Office of Academic Affairs
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Berhampur

Earth and Environmental Sciences

EES 202: Introduction to Environmental Sciences (3)

Learning Objectives:

This course seeks to introduce students to the importance of life and the environment, both natural and anthropogenic. Insights into basic causes of, and possible solutions to, important environmental problems, and skills for defining and furthering environmentally sound action will be provided. Attainment of these goals requires an integrative study of Earth and environmental systems, and environmental ethics. This is a course that emphasizes the physical and chemical interactions between the Earth and environmental systems, to better understand the present day environmental issues and their solution.

Course Contents:

Introduction to Environmental Sciences:
Definitions; Environmental factors; Global environment and its segments - atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere and inter-relationships; Environmental science - meaning, scope, and importance; Understanding why human population growth is the underlying environmental problem and what its implications are on environmental systems; Valuing the Environment - Concepts and methods; Economic growth, the environment and sustainable development.

Natural Resources:
Mineral, water, land, and forest resources – use, overexploitation, and conservation (examples - rainwater harvesting and wasteland reclamation, wildlife management); Sources of energy from the natural environment - Fossil fuels and nuclear energy; Concentration, storing and transporting energy; Renewable and nonrenewable energy supplies.

The Biotic Environment:
Ecological principles; Concepts of species, populations, communities and ecosystems, dynamics of biological populations, interactions between species, food chains and food webs, energy flow in ecosystems; Interaction between biotic and abiotic environments.

Biogeochemical Cycles:
Definition and description, Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulfur, Phosphorous, and trace metal cycles; Understanding why biogeochemical cycles are essential to long-term life on Earth; Anthropogenic modification of global biogeochemical cycles.

Contemporary Environmental Issues:
Atmospheric Pollution:Types of pollutants - primary and secondary; Major phenomenon - Ozone depletion, global warming, smog formation, and acid rain – geospatial and time scales, causes and effect; Distinction between greenhouse-effect and global warming, Pollution prevention strategies, International treaties to reduce pollution, e.g., Kyoto Protocol, Montreal Protocol, and later developments.
Water Pollution:Water pollution - Types, general properties and dynamics of water pollutants; Contaminant transport, thermal pollution, groundwater pollution (e.g., nitrate, heavy metals, organics) and contaminant transport; Groundwater remediation; Acid mine drainage; Sewage treatment.
Soil Degradation:Soil erosion and desertification, major impacts of soil degradation, soil conservation techniques.
Solid Waste Management:Types and sources of solid waste; Control of solid waste, methods of solid waste treatment; Solid wastes from mines and their disposal methods.
Radiation and Noise pollution:Noise - measurement, classification and hazards; Sources, effects, and controls of radioactive pollution.

Environmental Management:
Introduction to Environmental Management Cycle; Evaluating the state of the environment -  indicators, environmental problems in India, eco-efficiency; Environmental management - Strategies and plans, tools and techniques; Monitoring the environment - Sampling methods for air, water, and soil; Surveys based methods; Risks and values, attitudes, interest groups; Regulation, fiscal measures, voluntary and coercive measures; Monitoring and review.

Suggested Readings :

  1. Cunningham, W. P., and Cunningham, M. A., 2010, Environmental Science - A Global Concern (11th Edition), McGraw Hill Publications.
  2. Botkin, D, B., and Keller, E. A., 2010, Environmental Science - Earth as a Living Planet (7th Edition), John Wiley and Sons Inc.
  3. Harrison, R. M., 2006, An Introduction to Pollution Science, The Royal Society of Chemistry.
  4. Huddart, D., and Stott, T., 2010, Earth Environments – Past, Present, and Future, Wiley-Blackwell.

Previous Back to Course List Next