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Biology chapter 1- Environment, sustainability, and science.

by: Isabel Notetaker

Biology chapter 1- Environment, sustainability, and science. Biol 1060

Marketplace > East Carolina University > Biology > Biol 1060 > Biology chapter 1 Environment sustainability and science
Isabel Notetaker
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About this Document

These notes cover what was taught in week one of class, AKA all of chapter 1. The notes are a combination of material from the lectures and the textbook.
Environmental Biology
Prof. Patrick Harris
Class Notes
Biology, Chapter 1, Environment, sustainability, science.




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This 11 page Class Notes was uploaded by Isabel Notetaker on Sunday February 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Biol 1060 at East Carolina University taught by Prof. Patrick Harris in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 72 views. For similar materials see Environmental Biology in Biology at East Carolina University.


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Date Created: 02/07/16
CHAPTER 1 ENVIRONMENT , SUSTAINABILITY , AND SCIENCE Environment and sustainability  Environmental science- Study of all aspects of the environment and human’s effect on it.  Environment- the physical, chemical, and biological factors and processes that control the growth and well-being of organisms.  Ecology-the branch of environmental science that looks at the large number of organisms and how/where they are placed in their environment.  Before, people could use resources very freely due to the low population.  As population grew, so did the need for resources.  Scientific studies increased, revealing that we had to demand the resources in respect to how much the environment could supply them.  Strategies emerged- regrow and protect forests, catch limits on fisheries, etc.  Policies had to be put in place to address controversy over resources, to ensure human well-being.  Housing boom called for more timber from forests.  BUT these forests were also important for conservation of clean water, species, and recreation.  Human well-being- depends on the things necessary for one’s life (food, shelter, etc.)  These necessities may change over time.  Sustainability-meet our current needs in a fair way, so that future generations can still meet their needs also.  Sustainability must be able to keep up with 3 important types of changes:  The world is changing- earth’s environments are constantly changing.  We are changing-our needs, and the value we place on them, are constantly changing.  We are changing the world-humans have a huge effect on the environment. Plant, People, and Profit: The Triple Bottom Line  Triple Bottom Line (TBL) – outline that allows corporations, nonprofit organizations, and even governments to measure the performance of 3 important areas: the environment, society, and economy.  The idea behind TBL is that sustainability is determined by the intersection of these 3 areas.  TBL is also referred to as the “3 P’s”: Planet, People, Profit.  “Planet”- refers to the environment. Looks at variables in relation to air pollution, water pollution, conservation of species, conservation of energy, etc.  “People”- refers to society. Looks at variables in relation to community, social resources, well-being, health, etc.  “Profit”- refers to the economy. Looks at variables in relation to profit, cash flow, etc.  Each area is measured in different units.  TBL has become very popular, so much so that corporations, nonprofit organizations, and governments have adapted their business models to assess and advance these 3 areas.  Has led to an increase in some other profits. Ecosystems  Ecosystem-the combination of organisms and their chemical and physical environment, as they work as a unit. They consist of:  Biota- living organisms (Ex. Plant, Squirrel, etc.)  Abiotic- nonliving characteristics (Ex. Rain, Wind, etc.)  The abiotic characteristics control the number of organisms and the placement of the organisms that live there.  The Biota also affect their environment.  Ecosystems rely on the inflow and outflow of matter and energy.  Matter and energy are transformed when they move between the Biota and the Abiotic environment.  Ecosystem Functions- The movement of matter and Energy and the processes influencing the placement and number of organisms. Energy and matter are transformed as they move between Biota and abiotic Inflow: environment. Outflow: Heat, Sunlight, materials, etc. materials, etc. Flow out. Flow out.  Ecosystems are an integrated system of Biota and their abiotic environment and the processes that link them.  Ecosystem integrity- the network of interactions that control ecosystem functions.  Ecosystems are usually studied and explained in the context of the ecosystems without the presence of humans.  With such a large and growing human population  It has become hard to study ecosystems without human presence.  Also, it has had a large effect on the Ecosystems themselves. Ecosystem Services  Ecosystem services- All of the resources and processes that humans depend on, that are provided by the ecosystems. There are 4 types:  Provisioning services-provide us with basic resources (Ex. Water, air, etc.)  Humans often simplify ecosystems to make their provisioning service greater.  Regulating services- the methods in which ecosystems regulate important processes. (Ex. Climate, air quality, etc.)  Cultural services- provided for recreational or religious purposes. (Ex. Yellowstone national park, Grand Canyon, etc.)  Supporting services- basic processes that are necessary to carry out other services. (Ex. Soil formation, pollinating insects, etc.) Provisioning Regulating Cultural Supporting  All living things, including humans, depend on ecosystems to survive.  Humans actions when interacting with an ecosystem (pollution, building dams, paving roads, etc.), can affect the ecosystems ability to provide the very services we depend on. Conservation of Matter and Energy  Law of Energy and Mass conservation-Energy and matter cannot be created and it cannot be destroyed, they can only change form.  By looking at the amount of matter in the ecosystem and how fast/slow it flows through the ecosystem, we can describe the ecosystems functions and predict their upcoming behavior. Ecosystems are Open  Ecosystems are open bodies that have no distinct boundaries.  Scientist do set casual boundaries based on ecosystem characteristics.  Energy and Matter CAN move in and out of ecosystems. (Ex. Sunlight enters, heat exits).  This movement can influence ecosystems functions.  Consequence of ecosystems being open: CONTEXT MATTERS.  Ecosystems functions are influenced by the context of the ecosystems around it.  Scientists set boundaries depending on how easily they can measure the in and out flow of mater and energy through it, or to observe important processes within it. Ecosystem Stability Dynamic homeostasis- The process in which systems in an ecosystem adapt to changes, so that the ecosystems variables and systems stay the same.  Ex. Maintaining body temp, maintaining chemical levels in lakes, etc.  Dynamic homeostasis takes place because of feedback, which is just the system adapting to the changes happening in it. There are 2 types:  Negative feedback-When a process changes, that change adjusts the system so that the change is reversed. (Ex. Body feels temp rise, adjusts to lower temp back to normal.)  Positive feedback- When a process changes, that change adjusts the ecosystem to where it strengthens the change. (Ex. deforestation causes erosion, erosion quickens deforestation.) Ecosystem Change  Ecosystems are constantly adapting to change. The change can be predicted or unpredicted.  That change is controlled by feedback that creates patterns we can predict.  Humans have a huge impact on changing the earth’s ecosystems, so it would be best for us to use that power in a sustainable way. Managing resources  Renewable resource- a resource that is naturally renewed, as long as we don’t use the resource faster than it can renew itself.  Nonrenewable resource- an amount of that resource drops with any use of it. The resource doesn’t renew itself.  To act sustainably we have to follow the law of mass and energy conservation.  To use resources sustainably we need to be aware of 2 things:  How fast or slow the resource can renew itself  The ability to manage how fast/slow we use them. Understanding Boundaries  To sustainably manage the environment, we also need to be aware of the boundaries that effect ecosystem processes. And we have to communicate and work together across these boundaries.  The boundaries needed to manage one process’s may not match the boundaries needed to manage a different process. Maintaining Balance and Integration  The complexity of an ecosystem has a large influence on the ecosystems functions and processes.  It’s important to have a vast knowledge of an ecosystems components before you try to manipulate it.  Right now, we don’t know enough about ecosystems. We only understand a few of their components and we know even less about the importance of those components. Embracing Change  To act sustainably, we need to understand that change is inevitable and instead of trying to ignore that, we need to embrace it.  3 important things to keep in mind:  Beware of trying to stop change-many times when humans have tried to stop change, we have actually made things WORSE.  Copy nature- Change caused by humans is dangerous because the type of change and the timing of that change is not normal in the development of earth’s ecosystems.  Be alert for thresholds of change, or tipping points-A threshold of change, or tipping point, is when an ecosystem is pushed past the amount of change it can take. This can result in the ecosystem not returning to how it was before. We must be cautious of the tipping point! Uncertainty  There is a lot we don’t know about ecosystems and that is because of:  Ignorance-We are either so aware of our ignorance that we don’t know where to start researching. OR we don’t know how ignorant we really are, so we don’t ask the right questions when researching.  Complexity- Systems are so complex that it makes them hard to predict. Reducing uncertainty with science  Science is a process of asking questions without any bias. Scientists use the scientific method to do this. Make observation New Questions Replication and review by others  Scientific findings can always be looked at again, and if they are wrong, corrected. Systems Thinking  Acting sustainably requires us to use systems thinking rather than piece thinking.  Systems thinking-looks at the big picture. Recognizing the connections between the pieces that make up the whole system.  Piece thinking-looks at the individual pieces within the system, not concerned with their connection to the other parts. Ecosystem-Social System and Research needs  Sustainability science- an attempt to understand the relationship between ecological and social systems.  7 important themes:  Ecosystem-social system connections- Research of Biological and physical processes that influence ecosystems must be joined with the research of social, political,and economic processes that influence people’s actions on these subjects.  Long-term trends- We must act sustainably now to ensure long-term well-being.  Ecosystem-social system stability- We need to be aware of the connection between ecosystem homeostasis and their complexity, and how social systems affect those connections.  Thresholds of change- Ecosystems are impervious to change but only up to a certain point, at which they can’t return to normal.  Human incentives-In the past, Incentives were local. Globalization has made it harder to recognize incentives.  Monitoring our progress-We need to develop a system to measure our progress in sustainability, develop procedures to be taken when we reach a critical point, and we need to develop a way to enforce those procedures.  Integrating learning and action- Sustainability science requires that we communicate and focus on methods from all disciplines such as arts, political science, etc. Agents of change  The Green Initiative Fund- Provides $250,000/year for college campus projects that promote environment sustainability.


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