Publisher: Wiley Date of Publication: 2005
Price: £ 12.99 ISBN: 0 471 26988 3
Pages: viii + 352 Format: Paperback

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1 - Our unique planet; 2 - The interactive Earth; 3 - The hydrosphere and atmosphere; 4 - The biosphere: life on Earth; 6 - Habitat and biodiversity; 7 - People, population and resources; 8 - Living resources I: forests, wildlife and fisheries; Living resources II: soils and agriculture; 10 - Mineral resources; 11 - Energy resources; 12 - Water resources; 13 - Water pollution and soil pollution; 14 - Air pollution; 15 - Cities and waste management; 16 - Global change.



Most of the material reviewed on this website is for a traditional teaching scene. This text takes an alternative tack looking at the amount of work self-teaching can accomplish. The aim of the book is to provide a basic overview of environmental science. We start with a basic overview of the nature of environmental science and a brief look at the structure of the Earth through the characteristic perspective of the "four spheres". Chapter two investigates the idea of systems models, flows, cycles, fluxes and the dynamic nature of the Earth. It's an interesting perspective and one not usually taken - we are allowed to see all the forces, wherever they are, compared and contrasted. Chapter three moves on to the water cycle and atmosphere. There's the basic circulation patterns but only a small amount of some basic weather systems. This gives way to work on the biosphere starting with DNA and moving on to evolution and ecology (and its basic energy flows). Chapter five looks at the main ecosystems both terrestrial and marine. Work on habitats and biodiversity starts with the ideas of niche and competitive exclusion moving on to diversity and threats to same. Chapter seven turns to human populations with an examination of population growth ideas and resource usage. The next two chapters follow a common theme with the first looking at exploited resources (fisheries, farming and wildlife) and the second one examining the nature of soil and the role of agriculture. Similarly, chapters 10 to 12 are related in terms of physical resources minerals, energy and water. Although the basic material is covered, the chapter on energy is more detailed with a look at both basic energy ideas and renewables. To the upside of using the Earth's resources there is the downside - pollution. In two chapters (13 and 14) we get an overview of the causes and consequences of pollution. This in continued in chapter 15 with a look at waste management. Finally, there's a chapter looking at global changes. In keeping with many reviews these days it deals with both natural changes e.g. glaciation and human change e.g. the ozone thinning.

Texts attempting to cover the entire range of environmental science are always going to face a daunting task because the breadth and depth of the topic is so vast. Even if the range of topics can be agreed upon as basic then there's the need to see which are the key concepts within each topic. This text does have an admirable range of topics covering the basics but within that there's a more eclectic range of sub-topics chosen. The best ideas are in those chapters covering physical (especially Earth) processes. In terms of self-directed study the book has a clear, simple style starting with a set of objectives, continuing with key points highlighted in the text with questions set out (and answers beneath) as a testing mechanism as the reader goes along. At the end there's a larger test (again, with answers) and a set of key words. Illustrations are via hand-drawn line drawings which may not capture the attention of the more visual learners. Overall, an interesting text which tries hard to do a very difficult task. A need for more visual material and a more comprehensive collection of sub-topics are its greatest issues. It would be of most use in lower secondary situations where readers could find quickly some of the ideas they would need to understand environmental topics.


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