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UT ENS 112 - Chapter 1: Science and Sustainability

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Environmental Science 112FALL SEMESTER 2018INSTRUCTOR: DR. Adrienne [email protected] 1: Science and SustainabilityOur Island, Earth● The environment consists of all the living and nonliving things around us● Environmental Science is the study of how the natural world works, how the environment affects us, and how we affect it.We Rely on Natural Resources● Natural resources are the substances and energy sources that we take from the environment and rely upon to survive● Renewable natural resources are replenished over short periods ○ Inexhaustible: sunlight, wind, and wave energy are perpetually renewed○ Exhaustible: Timber, water, animal populations, and fertile soil take months to years to replenish● Nonrenewable natural resources are formed much more slowly than we use them and are no longer available once depletedWe Rely on Ecosystem Services● The environment also provides ecosystem services, such as air and water purification, cycling of nutrients, climate regulation, pollination, and waste recycling.Population growth amplifies our impact● The human population has grown exponentially following:○ Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago)■ Grow crops and domesticate animals leads to more food which means the ability to sustain more people1○ Industrial Revolution (mid 1700’s)■ Shifted life toward an urban society powered by fossil fuels■ Significant advances with medicine helps people live longerResource Consumption exerts social and environmental pressures● Ecological footprint: the cumulative area of land and water needed to provide resources and waste disposal for a typical person○ Carbon (60%), Cropland (19%), Forest (10%), Pasture (6%), Fishing grounds (3%), Built-up Land (2%)● Humans are using renewable resources 68% faster than they are being replenished○ This is called Overshoot, because we are surpassing Earth’s capacity to sustainably support our population.Conserving natural capital is like maintaining a bank account● The Earth’s natural capital, its store of resources and ecosystems services, is like a bank account○ If you leave the principal intact and only spend the interest, the account remains full○ If you deplete the principal, the account will be drawn down until it is exhausted.● Currently, we are drawing down Earth’s natural capital, a practice that is unsustainable.The Nature of Environmental Science● ES is interdisciplinary, multiple disciplines together○ Both natural studies, which focus on how the natural world works, and social sciences, which address human interactions and institutions● Environmental Studies emphasize the social sciences.Environmental science VS. Environmentalism● Environmental science involves the scientific study of the environment and our 2interactions with it● Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated….The Nature of Science● Science is a systematic process for learning about the worls and testing our understand about it○ Science may also refer to the accumulated body of knowledge that arises from observing. Questioning, testing and discovery● Descriptive Science involves researching organisms, materials, and systems that are new or not well-known. ○ Baseline information● Hypothesis-Driven Science uses experiments to test hypotheses as part of the scientific methodScientific method is a traditional approach to research● The scientific method is a formalized technique for testing ideas● First, the scientist observes some phenomenon● A question arises from the observation, which the scientist them attempts to explainwith a hypothesis● The scientist makes predictions, which can be directly and unequivocally tested by an experiment● Experiments have two variables○ The Independent Variable is the condition that changes and is to be tested○ The Dependent Variable is the resulting condition that depends on the independent variable● In a controlled experiment, only the independent variable is changed.○ The treatment part of the experiment receives the change○ The control does not receive the change and serves as a point of comparison● Scientists record data, or information, from their studies.3○ Quantitative data, expressed in numbers, are especially valued because numbers are easy to compare.● An experiment may disprove or fail to disprove a hypothesis, but it never proves it tobe true.○ If enough evidence accumulates to support the hypothesis, the scientists may eventually conclude that it is well-supported.We test hypotheses in different ways● In manipulative experiments, the researcher actively chooses and manipulative the independent variable○ These are not always possible, such as in the case of global climate change● Natural experiments compare how different variable are expressed in naturally occurring, but different, contexts○ The independent variable varies naturally, and scientists search for correlationScientists use graphs to represent data visually● Graphs help to make patterns and trends in data○ Line graphs show trends in a variable over time■ Multiple lines can be used to show control and treated groups in an experiment○ Bar Graphs compare single measurements between groups, such as average algae surface coverage○ Scatter Plots reveal any correlations between two variables.○ Pie Charts show percentage breakdowns of a measurement, such as algae speciesThe scientific process continues beyond the scientific method● When a researcher’s work is complete, it is submitted to a journal.○ The journals editor asks several scientists to peer review the work, meaning they provide comments and criticism and judge whether it merits publication4● Further peer review takes place as scientists apply for grants and funding and present their research at conference presentations.○ Other scientists may attempt to repeat the experiment● If a hypothesis survives repeated testing and consistently predicts experimental outcomes accurately, it may be incorporated into a theory● A Theory is widely-accepted, well-tested explanation of one or more cause-and-effect relationships that have been extensively validated by a great amount of testingScience undergoes paradigm shift● Periodically, science will undergo shifts where one paradigm or dominant view is replaced by anotherEnvironmental ethics● Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies how people decide what is good and bad, right and

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