Patterns in Environmental Quality and Sustainability


atmosphere and change

Describe the functioning of the atmospheric system in terms of the energy balance between solar and longwave radiation. Explain the changes in this balance due to external forcings (changes in solar radiation, changes in the albedo of the atmosphere and changes in the longwave radiation returned to space). Discuss the causes and environmental consequences of global climate change.
4 hours

Key Definition
Global climate change —the changes in global patterns of rainfall and temperature, sea level, habitats and the incidence of droughts, floods and storms, resulting from changes in the earth’s atmosphere, believed to be mainly caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Key questions and ideas considered.
  • What is the differnce between global warming and climate change
  • What was the point of Copenhagen 2009?

Science Explained, the greenhouse effect in a bottle BBC Greenhouse effect
The BBC again on an animated journey through the Climate history of the world
My favourite geologist Dr Iain Stewart explains climate change, there are 6 episodes, all of them on You Tube and they are essential viewing for this module

David Attenborough takes time off to talk about the satate of the planet and climate change

I thought long and hard about letting you watch an Inconvenient Truth, but it is fraught with too many errors and strays off the path we need to follow, but if you want to watch it on your own time just do so with an open mind and be aware of Al Gores footprint as he jetted around the world publicising the film!

Watch the mini movies from NASA and make notes on what is said, this will hopefully enable you to understand some of the most important issues and reasons behind climate change. Geography through diagrams pages 73 & 74 will supply some of the crucial diagrams and you will be able to perfect your skills of annotation as well.Definitions and explanations for dynamic equilibrium and positive and negative feedback will be introduced along with a brief overview of the systems approach to geography and climatic processes.You could also watch this video and join the campaign for climate justice in the wake of the Copenhagen climate conference.

Check out the climate justice website and join the campaign to be a positive force for good for the world. One person can make a difference, so become a climate ally.Small countries are claiming that the Climate Change money pledged by the EU is simply not enough to make a real difference.The interactive climate change map makes for scary reading.You will finish this module by making notes on the wide variety of global impacts of climate change. This includes weather patterns, health, wildlife, glaciers and sea level.
A specific case study here is not absolutely necessary as the notes you have made on the different global impacts will be sufficent.s are negatively impacted by climate change, are sharing their stories illustrating the urgent need for Climate Justice.
soil and change

Explain the causes of soil degradation. Discuss the environmental and socio-economic consequences of this process, together with management strategies.
4 hours


What is soil degredation?
Soil degradation is when soil deteriorates because of human activity and loses its quality and productivity. It happens when soil loses its nutrients, or its organic matter. It also happens when the soil structure breaks down, or if the soil becomes toxic from pollution.
Simply, it is the breakdown of soil particles.
Degradation is not the same as soil erosion, which is when the soil is washed or blown away by water or wind. Soil erosion is common when trees are cut down, and then it rains, so the soil is moved somewhere else (sometimes to the sea/ocean/river). Trees and their root systems keep the soil in place and thus prevent soil erosion.

Key questions and ideas considered.
  • What are the differences between desertification and drought?
  • How does degredation occur?
  • What is salinization, soil erosion and soil exhaustion?
  • What part does population pressure play in soil degredation?
  • What is the impact of soil degredation?
  • Why is the impact worst in LEDCs?
  • How can the process be managed?
  • Can the process be reversed?

describe the global distribution of severely degraded soils.
p241 ESS text book N American Prairies and Burkina Faso case studies
p 35 IB Geog text book managing soil degredation, bullet point 3 main methods.

HOMEWORK (20 marks)
1. Watch the following videos.
2. What do the videos propose is the best way to improve soil fertility? (4 marks)
3. Do you feel that these methods are sustainable, explain why? (4 marks)
4. Do you think that globally soil fertility is decreasing, can you off reasons for this. (4 marks)
5. Using an area which you have studied describe the reasons for the degredation of the soil and the subsequent methods that are being employed to counteract it. (8 marks)

It is worth reading chapter 12 on soil resources in Environmental Systems and Societies Course Companion as it is excellent for this aspect of the syllabus.
MEDC :2 case study on the North American Prairies and commercial farming
LEDC: 3 case study on Burkina Faso stone lines and subsistence farming
Global Change offers a lot of relevant information on land and soil degredation
Factors influencing soil health animation

water and change

Identify the ways in which water is utilized at the regional scale. Examine the environmental and human factors affecting patterns and trends in physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. Examine the factors affecting access to safe drinking water.
5 hours


Key questions and ideas considered.

          • Why is water important?
  • Why is water such a highly contested issue?
  • How does water use differ between LEDCs and MEDCs?
  • How is it possible that the world is running out of drinking water?

complete the following essay using the key case studies covered in class.
"Referring to two specific case studies examine the extent to which there are common issues associated with the utilization of water." (20 marks)
You essay will be marked using the following IB markscheme.

The Mau forest in Kenya and the impact of deforestation on the countries rivers

Water use across the world in pictures
Pani the handpump game from Wateraid

BBC Why the worlds taps are running dry?
Are you water Wise?
War over water in the Middle East
Water scarcity in Europe, what are the patterns?

Water for our future , what are the trends?
Wikipedia what is a hot stain?
Wikipedia Water Crisis
Learn more about water scarcity Columbia Research institute
Dumb question department, If the world is a closed system, Why are we running out of water?
biodiversity and change

Explain the concept and importance of biodiversity in tropical rainforests. Examine the causes and consequences of reduced biodiversity in this biome.
3 hours


Key questions and ideas considered.

  • Why is there such a high degree of risk to TRF's?
  • What are the impacts of loss of biodiversity?

What is biodiversity (scroll to the end of this article to find out)
Planet Geography
Rainforest Conservation Fund - key questions answered
Borneos moment of truth - shocking and upsetting 2008 article from the National Geographic
Paying to keep the rainforests standing - BBC article
sustainability and the environment

Define the concept of environmental sustainability. Evaluate a management strategy at a local or national scale designed to achieve environmental sustainability
3 hours


Key questions and ideas considered.

          • What is sustainability?
  • How can the environment be sustainably managed?


Migration —the movement of people, involving a permanent (more than one year) change of residence. It can be internal or external (international) and voluntary or forced. It does not include temporary circulations such as commuting or transmigration.

Remittances —transfers of money/goods by foreign workers to their home countries.

Soil degradation —involves a severe reduction in the quality of soils. The term includes soil erosion, salinization and soil exhaustion (loss of fertility).

Water scarcity** —can be defined as: (1) physical water scarcity where water resource development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable levels. It relates water availability to water demand and implies that arid areas are not necessarily water scarce; and (2) economic water scarcity where water is available locally but not accessible for human, institutional or financial capital reasons.



patterns of resource consumption

Evaluate the ecological footprint as a measure of the relationship between population size and resource consumption. Identify international variations in its size. Discuss the two opposing views (neo-Malthusian and anti-Malthusian) of the relationship between population size and resource consumption.4 hours
changing patterns of energy consumption

Analyse the global patterns and trends in the production and consumption of oil.

2 hours
changing patterns of energy consumption

Examine the geopolitical and environmental impacts of these changes in patterns and trends. Examine the changing importance of other energy sources.
conservation strategies

Discuss the reduction of resource consumption by conservation, waste reduction, recycling and substitution. Evaluate a strategy at a local or national scale aimed at reducing the consumption of one resource.4 hours