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