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ENV 201 Final

Anthropocene geo-temporal era defined as one of human impact on the Earth System
Earth System the interaction between four different spheres
Biosphere sphere focused on terrestrial aspects
Hydrosphere sphere focused on ocean-related aspects
Lithosphere sphere focused on plate tectonics and rocks
Atmosphere sphere focused on the air; the oldest Earth System science
Open System mass or energy flows through the system
Closed System mass or energy circulates within the system
Energy Capacity to "do work"; ability to affect a system
Potential Energy derives from position in gravity space
Kinetic Energy derives from something moving
Temperature (as Energy) energy associated with temperature change or heat
Renewables Solar, hydropower, biomass, geothermal, wind -- these are driven by the two processes of fusion and fission
Non-Renewables fossil feuls, nuclear -- these are things that change at slower rate
Fusion energy that comes from the sun
Fission energy that comes from the center of the earth
Joule (Newton-meter) the amount of energy gained by an average-sized apple that falls one meter under the influence of earth's gravity
BTUs (British Thermal Units) amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit
Argument for Why Use Fossil Fuels they are measurable, controllable, and tradeable
Energy Efficiency useful work output over total energy input
Average Human Energy Use 2,130 Watts every second -- we use way more than we produce (global average)
States that are more densely populated use more/less? energy per capita LESS
Most U.S. electricity production comes from... COAL
Bituminous Coal this coal is "just right" for power generation, and it is the type we use most
Lignite Coal the second layer down of coal
Anthracite Coal used only for industry - it is very high density; therefore it is difficult to break down and handle
Surface Extraction (Coal) associated with mountaintop mining; was not previously economically viable, but now it is; but it causes major environmental degredation; represents 40% of all coal extraction
Oil and Gas Formation plankton die, sink to the bottom of the ocean in numbers faster than can be decomposed -- this forms oil and gas when compressed
Energy Independence people referring to it are generally just referring to transportation; we are already energy independent when it comes to electricity
Global "Proved" Oil Reserves Middle East has 65% of it -- we have enough oil to last us about 50 years -- but oil consumption is not linear
Peak Oil there will likely be a point at which we "peak" in our ability to extract oil as the rate of oil discovery and the production of existing wells slows -- proposed in 1950s by Hubbert
Unconventional Oil/Heavy Oil types of oil with large hydrocarbons that require a lot more energy to be broken up
Crude Oil the normal type of oil that we generally consume
Athabasca Oil Sands located in Alberta; have huge amounts of unconventional, extremely viscous oil close to the surface
Keystone-XL Pipeline pipeline proposed to bring oil from Alberta's oil sands into the USA; concerns from environmentalists about the pipeline rupturing
Benefits of Natural Gas it is cleaner than oil, requires much less processing
Disadvantages of Natural Gas it is more difficult to use in a mobile setting, can't transport except in high pressure situations, per unit volume have less energy; leaking is incredibly polluting!
Marcellus Shale present in the Appalachian mountains; has a LOT of natural gas in shale form
Fracking cracking through rock at high pressures in order to access natural gas
Horizontal Orientation of Wells new technological development that enables miners to extract more from natural gas well than before
Economic Changes in Natural Gas Extraction/Consumption increasing peak price for natural gas over last 10 years; astronomical increase in the number of fracking depositories
Decarbonization reducing the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy
"Clean Coal" maybe could be produced by capturing and sequestering the CO2 from the H2 during processing
Sequestration capturing carbon and putting it somewhere else (like the bottom of the ocean) to prevent it from entering the atmosphere
Storage of Solar and Wind... is hard and sources are dispersed/erratic
Space Solar Power (SSP) capturing solar power from space (outside the atmosphere) is potentially much more potent/powerful than from earth
Nuclear Fission
Nuclear Fusion
Geoengineering altering the planetary radiation balance to affect climate (i.e. chemical sunblock)
Determining Peak Oil difficult because we don't know how much untapped oil is out there and some argue that oil prices and extraction technology create a sliding scale, so just basing peak oil on pure reserves is not valid
3 Phases of Oil Extraction primary, secondary, tertiary (new technologies help at secondary and tertiary)
Atmospheric Lifetime how long chemicals remain in the atmosphere
Carbon Sink biosphere or ocean that naturally absorbs anthropogenic carbon; global warming reduces the strength of biosinks
Stabilization Triangle diagram illustrating difference in emissions in 50 years if we start implementing climate-friendly technologies now vs. waiting until that year
Wedges (in the Stabilization Triangle) seven of them, each representing 1/7 of the carbon needed to flatten out emissions now
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) capturing carbon generated from burning fossil fuels so that fossil fuels can still be used but without detrimental effects on the atmosphere -- expensive, but worth it in the long run
PV (Solar) Cells generates fuel when electrons are siphoned off and stored in chemical bonds; i.e. replicates photosynthesis on a more sophisticated level because people's activities need more sophisticated fuel than plants
Three Phases of Resource Use Phase 1: Discovery and rapid increase in exploitation as demand increases Phase 2: Costs rise as resource becomes depleted and production levels off Phase 3: Production decline, resource must be "replaced" in the economy
"Peak" Water? difficult to imagine us "replacing" water with another resource -- unclear if it exists
Renewable vs. Nonrenewable Resources distinction is a balance between the size of the reservoirs (pools) and the flows in and out
Renewable Resources (Flow vs. Pool) Pool is small compared to flows in and out
Nonrenewable Resources (Flow vs. Pool) flows are very small relative to pool size
Our Water Use equals about 10% of global water flow
Groundwater this is nonrenewable water; we deplete aquifers when we use it up
Virtual Water cost of water required to grow food or produce products is included in the cost of those products
Consumptive vs. Nonconsumptive Resource Use consumptive uses up the resource, whereas nonconsumptive it doesn't matter
Consumptive Water Use uses that prevent short-term re-use within a watershed (examples: human water, animal water)
Nonconsumptive Water Use water treated and returned to streams (example: water for cooling power plants)
Desalination the removal of salt from sea-water, making it usable
Costs of Modern Agriculture loss of natural ecosystems/species endangerment; nutrient pollution; pesticide and herbicide pollution; water depletion and soil erosion; disease; soil depletion
Relationship between Population Growth and Demand for Grain it is non-linear; as people increase in terms of development, they demand more grain, so it is not just about population
3 Major Problems with Our Management of the World's Ecosystems 1) More Degredation 2) Irreversible Changes 3) Affecting human beings disproportionately (i.e. poor more than others)
4 Plausible Scenarios Developed by Millennium Assessment Group 1) Global Orchestration 2) Order from Strength 3) Adapting Mosaic 4) TechnoGarden
Big Five Development Interventions for the Savannah's People 1) Boosting Agriculture 2) Improving Basic Health 3) Investing in Education 4) Bringing Power (Electricity/Lights) 5) Providing Clean Water and Sanitation
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) coordinated efforts of governments in order to predict global warming and its effects -- received criticism because IPCC was using economic methods that were outdated
IPAT Identity shows the different factors that have had an impact on sustainability; I=PACT: I=Impact, P=Population, A=Income as GDP per Capita, C=Intensity of use as a good per GDP, T=Efficiency ratios as impact per good
Stationary the idea that natural systems fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability; water systems are not stationary anymore, but they used to be...
3 Options for Growing Food in the Future Option 1: Create New Farmland Option 2: Increase Productivity of Existing Farmlands Option 3: Change our Diets
Environmental Problems Associated with Manure 1) Pollution of streams and bays (kills fish, creates dead zones) 2) Air pollution 3) Human illness from bacteria, viruses associated, etc.
Bioaccumulation related to our pesticide dependence
Rodale Experiment (Crop Yields) Normal rainfall = yields comparable between organic and conventional Drought = organic outperforms conventional Extreme Drought = conventional outperforms organic (except soybeans - reversed)
Economic Comparative Advantage (Organic vs. Conventional) In terms of net returns, conventionals are only slightly more profitable than organics (but appear to be much moreso, because additional premium for organics is not factored in)
Organic Premium the extra amount charged for organic products
Benefits of Organics (according to Rodale) comparable yields/drought resilience; less energy inputs; somewhat less nitrate runoff; less herbicide runoff; increased soil fertility (maybe); equally or more lucrative
National Organic Rule in 2002 the USDA adopted standards for what constitutes organic produce -- this was not in place before
Health Effects of Organics more plant secondary compounds and nutrients (unclear if we actually need them); less pesticide residue (unclear if that matters)
Ethical Eating Recommendations 1) Eat lower on the food chain 2) Buy local 3) Buy organic
Agriculture's contribution to world greenhouse gases about 30% -- but agricultural emissions are growing
The "Catch" of Ethanol in terms of Emissions though it is less polluting then oil when actually used, the process of converting land to farmland to grow corn lets a lot of CO2 from the ground into the air -- it's actually more damaging
Peak Renewable Water applies where flow constraints limit total water availability over time
Peak Nonrenewable Water observable in groundwater systems where production rates substantially exceed natural recharge rates and where over-pumping or contamination leads to a peak of production followed by a decline
Peak Ecological Water the point beyond which the total costs of ecological disruptions and damages exceed the total value provided by human use of water
Green Water freshwater that comes from moisture in the soil
Blue Water liquid water aquifers, lakes and dams -- represent only a third of freshwater from rainfall
Bioenergy a form of land-based carbon offset; comes from crops turned into transportation fuels and chopping up trees and putting it in boiler to make electricity
The only surefire way to decrease carbon emissions... ...is to have more plants!!
Status of the World's Fisheries 80% of world's fisheries are over- or fully exploited
Yield vs. Effort as effort increases, so does yield -- but at some point that stops because there are too many fishermen
Why are so many fisheries over-exploited? increasing demand for fish + better technology + tragedy of the commons
Sustainable Agriculture practices that meet current and future societal needs for food and fiber, for ecosystem services, and for healthy lives, and that do so by maximizing the net benefit to society when all costs and benefits of the practice are considered
Increasing Yields raising yields on existing farmland is essential for "saving land for nature" -- most of the best quality farmland is already used, which means that further area expansion would occur on marginal land that is unlikely to sustain high yields
Increasing Nutrient-Use Efficiency without the use of synthetic fertilizers, world food production could not have increased at the rate it did and more natural ecosystems would have been converted to agriculture
Increasing Water-Use Efficiency 40% of crop production comes from the 16% of crops that are irrigated; water is regionally scarce
Agroforestry trees are included in a cropping system; may improve nutrient availability
Crop Rotation/Intercropping two or more crops grown simultaneously or rotating fields to improve pest control and increase nutrient and water-use efficiency
Created by: eldar