New York State Chemistry RegentsNew York State Earth Science Regents

Human Impact on the Environment
Living Environment Regents June 2010 Question 08 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 15:27
Correct Answer: (1) size of polar ice caps

Global warming refers to the phenomenon characterized by the increase in the average temperature of the earth. The primary cause of global warming is the accumulation of greenhouse gases due to human activities such as deforestation and burning of fossil fuels. The increased temperature leads to the melting of ice caps. Thus, global warming contributed to the decrease in the sizes of polar ice caps.

Incorrect Answers:

(2) temperature of Earth

When global warming occurs, the temperature of the earth increases or the surrounding becomes hotter than the usual temperature.

(3) rate of species extinction

Since there is unusually high temperature during global warming, some species cannot adapt to the change of temperature. When the species fail to thrive and all of them are wiped out, the species become extinct. This leads to the increase (not decrease) of the rate of species extinction.

(4) rate of carbon dioxide production

The increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a consequence of combustion of fossil fuels and burning large quantities of wood. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes interception and absorption of the reflected infrared radiation, rereflecting it back to the Earth. Thus, solar heat is retained inside the Earth's surface and atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect.

Living Environment Regents June 2010 Question 26 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 15:49
Correct answer: (3) cutting down all trees for lumber

Cutting down all trees would instantly cause rainforest instability. Trees serve as habitat for wildlife so when trees are gone, wildlife would also be in danger. Shade-loving plants are found under the canopy of the trees because they require only minimum sunlight. When the trees are cut down, these plants would be at risk because they would be exposed to direct sunlight, which may cause dehydration and lead to death. When the trees are gone, the topsoil will also be exposed to erosion.

Incorrect answers:

(1) removing one species of plant for medicine

Rain forests are characterized by high species diversity, meaning there are numerous kinds of species found there. When only one species is completely gone, this will have a little effect on rain forest stability because other species with the same niche is available.

(2) harvesting nuts from some trees

Nuts are hard-shelled fruits of trees. A fruit tree produces fruits more than once, thus it will continue to spread its seeds through the fruits. Also, there are other trees with unharvested seeds, which will become plants in the future once they fall on the ground and get nourished.

(4) powering all homes with wind energy

Energy from the wind is transformed into power through the use of wind turbines. Thus, rain forests are not directly affected when all homes use wind power.
Living Environment Regents June 2010 Question 27 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 15:51
Correct answer: (2) use resources that are renewable

Renewable resources refer to the natural resources that replenish faster than humans consume them. Thus, almost all natural resources can be considered as renewable as long as humans find ways to replace them faster than the rate of consumption. These resources can be replaced through time or through natural resources. On the other hand, non-renewable resources are those resources that needs ample amount of time before it can be replenished in the environment. Examples of these are fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The use of renewable resources in place of nonrenewable resources could have a great impact on the environment. A good example of this is the use of biofuels as substitute for nonrenewable fuel sources used for transportation. Biofuels can be produced from plants and algae, which are renewable resources of energy.

Incorrect answers:

(1) generate waste products as a result of technological advances

The primary problem about waste products from technology is its disposal. If technology products are not properly disposed, it could cause harm to the environment. For instance, waste from commercial chemical processes could have toxins that can go to the water system and affect aquatic life.

(3) increase planting large areas of one crop

Increasing the areas planted to only one crop could lead to depletion of specific nutrients in the environment, most especially in the soil. This is the reason why multiple cropping systems are used by majority of farmers all over the world. Multiple cropping is when two or more crops are planted within a growing season. This has a lot of benefits to the environment and to the crop production as well. Through this method, the use of sunlight, water, and available nutrients is maximized. It also increases the soil fertility. For example, when a legume and a non-legume crop are planted on the same area, the legume increases the nitrogen content of the soil, and this improves the productivity of both crops.

(4) increase the use of pesticides

There have been recorded effects of pesticide on the environment, especially to non-target species. Pesticides could have toxic effects on these organisms. For instance, it has been reported that pesticide residues were stored in the animal tissues and can be passed through the food chain. The behavior, survival rate, and reproduction success of populations can also be affected by pesticides.
Living Environment Regents June 2010 Question 30 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 15:57
Correct answer: (1) high cost of solar panels, reduced fuel costs, and lower taxes

Solar panels which are arrays of photovoltaic cells that collects solar energy and convert it into renewable energy. Solar panels are more expensive that oil furnace heating system, however less fuel will be used because the energy will be coming from the sun, unlike the oil furnace heating system that needs oil to function. Since there is tax rebate, there would also be lower taxes to be paid.

Incorrect answers:

(2) low cost of solar panels, increased fuel costs, and higher taxes

Solar panels are more expensive than oil furnace heating system. The fuel costs will decrease because minimal fuel will be used to operate the solar panels. There would be fewer taxes as well because rebates can be used.

(3) increased use of fuel, more stable ecosystems, and less availability of solar radiation

Solar radiation is limited by daytime and night time. During the day, solar radiation can be harvested by the solar panels.

(4) more air pollution, increased use of solar energy, and greater production of oil

There would be less air pollution when solar panels are used because of the decrease in the use of fuels.
Living Environment Regents June 2010 Question 42 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 16:35
Correct answer: (2) the influence of humans on a natural system can have unpredictable negative impacts

Humans build dams to collect water from bodies of water or precipitation, which can be used for hydroelectricity. However, developmental activities like these can also have negative effects that cannot be predicted by researchers and developers-a good example of which is the situation mentioned above.

Incorrect answers:

(1) the influence of humans on a natural system is always negative in the long term

Though there are several human activities that have negative effects on the environment, humans have, many times, positively contributed to the stability of the environment. Positive contributions include the breeding plants to increase biodiversity and ensure food security.

(3) human alteration of an ecosystem does not need to be studied to avoid ecological disaster

Ecological disaster can only be avoided if researchers investigate the possible impact of human activities to the ecosystem.

(4) human alteration of an ecosystem will cause pollution and loss of finite resources

Although this statement is true, it does not pertain to the situation given above. Pollution refers to   any introduction of contaminants that cause disruptions in the normal state of an ecosystem. Examples of pollutants are chemical wastes and smoke from combustion.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 May 2011 16:42

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