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113 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
What is acid precipitation?
Precipitation w/ a pH of less than 7.0
Explain the pH Scale
a log scale running from 0=acid to 14=base; a pH 7=neutral
Explain the effects of acid rain
leach nutrients into the ground, kill nitrogen-fixing microorganisms that nourish plants, kill fish, release toxic metals
What are acid rain controls?
fuel switching, coal washing, scrubbers, fluidized bed combustion, reduced consumption of electricity
Describe the "Greenhouse Effect"
sun's rays strike the Earth and some are converted to infrared radiation that is transmitted back into outerspace. Some of the infrared is absorbed by greenhouse gases insulating the Earth. More accumulations of greenhouse gases delays the release of infrared to outerspace, leading to global warming
What are the greenhouse gases?
Methane, CO2, Water vapor, Nitrous Oxide, CFC's
What is the role of CO2 in the Greenhouse Effect?
CO2 plays a vital role in moderating the earth's temperature; w/o CO2, the Earth's temperature would be about 90 degrees cooler; increasing levels of co2 will have an impact on global climate changes
Discuss CFCs role as a greenhouse gas
Prime villians in the destruction of the ozone layer; potent greenhouse gases that until recently was on the rise (5% increase per year)
Describe the impacts of global warming-diminishing crop yield, loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, human illness.
Climate change is a concern; hotter,drier weather is bad news for the steady increasing food demand; climate change needs to be gradual in order for farm production to adapt; climate change will impose stress on natural ecosystems; nonagricultural species have a narrow range of tolerance to changing environmental conditions; increasing frequency of heat waves will have an impac on morbidity and mortality rates, heart attack and stroke, spread of mosquito diseases
What was the Kyoto Accord?
1997, 161 nations met to discuss global warming; required developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions greater than 5%; exempted to developing countries; 2001, pres. bush reversed his committment to reducing emissions
What is the consensus of the int'l community about global warming
there is nearly complete agreement that Greenhouse effect is real, human activities contribute to this effect, and that full reductions will take centuries to occur, 90% chance that by the mid 21st century, sea ice will reduce, winters will be warmer, and the sea-level will rise
What is the ozone layer
Ozone is generated in the stratosphere by the action of UV on O2. Amounts of ozone vary depending on location and season of the year; most uv radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer; existence of the ozone layer is of great biological significance
Effects of destruction of the ozone
As CFc's are released into the sky, Cl and Br atoms convert ozone into oxygen thus reducing the amount of ozone in the atmosphere. this allows more uv to penetrate to Earth; this causes health effects, damages crops, and causes more smog
Examples of UV effects
cancer, skin damage, eye damage, immune system damage
Problem with the "hole in the sky"
thinning of the ozone over both poles
What was the Policy-Montreal Protocol?
ozone depletion presents a major threat to life on earth; aimed at controlling the chemicals most responsible for ozone layer depletion; mostly dealt with cfc reduction, halt cfc's entirely by 1999
What are air pollutants?
substances in the atmosphere that have harmful effects on the environment and on animals, plants,and microbes; these may originate from natural sources, e.g. volcanoes or anthropogenic sources,e.g. factories, cars, and trucks
Which source of air pollution is easiest to control?
What is an inversion?
under certain weather conditions(cloudy or foggy weather) warm air gets sandwiched between two layers of cold air; this prevents the warm air from rising and results in the accumulation of pollutants near the ground; this effect is especially bad in certain terrains(river valleys); pollution can continue to accumulate unless the sun breaks through the cloud cover or winds disperse the pollutants
Describe the Clean Air Act of 1970
Administered by the EPA; foundation of air pollution control efforts in the US; calls for identifying the worst widespread pollutants, by setting ambient air standards
What are Ambient Air Standards?
levels of air pollutants that must be maintained; levels must be maintained to protect the environmental and human health
4 stages of meeting the mandates of the act
identify pollutants; demonstrate which pollutants are responsible for particular adverse health and or environmental effects, determine the source of the pollutants; and develop and implement controls and standards
2 kinds of smog
industrial(grayish) and photochemical(brownish/reddish)
Major air pollutants
Suspended particles and PM10, VOC's, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, ozone and other photochemical oxidants, lead and other heavy metals, and air toxins and radon
Sources of pollution
Sulfur dioxide-85%from burning fuel(coal) for electricity; particulate matter sources are split between burning fuel and factory emissions and transportation; volatile organic compounds primarily come from factory emissions and transportation; nitrogren oxides are split between fuel burning and transportation; carbon monoxide comes primarily from transportation
Effects of air pollution on humans
Chronic(e.g. carcinogenic) or acute
Effects of air pollution on plants
Plants are very sensitive to gaseous air pollutants. Plants are mostly affected by exposure to ozone and other photochemical oxidants; plant damage can occur directly(leaves) or indirectly(roots and soil microorganisms)
Where is most of this pollution coming from?
Cars & trucks, factories and power generating plants; these produce both primary pollutants(carbon monoxide) and secondary (smog and ozone)
Effects of EPA's command and control strategies
human health is improved; environmental health is improved; reduction in output of pollutants is observed
Describe the progress in limiting pollutants from motor vehicles
90% reduction of vehical exhaust by 1975; new cars today, emit 75% less pollutants than pre-1970; the catalytic converter is the major reason for this success
How do we decrease sulfur dioxide and acids?
Coal burning power plants=major source of sulfur dioxide; acid rain is also an issue
What about managing ozone as an air pollutant?
Control VOC emissions and NOx
Describe the Clean Air Act of 1990
tighten up emissions standards more!; encourage the development and use of cleaner burning fuels; persuade people to drive less!, identified 189 toxic pollutants; EPA acknowledged the need to pay more attention to the problem of accidental releases of such chemicals.
What are some of the best ways to prevent air pollution?
cut fossil fuel use; increase vehicle efficiency, use more alternate energy sources, reduce deforestation, use sustainable agricultural methods, reduce population growth
Describe the problem w/ indoor pollutants
air inside the home and workplace often contains more hazardous pollutants than outdoor air; many sources of indoor air pollution are common household products like cigarettes, air fresheners, and disinfectants
Discuss cigarette smoking and health
w/ increasing consumption of cigarettes comes increasing chances of serious health effects (cancer, emphysema, coronary heart disease)
How does pollution get in our house?
radon from soil, carbon monoxide from garages, asbestos from insulation, and lead from old paint
What is radon?
originates from the natural radioactive decay of uranium, odorless, invisible and tasteless, cannot be detected by human senses, comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe
Routes of entry for radon
cracks in concrete, pores and cracks in concrete blocks, floor-wall joints, loose pipe-fittings, water from some wells, exposed soil
Radon health risks
has been linked w/ cancer, smoking and radon exposure together increase a persons risk of lung cancer
What is asbestos
Collective term for a group of six fibrous silicate minerals found almost worldwide; no safe level of asbestos exposure
List factors that determine asbestos risk
level and duration of exposure; time since exposure occurred; age at which exposure occurred, personal history of cig. smoking, and type and size of asbestos fibers
Describe asbestos abatement methods
encapsulation(best), enclosure, removal
Discuss lead as a toxic hazard
widely used and many uses
What are some sources of lead exposure in the home
some glazed pottery, drinking water, lead pipes and lead solder, and house paint
What is the primary energy source for the production of electricity
What is the most used source of energy in the US
crude oil
prior to 1950s, what was the most used source of energy in the US
Name the 3 most commonly used fossil fuels(80%of the total)
crude oil-transportation, coal-electricity generation, natural gas-commercial/residential
What are the two ways that coal is extracted?
strip mining/deep mining
Describe teh occupational and environmental effects of coal extraction
both methods damage the environment, deep mining is more dangerous for the worker
What is the net energy yield of coal
What are the issues w/ other fossil fuel sources like shale oil and tar sands?
abundant supplies, require massive land disruptions, potential for water pollution, require much energy input to get a usable product
Match energy sources w/primary uses: oil, natural gas, coal, others
oil-transportation, natural gas-split between residential and industry, coal-electrical power generation, others(nuclear and renewables)-electrical power
Describe the three ways to make electricity
steam, air or gas turbines, water turbines
Describe the major issues associated w/ power
extraction methods, pollution, water pollution, air pollution, land pollution, hydroelectric dams
What are the 3 ways of balancing energy use?
conservation, efficiency, and demand management
How much enery in the US is wasted?
84% of all commercial energy in the US is wasted; by conserving energy the US could benefit from the following: we could save 1 trillion per year if we reduced energy wastes, 1.3 million jobs would be created w/ full-fledged energy efficiency program
What are pollution credits?
A power company that meets pollution levels gets a certain amount of credits and may sell these credits to another power plant so that plant can continue to pollute at its current rate
What are some examples of ways we can increase energy efficience?
more efficient cars, energy efficient homes, energy efficient appliances
What is a life-cycle cost?
initial cost plus the lifetime operating costs of an item or appliance
What are some ways the energy efficiency could be increased in industry?
replacing energy-wasting electric motors, switch to high efficiency lighting, recycling and reuse, run high energy consuming tasks during low customer demand hours
What are some examples of energy efficiency imporovement in buildings?
build super-insulated houses, straw-bale houses, double pane windows, adding insulation, plugging leaks and repairing cracks
What are 2 ways of increased conservation in producing electricity?
reduce the deman for electricity; help customers use electricity more efficiently
What is Demand Management
Give customers cash rebates for buying energy efficient lights and appliances, provide saving to customers who reduce the use of energy utilities, offer reduced rates for allowing the power to be turned off for a specific length of time
Which source of human-made radiation typically contributes more exposure, nuclear powr, nuclear wastes, or medical/dental X-rays
Why is radiation used in medicine?
It is important to note that in most cases the benefits of diagnosis and treatment out-weigh any risk.
What is ionizing radiation?
Energetic forms of radiation, forms of ionizing radiation-alpha, beta, and gamma rays, it can be found naturally in many places: cosmic radiation, in the soil, in building materials, and even in small quantities in our bodies
What are some health effects of ionizing radiation?
mutations, birth defects, cancer
What is the significance of radiation dosage?
it determines the amount of tissue damage(in humans)
Can low-level radiation exposure cause radiation induced mutations?
yes, in gene mutations
Is there a concern fo radiation exposure and birth defects?
x ray exposure in-utero may result in congenital exposure, sensitivity to radiation is greater during fetal development
Can low level radiation cause cancer?
yes, leukemia is an example of radiation induced malignancy
Explain the diff. between nuclear fission and fusion
fission-splitting an atom
fusion-joining of two atoms
Which one is used to make nuclear power?
nuclear fission
Describe what happens in a chain reaction?
The fission of one atom causes the release of high energy particles that cause fission in other atoms
Compare the environ. and health effects of nuclear energy compared to coal
nuclear power plants do not emit air pollutants so long as they are operating properly, more attractive than fossil fuels for reducing the threat of global warming, but disruption of land and water pollution are concerns: uranium mining damage and tailings and thermal pollution of water systems
What is nuclear reprocessing?
waste fission products accumulate in rods, thes "spent" rods are removed and replaced w/ fresh rods, spend fuel rods are highly radioactive and are initially stored in swimming pool-like cooling tanks before reprocessing of the spent rod occurs; no current reprocessing plants are present in this country-france and united kingdom
Which federal agency is in charge of Nuclear Waste Disposal?
U.S. Department of Energy governs the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes; Nuclear Waste Policy Act determined the above
Describe the issues w/ high-level nuclear wastes
extremely radioactive, highly penetrating, generate a great deal of heat, must be handled w/o direct human contact
What is low-level nuclear waste and where does it come from?
produced by nuclear power plants, other sources inclue hospital, universities, labs, and industries
What is the main concern w/ uv radiation
uv light is non-ionizing radiation, main concern is the induction of skin-cancer
What are 3 types of UV radiation and which one is most dangerous?
A,B,C-all are potential carcinogens and mutagens but B is the worst; three major types of skin cancer associated with UVB: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma
What causes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and can they be cured?
vast majority of skin cancer; chronic exposure to sunlight is cause of over 90% of these cancers; appear on face, back of hand, neck, and ears; can be treated if detected early
How is malignant melanoma different?
appears to develop as a result of occasional severe sunburn, occur frequently on areas that are normall covered, there is a link between childhood burn and melanoma
Main problem w/ microwaves
Microwaves may produce heat that can damage critical organs like the eyes and testes
How is solar energy created in the sun?
Originates from thermonuclear fusion reactions occuring in the sun
What are some solar energy uses?
hot water heating, solar space heating, space and hot water heating, producing electrical power
Explain the Difference between active and passive solar heating
active-uses piped movement of water and air
passive-natural convective air currents to heat spaces
Describe the role of solar power in the US energy picture
Development of Solar Power can be seen as gradually reducing the need for coal and nuclear power; certain areas of the world may not require any other heating source but solar (deserts)
If back-up is rquired, how might this be done?
connect to the existing net
What are solar cells(photovoltaic) and are they cost effective?
Cells that take sunligh and convert it into electricity, becoming more cost effective
What are some other forms of power
hydroelectric, wind, ocean thermal, geothermal, tidal power
What are 2 ways of using geothermal energy?
direct use-using hot springs to heat building o rdrive turbogenerators
ground source-using a heat pump w/ piping in the soil under the house to heat or cool
What does bioconversion mean?
burning firewood, burning municipal waste, producing methane, producing alcohol
What is an environmental world-view
how people think the world works, what their role should be, what they think is right or wrong behavior regarding the environment
Examples of individual centered worldviews
no problem school: science can fix anything; free market school: gov't is bad and business/industry is all that matters; responsible planetary management: it is in our best self-interest to manage our resources wisely; stewardship school: ethical responsibility to care for the world
What is an Earth-centered worldview?
stresses the intrinsiv value of other species; stresses the importance of sustainability
List the maj. environmental impacts of urban sprawl
depletion of natural resources, air pollution, water pollution, loss of landscapes and wildlife, loss of agricultural land, airport noise
What Federal Law had the greatest effect on creating of urban sprawl
development cycle spawned by the Highway Trust Fund
Has construction of new highways reduced the average commute time?
Explain the difference between clustered and detached housing development
maintain the same overall density levels per acre but cluster homes in one area and leave the rest natural or w/ parks
What are "green buildings"
energy efficient, built w/ non-hazardous materials, do not release harmful emissions, working toward a sustainable society
What is full-cost pricing?
internal and external costs included; internal costs are direct and indirect costs of producing goods and services; external are hidden costs that are passed on to others; gov't subsidies for extracting fossil fues is an example of external cost
If we implemented full-cost pricing, what would happen?
less efficient business may go out of business, more efficent businesses will encouraged to go green, and increase in business that market "green" goods and services
What is environmental justice?
combination of civil rights issues w/ environmental protection issues to provide a sale healthy environment for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, economic status, or other persuasion.
What is the precautionary principle?
ASsume something is dangerous until proven safe.
How is this different from risk analysis?
Risk assessment requires the scientist to prove something is harmful before it can be banned.
What are some ways that an indiv. can affect society?
political involvement, membership and participation in non-governmental organizations, and career choices
What are some indiv. lifestyle changes that can improve the environment?
switching to a more fuel-efficient car, recycling, backyard composting, recycling food and garden wastes to your soil, live closer to your workplace.
How will political involvement help?
show support for particular legislation by writing letters or making phone calls, let it be known that you demand clean air, water, and a safe environ. for all to thrive and live
What are non-political environ. organizations?
organizations that work for the environment: audubon society, ecology action center, greenways project
Define the terms sustainable society and environmental stewardship
sustainable socity-society that functions in a way so as no to deplete energy or material resources on which it depends; stewardship-active care and concern for nature and environmetn, ecosystem sustainability, and pollution prevention