Environmental Science

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Global warming indicates a change in the average temperature of the Earth as a whole, while climate change involves several factors in a localized situation. The media uses the two terms interchangeably, which often leads to confusion.

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  • What Is the Difference Between Male and Female Pine Cones?

    Q: What Is the Difference Between Male and Female Pine Cones?

    A: The pine cones typically thought of as pine cones are actually the bigger female pine cones; male pine cones are not as woody and are much smaller in size. Female pine cones hold the seeds whereas male pine cones contain the pollen. Most conifers, or cone-bearing trees, have female and male pine cones on the same tree.
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  • What Causes Deforestation?

    Q: What Causes Deforestation?

    A: According to the Earth Observatory, the single most direct cause of deforestation is conversion of forestry to cropland and pasture. Other causes include urbanization and infrastructure expansion.
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  • What Caused the Hole in the Ozone Layer?

    Q: What Caused the Hole in the Ozone Layer?

    A: The gaping hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere over the Antarctic was caused primarily by high concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals called CFCs. The vast hole in the ozone was discovered by scientists in the 1980s, who upon discovering the dramatic loss in ozone cover, set to work determining a primary cause. They found excessive concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the area of concern; CFCs were frequently used as additives in spray cans and refrigerants, but are now banned in most areas of the world.
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  • Why Are Coral Reefs Endangered?

    Q: Why Are Coral Reefs Endangered?

    A: Coral reefs are endangered due to rising global temperatures, pollution and overfishing. It is estimated that about 1/5 of all coral reefs on the planet have been destroyed. The remaining ones could potentially vanish by 2050.
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  • What Is Maximum Sustainable Yield?

    Q: What Is Maximum Sustainable Yield?

    A: Maximum sustainable yield is the maximum level at which a resource can be exploited without depleting it. According to the National Estuarine Research Reserve, such a stock must remain at above half of its full carrying capacity in order to maintain maximum exploitation.
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  • Are Humans Destroying the Planet?

    Q: Are Humans Destroying the Planet?

    A: Although human beings may not be capable of fully destroying the earth, their daily activities are causing enough harm to the planet that it may become uninhabitable for humans for a long while. Human beings have also developed destructive technology such as nuclear weapons that, if used in their full capacity, may also make the earth uninhabitable for a long time for many creatures, including humans.
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  • Why Is Oceanography Important?

    Q: Why Is Oceanography Important?

    A: Oceanography is a very important discipline for understanding the oceans, which are essential for all life on Earth and cover the majority of the Earth's surface. Oceanography is extremely multidisciplinary, covering the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the world's oceans. No understanding of Earth's climate or the chemical cycles essential to life is complete without the insights of oceanography.
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  • What Is the Definition of Environmental Ethics?

    Q: What Is the Definition of Environmental Ethics?

    A: Environmental ethics is a form of philosophy that considers the ways humans interact with their natural environment and with nonhuman animals. This includes a moral consideration of the human approach to natural resources.
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  • How Many Plastic Bottles Are Thrown Away Each Year?

    Q: How Many Plastic Bottles Are Thrown Away Each Year?

    A: According to a 2009 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 632,655 to 999,001 tons of plastic water bottles were discarded in 2006. This analysis calculated the total as 76.5 percent of the plastic bottles produced in the United States.
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  • What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy?

    Q: What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy?

    A: Wind energy is praised for being a renewable, nonpolluting source of electricity, but it can also produce intermittent streams of energy, and wind-generating equipment may be costly and troublesome to repair and maintain. One of the primary benefits of wind energy is that, unlike coal, oil and other fossil fuels, it does not emit toxic byproducts into the air and water.
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  • What Is the Desert Ecosystem Like?

    Q: What Is the Desert Ecosystem Like?

    A: There are two types of deserts: temperate, or cold, and subtropical, or hot, which gives deserts more than one type of ecosystem. There are similarities as both get less than 10 inches of rain a year, and the air is generally dry in both types of biomes. The lack of water in either type of desert makes them harsh for people or creatures living there.
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  • What Are the Ecological and Environmental Concerns of the Tundra Biome?

    Q: What Are the Ecological and Environmental Concerns of the Tundra Biome?

    A: According to the Seattle P-I, the environmental and ecological concerns of the tundra biome include climate change, air pollution, human development and ecological imbalances. Recently, humans have been increasingly impacting the tundra both directly and indirectly. In the past, the tundra has not been able to support much human life and therefore remained free of human disturbance.
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  • How Long Does It Take for Leather to Decompose?

    Q: How Long Does It Take for Leather to Decompose?

    A: It takes leather between 25 and 50 years to completely decompose. Leather that has been tanned can take significantly longer to decompose because of the chemicals used to tan it.
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  • Where Do Dust Storms Occur?

    Q: Where Do Dust Storms Occur?

    A: According to NASA, dust storms can occur in any location where wind and exposed dirt is present. The most common location for dust storms are dry, arid regions.
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  • What Is the World's Most Dangerous Tree?

    Q: What Is the World's Most Dangerous Tree?

    A: The manchineel tree offers a notorious three-pronged self-defense strategy: it can choke you with its fruit, poison you with its sap, and blind you with its smoke. Literally every part of the tree is poisonous. Native to Florida, the Caribbean and Central America, the manchineel has gained an infamous reputation, and throughout history it has been both vital and deadly to humans.
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  • What Is the Difference Between an Environment and an Ecosystem?

    Q: What Is the Difference Between an Environment and an Ecosystem?

    A: An environment generally refers to the surroundings of various living residents, while an ecosystem is a community consisting of both living and non-living things that work together. In general, an ecosystem is defined by its environment, and all organisms within the ecosystem must work in tandem to create a successful living space.
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  • What Is the Original Source of Almost All the Energy in Most Ecosystems?

    Q: What Is the Original Source of Almost All the Energy in Most Ecosystems?

    A: The sun is the ultimate source of energy in most terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The major exceptions are deep sea communities that depend on heat from hydrothermal vents as well as lithotrophic archaebacteria that derive energy directly from rocks.
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  • What Does the "Green Revolution" Mean?

    Q: What Does the "Green Revolution" Mean?

    A: The Green Revolution refers to a movement started in Mexico in the 1940s whereby agricultural practices and technology created higher crop yields, according to About.com. Dr. Norman Borlaug is credited with starting the Green Revolution when his work with higher-yield wheat combined with new farming technology led to better overall agricultural processes throughout the world.
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  • How Do Forest Fires Affect the Environment?

    Q: How Do Forest Fires Affect the Environment?

    A: According to the U.S. Forest Service, forest fires have a damaging effect on the environment, but they also cause a resurgence of nutrients in the areas they burn. Although fire can tear down acres and acres of trees, it can also enrich the soil to let new vegetation grow.
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  • What Are the Types and Functions of Primary Rain Forest Consumers?

    Q: What Are the Types and Functions of Primary Rain Forest Consumers?

    A: In the rain forest, primary consumers are generally the smallest on the food chain and include insects and small mammals, such as chipmunks, mice and squirrels. Primary consumers are found in terrestrial areas and in aquatic habitats, and they are generally located on the forest floor or in low levels of the canopy. In rivers, streams and other bodies of water running through the rain forest, primary consumers include fish such as salmon that feed on water organisms and insects.
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  • How Do Homologous Structures Support Evolution?

    Q: How Do Homologous Structures Support Evolution?

    A: Homologous structures, such as the fins of whales and the hands of monkeys, demonstrate that while a species may use structures for different purposes, the species shared a common ancestor. By definition, homologous structures refer to those that were derived from ancestrally similar structures. The natural world is full of examples of homologous structures, which the theory of natural selection predicts should be the case.
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