Chapter 4

Essential Environment: The Science behind the Stories (3rd Edition)

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4 From Chemistry to Energy to Life Chapter Objectives This chapter will help students: Explain the fundamentals of environmental chemistry and apply them to real-world situations Describe the molecular building blocks of living organisms Differentiate among the types of energy and recite the basics of energy flow Distinguish photosynthesis, respiration, and chemosynthesis, and summarize their importance to living things Itemize and evaluate the major hypotheses for the origin of life on Earth
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Outline our knowledge regarding early life and give supporting evidence for each major concept Lecture Outline I. Central Case: Bioremediation of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill A. The tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef on March 24, 1989, in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil. B. Thousands of workers employed by Exxon, with government agencies and volunteers, tackled the spill with conventional methods. C. Scientists used the opportunity to test a new way of cleaning up the spill by enlisting bacteria to naturally break down the oil in a process called bioremediation. 1. Although the bacteria were presented with an abundant new food source, they were not immediately able to consume it because the oil contained too much carbon and not enough nitrogen and phosphorus.
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2. Scientists applied a fertilizing mixture containing nitrogen and phosphorus. 3. Because there were many complicating factors, experts have debated how much the treatments sped up degradation. II. Chemistry and the Environment A. Examine many environmental issues, and you will likely discover chemistry playing a central role; chemistry is also central to developing solutions. B. Chemistry is central to our understanding of water pollution, wastewater treatment, hazardous waste cleanup and disposal, atmospheric ozone depletion, how organisms synthesize food, and also, energy issues. C. Atoms and elements are the chemical building blocks. 1. An element is a fundamental type of matter that cannot be broken down into substances with other properties. 2. Matter may be transformed from one type of substance into others, but it cannot be created or destroyed. This principle is referred to as the law of conservation of matter. 3. Elements are composed of atoms, the smallest components of an element that maintain the chemical properties of that element. 4. Every atom has a nucleus of protons (positively charged particles) and neutrons (particles lacking electric charge); the atomic number of the element is the number of protons each atom contains, and the mass number is the combined number of protons and neutrons. An atom’s nucleus is surrounded by negatively
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charged particles known as electrons, which balance the positive charge of the protons. 5.
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Chapter 4 - 4 From Chemistry to Energy to Life Chapter...

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