**Guidelines for teacher-led discussion after carouseling activity**
Fossil Fuels are hydrocarbons (composed of hydrogen and carbon) formed from the remains of dead plants, animals and other, simpler, life forms. Specific fossil fuels are coal, crude oil and natural gas. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide; a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Crude Oil is a fossil fuel that is 82-87% carbon and 12-15% hydrogen. It can be separated by distillation under varying temperatures to form gasoline, kerosene, flight fuel, heating oil, etc. It is mostly made from phytoplankton (free floating) photosynthesizing single cell creatures such as diatoms and blue green algae as well as zooplankton (free floating) animals and single cell animal-like creatures. Oil is hydrophobic meaning it is not soluble in water. Oil is less dense than water so it floats.
Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. It can also be defined as the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its' physiological processes. The ability of a system or organism to maintain optimal conditions that promotes its survival.
Marine Biomes cover 3/4 of the earth's surface. This includes oceans, coral reefs, and estuaries. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have adapted to the small differences in climate and the environment inside the biome.
All living things are closely related to their environment. Any change in one part of an environment, like an increase or decrease of a species of animal or plant, causes a ripple effect of change in through other parts of the environment.
Large or small, simple or complex, no organism lives alone. Each depends in some way on other living and nonliving things in its surrounding.
ENVIRONMENTAL & ECONOMIC IMPACT OF OIL SPILLS
Environmental impacts can be devastating and long lasting. Oil can be toxic and result in the death of many sea creatures and water birds. It can kill plankton and contaminate human food sources. Loss of eggs and larvae will cause declines in adult populations.
Studies are still underway. A new study was released on August 1, 2012 that indicates dispersants used in the BP oil leak killed plankton and may have disrupted the food chain in the gulf. Complete results won't be apparent for years.
We know that the Exxon Valdez oil spill off of Alaska in 1989 continues to have a negative impact on the environment.
Economic impact can be extreme as well. Recreational activities such as sun bathing, swimming, boating, angling and diving will be disturbed. Hotels, restaurants and businesses that engage in the tourist trade may be forced to close. Fishermen may be out of work and food sources may decline. Power stations that use sea water and desalination plants will not function.
The cost of clean-up can run into the billions and there is a domino effect of unemployment in the affected area.
ROLE OF EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 due to rising concern about pollution. The first Earth Day was held in 1970 and resulted in an outpouring of public support that the government could no longer deny. The mission of the agency is to protect human health and the environment.
The agency sets levels of allowable pollution to our air, water and land. They enforce their policies by levying fines or initiating criminal prosecution that could result in imprisonment.
The current priorities of the EPA are as follows:
- Taking Action on Climate Change
- Improving Air Quality
- Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
- Cleaning up our Communities
- Protecting America's Waters
- Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and work for Environmental Justice
- Building Strong State and Tribal Partnership
(Optional background article - "BP oil spill dispersants may have hurt Gulf of Mexico food chain, study finds")
Available at: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2012/07/bp_oil_spill_dispersants_may_h.html
SC.4.E.6.3 : Recognize that humans need resources found on Earth and that these are either renewable or nonrenewable.
SC.4.L.17.2 : Explain that animals, including humans, cannot make their own food and that when animals eat plants or other animals, the energy stored in the food is passed to them.
SC.4.L.17.3 : Trace the flow of energy from the Sun as it is transferred along the food chain through the producers to the consumers.
SC.4.L.17.4 : Recognize ways plants and animals, including humans, can impact the environment.
SC.4.P.12.2 : Investigate and describe that the speed of an object is determined by the distance it travels in a unit of time and that objects can move at different speeds.
SC.5.P.8.2 : Investigate and identify materials that will dissolve in water and those that will not and identity the conditions that will speed up or slow down the dissolving process.
SC.7.E.6.6 : Identify the impact that humans have had on Earth, such as deforestation, urbanization, desertification, erosion, air and water quality, changing the flow of water.