AP Environmental Science : Energy Sources and Production

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Coal, Oil, And Natural Gas

At the current rate of consumption, available natural gas reserves are expected to last another:

Possible Answers:

50 years

100 years

25 years

75 years

600 years

Correct answer:

75 years

Explanation:

Currently available natural gas reserves are expected to last another 75 years at the current rate of consumption.

Example Question #1 : Fossil Fuels

Which type of coal is the cleanest and most efficient?

Possible Answers:

Anthracite

Bituminous coal

Lignite

Sub-bituminous coal

Charcoal

Correct answer:

Anthracite

Explanation:

The least efficient and most abundant form of coal is lignite; after this comes bituminous coal, then, lastly, anthracite. Anthracite is a very hard form of coal with an extremely high carbon content. Anthracite also burns the cleanest of any coal, but unfortunately it is the least abundant and hardest to reach form of coal. Charcoal is not coal at all, but rather compressed and burned wood, consisting mainly of carbon and any remaining ash.

Example Question #1 : Energy Sources And Production

Which of the following is NOT a true advantage of utilizing coal as an energy source?

Possible Answers:

Coal is abundant and confirmed reserves are predicted to last three hundred years.

Clean coal technology is a promising technology that reduces the environmental impact of modern coal plants.

Coal is very energy-dense and has a high energy yield.

Coal produces relatively low sulphur emissions when burned.

Coal can be extracted and processed domestically, potentially reducing U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

Correct answer:

Coal produces relatively low sulphur emissions when burned.

Explanation:

Clean coal technology is a promising solution to minimizing pollution from coal plants, and coal is one of the most abundant fossil fuels on the planet, with reserves potentially lasting up to three hundred years. Coal is also very energy-dense when compared to biomass or other renewable energy sources; however, the sulphur content of coal varies based on geographic location, and in areas that depend on locally sourced, sulphur-rich coal, the resulting emissions contribute heavily to acidic precipitation.

Example Question #1 : Fossil Fuels

Which of the following pairs of factors have placed the United States in a position of dependency on foreign oil?

Possible Answers:

Most U.S. oil reserves have been exhausted and most oil-rich Middle-Eastern nations are politically very stable and offer reliable trade agreements.

Superior fuel quality from Middle Eastern-sourced petroleum and low import tariffs.

The environmental and labor regulations for oil refining in the U.S. are more costly to firms than the duties and tariffs from importing oil from less regulated countries.

Trade agreements made with OPEC and a per capita demand that far outpaces much of the world.

Disproportionately high demand for fossil fuels and a low capacity to produce domestic petrol.

Correct answer:

Disproportionately high demand for fossil fuels and a low capacity to produce domestic petrol.

Explanation:

The United States is 5% of the world Population and consumes 25% of global fossil fuel production. In addition, North America peaked in oil production in the 1970's which, when combined with a disproportionately high demand, results in a national dependence on foreign-sourced oil.

Example Question #1 : Fossil Fuels

Hydraulic fracturing, also called "fracking," is __________.

Possible Answers:

a method of deforestation used primarily in Northern Europe

a result of earthquakes

the splitting apart of water molecules

a tool used by humanitarian groups to disperse water

a way to extract oil from underground sources

Correct answer:

a way to extract oil from underground sources

Explanation:

Fracking is the process of blasting rocks with a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals in order to extract oil from a well. It has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly in the U.S. and Canada.

Example Question #1 : Energy Sources And Production

All of the following are true of fossil fuels EXCEPT for which answer choice?

Possible Answers:

It takes a very long time for fossil fuels to form.

Extracting fossil fuels creates jobs and boosts the economy.

At this point in history, fossil fuels are relatively plentiful.

Fossil fuels are relatively cheap to extract.

Fossil fuels are cleaner sources of energy than geothermal energy.

Correct answer:

Fossil fuels are cleaner sources of energy than geothermal energy.

Explanation:

Fossil fuels are notoriously dirty sources of energy, and their pollution is often expensive and/or difficult to control.

Example Question #1 : Nuclear Energy

The most common nuclear fuel used to produce a fission chain reaction in a nuclear weapon is:

Possible Answers:

Plutonium-240

Uranium-235

Uranium-238

Uranium-236

Plutonium-238

Correct answer:

Uranium-235

Explanation:

U-235 differs from U-238 in that U-235 is able to produce a fission chain reaction. U-238 is the most common isotope of uranium, with the U-235 isotope constituting less than 1% of natural sources. Uranium enrichment is the process by which U-235 is separated out, and it is this product that is most commonly used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Pu-239 is produced from U-238 and can be used for nuclear weapons as well, but Pu-239 is not an answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Energy Sources And Production

Which of the following is a pressing issue with the production of nuclear energy?

Possible Answers:

Destruction as a result from frequent nuclear blasts

Heavy air pollution

Where to store spent fuel waste

Prices for energy are too low for it to be profitable

Various cancers afflicting local wildlife

Correct answer:

Where to store spent fuel waste

Explanation:

Producing nuclear energy is a lot cleaner than most people realize, and while it is expensive (but still profitable), it represents a legitimate option for producing cleaner energy. The main drawback is that the resulting "spent fuel" has to be secured and stored, because it cannot be safely disposed of without significant repercussions.

Example Question #3 : Energy Sources And Production

All of the following are potential benefits to dams EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

Clean electricity generation

Flood control

Water level management

Sedimentation buildup

Recreation opportunities from the resulting lake

Correct answer:

Sedimentation buildup

Explanation:

Dams can be huge boons to local economies, and are a landmark of human engineering and achievement; however, they do carry serious consequences to the natural environment. They lead to sediment buildup, which hurts the flow of nutrients downstream, ruins the natural riverscape, and can cause the area behind the dam to become more shallow.

Example Question #1 : Energy Sources And Production

All of the following are drawbacks to dams EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

Increased air pollution

Destruction of surrounding farmland

Habitat alteration

Interruption of migration patterns among fish

Local inhabitants may be forced to move

Correct answer:

Increased air pollution

Explanation:

Dams carry numerous drawbacks, but one benefit of dams that they do not increase air pollution. Hydroelectric power is considered to be one of the cleanest forms of energy.

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