Environmental education

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Major Topics

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What should be covered? An overview of major topics, units, understandings, and subject matter to be covered.

(1) Earth as a planet; Thin superficial films of atmosphere and seas; temperatures and pressures that permit water to exist in all three states; ecosystem services; life-support functions, density strata,

(2) Whole-systems perspectives; biogeophysiological interactions; global equilibria; natural systems and biospheric life-support machinery; feedback loops, delayed feedbacks, regulatory mechianisms, limits, thresholds, tipping points, and unintended consequences; humans in the system

(3) Populations, population growth, human populations and demographics past, present, and future; carrying cacapacities and limiting factors, ecological release; J-curves, S-curves, logistic curves, exponential, linear, arithmetic, non-linear, IPAT

(4) Environmental mathematics (core understandings only)

(5) Conservation and biodiversity, biogeography, biomes, communities, endangered species; deforestation, overexploitation, loss of habitat. ecological footprints, industrialization, wastes, degrees of sheer physical damage to and eradication of natural systems and their services

(5) Energy flow and interactions, trophic pyramids, bioaccumulation

Key Ideas and Core Understandings

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A preliminary listing of core understandings

 Interactions and Feedbacks

1. Interactions - living things can affect each other (examples thereof)

2. Interactions - The non-living environment can affect living things (and examples thereof)

3. Interactions - Living things can affect the non-living environment (examples thereof)

4. Positive of self-amplifying/self-intensifying feedbacks that magnify an existing trend

5. Negative or self-correcting feedbacks that can help maintain or regulate equilibria by counteracting existing trends

 Populations, population growth, carrying capacities, and limiting factors

1. Exponential growth, arithmetic progressions, J-curves, S-curves, logistic curves

2. Limiting factors (obvious varieties) - disease, supplies of food, water, resources, etc.

3. Limiting factors (less obvious, less intuitive) - Wastes (pollution)

4. Limiting factors (less obvious, less intuitive) - the extent of sheer physical damage to or eradication of functioning natural systems

5. Population calamities under "vast open-space" conditions

 Ecological services

1. Production of food and oxygen,

2. Removal and sequestration of CO2

3. Soil microbes and fertilization of soils,

4. Production of rain and moderation of climate,

5. Pollination of flowering plants,

6. Control of pest populations

7. Self-maintenance, perpetuation, and repair

Checklist of Core Concepts, Topics, and Data Sets

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Online Resources

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http://www.scribd.com/TheWecskaopProject (freely downloadable PowerPoint and PDF resources)