The Environment

6.1 - An Interconnected Planet
Humans are a part of the environment and can affect the resilience of the environment.  The current human population is over 6 billion - and will probably reach 10 billion before it stabalizes.

A resource is anything that can be used to fill a need.

Renewable resources - such as wind power, clean water, and trees - are resources that can be replaced at about the same rate at which they are consumed.

Nonrenewable resources - such as coal, oil, and natural gas - are resources that form at a rate that is much slower than the rate at which they are consumed.
  - Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy resources that have
     formed from the remains of ancient organisms.
     Examples: coal, oil, and natural gas.

6.2 - Environmental Issues
Air pollution...
  ...causes respiratory problems.
  ...results in acid rain.
  ...damages the ozone layer.
  ...affects global temperatures.

Acid rain
contains high levels of sulfuric or nitric acid (usually from burning fossil fuels).  It can damage forest and lake ecosystems.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a group of chemicals that destroy ozone in the atmosphere.  The ozone layer blocks most of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which would otherwise destroy all life on the Earth's surface.  CFCs are used as coolants in refridgerators and air conditioners, and as propellants in spray cans.

Global warming is the gradual raising of the Earth's average surface temperature.  Scientists believe that this is caused by the Greenhouse Effect, in which gases such as CO2 and water vapor trap heat in the lower atmosphere (instead of letting it radiate out into space).  The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the past 200 years due to increased burning of fossil fuels.  Global warming can lead to...
  ...rising sea levels as the polar ice caps melt, which will destroy
     coastal ecosystems.
  ...changes in weather patterns, leading to more frequent and
     more severe hurricanes and typhoons in some places, more
     droughts in other places.

Water Pollution comes from...
  ...fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture.
  ...livestock farms.
  ...industrial waste.
  ...oil runoff from roads.
  ...septic tanks.
  ...unlined landfills.

Water pollution can be...
  ...be toxic: contaiminating drinking water or poisoning wildlife
     (such as with DDT and beld eagles).
  ...increase the nutrients in water (such as when fertilizers and
     sewage cause algal blooms - excessive growths of algae that
     use up the oxygen in the water so that fish and other organisms
     suffocate and die.

Soil Damage
Erosion is a process in which materials in the Earth's surface are loosened, dissolved, or worn away and then transported to a different place.  This can be caused by wind, water, ice, gravity, or human activity.

Plant roots help to slow erosion by holding soil in place.  However, traditional farming practices, like plowing, loosen the soil, remove many of the plants, and increase the rate of erosion.

Good farming practices include...
  ...terracing (changing a steep field into flat steps).
  ...planting cover crops (such as soybeans).
  ...crop rotation (changing what grows in an area each year).
  ...contour plowing (plowing along the hills, instead down the hill).

Ecosystem Disruption can result it...
  ...loss of biodiversity.
  ...loss of food supply.
  ...loss of potential cures for diseases.
  ...unbalancing of the ecosystems that support all life on Earth.

Habitat destruction causes more extinction and loss of biodiversity than any other  human activity.  Deforestation is the process of clearing forests.

Biodiversity is the variety of living things in an area.  Each species that is lost affects other species in the food web - keystone species can effect most or all of a local food web.  We depend on a variety of organisms for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc.

Invasive Species are non-native species that are introduced into an area they have never been in before.  These organisms can disrupt the local food web and/or alter the physical environment.

Extinction is the death of every member of a species.  Functional extinction is the term used when there are too few members of a species living to repopulate the species.

6.3 - Environmental Solutions
Conservation
is the protection of natural habitats.
Restoration is the cleaning up and restoring of natural habitats.

Reduce - Reuse - Recycle
Reduce the amount of energy that you use & the amount of waste you produce.
Reuse items and materials rather than throwing them away after only one use.
Recycle materials such as paper, metal, plastic and glass rather than simply throwing them away.

Research and technology can provide cleaner energy sources, better ways to deal with waste, and improved methods of cleaning up pollution.  Solar panels, hybrid cars, and industrial scrubbers are all examples of how technology can help the environment.

Education makes people more aware of environmental issues.
Advocacy shows support for efforts to protect the environment.
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that supports conservation.

Careful planning for the future can help us to avoid damaging the environment and to solve current environmental issues.


Extinct Animals Resources
Extinct Animal - A good place to find the names of extinct animals to research, but no real information.
List of Extinct Animals of the United States - Wikipedia resource.  Lists for the US, separating prehistoric and recent extinctions, with links.