Journal Entries

Kirsten Brown

1. What is sustainable living? How could someone achieve sustainable living? Do you personally think you could reach sustainable living?

a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources and personal resources.

Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.

I feel like I could reach sustainable living at some point in my life.

2. Fossil fuels vs Renewable energy- compare and contrast the two forms of energy. Look at the cost financially to humans and environmentally to the Earth. Convince someone to conserve energy.

Renewable Energy Strengths

The primary advantage to renewable energy is in its production source: sun and gravitational pull yield solar, wind and wave energy; even debris from landscaping like grass clippings or branches can produce energy from biomass processes that mimic natural decomposition. Businesses can tap into these sources with a solar panel, wind mill, or even a water turbine if running water or tidal waves are nearby.

Renewable Energy Weaknesses

Renewable energy sources harness or replicate nature’s processes in its production, so it shares some of the weaknesses. Wind mills and solar panels take large tracts of space to collect energy, as the energy is diluted across the environment. Second, renewable energy shares the vagaries of nature, with ebbs and flows. If the wind dies down or the sky clouds over, energy production weakens, perhaps when a company needs it most like during a second shift in the evening. Therefore, renewable energy requires storage to contain the energy between production and consumption, especially if transferring from rural or remote areas to more urban settings.

Fossil Fuel Strengths

The current power generation and distribution model operates on fossil fuels, and has for centuries if you consider coal. Fossil fuel essentially is portable energy. A company easily stores and transports the energy until it needs to be used, whether coal at a coal plant or the fuel oil for a furnace or a delivery vehicle's gasoline engine. This relative ease of storage and transport means the fuel can be excavated where it lies, processed at a separate location and transported to wherever you need power.

Fossil Fuel Weaknesses

One primary weakness of fossil fuels relate to their chemical makeup. As operations burn the fuel, they release hydrocarbons that mix with the atmosphere and produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or pollution, including sulphur dioxide--a source of acid rain. Pollution control costs can sap revenue. Second, even removing the fossil fuel can prove detrimental, even disastrous to the environment, from strip mining operations to oil spills. Finally, as deposits are unevenly distributed worldwide, frequently in less politically stable nations, companies can suffer from flow interruptions and price spikes.

3. Recycle- what does it mean to recycle? Why should someone recycle? How long does it take for these to decompose? a. Tin Can b. Glass Bottle c. Disposable Diaper d. Wood e. Paper f. Plastic Grocery Bag g. Styrofoam Cup h. Aluminum Can i. Cotton T-shirt j. Apple Core k. Did any of these surprise you?

  • return (material) to a previous stage in a cyclic process.

  • Recycling will help save the environment

  • a. Tin Can 50 years

    b. Glass Bottle 1 million years

    c. Disposable Diaper 450 years

    d. Wood 10-20 years

    e. Paper 1 month

    f. Plastic Grocery Bag 10-20 years

    g. Styrofoam Cup 50 years

    h. Aluminum Can 80-200 years

    i. Cotton T-shirt 30-40 years

    j. Apple Core 2 months

  • No

4. What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? What can we do here in Iowa to help decrease it, is it even possible?

a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litterthat ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.

Recycle and be conservative

5. Define 2 Biomes of the world, define an ecosystem found in each and explain the Biotic and Abiotic factors involved.


Treeless regions- arctic hare, strong winds and rainfall are abiotic factors

Tops of mountains-Arctic fox, winters are long and cold (abiotic)


Forest- coyote, trees

Grassland- rattlesnake, consists of grasses and forbes

6. Choose any Biome; create a food chain defining the primary producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer, quaternary consumer, herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, scavenger, and decomposer.


Phytoplankton- omnivore

Zooplankton- scavenger

Fish- Carnivore

Shark- Carnivore

Whale- Carnivore

7. What are Dead Zones in the Gulf of Mexico? What causes this situation? What can be done to help stop them?

water near the bottom of the Gulf contains less than 2 parts per million of dissolved oxygen, causing a condition referred to as hypoxia

Caused by human activities upstream of the Mississippi river.

Cut back on pollution.

8. Define Keystone Species, give 2 examples; one a top predator and one not a top predator. Explain how their absence would affect the ecosystem

  1. a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically.

  2. Grizzly Bears-

    bears keep down the numbers of several species, like moose and elk. They also carry and deposit seeds throughout the ecosystem. Bears that eat salmon will leave their dropping and the partially eaten remains that provide nutrients such as sulfur, nitrogen and carbon to the soil.

    • Bees: By pollinating plants, bees contribute to their survival. The plants are shelter for insects, which are then eaten by other species, like birds.

9. Competitive Exclusion- define it and give 2 examples.

the inevitable elimination from a habitat of one of two different species with identical needs for resources.

The Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is native to Britain but its population has declined due to competitive exclusion, disease and the disappearance of hazel coppices and mature conifer forests in lowland Britain.

The Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was introduced to Britain in about 30 sites between 1876 and 1929. It has easily adapted to parks and gardens replacing the red squirrel.

10. Define the following terms and give 2 examples of each a. Coexistence b. Parasites c. Mimicry d. Mutualism e. Commensalism


to exist together or at the same time. 2 : to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy.

Birds and squirrels sharing a tree. Husband and wife living together


an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense.

Tape worms, fleas


the close external resemblance of an animal or plant (or part of one) to another animal, plant, or inanimate object.

Monarch butterfly & Viceroy butterfly. Hover fly & Honey bee


symbiosis that is beneficial to both organisms involved

oxpecker and the rhinoceros. Bee & flower


Relationship where 1 species benefits and the other neither benefits or is harmed

Mosquito & human. oxpecker and the rhinoceros

11. Explain the Carbon Cycle and how do humans affect this cycle?

the series of processes by which carbon compounds are interconverted in the environment, chiefly involving the incorporation of carbon dioxide into living tissue by photosynthesis and its return to the atmosphere through respiration, the decay of dead organisms, and the burning of fossil fuels.

  1. Human activities are substantially modifying the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. The global carbon cycle is being modified principally by the burning of fossil fuels, and also by deforestation; these activities are increasing the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere and changing global climate.

12. What is global dimming? Where does it usually affect and why is it a problem?

the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth's surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in the 1950s.

9% in Antarctica, 10% in the USA, 16% in parts of Europe and 30% in Russia

the sun’s energy reaching Earth has dropped

13. Explain the Greenhouse Effect. How do the carbon cycle and the greenhouse effect go together?

  1. the trapping of the sun's warmth in a planet's lower atmosphere due to the greater transparency of the atmosphere to visible radiation from the sun than to infrared radiation emitted from the planet's surface.

    1. When fossil fuels are burned for energy (combustion), carbon is released. Carbon compounds move through plants and animals, the air, the ocean, and the earth. Carbon present in the air as carbon dioxidecontributes to the "Greenhouse Effect" and related global warming.

14. Define endangered species and give an example. How does a species become endangered? What if this species was a keystone species? What would happen to the current ecosystem? Why should humans care about the endangered species?

a species of animal or plant that is seriously at risk of extinction.

It doesn't have the things it needs to survive

It will effect the rest of the ecosystem substantially

The ecosystem would have to evolve to survive without that animal

They will be gone forever after they are extinct

15. Invasive Species- define invasive species; give 2 examples how do they affect the ecosystem they are now invasive too. How did the invasive species arrive to their new ecosystem?

“An alien specieswhose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health…'Alien species' means, with respect to a particular ecosystem, any species…that is not native to that ecosystem.”

Displace native species
Reduce native wildlife habitat
Reduce forest health and productivity
Alter ecosystem processes
Degrade recreation areas

They tolerate a variety of habitat conditions
They grow and reproduce rapidly
They compete aggressively for resources (like food, water, and nesting sites)
They lack natural enemies or pests in the new ecosystem

16. At one time rainforest covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface; today rainforest only cover 6% today; why should a person care about the lost rainforest ground? Why are the rainforest being cut down? What would happen if they all disappeared?

We lose oxygen and animals have no where to live.

We are building cities.

Earth's oxygen level would decrease extremely.

17. Why is human overpopulation a major concern? Explain all the resources needed for a human to sustain life.

The effects of overpopulation are quite severe. The first of these is the depletion of resources. The Earth can only produce a limited amount of water and food, which is falling short of the current needs. Most of the environmental damage being seen in the last fifty odd years is because of the growing number of people on the planet. They are cutting down forests, hunting wildlife in a reckless manner, causing pollution and creating a host of problems. Those engaged in talking about overpopulation have noticed that acts of violence and aggression outside of a war zone have increased tremendously while competing for resources.

include air, water, food, shelter, sanitation, touch, sleep and personal space.

18. Pesticides- what are they, how do they adversely affect the environment, and how does this create problems with the genetic diversity in crop production.

  1. a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.

  2. It kills animals

  3. It can be harmful to cultivated plants

19. Interpret this quote. “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have 4 years left to live.” Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee

Bees pollenate flowers and have a huge effect on multiple ecosystems. Other animals would start to die off and eventually all would. It is basically saying that every animal relies on one another

20. It is the year 2070 and you are having a conversation with your grandchildren about how the environment has changed since you were young- give a prediction of how the Earth would look to them.

It will be much dirtier and there will be even less oxygen. There will be way more people and less animals. The endangered species list will have grown a lot and there will be a lot fewer natural resources.

Due Dates


1&2 Wednesday April 22

3 & 4 Thursday April 23

5&6 Friday April 24

7&8 Monday April 27

9&10 Tuesday April 28

11,12&13 Wednesday April 29

14 & 15 Thursday April 30

16&17 Friday May 1

18 Monday May 4

19 Tuesday May 5

20 Wednesday May 6