies

5 B.Humans alter natural environments 1.Convert land from its natural state into urban, suburban, and agricultural areas 2.Change the chemistry of air, water and soil 3.Have global impacts – Gaia hypothesis

6 C.Human population growth 1. Human population has more than doubled in the last 40 years - over 7 billion people alive today 2. As human populations increase, competition for limited resources increases; leading to famine, war, disease, and environmental damage 3. This is THE underlying environmental issue

7 D.Carrying Capacity and Sustainability 1.What is the maximum number of people the Earth can support? 2.Currently we are using resources faster than they can be replenished (~1980) 3.“Tragedy of the Commons” – by Garrett Hardin (1968) 4.Must work to develop sustainability: a.Scientific – resources and ecosystems b.Economic – growth and development 5.How can we balance economic growth with resource use and ecosystem preservation, so that future generations are not negatively affected?

8 6.Ecological Footprint a.What does it tell us? b.How do we calculate it?

9 E.Science and Values 1.Both are needed to solve environmental problems 2.Knowing scientific data and understanding its implications 3.Justifications for valuing the environment: a. Utilitarian – survival and economic b. Ecological – individual species and systems c. Aesthetic d. Recreational e. Inspirational f. Creative g. Moral h. Cultural

10 III.Thinking Critically about the Environment A.Use scientific data and judgment to solve environmental problems – fact vs. belief B.The scientific method 1.Make observations and develop questions 2.Gather background information 3.Form a testable hypothesis 4.Design a controlled experiment to test the hypothesis (3 rules): a.Have a control b.Test only ONE variable c.Use largest sample size possible

11  Hypothesis: Burning will increase frequency of prairie wildflowers. Which is the control group?

12 5.Collect and record data a.Qualitative vs. quantitative b.Organize data in tables 6.Analyze and interpret data a.Graphically – manipulated and responding variables 7.Draw conclusions a.Determine whether the results support or reject the hypothesis b.Error analysis – uncertainties due to experimental errors 8.Repeat experiment and disseminate findings

13  The Process of Science Problem recognition or question Hypothesis development Experimentation Analysis Share knowledge Make predictions Hypothesis supported? YES NO Other scientists New knowledge

14 C.Distinguish science from pseudoscience 1.Scientific theory - hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested and confirmed by multiple groups of researchers, and is widely accepted by the scientific community 2.Pseudoscience - untestable, lacks empirical evidence, or based on faulty reasoning or belief

15 D.Challenges and Limitations of ES 1.Complex interactions of natural and human- dominated systems 2.No “control planet” to compare to Earth 3.Virtually every part of the planet has been altered by humans (e.g. lead in the Greenland ice sheet) 4.Subjectivity – “Paper or plastic?”

16 E.Addressing Environmental Issues Scientific assessment Risk analysis Public education and involvement Political action Evaluation

17  Case Study: Lake Washington Scientific assessment Risk analysis Public education and involvement Political action Evaluation


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