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.
Close

Join Save My Exams

Download all our Revision Notes as PDFs

Try a Free Sample of our revision notes as a printable PDF.

Join Now
Already a member?
Go to Top