Ionizing radiation
  Enough energy to dislodge electrons from atoms, forming ions; capable of causing cancer (gamma, X-rays, UV)
High Quality Energy
Organized & concentrated; can perform useful work (fossil fuel & nuclear)
Low Quality Energy
Disorganized, dispersed (heat in ocean or air wind, solar)
First Law of Thermodynamics
Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but may be converted from one form to another (Law of Conservation of Energy)
Second Law of Thermodynamics
  When energy is changed from one form to another, some useful energy is always degraded into lower quality energy, usually heat
 Natural radioactive decay
Unstable radioisotopes decay releasing gamma rays, alpha particles, and beta particles
The time it takes for 1?2 the mass of a radioisotope to decay
Estimate of how long a radioactive isotope must be stored until it decays to a safe level
Approximately 10 half-lives
Nuclear Fission
Nuclei of isotopes split apart when struck by neutrons
Nuclear Fusion
Two isotopes of light elements (H) forced together at high temperatures till they fuse to form a heavier nucleus (He).

Process is expensive; break-even point not reached yet

A rock that contains a large enough concentration of a mineral making it profitable to mine
Organic fertilizer
Slow-acting & long-lasting because the organic remains need time to be decomposed
Best solutions to energy shortage
Conservation, increase efficiency, explore alternative energy options
Surface mining
Cheaper and can remove more minerals; less hazardous to workers
Organic, dark material remaining after decomposition by microorganisms
Removal of dissolved materials from soil by water moving downwards
Deposit of leached material in lower soil layers (B horizon)
Perfect agricultural soil with optimal portions of sand, silt, clay (40%, 40%, 20%)
Parts of the hydrologic cycle
Evaporation, transpiration, runoff, condensation, precipitation, infiltration
Any water-bearing layer in the ground
Cone of depression
Lowering of the water table around a pumping well
Salt water intrusion
Near the coast, over-pumping of groundwater causes saltwater to move into the aquifer
El Nino Southern Oscillation, see-sawing of air pressure over the S. Pacific
During an El Nino yearDuring a non El Nino year
Trade winds weaken & warm water sloshed back to SAEasterly trade winds and ocean currents pool warm water in the western Pacific, allowing upwelling of nutrient rich water off the west coast of South America
Effects of El Nino
Upwelling decreases disrupting food chains; N U.S. has mild winters, SW U.S.

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has increased rainfall, less Atlantic hurricanes

Nitrogen fixing
Because atmospheric N2 cannot be used directly by plants it must first be converted into ammonia (NH3) by bacteria (rhizobium)
Decomposers convert organic waste into ammonia
Ammonia (NH3) is converted to nitrate ions (NO3)
Inorganic nitrogen is converted into organic molecules such as DNA/amino acids & proteins
Allowing the use of resources in a responsible mannerSetting aside areas and protecting them from human activities
Bacteria convert nitrate (NO3)- and nitrite (NO2)- back into N2 gas
Phosphorus does not circulate as easily as nitrogen because
It does not exist as a gas, but is released by weathering ofPhosphate (PO4)3- rocks
The ability to meet the current needs of humanity without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
How excess phosphorus is added to aquatic ecosystems
Runoff of animal wastes, fertilizer, discharge of sewage
Plants convert atmospheric carbon (CO2) into complex carbohydrates (glucose C6H12O6)
Aerobic respiration
O2-consuming producers, consumers & decomposers break down complex organic compounds &Convert C back into CO2
Largest reservoirs of C
Carbonate (CO3)2- rocks first, oceans second
Biotic and abiotic
Living and nonliving components of an ecosystem
Photosynthetic or chemosynthetic life
Fecal coliform/Enterococcus bacteria
Indicator of sewage contamination
Energy flow in food webs
Only 10% of the usable energy is transferred because usable energy lost as heat (second law); not all biomass is digested and absorbed; predators expend
Good= disinfection of water; bad = forms trihalomethanes
1. Primary succession2. Secondary succession
1. Development of communities in a lifeless area not previously inhabited by life or those in which the soil profile is totally destroyed (lava flows); begins with lichen action2. Life progresses where soil remains (clear-cut forest, fire)
Symbiotic relationship where both partners benefit
Using waste heat to make electricity
symbiotic relationship where one partner benefits & the other is unaffected
relationship in which one partner obtains nutrients at the expense of the host
large distinct terrestrial region having similar climate, soil, plants & animals
Carrying capacity
the number of individuals that can be sustained in an area
R strategistK strategist
reproduce early in life; many small unprotected offspringreproduce late in life; few offspring; care for offspring
Positive feedback
when a change in some condition triggers a response that intensifies the changing condition (warmerEarth – snow melts – less sunlight is reflected & more is absorbed, therefore warmer earth)
Negative feedback
when a changing in some condition triggers a response that counteracts the changed condition (warmer earth – more ocean evaporation – more stratus clouds – less sunlight reaches the ground – therefore cooler Earth)
said human population cannot continue to increase exponentially; consequences will be war, famine & disease
Doubling time
rule of 70; 70 divided by the percent growth rate
Replacement level fertility
the number of children a couple must have to replace themselves (2.

1 in developed countries)

World Population
~ 6.7 billion U.S. Population: ~ 305 million
Preindustrial stage
(demographic transition) birth & death rates high, population grows slowly, infant mortality high
Transitional stage:
(demographic transition) death rate lower, better health care, population grows fast
Industrial stage
(demographic transition) decline in birth rate, population growth slows
Postindustrial stage
(demographic transition) low birth & death rates
Age structure diagrams
broad base = rapid growth; narrow base = negative growth; uniform shape = zero growth
First, second and third most populated countries
China, India, U.S.
Most important thing affecting population growth
low status of women
Ways to decrease birth rate
family planning, contraception, economic rewards and penalties
Percent water on earth by type

5% seawater, 2.5% freshwater

Salinization of soil
in arid regions, water evaporates leaving salts behind
Ways to conserve water
agriculture = drip/trickle irrigation; industry = recycling; home = use gray water, repair leaks, lowflow fixtures
Point vs. non point sources
Point, from specific location such as a pipe. Non-point, from over an area such as runoff
biological oxygen demand, amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic decomposers to break down organicmaterials
rapid algal growth caused by an excess of nitrates (NO3)- and phosphates (PO4)3- in water
when aquatic plants die, the BOD rises as aerobic decomposers break down the plants, the DO drops & the watercannot support life
Minamata disease
(1932-1968, Japan) mental impairments caused by methylmercury (CH3Hg)+ poisoning
Primary air pollutants
produced by humans & nature (CO,CO2,SOx,NOx, hydrocarbons, particulates)
Natural selection:
organisms that possess favorable adaptations pass them onto the next generation
Particulate matter:
Source: burning fossil fuels and diesel exhaustEffect: reduces visibility & respiratory irritationReduction: filtering, electrostatic precipitators, alternative energy)
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
Source: auto exhaustEffects: acidification of lakes, respiratory irritation, leads to smog & ozone Equation for acid formation: NO + O2 = NO2 + H2O = HNO3 Reduction: catalytic converter
Sulfur oxides (SOx)
Source: coal burningEffects: acid deposition, respiratory irritation, damages plants Equation for acid formation: SO2 + O2 = SO3 + H2O = H2SO4 Reduction: scrubbers, burn low sulfur fuel)
Carbon oxides (CO and CO2)
Source: auto exhaust, incomplete combustionEffects: CO binds to hemoglobin, reducing blood’s ability to carry O2; CO2 contributes to global warmingReduction: catalytic converter, emission testing, oxygenated fuel, mass transit
Ozone (O3)
Formation: secondary pollutant,NO2 + uv = NO + O* O* + O2 = O3, with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) Effects: respiratory irritant, plant damageReduction: reduce NO and VOC emissions
Radon (Rn)
naturally occurring colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, found in some types of soil and rock, can seep into homes and buildings, formed from the decay of uranium (U), causes lung cancer
Photochemical smog
formed by chemical reactions involving sunlight (NO, VOC, O*)
Acid deposition
caused by sulfuric and nitric acids (H2SO4, HNO3), resulting in lowered pH of surface waters
Greenhouse gases
Examples: H2O, CO2, O3, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane (CH4). Effect: they trap outgoing infrared (heat) energy, causing Earth to warm
Effects of global warming
rising sea level (thermal expansion), extreme weather, drought, famine, extinctions
Causes of ozone depletion
CFCs, methyl chloroform or trichloromethane (CHCl3), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), halon(haloalkanes), methyl bromide (CH3Br)— all of which attack stratospheric ozone
Effects of ozone depletion
increased UV, skin cancer, cataracts, decreased plant growth
Love Canal, NY (1950s+)
chemicals buried in old canal; school and homes built over it; caused birth defects and cancer
Main component of municipal solid waste (MSW)
paper; most is landfilled
True cost / External costs
harmful environmental side effects that are not reflected in a product’s price
Sanitary landfill problems and solutions
problem = leachate; solution = liner with collection system problem = methane gas; solution = collect gas and burn problem = volume of garbage; solution = compact and reduce
Incineration advantages:
volume of waste reduced by 90%, and waste heat can be used
Incineration disadvantages
toxic emissions (polyvinyl chloride, dioxins), scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators needed,ash disposal (contains heavy metals)
Best way to solve waste problem
reduce the amounts of waste at the source
Keystone species
species whose role in an ecosystem are more important than others, such as a sea otter, sea stars, grizzlybear, prairie dogs
Indicator species:
species that serve as early warnings that an ecosystem is being damaged ex. trout
Characteristics of endangered species
small range, large territory, or live on an island
In natural ecosystems, methods which control 50-90% of pests
predators, diseases, parasites
Major insecticide groups (and examples)
chlorinated hydrocarbons (DDT); organophosphates (malathion); carbamates(aldicarb)
Pesticide pros:
saves lives from insect-transmitted disease, increases food supply, increases profits for farmers
Pesticide cons
genetic resistance, ecosystem imbalance, pesticide treadmill, persistence, bioaccumulation, biologicalmagnification
Natural pest control
better agricultural practices, genetically resistant plants, natural enemies, biopesticides, sex attractants
Electricity generation methods
using steam from water boiled by fossils fuels or nuclear reactions; falling water to turn aturbine to power a generator
Petroleum formation:
microscopic aquatic organisms in sediments converted by heat and pressure into a mixture ofhydrocarbons
Pros of petroleum
relatively cheap, easily transported, high-quality energy
Cons of petroleum
reserves will be depleted soon; pollution during drilling, transport and refining; burning makes CO2
Steps in coal formation
peat, lignite, bituminous, anthracite
Major parts of a nuclear reactor:
core, control rods, steam generator, turbine, containment building
Two most serious nuclear accidents
Chernobyl, Ukraine (1986) and Three Mile Island, PA (1979)
Alternate energy sources
wind, solar, waves, biomass, geothermal, fuel cells
LD50 (LD-50, LD50)
the amount of a chemical that kills 50% of the animals in a test population
Mutagen; Teratogen; Carcinogen
(in order) causes hereditary changes through mutations; causes fetus deformities; causescancer
Endangered species
a group of organisms in danger of becoming extinct if the situation is not improved; populationnumbers have dropped below the critical number of organisms; North spotted owl, Arctic polar bear, many others.


Invasive/Alien/Exotic species
non-native species to an area; often thrive and disrupt the ecosystem balance examples :kudzu vine, purple loosestrife, African honeybee ?killer bee?, water hyacinth, fire ant, zebra mussel
The Tragedy of the Commons:
(1968 paper by ecologist Garret Hardin) global commons such as atmosphere and oceansare used by all and owned by none
Volcano and Earthquake occurrence
at plate boundaries (divergent= spreading, mid-ocean ridges) (convergent= trenches)(transform= sliding, San Andreas)
Sources of mercury:
burning coal, compact fluorescent bulbs
Major source of sulfur
burning coal
Threshold dose:
the maximum dose that has no measurable effect
Temperature Inversion
layer of dense, cool air trapped under a layer of warm dense air, pollution in trapped layer maybuild to harmful levels. Frequent in Los Angeles, California and Mexico City, Mexico.
process where water is absorbed by plant roots, moves up through plants, passes through pores (stomata) inleaves or other parts, evaporates into atm. as water vapor
cultivation of a single crop, usually in a large area
Wheat, rice and corn provide more than 1?2 of the calories in the food consumed by the world’s people.
Forest Fires
Types – Surface, Crown, Ground (in order) usually burn only under growth and leaf litter on forest floor;, hotfires, may start on ground but eventually leap from treetop to treetop; go underground, may smolder for days or weeks, difficult to detect and extinguish i.e.

peat bogs.

Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act:
(1977) requires coal strip mines to reclaim the land
Madrid Protocol
(1991) Suspension of mineral exploration (mining) for 50 years in Antarctica
Safe Drinking Water Act
(SDWA, 1974) set maximum contaminant levels for pollutants in drinking water that may have adverse effects on human health
Clean Water Act
CWA, 1972) set maximum permissible amounts of water pollutants that can be discharged into waterways; aims to make surface waters swimmable and fishable
Ocean Dumping Ban Act
(1988) bans ocean dumping of sewage sludge and industrial waste in the ocean
Clean Air Act:
(CAA, 1970) set emission standards for cars and limits for release of air pollutants
Kyoto Protocol:
(2005) controlling global warming by setting greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed countries
Montreal Protocol:
(1987) phase-out of ozone depleting substances
Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA)
(1976) controls hazardous waste with a cradle to grave system
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA)
(1980) ?Superfund,? designed toidentify and clean up abandoned hazardous waste dump sites
Nuclear Waste Policy Act:
(1982) U.S. government must develop a high level nuclear waste site (Yucca Mtn)
Endangered Species Act
(1973) identifies threatened and endangered species in the U.S., and puts their protection ahead of economic considerations
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
(1973) lists species that cannot be commercially traded as live specimens or wildlife products
Magnuson-Stevens Act:
(1976) Management of marine fisheries
Food Quality Protection Act:
(1996) set pesticide limits in food, & all active and inactive ingredients must be screened forestrogenic/endocrine effects
National Environmental Policy Act:
(1969) Environmental Impact Statements must be done before any project affecting federal lands can be started
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(2004) Seeks to protect human health from the 12 most toxic chemicals (includes 8 chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides / DDT can be used for malaria control)