Environmental Understanding, Ethics & Philosophy

Key Vocabulary
NIMBY (not in my backyard)

Review Questions
1. What is the present world population?
2. Which countries are the most populated?
3. Who had an early impact on land and wilderness conservation efforts?


Key Vocabulary
Captive Breeding
Natural Selection
Captive Breeding
Endangered species
Endangered Species Act (ESA)
International Wildlife Treaties Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)
Invasive species
Natural Selection

Esential Questions
1. How do the mass extinctions in the pass differ from the rate of biodiversity loss experienced today? What number mass extinction are we in?
2. How long does it take biodiversity to recover after a mass extinction?
3. What are the major challenges to preserving the biodiversity on the planet?
4. What characteristics do most endangered species share in common?
5. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) identifies threatened and endangered species in the US and puts their protection ahead of what kind of considerations?
6. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists species that cannot be traded in what form?
7. Why do invasive species displace native species?
8. What are some examples of invasive, endangered and extinct species?


Biological Communities and Species Interaction

Key Vocabulary
Competitive Exclusion
Ecological succession
Edge Effect
Genetic Drift
Indicator Species
Keystone species
Natural selection
Pioneer species
Primary productivity
Primary succession
Range of Tolerance
Resource partitioning
Secondary succession
Selective pressure
Tolerance limits
Critical Limiting Factor

Review Questions
1. What are the various stages of ecological succession in our area?
2. What are the main types of species interactions?
3. What are the reasons for intraspecific and interspecific competition?
4. How does the edge effect impact biodiversity?
5. What limits species abundance?
6. What factors influence community diversity?
7. When does primary versus secondary succession occur?
8. Be able to calculate Net Primary Productivity from Gross Primary Productivity and respiration.

Land Use

Key Vocabulary
Environmental Impact Statement
Federal Range Lands
National Environmental Policy Act
National Forest
Old Growth Forest
Rangeland Management
Selective Cutting
Slash and Burn
Sustainable Forestry
Tree plantations
Wilderness Act

Essential Questions
1. What are some of the negative results of deforestation?
2. What are the positive benefits of leaving the forest untouched?
3. How can one remove trees for timber with minimal damage to the ecosystem? 
4. What are the different types of tree removal and what are their pros and cons?
5. What are some sustainable solutions to rangeland management?
6. What is the impact of overgrazing?
7. What is the cause of desertification?


Matter, Energy and Life

Key Vocabulary
Aerobic respiration
Carbon Cycle
Cellular Respiration
Conservation of Matter
Energy Cycle
First law of thermodynamics
Food chain
Food web
Law of Conservation of Matter
Nitrogen Cycle
Nitrogen fixation
Nutrient cycle
Phosphorus cycle
Primary consumer
Second law of thermodynamics
Secondary consumer
Sulfur Cycle
Tertiary consumer
Trophic level

Review Questions
1. Know how the first and second law of thermodynamics govern ecosystem dynamics.
2. What is the difference between low and high quality energy?
3. Energy doesn't recycle, but does matter?
4. Be able to make a food chain and food web for organisms in our area.
5. What are the major steps to the carbon cycle, nitrogen, phosphorus and water cycles? Which cycle slowly and which are quick?
6. What are the largest storage reservoirs for C, N, P and S?
7. Identify producers, primary consumers, secondary and tertiary consumers in a food web or energy pyramid.
8. Know the relationship to the ecological pyramid of biomass and energy.
9. Know the 10% rule of energy flow between trophic levels.
10. Identify the inputs and outputs of cellular respiration.
11. What is the formula for photosynthesis?
12. What is the ultimate source of energy for the terrestrial environment?
13. How is mankind changing the balance of N, C, P and S in the environment?

Biomes and Management of Nature Preserves

Key Vocabulary
Aquatic Biomes
Broadleaf Temperate Decideous Forest
Boreal Forest
Fresh water
National Forest
National Park
National Wildlife Refuge
Selective Cutting
Tropical Rain Forest
Wilderness Preserves
Wildlife Corridors

Essential Questions
1. A biome is a large distinct terrestrial region having what kind of similar features?
2. What are the characteristics of the major biomes of the Earth?
3. What is the impact of park fragmentation on the diversity of the species?
4. What are the ways to protect, repair and manage ecological hot spots?
5. Why are wetlands so valuable as a resource?
6. How do wetlands control flooding?
7. How can parks and preserves be designed to accommodate species with a large range and to protect the biodiversity of the park?
8. Know the degree of restricted use in:

a. National Forest & National Resource lands,
b. National Wildlife Refuges
c. National Wilderness Preservation System & National Parks


Population Dynamics

Key Vocabulary
Biotic potential
Carrying capacity
Density-dependent factor
Density-independent factor
Dynamic State of Equilibrium
Exponential increase
Environmental resistance
Population density

Essential Questions
1. What factors might regulate the population growth of an organism?
2. What does environmental resistance limit?


Human Populations

Key Vocabulary
Age structure
Age structure diagrams
Birth rates
Birth control
Crude birth rate
Crude death rate
Death rate
Demographic transition
Developed countries
Developing countries
Doubling time
Industrial stage
Infant mortality
Preindustrial stage
Replacement fertility level
Rule of 70
Survivorship Curves
Thomas Malthus
Transitional stage

Essential Questions
1. What are some possible solutions to the soaring world population growth?
2. How does the growth rate of humans affect the use of world resources and health of the environment?
3. How do developed and underdeveloped countries differ in age structure, birth rates, infant mortality, death rates, and population growth?
4. Know how to read age structure diagrams- what does a fast population growth look like?
5. Know how to calculate the doubling rate and annual percent growth rate.
6. Understand how to read the three types of survival curves and give examples of organisms for each.
7. How does the birth rate, death rate and population growth change as a developing society becomes more industrialized?
8. Know how the demographic transition phases shift and be able to analyze the chart.


Environmental Health and Toxicology

Key Vocabulary
Dose-Response Curve
Environmental Risk Analysis
HAZMAT (hazardous material)
Rachel Carson
Radioactive decay
Threshold level

Essential Questions
1. What are the biggest chemical threats to human life?
2. Know what happened at Bhopal, India; Minamata, Japan; Chernobyl, Ukraine; Fukushima, Japan; Exxon Valdez, Alaska; Deep Horizon, Gulf of Mexico and Love Canal, New York.
3. How do you measure the concentration of the toxicity of a substance?
4. What is the significance of the LD50 dose?
5. How does the damage to an organism differ between a chronic and an acute dose of a toxin?
6. What information is given in a dose-response curve graph? Be able to read the graph!
7. How do the results of toxicity tests relate to environmental degradation and human health?
8. A mutagen, teratogen and carcinogen all affect humans in what ways? Would that be considered a hereditary illness?
9. How does the amount of radioactive material change with each consecutive half life?
10. What are the main toxic heavy metal pollutants and how do they get into the environment?
11. What is taken into consideration during a risk analysis?
12. Why and how is biomagnification found in fish?


Environmental Geology

Key Vocabulary
Convergent plate boundary
Divergent plate boundary
Geologic Time Scale
Plate tectonics
Strategic Metals
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Tectonic plates

Essential Questions
1. How did plate tectonics affect the diversity of organisms in terms of habitat change and evolution?
2. How do volcanic eruptions affect weather patterns?
3. How does the pattern of volcanoes and earthquakes relate to plate tectonics?
4. What major land forms (ocean spreading, trenches mountains) are created by the different types of plate boundaries?
5. What happens at convergent and divergent boundaries of continental and oceanic plates?
6. Know the major periods and eras of the Earth's history and the major life forms of each era.
7. Know how each rock type formed and the most common elements in the Earth's crust.
8. What are the dangers of cave (and coal) mining?
9. Know the layers of the Earth: crust, the mantle, the core.
10. How are natural mineral deposits formed?
11. What is the outlook of the supply of major economic minerals in our country and in the world?


Food and Agriculture

Key Vocabulary
Blue Revolution
Contour plowing
Crop rotation
Food Quality Protection Act
Genetically Modified Organisms
Green Revolution
No-till agriculture
Organic agriculture
Organic Food
Parent Material
Slash-and-burn agriculture
Soil Horizons
Soil Texture Triangle
Sustainable agriculture

Essential Questions
1. What are the ways to retard soil erosion in agriculture?
2. What are the methods of mechanical and chemical weathering?
3. How is soil formed? How is humus formed?
4. What is the order of sediments from larger to smallest?
5. What are the soil horizons in a soil profile?
6. What components of the soil are important for growing healthy plants?
7. What kinds of soil hold the most water? Which kinds drain the fastest?
8. Why is monoculture and decreased genetic diversity in crops a problem in today's agriculture?
9. Should humans eat high or low on the food chain to lessen the impact on limited land resources?
10. Know how to read a soil texture triangle.
11. What are the major food crops of the world?
12. Be able to indentify and describe typical soils in various biomes and explain how they relate to agriculture.
13. What are the types of agriculture?
14. How has genetic engineering effected crop production?
15. What are the types of irrigation?
16. How can agriculture be made to be sustainable?
17. What are the major fishing techniques including drift/gill netting, longlining, purse-seining, trawling and sonar and their drawbacks?
18. How is over fishing impacting fish populations around the world?
19. How can nitrogen be captured by crop rotation?
20. What are some solutions to overfishing?


Pest Control

Key Vocabulary
Biological control
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act
IPM (integrated pest management)
Natural chemical control
Non-point sources
Pesticide Treadmill
Second generation pesticide

Essential Questions
1. How do you measure the success of a pesticide?
2. What are the benefits of pesticide use?
3. What are the negative effects of pesticide use?
4. What are some alternatives to pesticides?
5. What is IPM and how has it changed pest management?


Air, Weather and Climate

Key Vocabulary
Carbon dioxide
Climate Shifts
Coriolis effect
El Nino
Global warming
Greenhouse effect
Greenhouse gases
Kyoto Protocol
La Nina
Livestock Greenhouse Gas
Negative Feedback Loop
Paris Agreement
Positive Feedback Loop
Thermal Expansion

Essential Questions
1. What are the layers of the atmosphere?
2. How has the level of CO2 changed since the Industrial revolution?
3. How does the greenhouse affect work?
4. Be able to rank various greenhouse gasses in terms of their global warming potential.
5. What are the global repercussions of Climate Change?
6. What is the composition and percentages of the first two major elements in the air?
7. What percentage of C02 emissions does the US emit?
8. How much as the global temperature risen since the industrial revolution?
9. Which areas will be the most impacted by Climate Change and the rising of sea levels?
10. What causes seasons?
11. How does solar energy change with latitude?
12. How does the Earth's early atmosphere differ from today?
13. How is climate shift effecting species distribution?
14. Know the role of coal, oil and biomass in greenhouse gas emissions.
15. Know the feedback loops of Climate Change in terms of ocean acidification and permafrost melt.


Air Pollution

Key Vocabulary
Acid precipitation
Carbon dioxide
Carbon monoxide
CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons)
Clean Air Act
Electrostatic precipitators
Fly ash
Montreal Protocol
Nitric acid (NHO3)
Nitric oxides
Noise pollution
Ozone (O3)
Ozone hole
Particulate material
Photochemical smog
Primary pollutant
Secondary pollutant
Sulfuric oxides
Temperature (Thermal) Inversion
Volatile organic compounds

Essential Questions
1. What are the main primary and secondary sources of air pollutants and their effects on living things?
2. How is smog formed?
3. What are the main sources and consequences of indoor air pollutants?
4. How can indoor air pollution be reduced?
5. What is the cause of acid rain?
6. At what pH is rain considered acid rain?
7. What are the affects of acid rain on bodies of water and land?
8. How can we remediate lakes that have become too acidic? Is this a long term solution?
9. How do we reduce the emission of pollutants that cause acid rain?
10. How do weather patterns affect the deposition of acid precipitation?
11. How does weather and topography relate to air pollution?
12. Compare and contrast stratospheric and tropospheric ozone including the consequences of each.
13. What substance is causing the thinning of the ozone? Know the chemical reaction.
14. How is the ozone layer being protected and why is that important to us?
15. What are the main primary and secondary sources of air pollution and the solutions for their reduction.
16. What regulations do the Clean Air Act cover?
17. How does radon enter a home?
18. How can we reduce the amount of sulfur in coal?
19. What are the sources of noise pollution, its effects and how can it be controlled?
20. How do we decrease harmful air emissions from coal power plants and cars?


Water Use and Management

Key Vocabulary
Drainage Basin
Drip irrigation
Hydrologic cycle
Saltwater intrusion
Water table
Watershed (dranage basin)

Essential Questions
1. What are the most common pathways in the water cycle?
2. Compare and contrast fresh and salt water on the Earth. Where is most of the fresh water located?
3. How are people use water for drinking from groundwater, rivers, seawater and reservoirs.
4. What are the patterns of domestic water use in the U.S.?
5. What indoor water conservation tips would you give to your family to cut down on your home water use?
6. What are the consequences of groundwater depletion?
7. What is the highest level of water use for the U.S: agriculture, industry or residential?
8. How can water irrigation loss be slowed?
9. Explain the global water circulation and the global conveyer belt.
10. What is happening to the Gulf Stream and why?


Water Pollution

Key Vocabulary
Algae bloom
Aquatic Species Monitoring
BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand)
Clean Water Act of 1972
Coliform bacteria
Constructed wetlands
DO (Dissolved oxygen)
Fecal coliform test
Grit chamber
Groundwater pollution
Heavy metal
Hypoxic Zone
Indicator organisms
Indicator species
Non-point source
Oxygen sag
Pathogenic Organisms
PCB (polycholorinated biphenyls)
Point source
Primary treatment
Red Tide
Safe Drinking Water Act
Secondary treatment
Septic System
Sewage Treatment
Tertiary treatment
Thermal pollution
Waste lagoons
Water remediation
Water Quality Act

Review Questions
1. How can aquatic insects be used to determine the level of pollution in a river or stream?
2. What is the normal source of DO in water? Why does it fluctuate daily?
3. Explain the process of eutrophication including its sources, immediate and long term consequences. Be sure you know all the steps that lead to eutrophication.
4. How does eutrophication affect the levels of BOD and DO at the site of polluted effluent versus farther downstream?
5. What is the relationship between BOD and DO?
6. What are the ways we can reduce water pollution?
7. What is the flow chart and operations of a sewage treatment plant?
8. What is the comparison of nitrogen, phosphorus, dissolved suspended solids, BOD, fecal coliform and toxic substances before and after sewage treatment?
9. What would measurements of water acidity, salinity, turbidity, hardness, BOD, and DO tell you about the health of a body of fresh water?
10. Why are human feces NOT used on agricultural lands (besides the gross factor)
11. How could a sewage treatment plant MAKE energy?
12. What is the major cause of thermal pollution?
13. How do we clean up after oil spills?
14. What is the source of ecosystem services that could provide cleaner water?


Solid, toxic and hazardous waste

Key Vocabulary
Biological Treatment
Chemical Treatment
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
Hazardous Waste
Integrated Waste Management
Law of the Sea
Mass burn
National Priorities List
Nuclear Waste Policy Act
Refuse-Derived Fuel
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
Sanitary Landfill

Review Questions
1. Which waste disposal method is the most frequently used in the US?
2. How is a sanitary landfill made?
3. What are the major drawbacks of incinerating waste?
4. What fuel can be made from landfills?
5. How can we reduce the quantity of solid waste?
6. What is the best treatment and disposal of hazardous waste?
7. How are contaminated sites cleaned of hazardous waste?
8. When is it best to use chemical versus biological treatment of hazardous waste?
9. What is the best method of waste disposal from the most to the least energy used?
10. What is the most common form of domestic solid waste?
11. What are the differences between acute, chronic, carcinogens, teratogens, and mutagens?


Environmental Economics, Policy, and Law

Key Vocabulary
CERCLA (Superfund) Act
Clean Air Act
Clean Water Act
Cost-benefit analysis
Cost-benefit ratio
Endangered species act
Environmental Impact Statement
External Cost
Food Qualtity Protection Act
Garrett Hardin
GNP (Gross National Product)
Kyoto Protocol
Montreal Protocol
Ocean Dumping Ban Act
Nonrenewable resource
Nuclear Waste Policy Act
Renewable resource
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
Safe Drinking Water Act
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Toxic Substances Act
Tragedy of the Commons
True cost

Review Questions
1. What are the local state and national laws that apply to the air, water and toxic waste regulations?
2. How are cost-benefit analysis used to determine pollution control measures?
3. According to classic economics, what is the optimal level of pollution?
4. What is the tragedy of the commons? Be able to give examples.
5. What are externalities and what is their connection to pollution and products made by companies?
6. What does it mean to use a resource sustainably?


Conventional Energy

Key Vocabulary
Anthracite Coal
Bituminous Coal
BTU (British Thermal Unit)
Chain reaction
Containment Building
Deep Water Horizon
Energy Crisis
Enriched Uranium
Exxon Valdez
Fossil fuels
Fuel rods
Half Life
High level waste
Low level waste
Natural Gas
Nonrenewable resources
Nuclear power
Oil sand
Oil shale
OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)
Spent Fuel
Synthetic Fuels (Synfuels)
Tar sands
Three Mile Island

Essential Questions
1. What are renewable and nonrenewable resources?
2. Which items in your home take the most electricity to run?
3. How can the use of conventional energy resources be reduced?
4. What common products are derived from petroleum?
5. What is the history of energy use in the world/U.S.?
6. What energy sources do we rely most on now and what is our percent of use?
7. How long are our world and U.S. oil reserves predicted to last?
8. What are the problems with relying on nuclear energy in terms of safety?
9. What new types of automobiles are being invented/produced that would reduce our dependence on oil? What are their draw backs?
10. Know the factor-label method for calculations. Know the UNITS involved.
11. Study how to do energy conversion problems and calculations for power and work.
12. Review how to do simple mathematical calculations without a calculator!
13. What toxic substances does burning coal emit?
14. How is oil and natural gas formed?
15. What are the extraction methods of oil and gas?
16. What is a synfuel and how likely is it to relieve our energy crisis?
17. What is the impact of radiation on human health?
18. What are the present methods of storing nuclear waste?
19. How likely is nuclear fusion as an energy source on Earth?
20. What source of energy will we use in the future as oil runs out?


Sustainable Energy

Key Vocabulary
Alternative Energy
Fuel cells
Fuel wood
Hybrid Electric cars
Hydroelectric Power
Hydrogen Fuel cell
Passive Solar Heating
Photovoltaic cells
Renewable Energy Resources
Tidal power
Wind turbines

Essential Questions
1. How do we conserve and preserve energy resources in terms of reducing use, using efficient energy devices and alternative renewable resources?
2. How could the U.S. alter its energy use to become 100% sustainable? Why aren't we doing this?
3. Know the positive features and negative drawbacks of each type of alternative energy source: hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, tidal, wind and fuel cell.
4. Which types of alternative energy are the most feasible to replace our oil/nuclear power dependency?
5. What is the fastest growing renewable energy resource?
6. How is silting, floods and salmon migration impacted by dams?
7. What are some excellent ways to conserve energy?


Urbanization, Sustainable Cities and Personal Action

Key Vocabulary
Federal Highway System
Planned development
Sustainable city development
Urban planning
Urban sprawl

Essential Questions
1. What factors have caused urban sprawl throughout the world?
2. What are the goals of sustainable development?
3. What changes in urbanization are predicted in the next 50 years?
4. How could American cities be redesigned to be more ecologically sound and culturally amenable?
5. What are the principles of cluster development?
6. How can you as an independent, educated citizen alter your lifestyle to live more sustainably?
7. What creates urban blight?
8. What methods do we have to encourage politicians to enact more environmentally sustainable policies?
9. What kinds of governmental regulations would be necessary to promote a sustainable American society?