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Chapter 3 Science, systems, Matter, and Energy. Easter Island What Happened?. What important lesson lesson can we learn? Does it apply to “our island”?. Scientific Method. “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” Albert Einstein. Theory

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easter island what happened
Easter Island What Happened?
  • What important lesson lesson can we learn?
  • Does it apply to “our island”?
scientific method
Scientific Method
  • “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” Albert Einstein
theory v law

Idea, principle, or model that is supported by a great deal of evidence

Usually explains and ties together previously unrelated information

Widely accepted


Explains a phenomena that we observe in nature over and over in the same way with no KNOWN exceptions

What we observe in nature

Theory v. Law
accuracy v precision1

Finding a value that is agrees with the accepted or correct value



How closely the same result will be achieved over and over again

Accuracy v. Precision
ph scale
pH Scale
  • Logarithmic Scale
  • pH of 7 means
  • 10-7 hydronium ions
  • pH < 7 Acid
  • pH = 7 Neutral
  • pH > 7 Basic
inductive deductive
Using observations to reach a general conclusion

If observations are true, then the conclusion is likely true.

Using logic and rules to arrive at a specific conclusion

If specific statements are true, then the conclusion must be true

Inductive Deductive
inductive example
Inductive Example
  • Example:

Many pesticides lead to cancers and birth defects in animals and humans. Birds near a corn field have been giving birth to deformed birds.

Conclusion: The deformities are being caused by pesticides.

valid vs invalid
Valid vs. invalid
  • Valid Deductive argument

Helen is a girl. All girls have 2 X chromosomes. Conclusion: Helen has 2 X chromosomes.

  • Invalid Deductive arguments
  • Everardo loves doing homework. Everardo is a student in APES.
  • Conclusion: APES students love doing homework.

If today is Monday, we have a test today. We have a test today.

Conclusion: Today is Monday.

frontier v consensus science

Preliminary results based on untested data, hypotheses, or models.

CONTROVERSIAL, but newsworthy


Data, theories, and laws that are WIDELY accepted by scientific experts

Reliable, but not newsworthy

Frontier v. Consensus Science
validity of data
Validity of data
  • How do you accurately measure worldwide soil erosion? Or how many species have become extinct?
  • No one will EVER agree on these issues, which is why we develop models
  • “Most environmental problems involve so many variables and such complex interactions that we often do not have enough information or sufficiently sophistocated mathematical models to aid in understanding them very well”
    • Miller
systems way over simplified
Systems(WAY Over Simplified)
  • Inputs – what goes in
  • Flows – how inputs travel: direction, rate
  • Stores – where stuff accumulates
  • Outputs – what comes out
environmental modeling
Environmental Modeling
  • Models are computer examples based on past data used to predict future results.
  • Models must be continually updated as new data is incorporated
  • Most models are inherently inaccurate, WHY?


environmental modeling1



Allow us to predict environmental behavior

Provide extensive data for study

Can be refined over time


Inherently inaccurate

Based on sometimes faulty inductive reasoning

Impossible to capture all the variables

Based on large numbers of assumptions

Environmental Modeling
some types models
Some Types Models
  • Mathematical Models
    • Based on mathematical formulas
    • Stream flow modeling, air quality modeling
  • GIS models
    • Based on data tied to a specific location
    • Risk of lead poisoning based on location, income, and housing age
  • Statistical models
    • Based on probability of will happen based on what has happened
    • The overall probability of getting cancer is X, and based on your risk factors, your risk is Y
positive feedback loop
Positive Feedback loop
  • Also called a vicious cycle
  • A change in one direction causes a system to keep changing in that direction
  • i.e. Global warming, rewards
population growth
Population Growth
  • Large populations mean large numbers of babies.
  • Large numbers of babies mean a bigger population
  • Overall vicious cycle
negative feedback loop
Negative Feedback loop
  • A change in one direction causes the system to change in the opposite direction
  • i.e. homeostasis, heating systems
carrying capacity
Carrying Capacity
  • As populations grow, resources become scarce.
  • These resource limitations cause population size to shrink.
feedback loops
Example 1

Population growth leads to family planning which leads to more birth control. Birth control leads to fewer pregnancies and less babies

Positive or negative?

Example 2

African countries have an AIDS epidemic, but do not have enough medicine or education to prevent new infections, leading to more infections.

Positive or negative?

Feedback Loops
feedback loops1
Example 3

Water vapor forms and rises due to hot temperatures. The water vapor in the air traps humidity and increases the temperature creating more water vapor.

Positive or negative?

Example 2

The temperature rises in the room triggering the AC, the AC cycles on, lowers the temperature, and turns off.

Positive or negative?

Feedback Loops
time delays
Time Delays
  • The distance between a stimulus and the response to it.
  • Many environmental problems have large time delays which interrupt negative feedback loops
    • Smoking
    • Watershed pollution
    • Global warming
  • Two or more processes combine to be bigger than the sum of the parts.
    • i.e. two people can each lift 40 lbs, but together they can lift 120 lbs.
    • i.e. the Thailand tsunami
matter forms structure and quality
MatterForms, Structure, and Quality
  • Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space.
  • Matter is found in two chemical forms: elements and compounds.
  • Various elements, compounds, or both can be found together in mixtures.
atoms ions and molecules
Atoms, Ions, and Molecules
  • Atoms: The smallest unit of matter that is unique to a particular element.
  • Ions: Electrically charged atoms or combinations of atoms.
  • Molecules: Combinations of two or more atoms of the same or different elements held together by chemical bonds.
what are atoms
What are Atoms?
  • The main building blocks of an atom are positively charged PROTONS, uncharged NEUTRONS, and negatively charged ELECTRONS
  • Each atom has an extremely small center, or nucleus, containing protons and neutrons.
atomic number and mass number
Atomic Number and Mass Number.
  • Atomic number
    • The number of protons in the nucleus of each of its atoms.
  • Mass number
    • The total number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus.
Elements are organized through the periodic table by classifications of metals, nonmetals, and metalloids
inorganic compounds
Inorganic Compounds
  • All compounds not Organic (not living)
    • Ionic Compounds
      • Sodium chloride (NaCl)
      • Sodium bicarbonate (NaOH)
    • Covalent compounds
      • Hydrogen(H2)
      • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
      • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
      • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
      • Ammonia (NH3)
formation of ionic compounds
Formation of Ionic Compounds
  • Transfer of electrons between the atoms of these elements result in drastic changes to the elements involved
  • Sodium and chlorine serves as a example
    • Sodium is a rather "soft" metal solid, with a silver-gray color
    • Chlorine is greenish colored gas
    • When a single electron is transferred between these elements, their atoms are transformed via a violent reaction into a totally different substance called, sodium chloride, commonly called table salt -- a white, crystalline, and brittle solid
inorganic compounds1
Inorganic Compounds
  • The earth’s crust is composed of mostly inorganic minerals and rock
  • The crust is the source of all most nonrenewable resource we use: fossil fuels, metallic minerals, etc.

Various combinations of only eight elements make up the bulk of most minerals.

nonmetallic elements
Nonmetallic Elements.
  • Carbon (C), Oxygen (O), Nitrogen (N), Sulfur (S), Hydrogen (H), and Phosphorous (P)
  • Nonmetallic elements make up about 99% of the atoms of all living things
covalent bonds
Covalent Bonds
  • The individual atoms are atoms of chlorine with only their valence electrons shown. 
  • Note that each chlorine atom has only seven valence electrons, but really wants eight. 
  • When each chlorine atom shares its unpaired electron, both atoms are tricked into thinking each has a full valence of eight electrons.
  • Notice that the individual atoms have full freedom from each other, but once the bond is formed, energy is released, and the new chlorine molecule (Cl2) behaves as a single particle.
A covalent bond is typically formed by two non-metals
  • Non-metals have similar electronegativities
  • Neither atom is "strong" enough to steal electrons from the other
  • Therefore, the atoms must share the electrons. 
organic compounds life
Organic Compounds (life)
  • Compounds containing carbon atoms combined with each other with atoms of one or more other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, etc.
    • Hydrocarbons
      • Compounds of carbon and hydrogen
    • Chlorofluorocarbons
      • Carbon, chlorine, and fluorine atoms
    • Simple carbohydrates
      • carbon, hydrogen, oxygen combinations
organic compounds
Organic Compounds

Hydrocarbons Chlorofluorocarbons

biological organic compounds
Biological Organic Compounds

Carbohydrates (Glucose) Protein (Cytochrome P450)

biological organic compounds1
Biological Organic Compounds

Lipid(Triglyceride) Nucleic Acid (DNA)

environmental surprises
Environmental Surprises
  • AIDS, Ebola, Hantavirus
  • Global warming
  • Antibacterial resistance
  • Thalidomide (birth defects)
  • DDT (cancer)
  • CFCs ozone layer destruction)
  • Disasters (Bhopal, Chernobyl)
  • Zebra Mussel (invasive species)
env surprises causes
Env. SurprisesCAUSES
  • Discontinuities – may be caused by an environmental threshold (dose response)
  • Synergystic relationships – multiple factors lead to a synergistic relationship causing unpredicted results. (deforestation and runoff))
  • Chaotic Events – nature is unpredictable, we cannot control it or change it (hurricanes)
  • No one really knows, but many people have ideas
matter quality
Matter Quality
  • Matter quality
    • a measure of how useful a matter resource is, based in its availability and concentration.
  • High quality matter is organized, concentrated, and usually found near the earth’s crust.
  • Low quality matter is disorganized, dilute, and has little potential for use as a matter resource.
quality counts
Quality Counts



  • Energy is the capacity to do work and transfer heat.
kinetic energy
Kinetic Energy
  • Kinetic energy is the energy that matter has because of its mass and its speed or velocity.
  • It is energy in action or motion.
    • Wind, flowing streams, falling rocks, electricity, moving car - all have kinetic energy.
potential energy
Potential Energy
  • Potential energy is stored energy that is potential available for use.
  • Potential energy can be changed to kinetic energy.
  • Ex. Ball held in the air, dammed water,
elect ro magne tic s pect ru m
  • The range of electromagnetic waves, which differ in wavelength (distance between successive peaks or troughs) and energy content.
energy quality
High Quality

Organized energy that is efficient

Electricity, chemical energy (sugars), concentrated heat, nuclear power

Low Quality

Disorganized energy that involves lots of energy loss.

Heat loss from water, solar energy, geothermal heat.

Energy Quality
energy quality1
Energy Quality
  • Very High
    • Electricity, Nuclear fission, and Concentrated sunlight.
  • High
    • Hydrogen gas, Natural gas, and Coal.
  • Moderate
    • Normal sunlight, and wood.
  • Low
    • Low-temperature heat and dispersed geothermal energy.


Very high temperature

heat (greater than 2,500°C)

Nuclear fission (uranium)

Nuclear fusion (deuterium)

Concentrated sunlight

High-velocity wind

Very high-temperature heat

(greater than 2,500°C)

for industrial processes

and producing electricity to

run electrical devices

(lights, motors)

Very high

High-temperature heat


Hydrogen gas

Natural gas




Mechanical motion (to move

vehicles and other things)

High-temperature heat

(1,000–2,500°C) for

industrial processes and

producing electricity


Normal sunlight

Moderate-velocity wind

High-velocity water flow


geothermal energy

Moderate-temperature heat


Wood and crop wastes

Moderate-temperature heat

(100–1,000°C) for industrial

processes, cooking,

producing steam,

electricity, and hot water


Low-temperature heat

(100°C or less) for

space heating

Dispersed geothermal energy

Low-temperature heat

(100°C or lower)


Energy tasks

Source of Energy

Relative Energy Quality


Fig. 3.11, p. 59

law of conservation of matter
Law of Conservation of Matter
  • Matter can neither be destroyed nor created
  • It can only change from one form to another through physical or chemical changes
  • Why we can never really get rid of pollution
pollutant characteristics
Pollutant Characteristics
  • Characteristics – how harmful is it, how much, where is it
  • Concentration – how strong is it - ppm, ppb, ppt
  • Persistence – how long will it be around
    • degradable, biodegradable, slowly degradable, non-degradable
      • Define each of these in your outline
law of conservation of matter and energy
Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy
  • In any nuclear change, the total amount of matter and energy involved remains the same.
  • E = mc2
    • The energy created by the release of the strong nuclear forces for 1 kilogram of matter will produce enough energy to elevated the temperature of all the water used in the Los Angeles basin in one day by 10,000oC
natural radioactive decay
Natural Radioactive Decay
  • Natural radioactive decay is a nuclear change in which unstable isotopes spontaneously emit fast moving particles, high energy radiation, or both at a fixed rate.
fission v fusion

Breaking apart

One Big to small pieces

Atom bomb


Combing together

Small pieces to one big

Sun Energy

Fission v. Fusion
nuclear fission
Nuclear Fission
  • Nuclear fission
    • a nuclear change in which nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass numbers are split apart into lighter nuclei when struck by neutrons
    • each fission releases two or three more neutrons and energy.
what is nuclear fusion
What is Nuclear Fusion?
  • Nuclear Fusion
    • a nuclear change in which two isotopes of light elements, such as hydrogen, are forced together at extremely high temperatures until they fuse to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy in the process.
the first law of thermodynamics
The First Law of Thermodynamics
  • In all physical can chemical changes, energy is neither created nor destroyed, but it may be converted from one form to another.
1 st law of thermodynamics
1st Law of Thermodynamics
  • You can’t get something for nothing
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed
the second law of thermodynamics
The Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  • Physical, chemical, and electrical energy can be completely changed into heat.
  • But the reverse (heat into physical energy, for example) cannot be fully accomplished without outside help or without an inevitable loss of energy in the form of irretrievable heat.
  • This does not mean that the energy is destroyed; it means that it becomes unavailable for producing work.
2 nd law of thermodynamics
2nd Law of Thermodynamics
  • Nothings better the second time around
  • When energy is changed form one form to another, energy quality is lost
high waste or high throughput societies
High Waste or High-Throughput Societies
  • Most of today’s advanced industrialized countries are high waste or high throughput societies
  • They attempt to sustain ever-increasing economic growth by increasing the throughput of matter and energy resources in their economic systems.
matter recycling societies
Matter Recycling Societies
  • A stopgap solution to this problem is to convert an unsustainable high-throughput society to a matter-recycling society.
low waste societies
Low Waste Societies
  • The best long-term solution to our environmental and resource problems is to
    • shift from a society based on maximizing matter and energy flow to a sustainable low waste society.
  • Based on the three laws of energy