Unit 2



At the beginning of Unit 2, Joe Levine posed these questions about the scientific future:

• Can our society learn how to produce the food and energy we need while preserving the environment?
• How will the introduction of new species affect native plants and animals?

Can our society learn how to produce the food and energy we need while preserving the environment?

This question frames the most complex and important issues facing humanity today. As described in Chapter 6, we face challenges providing for human needs while protecting natural resources on both local and global scales. Here are some links to new studies and perspectives on various parts of this vital research frontier.

Global Warming is one of the most active areas of current research – and for good reason. Understanding how much our planet is warming, and why it is warming, is vital to managing just about every aspect of human interactions with the biosphere.

The Discovery of Global Warming
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ This hypertext history explains how scientists are learning more about the how human activity affects earth’s climate. (On the website of the American Institute of Physics, with additional support from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.)

Global Warming
The Earth’s average temperature rose by more than half a degree Celsius over the last century. What caused this change? Join NASA’s Earth Observatory Team in an investigation into the causes and effects of global warming. (On the website of NASA’s Earth Observatory.)

Global Warming Basics
http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/ This section of the website of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change attempts to educate the public and key policy makers about the causes and potential consequences of climate change and to develop practical and effective solutions to this environmental challenge.

EPA’s Global Warming Site
This US Government site contains lots of information on the relationship between burning of fossil fuels, changes in global temperatures, shifts in patterns of rainfall, and other aspects of climate change. It includes a clikable map that lets you see what the predicted effects of global warming might be in your region of the U. S.

Climate change and the developing world http://www.scidev.net/dossiers/index.cfm?fuseaction=dossierItem&Dossier=4&CFID=1145990&CFTOKEN=38022108
We naturally pay most attention to the effects of climate change on the United States. We give similar priority to the impact that efforts to slow climate change might have on our own lives. The website for The Science and Development Network provides a different perspective, examining the impact of climate change on developing countries.

How will the introduction of new species affect native plants and animals?

You might be surprised to learn how seriously exotic species can affect places they are introduced to. Here are a few reports:

Impacts of Introduced Species in the United States http://www.gcrio.org/CONSEQUENCES/vol2no2/article2.html

Introduced Species: The Threat to Biodiversity & What Can Be Done By Daniel Simberloff An ActionBioscience.org original article

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency page on Introduced Species in the Mid-Atlantic States http://www.epa.gov/maia/html/intro-species.html

United States Geological Survey Regional Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Web Sites http://nas.er.usgs.gov/links/regionallinks.html
Animated map showing Zebra Mussel Distribution An animated map showing the spread of one of the most invasive and destructive aquatic exotic species in the United States. http://www.nationalatlas.gov/zmussels1.html


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