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  1. 1. Environmental Science the forgotten science?
  2. 2. TAKS content: <ul><li>Objective 3: Interdependence of Organisms and the Environment </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ students must integrate concepts from environmental science , evolution, and population genetics.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- TEA website </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Science Course Sequence <ul><li>Biology </li></ul><ul><li>Chemistry </li></ul><ul><li>Physics </li></ul><ul><li>AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics </li></ul><ul><li>Where is Environmental Science? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A little as ecology at the end of Biology (if there is time) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maybe in the 8 th grade as part of Earth Science </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even more rarely as AP Environmental Science </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What they need to know: <ul><li>“ The student will demonstrate an understanding of the interdependence of organisms and the environment.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The student knows the theory of biological evolution.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The student knows that interdependence and interactions occur in an ecosystem.” </li></ul><ul><li>But there is no mention of environmental literacy related to issues affecting the world. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What we need to teach <ul><ul><li>Everything is connected to everything else. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evolutionary change and adaptation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The fossil record </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Principles of taxonomy and embryology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change by ecological succession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Predation, parasitism, competition, mutualism, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Food chains, food webs, pyramids of energy, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Population ecology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nutrient cycles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AND environmental issues that will affect our future </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Environmental Issues <ul><li>The Top Ten ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How bad is the damage to ecosystems? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the Earth overpopulated? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are we running out of energy resources? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we feed ourselves, sustainably? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s the “truth” about climate change? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are we so wasteful? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are we poisoning our air? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ditto for our water </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are we causing the extinction of species? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can you do to help? </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. A Conceptual Framework <ul><li>The ultimate goal of environmental education is to produce individuals who exhibit the “4 A’s.” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Appreciation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Activism </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Founding Principles <ul><li>Everything is connected to everything else. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We depend on the environment for all of our food, water, energy, shelter, and economic resources. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There is no such thing as a free lunch. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is an environmental cost whenever we extract resources from the Earth. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our lives on Earth must be sustainable. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We can’t spend Earth’s capital. We need to learn how to live only on the interest. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. How bad is damage to ecosystems? <ul><li>Deforestation and other habitat destruction is the number one human impact on the planet. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces oxygen production by plants </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces available habitat for organisms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increases rates of erosion and soil damage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increases rates of extinction of species </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Is the Earth overpopulated? <ul><li>The answer depends on how you define overpopulated, but most scientists believe that the Earth has reached or is very near to the limit that is sustainable . </li></ul>
  11. 12. Can Earth Support 12 Billion People? <ul><li>Yes, but only IF we reduce our use of non-renewable resources and switch to renewable ones whenever we can. </li></ul><ul><li>Resource consumption is a more important way to gauge population impact than simply the size. </li></ul><ul><li>Number x consumption = impact (or footprint) </li></ul><ul><li>The U.S. has the largest footprint on the planet. Our 302 million people consume more than the 1.3 billion of China. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Are we running out of Energy Resources? <ul><li>In the short term, not really, but in the long term, yes. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Despite recent price increases in oil, we still have substantial reserves left. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Our current fossil fuels are non-renewable. They will run out in 50 to 200 years. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>IF we switch to renewable energy (solar power and other types) we will never run out. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Energy Use in the Global Economy Oil = 39%; Coal = 27%; Gas = 23%; Nuclear = 7%; Hydro = 3%; Others = 1% Industrial = 38%; Residential and Commercial = 36%; Transportation = 26%
  14. 15. What can we learn from the data? <ul><li>We are addicted to fossil fuels! </li></ul><ul><li>What we do in our industry and homes is more important than what we do in our cars. </li></ul><ul><li>We are not making use of renewable energy sources. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Can we feed ourselves, sustainably? <ul><li>That’s a hard one to judge. The cost of food is skyrocketing and the environmental impacts of raising food are going up as well. </li></ul><ul><li>Can we feed a </li></ul><ul><li>future population </li></ul><ul><li>of 12 B using the </li></ul><ul><li>same means as now ? </li></ul><ul><li>No. </li></ul>
  16. 17. What’s the “truth” about climate change? <ul><li>Global Warming is real. </li></ul><ul><li>Estimates of its likely impacts vary widely: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Best case: mild - moderate warming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Worst case scenarios see oceans rising to inundate large areas of coastlines, severe disruptions in weather and climate, and mass extinction. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. What do the data show?
  18. 19. Some predictions are already happening.
  19. 20. Why are we so wasteful? <ul><li>Affluent societies treat waste as something to throw away. Less affluent societies reuse every last bit they can. Our culture of consumerism is what fuels our wasteful ways. Some scientists call us the Throwaway Society. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Our Waste Stream <ul><li>38 % paper products (Nearly all of </li></ul><ul><li>13 % yard waste these wastes </li></ul><ul><li>10 % food wastes could be </li></ul><ul><li>9 % plastics recycled, but </li></ul><ul><li>8 % metals only about </li></ul><ul><li>6 % glass 25% actually are.) </li></ul><ul><li>5 % wood </li></ul><ul><li>10 % other </li></ul><ul><li>A Total Haul of over 200 MILLION tons per year; 2/3 of a ton per person per year! </li></ul><ul><li>PLUS 40 million tons of hazardous waste! </li></ul>
  21. 22. Are we poisoning our air? <ul><li>Air pollution, especially in cities of developing countries, is getting worse. This is largely due to burning of coal and other fuels for electricity production and industry and the burning of oil for transportation. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Major Categories of Air Pollution <ul><li>Global Climate Change – carbon </li></ul><ul><li>Acid Rain – nonmetallic oxides </li></ul><ul><li>Ozone Depletion – CFCs </li></ul><ul><li>Smog – VOCs, particulates </li></ul><ul><li>Indoor Air Pollution – VOCs, etc. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Are We Poisoning our water? <ul><li>Not long ago, the Rio Grande was listed as the most polluted river in North America due to the presence of fecal coliform bacteria and other contaminants. Similar problem rivers exist on every continent. Water is life. If we poison our water, we poison ourselves. </li></ul>
  24. 25. The Major Categories of Pollutants <ul><li>Disease-causing organisms : infectious agents </li></ul><ul><li>Inorganic chemicals : salts, acids, metals </li></ul><ul><li>Synthetic organic compounds : pesticides, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Fertilizers : agricultural runoff </li></ul><ul><li>Sediments : sand, silt and clay from erosion </li></ul><ul><li>Oxygen-demanding wastes : sewage and manure </li></ul><ul><li>Radioactive wastes : natural or man-made </li></ul><ul><li>Thermal pollution : heat from power plants, etc. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Are we causing the extinction of species? <ul><li>Throughout geologic time the Earth has experienced five mass extinctions due to drastic climate change, meteor impacts, and rampant vulcanism. Scientists consider the impacts of humans to be the start of a sixth mass extinction. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Can’t We All Get Along? <ul><li>Some of the things that humans do disrupt other organisms’ lives. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Habitat destruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over-fishing, excess hunting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental pollution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduction of non-native species </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Climate change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial exploitation </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. Intrinsic / Extrinsic Value of Biodiversity <ul><li>Intrinsic – everything has a right to exist of its own accord. </li></ul><ul><li>Extrinsic – we derive food, medicines and many other products from wild things. Biodiversity adds beauty and interest to our lives. Biodiversity keeps the world’s natural processes going. </li></ul>
  28. 29. The #1 Thing You Need to Know: What can YOU do about all this? <ul><li>Consume less of EVERYTHING </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce your FOOTPRINT </li></ul><ul><li>SPEAK for the trees </li></ul><ul><li>Learn and CARE about the earth </li></ul><ul><li>Make a DIFFERENCE </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t WASTE what you were given </li></ul>
  29. 30. Some specifics <ul><li>Drive less – Drive smart to get better mileage </li></ul><ul><li>Raise your thermostat </li></ul><ul><li>Switch to fluorescent bulbs </li></ul><ul><li>Try a vegetarian diet </li></ul><ul><li>Install a solar water heater </li></ul><ul><li>Insulate your home </li></ul><ul><li>Plant a butterfly garden </li></ul><ul><li>Recycle everything you can </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful with chemicals at home and at work </li></ul>
  30. 31. Learn about your local ecosystems. <ul><li>We are at a biological crossroads </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Four climatic regions intersect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Desert, maritime, tropical, temperate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two migratory flyways converge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mississippi and Central Flyways </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Rio Grande connects us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eight states in the US and MX </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>All this leads to high biodiversity </li></ul>
  31. 32. Maritime Temperate forest and grassland Desert Tropical Forest and Brushland Bird migration routes
  32. 33. The End Result <ul><li>Over 500 species of birds </li></ul><ul><li>Over 300 species of butterflies </li></ul><ul><li>11 distinct vegetation types </li></ul><ul><li>Over 50 species that are found nowhere else in North America </li></ul><ul><li>(30 of them birds) </li></ul><ul><li>The greatest diversity per unit area north of Mexico </li></ul>4
  33. 34. Eleven Ecosystems to Study 5 <ul><li>Tamaulipan Thornscrub </li></ul><ul><li>Lomas and Tidal Flats </li></ul><ul><li>Coastal Prairie Brushland </li></ul><ul><li>Sabal Palm Forest </li></ul><ul><li>Mid-Valley Riparian Forest </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-desert Brushland </li></ul><ul><li>Mesquite Woodland </li></ul><ul><li>Coastal Barrier Islands </li></ul><ul><li>Laguna Madre Hypersaline Lagoon </li></ul><ul><li>Freshwater Wetlands </li></ul><ul><li>Urban and Suburban Landscapes </li></ul>
  34. 35. Wait! There’s more. <ul><li>Resurrect the outdoor fieldtrip. Experience in the environment is the best teacher about the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Make time for hands-on activities in class. Learning about the environment from a book is like kissing your sister! </li></ul><ul><li>Grow something! (a butterfly garden?) </li></ul>
  35. 36. Take advantage of what’s here. <ul><li>Local resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Frontera Audubon Society Thicket </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Valley Nature Center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Texas Nature Conservancy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Valley Land Fund </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The U.S. Department of Agriculture </li></ul></ul>
  36. 37. Some especially helpful information <ul><li>Project WILD - </li></ul><ul><li>Project Learning Tree - </li></ul><ul><li>GREEN - </li></ul><ul><li>EERC - </li></ul><ul><li>(This is a “private” site on evolution education.) </li></ul>
  37. 38. Some more links… <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
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