AP Environmental Science

Sydney Elizabeth Hinds

Energy Resources and Consumption

Earth 'going downhill' as Consumption Rises


Biennial: Happening every two years

Biodiversity: Diversity among and within plant and animal species in an environment.

Global Footprint Network: Calculates how much biologically productive area is required to produce the resources required by the human population and to absorb humanity's carbon dioxide emissions.

WWF: The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization founded on April 26 1961, and is working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment

Precipitous: Extremely or impassably steep.


Human Population Growth Creeps back Up


DESA: Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Fertility: The ability to produce offspring; power of reproduction.

Surpass: To go beyond an amount, extent or degree; be greater than; exceed.

Immigration: To come to a country of which one is not native, usually for permanent residency.

Rein: Any means of curbing, controlling, or directing.

Land and Water Use

Invest in Oil Royalties


Hydraulic Fracturing: A process in which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are opened and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure: used especially to extract natural gas or oil.

Seismic: Pertaining to, of the nature of, or caused by an earthquake or vibration of the earth, whether due to natural or artificial causes.

Taint: A trace of infection, contamination, or the like.

Petroleum: An oily, thick, flammable, usually dark-colored liquid. Occurring naturally in various parts of the world and commonly obtained by drilling

Contingent: Liable to happen or not; uncertain; possible.


Immediate Aftermath of an Oil Spill


Hydrocarbon: Any class of compounds containing only hydrogen and carbon.

Naphthalene: A white, crystalline, water-insoluble hydrocarbon, usually obtained from coal tar.

Dissipate: To scatter in various directions; disperse; dispel.

Pollutant: Any substance, as certain chemicals or waste products, that renders the air, soil, water, or other natural resource harmful or unsuitable for a specific purpose.

Contaminate: To make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.

Global Change

Who Will Save the Earth?


Global Warming: An increase in the earth's average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate and that may result from the greenhouse effect.

Fossil Fuel: Any combustible organic material, as oil, coal, or natural gas, derived from the remains of former life.

Extinction: Suppression; abolition; annihilation.

Infrastructure: The basic, underlying framework or features of a system or organization.

Hydroponics: The cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil; soil-less growth of plants.

Earth Systems and Resources

Earth's Dynamic Interior


Mantle: The portion of the earth, about 1800 miles thick, between the crust and the core.

Mantle Plume: A deep-seated upwelling of magma within the earth's mantle.

Continental Drift: The lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates.

Basalt: The dark, dense igneous rock of a lava flow or minor intrusion, composed essentially of labradorite and pyroxene and often displaying a columnar structure.

Crust: The outer layer of the earth, about 22 miles deep under the continents (continental crust) and 6 miles deep under the oceans (oceanic crust).

The Living World

Diverse Ecosystems are Crucial Climate Change Buffer


Desertification: The process by which an area becomes a desert.

Sequestration: Removal or separation ; banishment or exile.

Climate: The composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure,humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.

Perennial: Having a life cycle lasting more than two years.

Fertility: The capacity to supply nutrients in proper amounts for plant growth when other factors are favorable.

LD50 Lab

Introduction and Problem

LD50 is the median lethal dose of a pollutant or drug that kills half of the population within 14 days and is the most common indicator of toxicity. A dose-response curve is a graph that relates the amount of drug or toxin given compared with the response. The point on the graph where the response is first observed is known as the threshold dose. For most drugs, the desired effect is found slightly above the threshold dose. When past this point, negative side effects begin to appear. The biggest reason for pouring salt on icy roads is that salt lowers the freezing point of water. Water normally freezes at 32 degrees fahrenheit, but when salt is added to it it drops to a freezing point of 20 degrees. It is suspected that the salt applied to highways for deicing may have a negative effect on the growth of vegetation along the roadside and aquatic plants in nearby streams. During this lab we will be testing how different concentrations of salt affect the growth of radish seeds. We will be using the laboratory technique called serial dilution in which a substance, in this case salt, is decreased in concentration in a series of proportional amounts.

Something Fishy Lab

Introduction and Problem

Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water before experiencing serious exhaustion or injury. Biologists implement this practice with the method of mark and recapture; a method commonly used in ecology to estimate an animal population's size. A portion of the population is captured, marked, and released. Later, another portion is captured and the number of marked individuals within the sample is counted. The method is most useful and most often used when it is not practical to count all the individuals in the population. In addition to predicting population size, scientists can use this method to examine the relationship between the species' population and its environment. During this lab we will be evaluating how accurate the catch and release method is in predicting population sizes, and how the size of each catch influences the accuracy of our data.

Leaf Litter Lab

Introduction and Problem

Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. Biodiversity is important for all species' survival. We need a variety of habitats for all the different species because each species is adapted to a certain set of environmental conditions. All species depend on each other to survive, so if one becomes extinct another species that relies on it could go extinct as well. The chart provided in the lab gave the following Simpson Indices: Sample 1 with 0.1837, Sample 2 with 0.2491, and Sample 3 with 0.9242. According to these calculations, and the rules attached to the Simpson’s formula, we can tell that Sample 1 is from a more diverse than the other samples because it is the closest solution to 0. Sample 2 is quite close to Sample 1, which indicates that it too, is from an averagely healthy and diverse ecosystem. However, Sample 3’s index is almost 1, which is very high and indicates that ecosystem is unstable and perhaps unhealthy. In this lab we will collect and analyze a sample of Leaf Litter using Simpson’s Index. These indices will help us understand the importance of biodiversity in Leaf Litter.

Soil Erosion Lab

Introduction and Problem

Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process on all land. The agents of soil erosion are primarily water and wind. Soil erosion may be a slow process that continues relatively unnoticed, or it may occur at an alarming rate causing serious loss of topsoil. The loss of topsoil from farmland may be reflected in reduced crop production potential, lower surface water quality and damaged drainage networks. When farmers till land and clear out the original plants and trees, its rips up the topsoil and then when it rains or is windy all that top soil erodes away. Human activities such as over cultivation, deforestation, overgrazing, certain construction areas, and mining all affect soil erosion negatively. Unfortunately, because the human population is growing exponentially, we can assume that without an effort from society, soil erosion will only get worse. This experiment is focused on how grass affects the movement of water in an ecosystem. Our hypothesis is, if we add 400 mL of water to each bottle, then the bottle containing the planted grass (labeled as “Lots of Grass”) would have the least amount of erosion.

Energy Audit Lab

Introduction and Problem

Electric energy consumption is the form of energy consumption that uses electric energy; it is the actual energy demand made on existing electricity supply. The fuel of choice for electricity production in the United States is coal. About two-thirds of the SO2 emitted into the atmosphere is a result of burning coal in electrical power plants. . Coal produces more CO2 per energy unit than either oil or natural gas due to its carbon content. The only way to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the combustion of fossil fuels is to reduce consumption. The purpose of this lab is to observe and record the amount of energy the average home uses over a period of 10 days. As the experimenter as well as the experimentee, one should examine personal energy habits with regard to electricity consumption and the impacts those habits have on the environment.

Ocean Acidification Lab

Introduction and Problem

Ocean acidification is refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period time, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The ocean is one of the world’s largest earth sinks, absorbing more than one million metric tons of carbon dioxide every hour. The United States alone emits 15 million metric tons of CO2 everyday. Local actions on land may play an important role in the progress of acidification in coastal waters. High loads of nutrients such as nitrogen and organic carbon can cause acidification, linking human facilitated nutrient run off to coastal ocean chemistry. Reducing nutrient loading could offer a short-term solution to the progression of ocean acidification in some locales.

The purpose of this lab is to analyze the effects of pH on water. We will test the effects on a small scale using only 10 mL samples of water.

Wind Turbine Lab

Introduction and Problem

Alternative energy sources, also called renewable resources, deliver power with minimal impact on the environment. These sources are typically more green than traditional methods such as oil or coal. Wind energy has great potential to lessen our dependence on traditional resources like oil, gas and coal and to do it without as much damage to the environment. Some advantages of wind energy are the lack of fossil fuels, efficiency, practicality in regards to space, and reliability. In this lab we will be testing the success of a “homemade” wind turbine by collecting the proper materials and building one in a weeks time. Our success or failure will be measured by our ability or inability to harness wind and ultimately power a light bulb.