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Biology 204: Energy, Environment, and Society Intro Notes

by: James Notetaker

Biology 204: Energy, Environment, and Society Intro Notes 82655 BIOL 2040-001

Marketplace > Clemson University > Biology > 82655 BIOL 2040-001 > Biology 204 Energy Environment and Society Intro Notes
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- Introduction study guide discussing energy, our history as a human race, our advances in technology, and the big questions used to address our future
Environment, Energy and Societ
John Jenkins Hains
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by James Notetaker on Thursday January 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 82655 BIOL 2040-001 at Clemson University taught by John Jenkins Hains in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 396 views. For similar materials see Environment, Energy and Societ in Biology at Clemson University.


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Date Created: 01/07/16
Biology 204 – Energy, Environment, and Society Introductory Lecture: Energy, Our History, Our Future ­ What is energy? o Many books give the definition as the “capacity to do work,” but this creates other questions (such as defining ‘work’) o Another common definition involves an abstraction, where energy is defined as a  “fundamental entity” that is transferred and degraded during every action or  process o Simplest answer has two main parts 1) Energy is motion 2) There are only two kinds of energy: potential energy and kinetic energy  NOTE: Potential energy is actually potential ‘kinetic’ energy, creating the  argument that there is only one kind of energy o **All of these definitions are good and are accurate to use in different contexts,  but in reality, there is no good answer. No one ‘knows’ what energy is, only what  it ‘does’ and therefore can only be defined by its characteristics. These  characteristics are also useful in analyzing other concepts such as force, gravity,  and electromagnetism. In reality, it is ok that there is no universal definition of  ‘energy’ because for all practical purposes, we understand the characteristics well  enough to make accurate predictions and solve real world problems. ** ­ What does it mean to say “energy is motion?” o Origin goes back to early scientists and their conclusions regarding the  relationship between heat, energy, and thermodynamics  The first observation of the well­known scientific fact that “heat and  energy move from hot to cold”, therefore creating the definition o **While we can simplify many of energy’s abstract concepts into simple  statements, we are also able to identify the many characteristics, types, and forms  of energy. Ultimately, they all can be converted from one to another and it is  within these conversions that we see energy’s concepts at work. ** ­ Types of Energy o Table lists types of energy to which people commonly refer o *Joule (J) is the basic unit of energy, which allows for easy conversion Name Conversion to Joules Description/Notes Watt per second 1 Joule (symbol ‘J’) 1 J = 1 Newton per meter Watt per hour 3600 J 60 sec x 60 min = 3600 sec British Thermal Unit (BTU) ≈ 1055 J Horsepower 2.6845 Mega­Joules Mega = 10^6 Therm ≈ 105.5 Mega­Joules 100 cubic feet of methane calorie (Thermo) 4.184 J *symbol of ‘c’ Calorie (Food content) 4.184 Kilo­Joules 1000 calories 1 gram of TNT 4184 J ≈ 1000 calories ­ The “Fossil Society” o Consider this example: An individual goes backpacking in the snowy mountains  and after pitching a tent using a flashlight, starts a campfire to cook his meal and  sterilize his natural spring water.  All the gear (tent, backpack, clothes, shoes, etc.) are made from  petroleum­based chemicals such as leather processed by machinery and  metal refined from ores.   The individual cooks his food and boils his water using energy from fossil  fuels  The campfire is burning the skeletal remains of dead plants  (usually trees) and the flashlight employs materials and chemical  energy from fossil fuels o *Nearly every aspect of this example runs on solar energy  Energy used to create the gear as well as the production of food originated  as sunlight millions of years ago  Campfire: sunlight captured in skeletal remains of trees (wood)  due to photosynthesis  Food: plants that formed the food fed off of sunlight, allowing  them to grow and give them mass.  o Animals who ate plants follows the same cycle o Why this matters  **There is no difference between these natural energy relationships and  those of our everyday society today. There are energy subsidies that we  take for granted because we can take them for granted for the time being.  Over the long run, we do this with risk, because these subsidies/energy  sources are not endless, which explains price fluctuation of fossil fuels and natural resources, which affects us directly. It is for this reason that our  society and a majority of the world is referred to as the ‘Fossil Society.’  This situation is not dangerous so much because we are running out of  resources as it is because a majority of the population is unaware of the  issue at all. o History of Human’s Energy usage (taken from Unearthed)  Around the mid­1700’s, human energy consumption began to rise  radically. More and more of civilizations energy came from fossil sources  (coal, oil, gas).  Since fossil fuels are obviously not a source of renewable energy,  this causes a loss of thermal equilibrium in our biosphere  (atmosphere and Earth).   The heat that is given off from these fossil fuels goes straight to the atmosphere, causing an imbalance where there is not enough space in the atmosphere to store the heat (energy). In return, the  atmosphere has to increase its temperature to use this energy,  which is what causes the temperature of the Earth to rise.  Around the same time, the agriculture industry shifted  Transition from ‘Food Collection’ to ‘Food Production’ and  Population Growth o More and more local food (plants and animals) was being  grown and raised directly under human supervision, rather  than being gathered from the wild. o As the efficiency of farming increased, small communities  grew in size and with this growth in size created an  increased demand for food. As the cycle repeated, food  efficiency increased which attracted more people to the  town and eventually drove many people out of traditional  agricultural villages where ‘food collection’ was still  practiced. o While the growth in the world population increased  steadily, this alone did not have enough of an effect the  environment. Since 5000 BC, the total world population  had only increased by 1 million people. However, the   energy consumption had increased   seven  fold to 6 billion  joules.  o The timeline and progress of energy consumption by Earth  is as follows:   1 billion joules = 12,00 years  2 billion joules = 105 years later  3 billion joules = 30 years later  4 billion joules = 15 years later  History of Empires and technological advances  Lots of advances in technology and farming came at the most  prosperous times of ancient empires  Animal labor was a major step in human’s control of energy while  also harnessing that energy for their own advantage o Plough fields, haul loads, turn water wheels, killed for meat  The Big Question  **Given the explosion of population and the explosion of the  demand for energy, and given that the most common and cheapest  forms of energy will run out sometime in our lifetime, how will we manage the situation? What will happen if we do not find a  replacement?


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