AP Environmental Science

AP Environmental Science
What have you gotten yourself into?
What is AP Environmental Science?
An interdisciplinary study that integrates
information and ideas from natural science:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science
And social sciences:
Economics, Politics, Ethics
The Course
 The
goal is to provide students with
- scientific principles, concepts & methodologies to
understand interrelationships of the natural world
- to identify & analyze environmental problems
- to evaluate relative risks
- to examine alternative solutions
The Course
Six Major Unifying Themes
- Science is a dynamic process
- Energy conversions underlie ecological processes
- Earth as an interconnected system
- Humans alter natural systems
- Cultural context of environmental problems
- Survival depends on sustainable systems
The Course
APES demonstrates the Nature of Science
- Science is a process
- Science is a method of learning more about
the world
- Science constantly changes the way we
understand the world
MOST important prerequisite: Desire on the part
of the student
A Solid background in Biology and Chemistry
At least one year of algebra
Students Taking APES
Appeals to both traditional and alternative
Tends to score lower than other science APs due
to integration of science disciplines
Lends itself well to inquiry-based, hands-on
APES Topic Outline
I. Earth Systems and Resources (10-15%)
 Earth
Science Concepts
(geologic time scale, plate tectonics, earthquakes & volcanism, seasons, solar
intensity & latitudes)
(composition & structure, weather & climate, atmospheric circulation, atmo-ocean
 Global Water
Resources & Use
(freshwater/saltwater, ocean circulation, agricultural/industrial/domestic use, surface
& groundwater issues, global problems, conservation)
 Soil
& Soil Dynamics
(rock cycle, formation & composition, physical & chemical properties, soil types,
erosion and soil problems, soil conservation measures)
APES Topic Outline
II. The Living World (10-15%)
 Ecosystem
(pop. & communities, niches; species interactions; keystone & indicator species,
species diversity factors; major biomes)
 Energy
(photosynthesis & cellular respiration; food webs & trophic levels, ecological
 Ecosystem
(biodiversity, natural selection, evolution ecosystem services)
 Natural
Ecosystem Change
(climate shifts, species movement, ecological succession)
 Natural
Biogeochemical Cycles
(carbon, nitrogen sulfur, phosphorus, water, conservation of matter
APES Topic Outline
III. Population (10-15%)
 Population
(population ecology, carrying capacity, reproductive strategies, survivorship)
 Human
- Human
Population Dynamics
(historical population size, distribution, fertility rates, growth rates &
doubling times, demographic transition, age-structure diagrams)
- Population Size
(strategies for sustainability, case studies, national policies)
- Impact of Population Growth
(hunger, disease, economic effects, resource use, habitat modifications)
APES Topic Outline
IV. Land and Water Use (10-15%)
 Agriculture
- Feeding a Growing Population
(human nutritional requirement, types of agriculture, Green Revolution,
genetic engineering & crop production, deforestation, irrigation, sustainable
Controlling Pests
(types of pesticides, costs & benefits of pesticide use, IPM, laws)
(tree plantations, old growth forests, forest fires, forest management, national
APES Topic Outline
IV. Land and Water Use (10-15%) (cont.)
 Mining
(mineral formation, extraction; global reserves; relevant laws and treaties)
 Fishing
(fishing techniques; overfishing; aquaculture; relevant laws and treaties)
 Global
(globalization, World Bank; Tragedy of the Commons; relevant laws and
APES Topic Outline
V. Energy Resources and Consumption (1015%)
 Energy
(energy forms, power, units, conversion, Laws of Thermodynamics)
 Energy
- History
- Present Global Energy Use
- Future Energy Needs
 Fossil
Fuel Resources and Use
(formation of coal, oil, natural gas; extraction purification methods; world reserves
and global demand; synfuels; environmental advantages/disadvantages of sources)
APES Topic Outline
V. Energy Resources and Consumption (cont.)
 Nuclear
(nuclear fission process; nuclear fuel; electricity production; nuclear reactor
types; environmental advantages/disadvantages; safety issues; radiation &
human health; radioactive wastes; nuclear fusion)
 Hydroelectric
(dams; flood control; silting; salmon; other impacts)
 Energy
(energy efficiency, CAFÉ standards; hybrid vehicles; mass transit)
 Renewable
(solar energy; solar electricity; hydrogen fuel cells; biomass; wind energy;
small-scale hydroelectric; ocean waves & tidal energy; geothermal;
environmental advantages/disadvantages)
APES Topic Outline
VI. Pollution (25-30%)
 Pollution Types
- Air Pollution
( sources – primary & secondary; major air pollutants; measurement units;
acid deposition – causes & effects; heat islands & temp. inversions; indoor
air pollution; remediation & reduction strategies; Clear Air Act & other
relevant laws)
- Noise Pollution
(sources; effects; control measures)
- Water Pollution
(types; sources; causes; effects; cultural eutrophication; ground water
pollution; maintaining water quality; water purification; sewage treatment;
Clean Water Act & other relevant laws
- Solid Waste
(types; disposal; reduction)
APES Topics Outline
VI. Pollution (cont.)
 Impacts
on the Environment and Health
- Hazards to Human Health
(environmental risk analysis; acute & chronic effects; dos-response
relationships; air pollutants; smoking & other risks)
- Hazardous Chemicals in the Environment
(types of hazardous waste; treatment/disposal of hazardous waste; cleanup of
contaminated sites; biomagnification; relevant laws)
 Economic
(cost-benefit analysis; externalities; sustainability)
APES Topic Outline
VII. Global Change (10 – 15%)
 Stratospheric Ozone
(formation of stratoshperic ozone; ultraviolet radiation; causes of ozone
depletion; effects of ozone depletion; strategies for reducing ozone depletion;
relevant laws and treaties)
 Global Warming
(greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect; impacts and consequences of
global warming; reducing climate change; relevant laws and treaties)
APES Topic Outline
VII. Global Change (10-15%) (cont.)
Loss of Biodiversity
- Habitat Loss
(overuse; pollution; introduced species; endangered & extinct species)
- Maintenance through Conservation
(strategies for conserving habitat)
- Relevant Laws & Treaties
(Endangered Species Act)

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