Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science.
The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of the AP Environmental Science course.
1. Science is a process.
* Science is a method of learning more about the world.
* Science constantly changes the way we understand the world.
2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.
* Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere.
* As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable.
3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.
* Natural systems change over time and space.
* Bio geochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances.
4. Humans alter natural systems.
* Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years.
* Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment.
5. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.
* Understanding the role of cultural, social and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions.
6. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.
* A suitable combination of conservation and development is required.
* Management of common resources is essential.