AP Environmental Science : Economics and Resources

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Economics And Resources

Which of the following would be an example of the Tragedy of the Commons?

Possible Answers:

There is a low abundance of bull moose in interior Alaska, but with strict regulations for the annual moose hunt, the population is sustained.

New England cod fisheries have declined beyond recovery due to multiple fishing companies overfishing to maximize their individual profit.

The average person really does want to buy local and organic, but in practice most will continue to buy their groceries at a large retailer that outsources their meat and produce to some very unsustainable sources.

Recent temperature increases have caused sea ice to recede in Alaska and has made it more difficult for Native American tribes to hunt using their traditional practices.

Removing large predators such as bears and mountain lions has caused the deer population in North America to increase sharply, allowing hunters to harvest more deer than before.

Correct answer:

New England cod fisheries have declined beyond recovery due to multiple fishing companies overfishing to maximize their individual profit.

Explanation:

Tragedy of the Commons by definition is when individuals act in their own interest towards a common resource (fish, timber, buffalo, etc.) which, when done by everybody, is not in the best interest of conservation. The result is maximized short-term profit for all parties but also depletion of the resource. 

The decline of the New England cod fishery was due to many individuals harvesting for their own personal profit with no consideration toward the collective impact on the fish population, and the result was a population decline that has yet to recover.

Example Question #2 : Economics And Resources

The company you are working for has been found liable of improper storage and handling of hazardous waste, which has resulted in environmental contamination. How might this affect you economically?

Possible Answers:

Employees of a polluting company may also be heald financially accountable as "accessories" to an environmental offense. 

When confronted with an environmental cleanup to fund, most companies request or even mandate that all employees contribute financially to the cleanup. 

When an irresponsible company pollutes, we all pay additional taxes to fund the cleanup. 

Typically, no other company will want to hire you if you have worked for a firm that acted with negligence in terms of environmental regulations. 

Federal environmental legislation holds firms guilty of environmental negligence financially accountable. The cost of an environmental cleanup could bankrupt a firm and put you out of a job. 

Correct answer:

Federal environmental legislation holds firms guilty of environmental negligence financially accountable. The cost of an environmental cleanup could bankrupt a firm and put you out of a job. 

Explanation:

While taxpayers initially foot the bill for a superfund cleanup, the company responsible is financially obligated to reimburse the EPA for the cost of cleanup. Individual employees are not accountable, but the cost of funding an environmental cleanup can bankrupt a firm, leaving their employees jobless. 

Example Question #3 : Economics And Resources

Your friend comes back from mountain hiking and claims to have found a sample of pure phosphorus in rock form. Why should you be suspicious of his find?

Possible Answers:

Pure phosphate is too reactive to be stable in natural environments

Pure phosphorous weathers too quickly for him to collect and transport a sample home

Pure phosphorous can only be found in oceanic environments

Pure phosphorous only exists in pure form deep within the earth

Pure phosphorous is a gas at room temperature

Correct answer:

Pure phosphate is too reactive to be stable in natural environments

Explanation:

Pure phosphorus cannot be found in nature due to it's reactive nature. It can be purified and isolated in laboratories, but generally, you can find phosphorous in baking powder, soil, fireworks, and it often is a component of minerals.

Example Question #4 : Economics And Resources

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) brought to our attention the term “ecosystem services.” An ecosystem service is defined as any positive benefit that wildlife or ecosystems provide to humans. Erosion control, pollination, and water purification are all examples of which of the following types of ecosystem services?

Possible Answers:

Regulating services

Cultural services

All of these

Supporting services

Provisioning services

Correct answer:

Regulating services

Explanation:

The correct answer choice is "regulating services." A regulating service is any service that minimizes negative impacts to humans (e.g. flood control), or facilitates human production (e.g. honeybees that pollinate crops). 

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