Humans and the Environment

placer mining
miners sift through material in modern or ancient riverbed deposits. using running water to separate minerals of value.

washes large amounts of debris into streams making in uninhabitable for for fish and other life for miles downstream. erosion in riparian zone

Mountain top mining

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whole mountain top is blasted off while waste is dumped into valleys.

degrades or destroys immense areas of habitat and pollutants or clogs streams and rivers. erosion intensifies, causing more mudslides

Undersea Mining

vacume up sand and gravel with hydraulic dredges

really hard to do so doesnt have much impact but would destroy benthic region

Mine restoration
not very effective because of acid drainage and soil erosion are severe and long lasting and do not regain natural biotic communities.

1872 Mining Law

encourages prospecting for minerals on federal land minerals extracted require no payment to the public
process ore to get metals out

make steel by adding carbon to iron by smelting

most methods are water and engery intensive, emit air pollution soil and water can be polluted by the leftover ore which may have heavy metals and chemicals present

Fossil fuels

highly combustible substances formed from the remains of or organisms from past geological ages

oil coal and natural gas

fossil fuels are produced
only in anaerobic conditions with little or no oxygen environments such as bottoms of lakes swamps and shallow streams.
coal:hard blackish substance from organic matter that teh was compressed under high pressure most fossil fuel from 300-400 million years ago when the world was mostly swamps

peat:organic material that is near the surface still and wet.

mined:strip mining and subsurface mining

provides:over half electricity for us and china

Natural Gas

biogenic gas:created at shallow depths by bacteria

thermogennic:from compression and heat deep in the earth

cleaner then coal, mostly thermo is what we use, found along with oil and coal deposits.

gets harder over time, mostly used up easy fields now frackign is how its done

crude oil: drill to extract it

40 more years

peak oil and then the decline

oil sands or tar sands

has 1-20% oil

strip mined

oil shale

sedimentary rock w kerogen strip mined and subsurface mined.

40% global reserves is in US

methane hydrates
seafloor sediment icelike solids that has methane imbeded in water molecules
impacts of fossil fuel use

pollute air and drive climate change

contaminate groundwater and alters environments

dependance on foreign oil

Nuclear energy
energy that holds together protons and neutrons with the nucleus of and atom.
nuclear fission

reaction that drives the realease of nuclear energy by splitting apart of atomic nuclei

was we harness nuclear energy and turn it into thermal energy which we use to produce electricity


no greenhouse gases

less air pollution then fossil fuels

less ecosystem disturbance from mining

less accidnets from mining


radioactive emissions and waste

meltdowns are catisrophic

top producers of oil

Saudi Arabia





natural gas producers and consumers
coal producers adn consumers
nevada energy

powerplants:Valmy, Tracy and fort churchill produce 43% of NV energy

rest is imported

Biomass energy


converting biomass to biomass energy

examples are wood from tree cow poop

Two liquid kinds

ethanal:for gas engines

Biodiesal:deisal engines

cofireing:add biomass to coal burnign plants

hydroelectric power


use of kinetic energy of movign water to turn turbines and generate electricity

dams: resevoir water stored and turns turnbines

Solar energy

passive: capture of sunlight to heat something

active:technological devices focus move or store solar energy

photovoltaic:electrons move from phosphorus side of silcon plate to boron side. creatign an electric current

good because it is renewable

bad because not everywhere is sunny and its expensive to startup

Wind energy

wind turbines harness wind kenitic energy

pros:renewable no emissions local low cost

cons:wind varies, far from pops means power lines, ugly, blades chop up critters, high start up cost


readioactive decay of elements deep in earth core creates heat that rises toward the surface.

very localised.

Ocean energy sources

kinetic engergy from motion of ocean water to generate electrical power.

thermal energy from warm ocean water

Ocean energy sources

kinetic engergy from motion of ocean water to generate electrical power.

thermal energy from warm ocean water