AP Enviro Chap. 1 Vocab

biodegradable pollutants

harmful materials that can be broken down by natural processes.


the management of natural resources with the goal of minimizing resource waste and sustaining resource supplies for current and future generations.


the whole of a society's knowledge, beliefs, technology, and practices, and human cultural changes have had profound effects on the earth.

developed countries

(with 1.2 billion people) include the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and most countries of Europe.

developing countries

All other nations (with 5.5 billion people) are classified as developing countries, most of them in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

ecological footprint

he amount of biologically productive land and water needed to supply the people in a particular country or area with resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by such resource use.


A key subfield of environmental science is ecology, the biological science that studies how organisms, or living things, interact with their environment and with each other.

economic development

has the goal of using economic growth to improve living standards.


a set of organisms interacting with one another and with their environment of nonliving matter and energy within a defined area or volume.


everything around us. It includes all of the living and the nonliving things with which we interact. And it includes a complex web of relationships that connect us with one another and with the world we live in.

environmental degradation

When we exceed a renewable resource's natural replacement rate, the available supply begins to shrink

environmental ethics

our beliefs about what is right and wrong with how we treat the environment.

environmental science

an interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with the environment of living and nonliving things.

environmental wisdom worldview

holds that we are part of, and totally dependent on, nature and that nature exists for all species, not just for us.

environmental worldview

a set of assumptions and values reflecting how you think the world works and what you think your role in the world should be.

environmental, or sustainability, revolution

Many environmental scientists and other analysts call for us to bring about a new environmental, or sustainability, revolution during this century. It would involve learning how to reduce our ecological footprints and live more sustainability.


a social movement dedicated to protecting the earth's life-support systems for us and all other forms of life.

environmentally sustainable economic development

This involves using political and economic systems to discourage environmentally harmful and unsustainable forms of economic growth that degrade natural capital, and to encourage environmentally beneficial and sustainable forms of economic development tha

environmentally sustainable society

one that meets the current and future basic resource needs of its people in a just and equitable manner without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs.

exponential growth

a quantity increases at a fixed percentage per unit of time, such as 2% per year. Exponential growth is deceptive. It starts off slowly, but after only a few doublings, it grows to enormous numbers because each doubling is more than the total of all earli

gross domestic product (GDP)

the annual market value of all goods and services produced by all firms and organizations, foreign and domestic, operating within a country.

natural capital

the natural resources and natural services that keep us and other forms of life alive and support our economies

natural income

the renewable resources such as plants, animals, and soil provided by natural capital.

natural resources

materials and energy in nature that are essential or useful to humans.

natural services

functions of nature, such as purification of air and water, which support life and human economies.

nondegradable pollutants

harmful materials that natural processes cannot break down.

nonpoint sources

dispersed and often difficult to identify.

nonrenewable resources

exist in a fixed quantity, or stock, in the earth's crust.

nutrient cycling

the circulation of chemicals necessary for life, from the environment (mostly from soil and water) through organisms and back to the environment


living things

per capita ecological footprint

the average ecological footprint of an individual in a given country or area.

per capita GDP

the GDP divided by the total population at midyear.

per capita GDP PPP

a measure of the amount of goods and services that a country's average citizen could buy

perpetual resource

Solar energy is called a perpetual resource because it is renewed continuously and is expected to last at least 6 billion years as the sun completes its life cycle.

planetary management worldview

holds that we are separate from nature, that nature exists mainly to meet our needs and increasing wants, and that we can use our ingenuity and technology to manage the earth's life-support systems, mostly for our benefit, indefinitely.

point sources

The pollutants we produce come from two types of sources. Point sources are single, identifiable sources.


any in the environment that is harmful to the health, survival, or activities of humans or other organisms.

pollution cleanup, or output pollution control

involves cleaning up or diluting pollutants after they have been produced.

pollution prevention, or input pollution control

reduces or eliminates the production of pollutants.


occurs when people are unable to meet their basic needs for adequate food, water, shelter, health, and education.


involves collecting waste materials and processing them into new materials.

renewable resource

On a human time scale, a renewable resource can be replenished fairly quickly (from hours to hundreds of years) through natural processes as long as it is not used up faster than it is renewed.


anything obtained from the environment to meet our needs and wants.


is using a resource over and over in the same form.

social capital

Making the shift to more sustainable societies and economies involves building what sociologists call social capital.

solar capital

Natural capital is supported by solar capital: energy from the sun.


a group of organisms with distinctive traits and, for sexually reproducing organisms, can mate and produce fertile offspring.

stewardship worldview

holds that we can and should manage the earth for our benefit, but that we have an ethical responsibility to be caring and responsible managers, or stewards, of the earth.


the ability of the earth's various natural systems and human cultural systems and economies to survive and adapt to changing environmental conditions indefinitely.

sustainable yield

The highest rate at which a renewable resource can be used indefinitely without reducing its available supply is called its sustainable yield.