Science lessons with Alternatives Journal No, you won't be doing lab work, but you can wear the coat if you want!

This article is part of A\J's web series Night School. In celebration of back-to-school time and our Night issue, the A\J web team brought you a series of quick lessons, posted between September 16 to October 11, 2013, covering everything from activism tactics and canning tips to how factory farms breed disease.

Before we delve into some fun science facts over the next few weeks, it’s important to go over some key concepts for lesson one. For some of our readers who have studied in the field of environment, these might not be new, but hopefully we can add to your knowledge. These concepts are all important because while environmental science can take place in a lab, it needs to be considered in a broader ecosystem context.

Here at A\J we have a whole section called Science & Solutions, with science-related categories throughout the site, including Scientists in the People & Profiles section. The ones I’m sure you already have a handle on are Geology, Biology and Astronomy (thanks to our latest issue, Night).

Here's some choice reading to introduce you to some of the lesser-known categories – and why we need them:

Resilience – The capacity of an ecosystem to resist damage and recover quickly.
Suggested reading: Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil & Climate Change; Resilience 101.

Ecology – a branch of science focused on the interrelationships between organisms and their environment
Suggested reading: Towards an Anarchist Ecology; Web Exclusive: Ecology in the Dumps

Adaptation – An organism changing (biologically or otherwise) to better suit its environment.
Suggested reading: Fighting Pipelines is Not Enough; Canadian Cities (Need to) Get Ready for Climate Change

Restoration – The process by which a damaged resourced is renewed or returned to its original state.
Suggested reading: Cleaning up the Niagara River

Traditional Knowledge – Knowledge held by and embedded in the cultural traditions of Indigenous or regional communities.
Suggested reading: Faces of Climate Change; The Breathing LandsThe Evolution of Theory

Efficiency – Reducing the amount of fuel or electricity required to do something through technological or other means.
Suggested reading: Beyond Energy Efficiency

Conservation – Maintaining the health of the natural world and its inhabitants by preventing excessive resource use or other forms of damage.
Suggested reading: Conservationists of a Feather Flock Together; The Green Curtain

Biodiversity – The existence of a wide range of species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms.
Suggested reading: Biodiversity Politics: The Good, the Bad and the 4 COPs; Be Warned


Emily is former A\J web editor and a graduate of Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Emily is an urban homesteader who tries to live as plastic-free, local and organic as possible, and can be intense about it. 

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