Critical Thinking

A.) You may use any source of information except human resources (you are to complete Part I of the exam without consulting any other person). Textbook, web sources (with the exceptions below), library sources, etc. are fine. Place in quotes any words that are directly from other sources including websites. You should attribute ideas, lists, and paraphrased information to the source where you found them. You can cite your sources in the text of your answer (e.g. Chen, 2017). Please list all complete sources that you have used at the end of each question.
B.) You may NOT use any blogs, homework sites, tutor websites (e.g., or social media where any person has posted an answer to an exam question. Use of these sites is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary sanctions.
C.) Please type your responses. Please remove the exam questions from your submission to Turnitin. This will reduce your similarity score. Feel free to write in figures, drawings, and equations if necessary by hand. These do not need to be submitted to Turnitin.
D.) As a rule of thumb, you are not expected to spend more than 1.5 hours per question. This means that you might spend ~1 hour researching the question and 30 minutes writing your answers.
E.) Please provide detailed support for any of your statements or answers. In other words, a simple “yes” or “no”, “agree” or “disagree”, or “I think it is clean”, is not a complete answer and will not receive credit. A complete answer takes the form of “Yes, because … and therefore…” or “I think it is clean because …. “.
F.) There is not necessarily any right or wrong answers to these questions. You will be graded on your ability to think and write critically in addressing these environmental issues. More detailed, supportive responses will be more valued than generalizations.

Once you have completed the exam, please sign (Type) the following statement: “I have not consulted any other person in completing this INDIVIDUAL Part I of the exam.”

For information purposes only (this will not affect your grade), how much time (hours) did you spend on this exam?


A quadrat is a 1 meter x 1 meter area of land. Please find a piece of vegetative land and mark out a quadrat to be used to answer the following questions. You can measure this off with a piece of string or mark it with 4 sticks stuck into the corners of an area that you pace off. This activity requires you to go outside (with a pen and notepad), find a vegetated area, and observe your quadrat for at least 5 minutes.

a.) Please describe where your area is located. How many species do you count? Describe every species that you see present and any species that you have evidence that was once there. Please provide a photo of your area as evidence that you actually did this activity.
(3 points)

b.) Pick one of your identified species. Describe the ecological niche of this species in your area. What are its adaptations, how does it interact with other species, and/or how does it interact with abiotic factors? (3 points)

c.) How would a 3 oC temperature change the abundance of your species in your area? Why? (2 points)

d.) If you were to dig up your area and remove all the visible vegetation, what would start growing there if anything over the next year? (2 points)


                (A)                                         (B)

a.) Please describe the processes that created the coastline in (A). (3 points)
Will this look different season to season? Why? How might it look different in the year 2100? Why? (2 points)

b.) Please describe the processes that created the coastline in (B). (3 points)
Will this look different season to season? Why? How might it look different in the year 2100? Why? (2 points)


a.) A thermometer is read every day by a weather observer at the top of Great Blue Hill in Canton, MA (shown above). What does this record demonstrate? How might you use this data as evidence of global warming? What arguments could someone make to claim that this data does not indicate global warming? (4 points)

b.) What additional arguments or measurements would you add to convince this person that global warming is occurring? (2 points)

c.) What are the monthly average temperatures in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada? (Please list your source). How do these compare to the Blue Hill data? Why?(4 points)


a.) This is an image of total column ozone over the South Pole in the southern hemisphere spring (October). Please describe the conditions that lead to the depletion in stratospheric ozone at this time. (6 points)

b.) Is there an ozone hole of the Artic in the northern hemisphere spring? Why or why not? (2 points)

c) Explain why the ozone hole was observed to be the smallest in recorded history (since 1982) in 2019 in October (smaller than in 2020). (2 points)


a.) The blue data show the area of Earth’s surface below sea-level. Why is there so much of the Earth’s surface between 4-5 kilometers below sea-level?
(3 points)

b.) The brown data show the area of Earth’s surface above sea-level. Why is there so much of Earth’s surface between 0-1 kilometers above sea-level?
(3 points)

c.) If there were no water in the ocean, how would this change the above graph in terms of the relative elevations of Earth’s surface? (2 points)

d.) Draw a similar graph (to the above) of the Hypsographic Curve of Mars, which does not experience plate tectonics. (2 points)

Sample Solution