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Earth Science An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth ­ Study Questions Answer these questions. Answer them in complete sentences. Our plan is for you to drill this material into your mind. Repetition, repetition, repetition...that is the key to learning. Your answers should contain not only the answer, but also the question. User proper grammar and correct spelling. 1 On Christmas Eve, 1968, at a family gathering, I remember sitting around the electric television and listening to the news coverage of the latest NASA mission to the moon. Just prior to that broadcast, astronaut William Anders was the first human to take a picture of Earth rising above the lunar horizon. You have probably never seen that picture. It was in black and white and has not been widely distributed. He then took a picture on color film that you have seen. The first Earth Day was held less than two years later. Interestingly, the first Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. What image started the modern day environmental movement? 2 One model of Earth has it consisting of four (4) spheres: atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Which of these is considered the most vulnerable part of the Earth system? 3 Our planet is about 8,000 miles in diameter. Since 1 kilometer is about 0.6 miles, that works out to be about 14,000 km. Earth is a pretty good sized thing. For its size, Earth is also pretty flat. It doesn't seem so to use, but it really is. If our planet was shrunk down to the size of a billiard ball, Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth at 29,035 feet, would be a whopping 0.0001 inch high. Billiard balls can not be made so smooth. Relatively speaking, compared to Earth, how thick is the atmosphere? 4 Short wavelength electromagnetic radiation (that is a fancy way to say light) from the sun passes easily through Earth's atmosphere. It will hit the surface, and cause it to heat up. This heat is radiated from the surface as infrared radiation (that is a fancy name for heat.) Ideally, most of that infrared radiation will pass through Earth's atmosphere and escape to space. The infrared that does not escape does wonderful things. How can trapping infrared radiation by Earth's atmosphere be a good thing? 5 As the carbon dioxide CO2 level in Earth's atmosphere increases, more and more of that infrared radiation is trapped. How can trapping infrared radiation by Earth's atmosphere be a bad thing?

©2007 THEDiWiDi Institute

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Earth Science An Inconvenient Truth

6 This is an actual graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide vs time. Redraw this graph on your answer sheet.

What is happening to the concentration of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere? 7 Water is essential to human life. A person might be able to live for a month with no food. Without water a person will expire in about a week. Access to clean water is a major concern for many people. In some Third World nations it is not unusual for children to spend most of their day transporting water from a well to their home. Because of the salt that it contains, sea water cannot be used for human consumption without expensive treatment. Melting ice and snow provide water that is very clean, until we manage to pollute it. What percentage of people depend upon glacial melt for their drinking water? 8 When snow falls, compacts, and refreezes to form glacial ice, it traps some of the atmosphere in the ice. Under the proper conditions, it is possible to obtain samples of glacial ice and then study those bubbles of trapped atmosphere. It is also possible to study other things. For instance, we can look at the pollen that was in the air when the ice was formed, giving us an idea of the plant life. More recently we can track the spread of things like airborne particulates (soot) and the spread of herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals. But back to global warming: why is studying ice cores important?

©2007 THEDiWiDi Institute

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Earth Science An Inconvenient Truth

9 When reproduced in black and white, this graph will be hard to read. But there are two lines on it. One represents CO2 concentration, the other the temperature in Antarctica. That they parallel each other is what interests us here. What is the relationship between carbon dioxide and atmospheric temperature?

10 This graph is interesting.

Over what time period have the hottest 10 years on Earth occurred? 11 One of the "interesting" things that is happening as a result of global warming, is that the surface water in the Caribbean Sea is becoming warming. This also

©2007 THEDiWiDi Institute

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Earth Science An Inconvenient Truth

happens to be a place passed over by many hurricanes. As the water temperature under a hurricane increases, what happens to the wind velocity of the storm? 12 What has happened to Lake Chad over the years?

13 The amount of sunlight that is reflected from a planet's surface is called the albedo. Obviously, different surfaces will reflect different amounts of sunlight. A recently ploughed field, that is very dark, will not reflect nearly as much as an area covered by sand. How much of the sun's radiation gets reflected by ice? How does this compare to the amount reflected by open ocean?

14 Most solar heat hits Earth in the equatorial regions. By golly, this is why the equatorial regions have tropical weather. It does not stay there. It works its way around the world. This is a good thing for the people of England and Western Europe. Without the heat that is brought north, Western Europe would be pretty much indistinguishable from Siberia. If that had been the case for the last 10,000 years, the history of Western Civilization would have a different plot. What redistributes energy from the equator to the north and south poles? 15 About 40% of humanity lives within 100 km (60 miles) of an ocean or estuary. It is probably important to remember that people also tend to live near where their food comes from. Well most people do. Not everybody is affluent enough to be able to import ingredients for dog food from China. But let us not digress. Earth's human population is a bit over 6,500,000,000. How many people live within a day's walk of an ocean or estuary? If the ice sheets of Western Antarctica were to melt, approximately how much would sea level rise? Think about this.

©2007 THEDiWiDi Institute

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Earth Science An Inconvenient Truth

16 Mr. Gore gave you three factors that he feels are responsible for the collision between civilization and Earth. List them. 17 Forests burn all of the time. Some of those fires are caused by humans who are burning the forests to clear land to produce crops. Some are burning because the land is just too dry. Approximately, what percentage of global carbon dioxide emissions comes from forest fires? 18 What country is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere?

19 Which country has the lowest government standards for gas mileage of automobiles?

20 Which two nations have not signed the Kyoto Protocol?

©2007 THEDiWiDi Institute

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