Jun 15th 2015

Introduction to Environmental Science (edX)

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A scientific study of the natural world and how it is influenced by people. Major topics include: food, energy, human population, biodiversity and global change.

Environmental science is the study of patterns and processes in the natural world and their modification by human activity. To understand current environmental problems, we need to consider physical, biological and chemical processes that are often the basis of those problems. This course will give you the skills necessary to address the environmental issues we are facing today by examining scientific principles and the application of those principles to natural systems. This course will survey some of the many environmental science topics at an introductory level, ultimately considering the sustainability of human activities on the planet.

Environmental impacts on Earth come from the number of people and the amount and types of resources that they use. By applying scientific principles and considering real-world examples, we will examine:

1. The field of environmental science and how to think like an environmental scientist.

2. The human population and the ways in which changes in the population affect the environment.

3. Agriculture, soils and the environmental implications of eating meat, vegetables, local, organic, sustainable, industrial and other types of food.

4. Non-renewable fossil fuels with a focus on coal, petroleum and natural gas and the benefits and consequences of using each.

5. Renewable fuels such as wind and solar and identify that even renewable “green” energy sources have impacts as well as benefits.

6. Biodiversity and global change, which are the integrating units of environmental science.