Global Energy-Environmental Choices

return to home page



GLOBAL ENERGY—ENVIRONMENTAL CHOICES—Population, how do we provide the energy we need? What is energy? Biomass, Coal, Oil, Gas, Nuclear, Geothermal, Solar, Wind, Hydrogen. Acid Rain, Glaciers, Strip mining, CO 2 and Ecological Impacts. What’s your choice?

6 weeks x 2.5 hours per class 6:30 - 9pm Tuesdays


Week 1               Ecology and Ecosystems

Food chains and natural selection. Properties of water and biogeochemical cycles. Population and communities. Atmosphere. Biomass: Wood, energy from residues and forests. Alcohol fuels: Methanol, Ethanol, Arid land plants. Biological conversion of wastes.

Reading references: Energy and Ecology, David Gates

Week 2              Energy. What is it?

Kinetic, Potential. Energy contents of fuels. Energy Laws-entropy, carnot cycle, temp scale, radiation laws. Energy resources: Coal, Oil, Gas, Uranium. Energy demand and world population.

Acid deposition.

Atmospheric chemistry. Acid precipitation. Ecological impacts: Sensitive regions, aluminum concentrations, mercury poisoning, impacts on streams, impacts on lakes, terrestrial ecosystems. Future projections

Reading references: Energy and Ecology, David Gates

Atlas of the Environment, WWF, Lean, Hinrichsen, and Markham

Week 3              Solar Energy.

Power from the sun. Solar altitude and azimuth. Atmospheric attenuation. Solar energy technology. Direct Solar heating and cooling, solar ponds, power tower and photovoltaics.

Carbon Dioxide and Climate change:

Past temperatures 140,000 years ago to current. Climate change. Modeling climate. Glaciers, ice and sea level. Fossil fuel futures.

Reading references: The Passive Solar Energy Book, Edward Mazria

Atlas of the Environment, WWF, Lean, Hinrichsen, and Markham

Week 4              Coal

Uses of direct burning, gasification, liquidation, environmental and ecological impacts from mining operations. Acid rain from mines. Revegetation of coal spoils. Western coal and peat.


Oil, and gas in oceans: Spills and cleanups. Offshore Oil, Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas. Oil shale and pipelines

Reading references: Night Comes to the Cumberlands, Harry M. Caudill

Midnight Wilderness, Debbie S. Miller

Week 5              Electric Power Generation

Power plants. Air pollution from coal. Sox and NOx. Stack gas cleaning and cooling systems. Ecological impacts of coolant water.

Nuclear Power

Radioactivity, reactors, waste, ionizing and radiation. Nuclear reactor incidents.

Reading references: Adobe, Rammed Earth and Wood: An Energy-based Environmntal Analysis of

Residential Construction in Phoenix, Arizona, C. Gossen

Beyond the Petroleum Age: designing a solar economy, Flavin

Week 6              Alternative Energy

                            Wind, Tidal and Wave Power. Geothermal, hydroelectric. Local issues of hydro.

                          Reading references: Solar Energy Application in Buildings, A.A. M.Sayigh

                          Solar Energy in America, William Metz, Allen Hammond

                          Electric Vehicle Technology, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.


The mission statement of this class is to learn the basic principles of energy, while keeping pace with current trends world-wide with global energy and policies. We will bring current periodical clippings into each class period to discuss. At the end of 6 weeks, each person shall have a resource information.