Nats 1840 – Course Review Studying

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NATS 1840 – Course Review

Use the lecture summaries to get the basic important ideas

Look for lists of multiple points that can be the basis of a good short answer or multiple choice questions
Broad themes of the course:

1) The contributions of science and technology to environmental knowledge (science tells us how we impact the environment) and environmental harm (through industry, processes and products, scope and scale of impact increased due to science). [German forestry, Canadian aerial surveying, US electrical and chemical industry, Canadian rubber industry]

2) The economic dimension of environmental issues, and how scientific management of the natural world has been co-opted by industry and frequently led to disaster. (German and Canadian forestry, Indian water management, pesticides)

3) All technologies have some environmental cost (Canadian hydro dams, nuclear)

4) Human activity in the environment has led to damage at all levels of technological development. (large mammal extinctions, Dutch hydraulic engineering, Canadian dams)

5) Water management has been key to the political and economic development of many civilizations, right up to present day. (Chinese, Dutch, Indian and Canadian hydrological engineering)

6) Scientific advances allowed the exploitation of the New World by European powers through the development of astronomy and navigation. (Spanish colonization)

7) Commerce has contributed to scientific knowledge in the form of experience of objects and in the demand for improved processes and products (European colonization of new world)

8) Global trade had existed since at least the 15th century, and it has driven demand for natural products that has led to monopolies, wars, slavery and environmental degradation. (Fur trade, sugar trade, timber trade)

9) There have been many periods of population expansion, in the ancient civilizations thanks to hydrological engineering, in the Medieval period due to innovations in farming (equipment, horses), in early modern period thanks to cash crops and colonization, and in the 19th and 20th century thanks to medicine and mass production of food (pesticides, fertilizers) Population expansion increases environmental impacts.

10) Social fixes and technological fixes are different, most solutions have a mix of both, and they are difficult for different reasons. (electric automobiles, Indian canals, French nuclear reactors)

11) Both the state and the private sector have mismanaged the environment, but the state appears to have a greater interest in long term planning and conservation.(French nuclear reactors, Canadian aerial surveying)

12) Turning nature into a commercial resource has proven difficult and has led to environmental problems (Indian water management, Canadian forestry, Canadian aerial surveying, pesticides)

13) Some environmental problems are cumulative, e.g. individual cars are a limited problem, multiple mass produced cars are more of a problem (automobile, diesel engines)

14) Science and industry come together to give certain technologies advantages, these technologies may or may not be environmentally beneficial, and their capital intensity and ability to generate profits can lead to their entrenchment (internal combustion, nuclear)

15) Modern agriculture is large scale, uses chemicals and technology to magnify productivity, and favors monocultures with less biodiversity (pesticides)

16) Animals can be natural resources just like plants and minerals (Canadian beaver trade)

17) The value of natural resources is linked to consumer preferences and tastes (Canadian beaver trade, sugar and spices)

18) Natural resource extraction involves technology transfer, and has impacts on indigenous populations in colonial times (Canadian beaver trade)

19) Economic growth in colonizing nations led to massive resource extraction in colonized nations. (Canadian timber, Canadian beaver trade, Canadian aerial surveying)

20) Natural resources became fiscal tools for the state (timber, water)

21) Science and technology can be used to aid in the extraction of resources that could not be otherwise removed. (European colonization of the new world, Canadian aerial surveying)

22) Some things have relative value, they are valuable in that they can be used for other purposes, other things have inherent value, they are valuable in and of themselves (wood as building materials, biodiversity)

23) Environmental conservation has been commodified through its link to tourism (Automobile tourism)

24) Transportation technologies have magnified our ability to move goods to a massive scale, which has significantly impacted the environment (gas turbines and diesel engines)

25) Our scientific understanding of the environment is complex, uncertain and negotiated amongst professionals, leading to public questioning of scientific authority in certain cases. (Global warming)

Sample Questions
Multiple Choice

It has been argued that the psychological impact of guns was a significant factor in the European colonization of the new world. Why is this view in question:

a) because natives were not scared of the guns when they were first used

b) because guns weren't invented until a century later

c) because natives already had guns of their own

d) because natives later adotped guns themselves

e) because native weapons were deadlier
Short Answer

Give three examples of industries that benefited from the input of scientific research, and give details about one of them.

The lighting industry benefited from research into electromagnetic theory (e.g. lightbulb), the power-production industry benefited from research into atomic theory (e.g. nuclear power), and the automobile industry benefited from chemical research into fuels (gasoline) for the internal combustion engine. Gasoline has a low flash-point and a high temperature of combustion, which makes it dangerous to handle, and it was originally a waste product of oil refining that was dumped in rivers, streams, lakes and swamps to avoid accidental ignition. Fuel impurities made gasoline an unreliable fuel until the chemical industry, in an attempt to replace the market lost to electric lighting, made improvements in gasoline that increased its efficiency.

Essay questions are based on broad themes and repeating patterns in the course, not on specifics. Thus the goal is to find the larger issue behind the question. Giving details is important but not the main focus of the question. I'm looking for evidence that you have thought about the issues we have discussed in the course. Feel free to bring in ideas and information you used in your papers, as long as they are relevant to the question at hand. Essay responses require a thesis of some sort that addresses the question at hand. Each answer can be graded according to a four part scheme, each part worth 5 marks, for a total of 20:

Argument – Does the answer have an argument, is it coherent, does the student contradict themselves, does the argument make sense?
Thesis – Does the answer have a thesis, does it address the question, do they stick to the thesis, does the thesis relate to the discussion in the essay?
Evidence – Does the student use examples from the class (they are free to use examples from their research as well, even if the question asks for examples from class, as long as it is relevant to the question), does the student demonstrate an understanding of the evidence, is the evidence relevant, is there enough evidence to support their claim.
Clarity – Does the essay make sense, is the text comprehensible, are there passages that are hard to understand?
Generally, 5/5 is excellent, 4/5 is good, 3/5 is average, 2/5 is insufficient, 1/5 is very bad.
For each question there is a list of materials from class that I think bear on the question and that I would expect to see in the response. All of them don’t have to be there, but some of them do. In general, there is usually one main point that I want to see represented in the answer, even if they ultimately disagree with that point.
In the 19th century science began to make significant contributions to industry. Discuss how these contributions changed the scale and scope of production, and whether or not science has a special responsibility for the environmental harm caused by industry.

    • Science was used to add new processes and new products to industry. The scale of industry was changed when new processes allowed either larger batch production or mass production.

    • With respect to processes, for example, increasing the temperature and pressure of cracking methods for complex hydrocarbons allowed the creation of gasoline on a large scale.

    • The scope of industry was enlarged when science allowed the creation of new products, for example plastics, which led to a whole new range of goods. In class we discussed the electrical industry (lightbulbs, nuclear reactors), the chemical industry (gasoline, pharmaceuticals, pesticides), the nuclear industry, the rubber industry and the automobile industry.

    • The main point I want to see here with respect to the responsibility of science for environmental harm is some discussion of whether or not the increase in scale and scope of industry is the key contributor to environmental harm.

    • I have used the term “special responsibility”, which is deliberately vague, as I want the students to be creative with this

    • Scientists have a conflict, they don’t control what they make, but without making it there wouldn’t be many of the environmental problems we have.

    • They have to address this conflict; I don’t particularly care where they come down on the issue, as long as they demonstrate that they have thought about it and understood the issues at stake.

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