This article examines the idea that managing the Earth’s complex systems and their dynamics is the next great challenge for the engineering profession. The effects that human engineering has on the environment, whether intentional or not, must be taken into account on a global scale. Earth systems engineering is meant to do so by augmenting existing engineering disciplines by coupling the functionality of systems with the active management of the dynamics of fundamental natural and human systems. The article places the idea of earth system engineering into historical and global perspective.
When populations of harvestable fish start to decline, managers look for explanations of the changes throughout the Earth system. In this activity, the impact of global climate change on marine and Great Lakes fish is considered. First, decline in the striped bass population of the North Atlantic, noted in the Downeaster Alexa song by Billy Joel, is examined with spreadsheet analysis and on-line searches of National Marine Fisheries Service databases.
This resource provides an overview of the concept of global warming, which is thought to be due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, which are largely a result of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. It explores the possibility that the impacts of global warming may include desertification and the destruction of other ecosystems, extreme weather conditions, and a danger to agriculture.
Earth is a complex, evolving body characterized by ceaseless change. To understand Earth on a global scale means using a scientific approach to consider how Earth’s component parts and their interactions have evolved, how they function, and how they may be expected to further evolve over time. This video points out the complex interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land, and helps explain why understanding Earth as an integrated system of components and processes is essential to science education. The segment is five minutes thirty-one seconds in length.
The issue-focused, peer-reviewed article alerts readers to how rising population growth can lessen our quality of life because it: destroys resources, such as water and forests, needed to sustain us, slows the dynamics of a healthy economy, and decreases the level of biodiversity upon which we depend.
This resource provides an overview of the concept of climate, which may be defined as a composite of the long-term prevailing weather that occurs at a given location. The causes of different climates, such as latitude, global circulation, air masses, pressure patterns, prevailing winds, wind belts, and climate belts are discussed, along with other modifying factors such as oceans and ocean currents, mountains, and monsoons. Tropical, temperate, and polar climates are described as are continental and maritime climates and special climates like Mediterranean, desert, and savannah.