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Environmental Science

BIO 110W

Environmental Science

BIO 110W

Course Description

Prerequisites: Prerequisites: READING LEVEL 2, WRITING LEVEL 2 AND MATH LEVEL 2.

Surveys the broad field of environmental science using local, regional, and global examples. Includes the following major topics: the scientific method, an introduction to chemistry, ecological principles, types of pollutants, energy principles, population issues, the environmental impact of human choices, and the role of economics, risk perception, and political choices in environmental decision-making. Exposes students to a variety of field, survey, and laboratory techniques useful in assessing environmental quality. (45-45)

Outcomes and Objectives

The student will participate in the process of science.

Objectives:

  • make observations
  • design experiments
  • conduct experiments
  • formulate and test hypotheses
  • collect data
  • analyze data
  • draw conclusions
  • report results
  • explain the evaluation and revision process of science

Describe the various factors that influence how biotic communities change and determine the kinds of climax communities typical of regions of the earth.

Objectives:

  • Recognize the difference between primary and secondary succession.
  • Describe the process of succession from pioneer to climax community in both terrestrial and aquatic situations.
  • Identify physical and biological characteristics of the earth's seven major terrestrial biomes.
  • Recognize the physical environmental factors that determine the kind of climax community that will develop in various regions of the world.
  • Differentiate the forest biomes that develop based on temperature and rainfall.
  • Describe the various kinds of aquatic ecosystems and the characteristics that define them.

The student shall be able to describe how populations grow and the major factors that influence their growth.

Objectives:

  • Recognize that birthrate and deathrate together determine population growth rate.
  • Define the following characteristics of a population: natality, mortality, sex ratio, age distribution, reproductive potential, and spatial distribution.
  • Recognize that the biotic potential for most species is very large.
  • Describe how, as it grows, a population goes through lag, exponential growth, and stable equilibrium phases.
  • Describe how the carrying capacity of a region for a population is determined by environmental resistance.
  • List the four categories under which limiting factors can be classified.
  • Recognize that some populations enter a death phase after the stable equilibrium phase.
  • Discuss the implications of over-reproduction.
  • Describe how changes in birthrate, deathrate, sex ratio, and age distribution within a population will influence the growth pattern of the population.

Apply principles of population biology to human population growth in developed and less developed nations.

Objectives:

  • Recognize that humans are subject to the same forces of environmental resistance as other organisms.
  • Recognize that the human population is still growing rapidly.
  • Explain how human population growth is influenced by social, theological and political thinking.
  • Differentiate between birthrate and population growth rate.
  • Explain the current population situation in the United States.
  • Explain how age distribution affects population projections.
  • Recognize that U.S. society is in the process of adjusting as the average age increases.
  • Recognize that most of the world still has a rapidly growing population.
  • Describe the implications of the hypothesis that a demographic transition occurs.
  • Recognize that an increasing world population will alter the worldwide ecosystem.
  • Recognize that most of the countries of the world are not able to produce enough food to feed themselves and that this affects all people in some way.
  • Explain why less developed nations have high birthrates and why they will continue to have a low standard of living.
  • Recognize that the developed nations of the world will be under greater pressure to share their abundance.

The student shall be able to describe the uses people make of energy and how energy use influences life-styles and the differing standards of living that exist worldwide.

Objectives:

  • Explain why all organisms require a constant input of energy.
  • Describe how per capita energy consumption increased as civilization developed from hunting and gathering through primitive agriculture to advanced ancient cultures.
  • Describe the development of advanced modern civilizations as new fuels were used to run machines.
  • Recognize that coal deposits are not uniformly distributed throughout the world.
  • Correlate the Industrial Revolution with various social and economic changes.
  • Explain why cheap oil and natural gas led to the development of a consumption-oriented society.
  • Explain how the automobile changed people's lifestyles.
  • List the four uses of energy.
  • Explain why overall energy use in the United States declined during the 1970's and 1980's.
  • Recognize that low costs for energy encourages wasteful use.
  • Contrast energy consumption if different parts of the world.

The student shall be able to list the primary sources of energy used in the world today and discuss the potential and limitations of each source.

Objectives:

  • Differentiate between resources and reserves.
  • Differentiate between renewable and nonrenewable resources.
  • Describe the different methods of coal mining.
  • Explain how some methods of coal mining can have negative environmental impacts.
  • Explain why surface mining of coal is used in some areas and underground mining in other areas.
  • Explain why it is more expensive to locate oil and gas today than it was in the past.
  • Explain why secondary recovery methods are used to obtain oil and natural gas.
  • Describe the potential and limitations of energy resources other than fossil fuels such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, fuelwood and other biomass.
  • Recognize that energy conservation can significantly reduce our need for additional energy sources.

The student shall be able to describe the benefits and risks of using nuclear energy for military and peaceful purposes.

Objectives:

  • Recognize that nuclear fission has the potential to provide large amounts of energy.
  • Describe how a nuclear reactor produces electricity.
  • Describe the basic types of nuclear reactors.
  • Explain the steps involved in the nuclear fuel cycle.
  • List concerns regarding the use of nuclear power.
  • Explain the problem of decommissioning a nuclear plant.
  • Describe how high-level radiation waste is stored.
  • Describe the incident at Chernobyl.
  • Recognize that military uses of nuclear materials has created greater environmental problems than peaceful uses.
  • Recognize that the change in the military status of the former Soviet Union has the potential to provide fissionable materials to non-nuclear nations.

The student shall be able to describe the major ways in which humans impact natural ecosystems as humans use resources.

Objectives:

  • Recognize that humans have an increasing impact on natural ecosystems.
  • Define pollution.
  • Recognize that mineral resources are unevenly distributed, which creates international trade in these commodities.
  • List three types of costs associated with mineral exploitation.
  • Define wilderness as areas that still have minimal human influence.
  • Recognize the ways humans modify forests.
  • Identify changes that occur to aquatic systems as a result of human activity.
  • Recognize that wildlife management focuses on specific species.
  • Recognize examples of wildlife management that are international problem.
  • Recognize that extinction is a natural process.
  • Recognize that humans increase the rate of extinction.
  • Identify ways that humans cause extinctions.
  • Recognize that many extinctions can be prevented if societies are willing to preserve critical habitats and prevent the hunting of endangered species.

The student shall be able to describe the forces involved in determining land use.

Objectives:

  • Explain the impact that water has on the location and development of cities.
  • Explain why farmland surrounding cities is used for housing.
  • Explain how taxation may influence land use.
  • Explain why floodplains and wetlands are often mismanaged.
  • List several exclusionary land uses and several multiple land uses.
  • Describe the economic impact of recreation.
  • Explain why recreational areas are needed in urban locations.
  • Explain why some land must be designated for particular recreational uses, such as wilderness areas, and why that decision sometimes invites conflict from those who do not desire to use the land in the designated way.
  • List the steps in the development and implementation of a land-use plan.
  • Describe methods of enforcing compliance with land-use plans.
  • List the problems associated with local land-use planning.
  • Explain the advantage of regional planning and the problems associated with it.

The student shall be able to describe the nature of soil and methods for reducing erosion and degradation.

Objectives:

  • List the physical, chemical, and biological factors responsible for soil formation.
  • Explain the importance of humus to soil fertility.
  • Differentiate between soil texture and soil structure.
  • Explain how texture and structure influence soil atmosphere and soil water.
  • Explain the role of living things in a soil.
  • Describe the processes of soil erosion by water and wind.
  • Explain how contour farming, strip farming, terracing, waterways, windbreaks, and conservation tillage reduce soil erosion.
  • Recognize that the misuse of soil reduces soil fertility, pollutes streams, and requires expensive remedial measures.
  • Explain how land not suited for cultivation may still be productively used for other purposes.
  • Identify areas of the world with particular soil degradation problems and their causes.

The student shall be able to describe typical techniques used to increase agricultural production and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Objectives:

  • Explain how the invention and acceptance of farm machinery encouraged the development of a monoculture type of farming.
  • List the advantages and disadvantages of monoculture farming.
  • Explain why chemical fertilizers are used.
  • Recognize that, while fertilizer does replace soil nutrients, it does not furnish organic materials for the soil, and the soil characteristics are altered.
  • Explain why modern agriculture makes extensive use of pesticides.
  • Differentiate between hard pesticides and soft pesticides.
  • Differentiate bioaccumulation from biological amplification.
  • List four problems associated with pesticide use.
  • Explain the process of biological amplification.
  • Describe how organic farming differs from conventional farming practices.
  • Explain why integrated pest management depends upon a complete knowledge of the pest's history.

The student will work collaboratively with classmates.

Objectives:

  • participate in laboratory experiments with 1-3 classmates
  • share the work load of small group activities
  • share the responsibility of acquiring, cleaning and putting away laboratory equipment
  • share ideas and respectfully receive the ideas of classmates

The student shall be able to describe the flow of water through the hydrologic cycle and the uses humans make of the water in different parts of the cycle.

Objectives:

  • Explain how water is cycled through the hydrologic cycle.
  • Explain the significance of groundwater, aquifers, and runoff.
  • Explain how land use affects infiltration and surface runoff.
  • List the various kinds of water use and the problems associated with each.
  • List the problems associated with a water impoundment.
  • List the major sources of water pollution.
  • Explain the significance of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).
  • Explain how nutrients cause water pollution.
  • Differentiate between point and non-point sources of pollution.
  • Explain how heat can be a form of pollution.
  • Differentiate between primary, secondary, and tertiary sewage treatments.
  • Describe some of the problems associated with storm-water runoff.
  • List sources of groundwater pollution.
  • Explain how various federal laws control water use and prevent misuse.
  • List the problems associated with water-use planning.
  • Explain the rationale behind the federal laws that attempt to preserve specific water areas and habitats.
  • List the problems associated with groundwater mining.
  • Explain the problem of salinization associated with large-scale irrigation in arid areas.
  • List the kinds of water-related services provided by local government.
  • Describe the International Joint Commission's role in overseeing water quality of the boundary waters of the United States and Canada.

The student shall be able to make arguments for or against specific environmental actions based on an evaluation of risk and economic cost/benefit analysis.

Objectives:

  • Describe why the analysis of risk has become an important tool in environmental decision making.
  • State the difference between risk assessment and risk management.
  • Describe the issues involved in risk management.
  • Recognize the difference between true and perceived risks.
  • Define what an economic good or service is.
  • Describe the relationship between the available supply of a commodity or service and its price.
  • Describe the uses of cost-benefit analysis.
  • Describe the concept of sustainable development.
  • Describe external costs as they relate to environmental decisions and the economics of pollution prevention.
  • Give an example of a the market approach to curbing pollution.

The student shall be able to describe the nature of the atmosphere and how human activity alters it.

Objectives:

  • Explain why air can accept and disperse significant amounts of pollutants.
  • List the major sources of the five primary pollutants and their effects.
  • Describe how photochemical smog is formed and how it affects humans.
  • Explain how PCV valves, APC valves, catalytic converters, scrubbers, precipitators, filters, and changes in fuel types reduce air pollution.
  • Explain how acid rain is formed and how it affects terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Recognize that humans can alter the atmosphere in such a way that the climate may change.
  • Recognize that there is a link between chlorofluorocarbon use and ozone depletion.
  • Recognize that enclosed areas can trap air pollutants that are normally diluted in the atmosphere.
  • Explain why air pollution is an international concern.

The student shall be able to describe sources of solid wastes and their typical methods of disposal.

Objectives:

  • Explain why solid waste has become a problem throughout the world.
  • Recognize that the management of municipal solid waste is directly impacted by economics, changes in technology, and citizen awareness and involvement.
  • Recognize that the management of municipal solid waste in the future will require an integrated approach.
  • Describe the various methods of waste disposal and the problems associated with each method.
  • Describe the difficulties in determining the location for and the building of new sanitary landfills.
  • Describe the problems associated with the use of incineration as a method of waste disposal.
  • Describe some methods of source reduction.
  • Describe composting and how it fits into solid waste disposal.
  • List some benefits and drawbacks of recycling.

The student shall be able to identify the sources and characteristics of toxic and hazardous materials and their proper disposal.

Objectives:

  • Distinguish between hazardous and toxic waste.
  • Describe the various problems associated with regulating hazardous wastes.
  • Describe the four characteristics by which hazardous wastes are identified.
  • Describe the environmental problems caused by hazardous and toxic wastes.
  • Identify the difference between a persistent and nonpersistent pollutant.
  • Describe the potential health risks associated with hazardous wastes.
  • Explain the problems associated with uncontrolled hazardous-waste dump sites and how such sites came to be.
  • List five alternative technologies used to manage hazardous waste.
  • Describe the importance of source reduction with regard to hazardous wastes.
  • Describe the pollution prevention hierarchy.
  • Give examples of waste minimization.

The student shall be able to describe the positive and negative roles government plays in alleviating environmental problems.

Objectives:

  • Explain how the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the U.S. government interact in forming policy.
  • Describe the forces that led to changes in environmental policy in the United States during the past three decades.
  • Describe the history of the major United States environmental legislation.
  • Describe what is meant by "Green" politics.
  • Describe why environmentalism is a growing factor in international relations.
  • Describe the factors which could result in "ecoconflicts".
  • Explain why it is impossible to separate politics and the environment.
  • Explain how citizen pressure can influence government environmental policies.
  • Describe problems encountered in developing international environmental policy.

Perform writing tasks to promote learning.

Write effectively for a specific audience and purpose.

Demonstrate the learning of concepts through writing.

The student will demonstrate the competent use of common instruments and technology used in environmental investigation.

Objectives:

  • use microscopes to view objects
  • use computers to help manage and analyze data
  • use the metric system and typical devices to measure mass, length, volume, and temperature
  • follow directions provided with various kinds of scientific equipment
  • use a pH meter
  • use chemical tests and indicators to measure concentrations of specific chemicals

The student will be able to competently communicate about environmental topics

Objectives:

  • read critically
  • write effectively
  • listen actively
  • speak effectively
  • develop and interpret graphs and flow charts

The student will be able to demonstrate the ability to think critically

Objectives:

  • integrate concepts
  • solve problems
  • draw logical conclusions
  • make predictions based on evidence
  • identify trends and patterns
  • distinguish between simple correlation and cause-and-effect

The student will be able to describe the complexity and interrelatedness of environmental problems.

Objectives:

  • State examples of how social, political, and economic issues are a part of environmental problems.
  • Explain why acceptable solutions to environmental problems are not often easy to achieve.
  • Explain why environmental science is an interdisciplinary field of study.
  • Cite examples or case studies that demonstrate that individuals view environmental problems from different perspectives.
  • Discuss the local, regional, and global scope of environmental issues.
  • Give examples of how core environmental issues differ in different parts of the world.

The student shall be able to describe the role ethics and morals play in determining environmental action at individual, corporate and societal levels.

Objectives:

  • Differentiate between ethics and morals.
  • Explain the connection between material wealth and resource exploitation.
  • Describe how industry exploits resources and consumes energy to produce goods.
  • Explain how corporate behavior is determined.
  • Recognize the tremendous power that corporations wield because of their size.
  • Explain why government action is needed to force all companies to meet environmental standards.
  • Describe the general attitude of society toward the environment.
  • Explain the relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation.
  • List three conflicting attitudes toward nature.
  • Debate issues involving environmental justice.
  • Discuss factors that influence moral and ethical choices at societal, corporate, individual, and global levels.

The student will be able to apply basic chemistry and energy principles to environmental problems.

Objectives:

  • Describe the structure of atoms in terms of specific subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons).
  • Recognize that different elements have different atomic structures.
  • Recognize that isotopes of the same element differ in the number of neutrons present.
  • Recognize that atoms may be combined and held together by chemical bonds to produce molecules.
  • Explain that rearranging chemical bonds results in a chemical reaction and that this is associated with energy changes.
  • Relate states of matter to the amount of kinetic energy contained in the molecules.
  • Explain the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Provide examples of high quality and low quality energy.
  • State the meaning of different pH values.

The student will be able to describe how living organisms, nonliving matter, and energy are interconnected.

Objectives:

  • Identify the abiotic and biotic factors in an ecosystem.
  • Describe the niche concept.
  • Describe predator-prey, parasite-host, competitive, mutualistic, and commensalistic relationships.
  • Differentiate between a community and an ecosystem.
  • List components of an ecosystem.
  • Describe the role of producer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, scavenger, parasite, and decomposer in an ecosystem.
  • Describe energy flow in an ecosystem.
  • Relate the concept of food web and food chain to trophic levels.
  • Explain the cycling of nutrients, such as nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorous, through an ecosystem.
  • Describe the process of natural selection as it operates to refine the fit between an organism and its habitat.
  • Recognize that all organisms have an impact on their surroundings.
  • Explain why people in less developed countries generally feed at lower trophic levels than those in the developed world.