Chapter 6: Section 4 - Environmental Impacts and Energy Consumption

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In this section you will find materials that support the implementation of EarthComm, Section 4: Environmental Impacts and Energy Consumption.

Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze and interpret data on a map to explain patterns in the acidity of rainfall across the United States.
  • Carry out an investigation of the ability of different rock types to neutralize acid rain.
  • Analyze data to determine the extent of oil spilled accidentally into the environment.
  • Obtain and evaluate information about the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels to produce energy.

Inquiring Further

  1. To learn more about the methods used to clean up oil spills, visit the following web sites:

    Oil Spill Response Techniques, EPA
    Examines techniques for controlling oil spills and minimizing their impacts.

    How do Spills Happen?, NOAA
    Describes the kinds of tools that can be used to clean up spilled oil.
  2. To learn more about acid rain and acid mine drainage, visit the following web sites:

    Acid Rain and Ground Water pH, American Ground Water Trust  
    Examines the effects of acid rain on ground water.

    Acid Mine Drainage, Maryland Department of the Environment
    Looks at the consequences of acid mine drainage and treatment systems that can be put in place.

    Acid Mine Drainage, Virginia Tech
    Examines the causes and effects of acid mine drainage as well as methods for treating acid mine drainage.


To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

Fossil Fuels and the Carbon Cycle:

Global Carbon, Woods Hole Research Center
Reviews the basics of the global carbon cycle and how fossil fuels are linked to the cycle.

Climate Change, NASA
Explains climate change, which has been linked to emissions of greenhouse gases (including CO2).

Greenhouse Gas Emissions, EPA
Explains what greenhouse gases are and how the greenhouse effect works.

Coal and Acid Rain

USGS Tracks Acid Rain, USGS
Defines acid rain and explains how acid rain forms and what impact it has on the environment.

Acid Rain, EPA
Looks at the causes, effects, and efforts to reduce acid rain.

Oil Spills and the Environment

Effects of Oil on Wildlife and Habitat, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Examines some of the ways that oil spills affect wildlife and their habitats.

Effects of Oil Pollution on Marine Wildlife, EPA
Considers the environmental impacts of spilled oil on coastal habitats.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Energy Resources

Coal Resources in Environmentally-sensitive Lands Under Federal Management, USGS
Presents estimates of coal-bearing acreage and coal tonnage in environmentally-sensitive areas and explains how these areas are dealt with.

Coal-Bed Methane: Potential and Concerns, USGS
Reviews the potential use of methane as an energy source, as well as some of the problems associated with its use.