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Planet in Peril Part II Key

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					Planet in Perils – Part II

Greenland Ice Sheet

    1. What chemical in the atmosphere is responsible for the warming of our planet? (carbon dioxide
       is one of many greenhouse gasses)
    2. What is believed to be the source of this chemical? (burning of fossil fuels)
    3. What physical evidence do scientists have that the Earth is warming?
    4. What technology do scientists use to monitor climate change? (satellites can be used to
       measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, electromagnetic waves are emitted from the
       satellite and are reflected back to sensor on the platform. The computer interprets changes in
       the wavelengths; different molecules will slightly alter the wavelengths because of their
       different molecular structure; different molecules have different angles between the elements,
       which alter the wavelengths, for instance the distance between H’s and O’s in water is 104
       degrees, while the angle between C’s and O’s is almost 180 degress)
    5. How do mulans accelerate the melting of ice sheets? (they bring melt water to the base of the
       ice sheet and provide it a viscous layer in which to slide off the island)
    6. Will capping carbon dioxide levels at present levels stop global warming? (no many scientists
       believe that current levels of 335 ppm is not enough, that they need to be around 250 ppm)

Polar Bears in Alaska

    1. What technology do wild life biologists use to study polar bears? (helicopters, radio telemetry
       tags, tranquilizer guns)
    2. If you were a United States Geologic Survey (USGS) wild life biologists, what data would you take
       on polar bears to determine if they were being affected by global warming? (body weight,
       height, blood sample to look at protein levels important for healthy nutrition, and diseases)
    3. Why do polar bears need the ice sheets? (polar bears need the sheets in order to hunt seals;
       polar bears are strong swimmers, but they need the ice sheets to have an advantage over the
       seals who travel slow on the ice; the bears drown because they don’t have the sea ice to rest on
       as they swim out to sea to hunt seals)
    4. What is an apex predator and why are they important to an environment? (they are the top
       predator and integrate each of the food chains in a particular ecosystem)
    5. What is an endangered species and why would it be important to put them on the list? (species
       can be threatened or endangered, which is worse. If there are less than about 1000 left of a
       species than it is endangered.)

Climate Change in the South Pacific

    1. What is the relationship to global warming and increased sea levels? (melting of the ice sheets
       causes fresh water to be added to the ocean, causing sea levels to rise, covering many atolls and
       small islands in the South Pacific.)
    2. What could be the reason for the Carterette Islands sinking? (rise in sea levels because of global
       warming, island is sinking because it was build on a volcano which is sinking, the coral substrate
       that its built on is dying because of coral bleaching)
    3. What are some problems associated with the sinking of the island? (amount of land lessens and
       people have less space to live; coastal ecosystems are flooded and habitats destroyed; rising
       waters can bring infestation of mosquitoes which carry disease; less space can cause warfare for
       living space)
    4. What technology do scientists use to study coral reefs? (scuba gear, satellites can measure the
       extent of the coral reefs)
    5. What is coral bleaching? (coral bleaching happens when the coral expels the alga that helps it
       photosynthesis and turn sunlight into sugars that are at the base of the food web due to
       increase water temperatures; the coral dies and disrupts the feeding structures; coral reefs also
       serve as nursery for marine species and therefore affect the pelagic zone of the ocean.)

Lake Chad

    1. How is the lake ecosystem changing? (it has shrunk 90%; water diversion for crops)
    2. Why is Africa the most vulnerable to climate change? (it has one of the driest climates and the
       highest population increase; people need water to survive; Canada has the most fresh water per
       capita than any other country)
    3. Why are fish stocks so poor in Lake Chad? (lower water levels cause fringe wetlands along the
       lake to dry up and reduce the availability of food for the fish)

Those Who Don’t Believe

    1. What is the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? (They are an international
       group of scientists who study climate change)
    2. What are some of the problems with the models that predict climate change? (scientist use
       complex computer models to predict what is happening to the earth’s climate; the models use
       data from humidity, temperature, cloud cover and hundreds of other data sets that are
       manipulated with complex mathematical algorithms, but their predictions do not match what is
       happening; basically they don’t have enough data, and the math is not perfect)
    3. How do ice core samples help reduce the error of our climate models? (ice cores contain
       bubbles of air that can be analyzed for levels of carbon dioxide, methane and other green house
       gasses; this data can be used to compare with current levels)

Brazil

    1. Why is deforestation a problem in Brazil? (clear cutting lumber for building and expensive
       furniture;; ranching, as Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef; also poaching of forest
       animals for medicines)
    2. Why should we care about the rainforest? (20% of the world’s water is locked up in the
       rainforest; it provide oxygen for the planet because of the trees; 80% of our food in soybeans
       and beef come from the rainforest; also it is a treasure-trove of medicines)
   3. Why is poverty a key factor in deforestation? (local populations need land for farming – the soil
      is nutrient poor however and farming can only occur for about 4 years without the addition of
      fertilizers)
   4. What is the role of fire in helping a forest? (periodic burning returns nutrients to the soil and
      allows the forest to grow back; it reduces underbrush and prevents larger, hotter fires from
      burning which would also destroy larger trees)
   5. What is sustainable development? (it involves a group of individuals who can live off the
      resources of a region without degrading or destroying those resources for future generations.)

Cancer in America

   1. What was the cause of her son’s leukemia? (Huston Ship Channel, an oil processing plant)
   2. What is a carcinogen? (a chemical that causes cancer, such as benzene and butadiene)
   3. What is the connection between race and environmental degradation? (environmental racism
      occurs because polluting industrial plants, recycling plants , shipping yards are found in poor
      neighborhoods.)
   4. What hidden costs are associated with environmental degradation? (costs from health
      problems, crime)
   5. What is the “Tragedy of the Commons?” (it occurs when a company pollutes a resource shared
      by others, such as adding pollutants to the atmosphere which we all breath)

				
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