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New for 2010 - Topic Outline

The following outline of major topics serves to describe the scope of the AP Environ-
mental Science course and exam . The order of topics in the outline holds no
significance, since there are many different sequences in which the topics can be
appropriately addressed in the course . The percentage after each major topic
shows the approximate proportion of multiple-choice questions on the exam that
pertain to that heading; thus, the percentage also indicates the relative emphasis that
should be placed on the topics in the course .

I. Earth Systems and Resources (10–15%)

A . Earth Science Concepts
(Geologic time scale; plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism; seasons; solar
intensity and latitude)

B . The Atmosphere
(Composition; structure; weather and climate; atmospheric circulation and
the Coriolis Effect; atmosphere–ocean interactions; ENSO)

C . Global Water Resources and Use
(Freshwater/saltwater; ocean circulation; agricultural, industrial, and domestic
use; surface and groundwater issues; global problems; conservation)

D . Soil and Soil Dynamics
(Rock cycle; formation; composition; physical and chemical properties; main
soil types; erosion and other soil problems; soil conservation)

II. The Living World (10–15%)

A . Ecosystem Structure
(Biological populations and communities; ecological niches; interactions
among species; keystone species; species diversity and edge effects; major
terrestrial and aquatic biomes)

B . Energy Flow
(Photosynthesis and cellular respiration; food webs and trophic levels;
ecological pyramids)

C . Ecosystem Diversity
(Biodiversity; natural selection; evolution; ecosystem services)

D . Natural Ecosystem Change
(Climate shifts; species movement; ecological succession)

E . Natural Biogeochemical Cycles
(Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, water, conservation of matter)

III. Population (10–15%)

A . Population Biology Concepts
(Population ecology; carrying capacity; reproductive strategies; survivorship)

B . Human Population

1 . Human population dynamics
(Historical population sizes; distribution; fertility rates; growth rates and
doubling times; demographic transition; age-structure diagrams)

2 . Population size
(Strategies for sustainability; case studies; national policies)

3 . Impacts of population growth
(Hunger; disease; economic effects; resource use; habitat destruction)

IV. Land and Water Use (10–15%)

A . Agriculture

1 . Feeding a growing population
(Human nutritional requirements; types of agriculture; Green Revolution;
genetic engineering and crop production; deforestation; irrigation;
sustainable agriculture)

2 . Controlling pests
(Types of pesticides; costs and benefits of pesticide use; integrated pest
management; relevant laws)

B . Forestry
(Tree plantations; old growth forests; forest fires; forest management;
national forests)

C . Rangelands
(Overgrazing; deforestation; desertification; rangeland management; federal

D . Other Land Use
1 . Urban land development
(Planned development; suburban sprawl; urbanization)

2 . Transportation infrastructure
(Federal highway system; canals and channels; roadless areas; ecosystem

3 . Public and federal lands
(Management; wilderness areas; national parks; wildlife refuges; forests;

4 . Land conservation options
(Preservation; remediation; mitigation; restoration)

5 . Sustainable land-use strategies

E . Mining
(Mineral formation; extraction; global reserves; relevant laws and treaties)

F . Fishing
(Fishing techniques; overfishing; aquaculture; relevant laws and treaties)

G . Global Economics
(Globalization; World Bank; Tragedy of the Commons; relevant laws and

V. Energy Resources and Consumption (10–15%)

A . Energy Concepts
(Energy forms; power; units; conversions; Laws of Thermodynamics)

B . Energy Consumption
1 . History
(Industrial Revolution; exponential growth; energy crisis)
2 . Present global energy use
3 . Future energy needs

C . Fossil Fuel Resources and Use
(Formation of coal, oil, and natural gas; extraction/purification methods;
world reserves and global demand; synfuels; environmental advantages/
disadvantages of sources)

D . Nuclear Energy
(Nuclear fission process; nuclear fuel; electricity production; nuclear reactor
types; environmental advantages/disadvantages; safety issues; radiation and
human health; radioactive wastes; nuclear fusion)

E . Hydroelectric Power
(Dams; flood control; salmon; silting; other impacts)

F . Energy Conservation
(Energy efficiency; CAFE standards; hybrid electric vehicles; mass transit)

G . Renewable Energy
(Solar energy; solar electricity; hydrogen fuel cells; biomass; wind energy;
small-scale hydroelectric; ocean waves and tidal energy; geothermal;
environmental advantages/disadvantages)

VI. Pollution (25–30%)

A . Pollution Types
1 . Air pollution
(Sources—primary and secondary; major air pollutants; measurement
units; smog; acid deposition—causes and effects; heat islands and
temperature inversions; indoor air pollution; remediation and reduction
strategies; Clean Air Act and other relevant laws)
2 . Noise pollution
(Sources; effects; control measures)
3 . Water pollution
(Types; sources, causes, and effects; cultural eutrophication; ground-
water pollution; maintaining water quality; water purification; sewage
treatment/septic systems; Clean Water Act and other relevant laws)

4 . Solid waste
(Types; disposal; reduction)

B . Impacts on the Environment and Human Health
1 . Hazards to human health
(Environmental risk analysis; acute and chronic effects; dose-response
relationships; air pollutants; smoking and other risks)
2 . Hazardous chemicals in the environment
(Types of hazardous waste; treatment/disposal of hazardous waste;
cleanup of contaminated sites; biomagnification; relevant laws)

C . Economic Impacts
(Cost-benefit analysis; externalities; marginal costs; sustainability)

VII. Global Change (10–15%)

A . Stratospheric Ozone
(Formation of stratospheric ozone; ultraviolet radiation; causes of ozone
depletion; effects of ozone depletion; strategies for reducing ozone
depletion; relevant laws and treaties)

B . Global Warming
(Greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect; impacts and consequences of
global warming; reducing climate change; relevant laws and treaties)

C . Loss of Biodiversity
1 . Habitat loss; overuse; pollution; introduced species; endangered and
extinct species
2 . Maintenance through conservation
3 . Relevant laws and treaties