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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Environmental Science
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The Big Picture of Environmental Science

  • Closed systems and open systems (which typically occur in nature) must be considered in environmental science, along with inputs and outputs. A static system is not as common or realistic as a dynamic system
  • Open systems are steady-state or non-steady state. Over time, dynamic equilibrium can exist in the system. Average residence time (ART) applies to determining how much of a presence a molecule or substance has in a system over time
  • Feedback occurs when the output of a system affects its input. Negative feedback is when the a certain level of output leads to a decrease in the output, and positive feedback is when an increase in the output leads to a further increase
  • Flow (linear flow, nonlinear flow), flux, and lag time must be considered with data. Curves can be: linear, logistic, and exponential.
  • Overshoots (exceeding the maximum amount that is supportable) can lead to collapse once the carrying capacity is exceeded. The consequences may be reversible depending on the scenario.
  • When considering Earth as a system, environmental unity, Uniformitarianism, and the Gaia hypothesis are all helpful in considering what the data is telling us.

The Big Picture of Environmental Science

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Types of Systems 0:05
    • Closed Systems
    • Open Systems
    • Static System
    • Dynamic System
  • Open Systems 3:28
    • Steady State
    • Nonsteady State
    • Balance of Nature
    • Residence Time
  • Feedback 10:14
    • Negative Feedback
    • Positive Feedback
  • Types of Flows 14:18
    • Flow vs. Flux
    • Linear Flow
    • Nonlinear Flow
    • Lag Time
    • Curves
  • Overshoots, Collapse, and Consequences 19:35
    • Overshoot
    • Collapse
    • Consequences
  • Earth as a System 23:19
    • Environmental Unity
    • Uniformitarianism
    • Gaia Hypothesis