AQA GCSE Physics

Revision Notes

1.2.3 Environmental Issues

Environmental Issues

  • The current evidence for climate change is overwhelming – in order to limit global warming, carbon emissions must be limited globally
  • Doing so, however, requires a balanced approach – carbon-neutral energy resources either lack public support, reliability or cannot produce sufficient energy to meet the demand
  • Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, there has been a gradual shift towards cleaner technologies
    • Government grants have encouraged the development of wind and solar farms
    • Coal has gradually been replaced with cleaner natural gas
    • A new generation of nuclear power stations are currently in development – although with old power stations being shut down, nuclear power is becoming a smaller option
  • Further reduction of carbon emissions will require some further measures:
    • More nuclear power stations will be needed to replace existing fossil fuel stations
    • A means of storing energy from unreliable sources (such as solar and wind) will need to be developed
  • Although science can identify environmental issues arising from the use of energy sources, political, social, ethical and economic considerations must be taken to deal with these issues

  • In the past 30 years in the UK:
    • Fossil fuel use has dropped from 75% to 38%
    • Renewable energy use has increased from 2% to 35%
  • Coal used to be the main provider of energy in the UK, but now it is natural gas
    • This is because, out of the 3 main fossil fuels, coal produces the most carbon dioxide, while natural gas produces the least
    • Switching to gas is not the solution to reducing carbon emissions, but as the use of carbon-neutral energy resources increases, it is a step in the right direction

The Greenhouse Effect

  • Global warming is a problem caused by the Greenhouse Effect
  • The Greenhouse Effect is caused by the increased concentration and effect of greenhouse gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide

The Greenhouse effect, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

  • The process of global warming is as follows:
    • The Sun emits rays that enter the Earth’s atmosphere
    • The heat is emitted back from the Earth’s surface
    • Some heat is reflected back out into Space
    • Some heat is absorbed by Greenhouse gases and becomes trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the Earth’s average temperature to rise as a result
    • The higher the concentration of greenhouse gases, the higher the Earth’s average temperature will rise
  • Once the temperature increases too much, this will lead to devastating consequences:
    • Climate change due to the increase in Earth’s temperature
    • Water levels will rise as glaciers melt because of high temperatures, causing flooding in low-lying countries
    • Extinction of species due to the destruction of natural habitats
    • Migration of species as they will move to areas that are more habitable (with no droughts)
    • Spread of diseases caused by warmer climate
    • Loss of habitat due to climate change (animals that live on glaciers)
  • Many of these consequences have already begun to take effect
    • It is predicted many of these will have taken full effect by 2050 if carbon emissions are not drastically reduced

Author: Katie

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.

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