bald eagle
ENVS 110: Humans and the Biological Environment

IGETC Major Requirement Offered Lab Online
Yes- 5B Yes- Environmental Studies A.A. Fall, Spring, Summer Yes- optional Yes- summer

Professor: Adam Green, Ph.D.

Materials: This course has an online text that is free to students. No other materials are required.

ENVS 110: Humans and the Biological Environment is a lecture based course that has an optional lab course (ENVS 111) that can be taken at the same time or any time after taking ENVS 110. This allows you to satisfy the Area 5B IGETC requirement with either a lecture only course (ENVS 110) or a lecture and lab combination (ENVS 110 and 111).

ENVS 110 is a course that covers the impacts of human activities on the environment and how human populations are impacted by a changing environment. Throughout this course we use biology, ecology, physiology, chemistry, and physics to understand the science of environmental change and how it affects biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human populations. The online text contains sections including videos to help you understand the basic science and the lectures integrate the science when relevant to better understand the issues.

In this modern era dominated by technology with a rapidly growing population you have to be educated in these issues to have any hope of finding a place in our evolving economy. As a species we need to be informed and make educated decisions or we will make it more difficult for our children and possibly bring about the decline of human societies. We take a hard look at the the evidence and discuss ways to make change and create opportunities for future careers.

We cover the following topics:



You may have a general idea of what biodiversity is and a sense it is important, but what are the details and underlying science that supports this?

How does genetic diversity contribute to the long term survival of a species and why do we need to preserve genetic diversity to make our food supply more resilient? How does species diversity contribute to the health of ecosystems and why are those ecosystem functions so critical for human survival?

We study the process of evolution to better understand why we have this biodiversity and how evolution can help or hinder our ability to provide for human populations.


rain forest

child in market china



We look at the basics of population growth and the concept of carrying capacity. Can we apply the concept of carrying capacity to human populations?

We go into more detail on human populations and study how populations are affected by the development of a country- the Demographic Transition. How do improvements in medical care, sanitation, food supply, women's empowerment and education affect population growth as a country moves through the transition and what does this mean for global population size and our ecological footprint.


What is required to produce food for the human poulation? How does our food system impact biodiversity and human health via pollution, climate change, and habitat conversion? How will climate change affect our ability to produce food?

Can we feed a population growing past 9 billion in 2050 to 11 billion or more in 2100? What diet and agricultural strategy is best to achieve this? Is organic or industrial agriculture the future? What about genetic engineering?

What about oceanic fisheries and fish farms? Can we manage fish populatins and farm fish in a sustainable way?

Are insects the future of animal protein?


organic farm

lake tahoe



This incredible substance holds great sway over all life and the future of human populations will be largely determined by the availability of clean water.

What affects water supply and quality? Can we provide sufficient water for human populations and the millions of other species on the planet?

Will future wars be fought over water?


Human poulation currently use a huge quantity of energy to power our buildings, transportation, industry, and even our food system. How we produce and use this energy may determine whether we can maintain a reasonably stable climate and allow for developing countries to achieve a high waulity of life.

We go over fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy. We look at the pros and cons and the life cycle impacts of these energy supplies. What are mountain top removal, fracking, the challenge of nuclear waste, and the best sources of renewable energy? Can renewable energy displace fossil fuels and nuclear?


oil rig
jesusita fire


What is pollution and why do we create it? How does it impact our land, water, and air?

We look at trash and plastic, oil and nutrients, smog, acid rain, and climate change.

Sections on toxicology show the mechanisms of toxins we find in animals and humans including biomagnification and the body burden.

Climate change will likely be the most significant impact to you and your children. What is it? How do human activities contribute to it? Can we slow it down or stop it?

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