Suppose the world population stopped growing today (whew!) What environmental problems would that solve? Which ones would remain? What remaining problems would get worse?
The biggest problem facing our environment today is the population of our planet. If the population of the world stopped today it would help improve living standards and perhaps facilitate more time to improve technology plus help balance the natural resources we have available.
Taking steps to preserve or stop the abuse of our environment will largely depend on stabilizing the population. Serious concerns remain if we do not adopt some method of slowing the population. Birth control is one step in slowing down the world’s population. Education in developing countries is paramount. Many of these countries continue to have large families to ensure a sort of social security. However, the health of these families does not insure the longevity of the individuals. Many children die early as the result of poor nutrition and the lack of public health programs.
However, even if we were able to contain the population from growing exponentially our environment still needs improvement in almost every sector. No one knows for sure just how many individuals mother earth can support. What we do know is that major problems such as public health, food supply, fresh water and the continued degrading and destruction of our woodlands and rain forests will remain. Plant biodiversity and climate control are also major issues that need our attention.
Finally we need to look at what major problems would still remain after a cap in population came into effect. According to the article “How Global Population Growth is Creating Serious Problems” by Larry West posted at www.environmentabout.com “the largest fear is that in coming decades the population of the planet will be faced with serious “water-stress” or “water-scarce” situations. These conditions will continue to intensify in meeting the needs of all individuals. The most serious of these overpopulation problems include starvation, pandemic diseases or warfare to secure a means of survival.
Describe a way in which you use the scientific process in your life?
The scientific process involves the following:
identify a problem you would like to solve,
formulate a hypothesis,
test the hypothesis,
collect and analyze the data,
Three years ago we purchased an above ground swimming pool. My husband and I have owned two other such swimming pools. Although far from being experts we are both well versed in the care and cleaning of a swimming pool. We were talked into purchasing a paper cartridge type of filter. We had always used a sand filter and they had always performed well. Thinking that this new technology was better than sand we purchased the new filter. What should have been a fun project turned into a real nightmare.
The problem was we could not keep the water clear. Although we knew what the problem was, the hypothesis was determining what was causing the water to go from clear to white. We tested the water; we had other people test the water. No one could come up with a reason why this was happening. Finally after using numerous chemicals and gallons and gallons of chlorine we stumbled upon a pool company near us. They also tested the water and low and behold we had phosphates or the common term, white algae. I had always thought that algae were green or black. However, as we learned there is also a variety known as white algae. The material was coming from our well water as well as in the air from farmers in the area spraying fertilizer. Our wonderful new filter that we had purchased could not handle the problem. Last year we finally gave the original filter the heave-ho and purchased the reliable sand filter and the results have been no more problems!
A problem that I would like to solve is that of a cat spraying. It has to be the most disgusting thing I have ever encountered.
One would have to wonder why cats do this. According to an article at www.iams.com “Is your Cat Potty Naughty” this is a rather common problem especially for certain cats. After observing cats in general, there are actually several reasons why this happens. First and foremost they do it to mark their territory. This is why it is important to spay or neuter animals especially males. The other issues concern the health of the animal or perhaps a behavioral issue. We have a cat that had both a health issue and a behavioral issue. We got the health issue taken care of with the help of our veterinarian. The behavioral issue was something that was going to take some time. At the suggestion of the veterinarian we secluded this animal in a cage by himself. In addition we tried all kind of cleaning chemicals to get rid of any remaining odor. Thank goodness none of it was on any of the carpeting! What we found however was certain cleaning solutions made the naught potty problem only worse. Any product with ammonia only attracted the animal right back to the spot. So after trial and error we finally found that only cat cleaners that our vet recommended worked.
3. Describe two specific ways that microbes are important environmentally speaking, outside of the areas of health and food. Describe one way that microbes are beneficial in health.
Just what is a microbe? Microbes play a very important role in our environment. According to www.library.thinkquest.org “microbes are very small organisms belonging to various groups; Bacteria, Fungi, Protozoa and viruses”. According to this article they play a significant role in our life on this planet. Without them there would be no earth as we know it. Phytoplankton is one microbe which resides in the ocean. Its role is to provide oxygen and help slow global warming by removing some of the carbon dioxide produced when we burn fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or gasoline. In addition microbes provide a natural repellent to control pests on food crops and other vegetation. Perhaps if we relied more on this natural pest control we could reduce the use of harmful chemicals that end up on our food.
Microbes are also present in our bodies. The friendly bacteria present in our bodies help to break down the food we eat and also prevent us from succumbing to serious illness by preventing harmful bacteria from entering our bodies.
4. Explain what could happen to the ecosystem where American Alligators live if the alligators went extinct. Name a plant species and animal species that would be seriously affected and describe how each might respond to these changes in their environment.
The American Alligator is known as a Keystone Species. One might wonder just what a Keystone Species is. These species are those that play a critical role in the maintaining of the ecosystem where those species reside. Keystone Species such as the American Alligator have a very particular niche in the area where they reside. According to an article at www.atlss.org/gator “the American Alligator’s role is one that has a major effect on the plant communities and associated aquatic animals”. The alligators have survived where others have been come extinct. At www.exploringnature.org it was cited that alligators were put on the endangered species list back in 1967 and protected from hunting. After the alligator has hatched its young, the alligator’s nesting mounds provide a nesting area for other species such as herons, egrets and red-bellied turtles. In addition alligators keep in check the population of certain predatory fish such as the Gar. Perhaps the most important role they play is by keeping the wetlands open thereby sustaining the area by providing a home to many other plants and animals. It important to realize certain species even though thought of as annoying pests are quite important to our whole ecosystem.
Take the same approach that you used in Question #4 and research and discuss the
arrival of the Asian Carp into Lake Michigan.
What are Asian Carp and where did these fish come from? According to an article at www.time.com these fish are related to what are commonly called bighead and silver carp. The Asian Carp are native to China and parts of Southeast Asia. These fish were originally used by American catfish farmers to eat the algae in their ponds. The Asian Carp have slowly found ways to make it into the Mississippi River and are now threatening Lake Michigan. According to the article these fish even though they are not particularly dangerous to people, grow quickly and adapt very well to their new environment. What makes them dangerous is that they feed on plankton which removes the bottom layers of the food chain of native fish species. Their potential presence is a very serious problem that has multiple effects. Their entry into Lake Michigan has the potential to ruin the fishing and tourism industries of Lake Michigan and the surrounding states. After all what fisherman would like to be smacked by one of these huge fish that seem to love to go airborne when disrupted!
From another ecological perspective, the Great Lakes are a “key mid-continent migration rest stop for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl” according to an article at www.ducks.org. Because these fish have such a huge appetite they can eat their weight in vegetation daily leaving the wetlands degraded and destroyed for these migrating waterfowl. This problem demonstrates what can happen when an invasive species find its way into a new area, allowed to reproduce and destroys the original ecosystem.
Identify a major local, national or global environmental problem and research and
describe the role of population growth on this problem.
Lake Manitou is a 735 acre manmade lake located in Rochester, Indiana. This lake is home to many residents of Fulton County, Indiana and also a hot spot in the summer to many individuals living outside the Fulton County area. In 2006 it was discovered that Lake Manitou was being threatened by an invasive fast-growing aquatic plant. The name of this pant is Hydrilla verticillata. Hydrilla is a noxious plant according to www.plants.usda.gov. In addition, according to an article found at www.rochsent.com “Hydrilla invades lake” this plant is commonly found in southern states. What makes this plant so serious is that it invades the water ecosystem and has the potential to choke out other aquatic plants. There are several ways that this plant may have made its way into this lake. Since this lake is a popular boating lake it is possible that a boat was contaminated somewhere else and when launched into Manitou it released the plant. The second reason according the Indiana DNR is that individuals who live or rent cottages at the lake unintentionally tossed water garden or pond plants into the lake. My husband and I live on a private lake in Fulton County. This lake has been used in the past by many residents for fishing. However, we are very picky and do not allow any boats to come on our property especially after this incident at Lake Manitou. It is very important to my husband and me that we maintain the quality of the lake and protect the ecosystem right in our own backyard.
Explain in a detailed way why most of the animals in tropical rainforest live in trees.
Tropical rainforests are defined as dense forests with high amounts of rainfall and are located in tropical regions of the world. These forests are home to all kinds of animals and insect life. In fact there are probably many animals and or insects that have yet to be discovered in the rainforests. According to “Rainforest” an article located at www.rainforestanimals.net there are several layers to the rainforest. These layers are known as Emergent Layer, Canopy, Understory and the Rainforest floor. The top layer known as the Emergent Layer is home to a variety of insects, some species of bats and some species of birds. The next layer known as the Canopy is composed of trees that grow to heights of 100 – 150 feet. It is in these two areas where most of the animals make their home and find their food. The lower levels of the rain forest do not receive much sunlight however; these levels still provide an environment conducive to a variety of life that inhabits the rainforest floor.
It does make one wonder how so many species can live in harmony and find the food and water to survive. The main reason is because they have adapted to living on specific plants or animals which other species are unable to eat. I found a very interesting article at www.ran.org. that explains how these species often help each other by supplying fruits and vegetation by droppings etc. However, these species have become so dependent on each other that if one does not survive the other will often become extinct as well.
Using the bird example as a model, identify another species that your lifestyle (or that of our community) could directly or indirectly contribute to its premature extinction. What are three things that could be done to mitigate that?
Extinction is forever. There is no turning back the clock to save the species which in the case of the passenger pigeon was directly the result of human intervention. It is our human activities that have the most profound effect on species animals and plants alike. By degrading and destroying our environment we are the prime reason why species are becoming extinct.
One species that could be in danger is migrating waterfowl. By degrading and destroying wetlands and marshes we are limiting the areas where these animals take refuge. On a local perspective we all become annoyed at the growing population of the Canada goose. They seem to be everywhere. But have you ever thought that perhaps we have taken away the areas that once belonged to them? In our local community the golfers are upset because there is a large population of geese. Well what do you expect down the road is a large 735 acre lake and wetlands next to the gold course. It really makes me angry when we take areas away from these animals and then complain about their presence. Where are they supposed to live?
Another area that is in danger is located in Western Canada and Central Alaska that is home to one of the largest forested regions in the world according to the article “Western Boreal Forest – Canada Region #5” located at www.ducks.org . This massive forest area is home to many species of waterfowl including; ducks, loons and sandhill cranes. It is where they migrate, molt and breed. These pristine areas of lakes and forests have in the past been immune to outside degradation and destruction due to the remote area where it is located. However, it is evident that humans are moving into this area in search of ways to feed our growing oil consumption. It will have a profound effect on the land, the species and the climate of this region.
There are many things that can be done to protect these wonderful areas. One of the most important I feel is education. Ducks Unlimited strives to do just that by educating individuals and maintaining existing wetlands. In addition we need to use proper forest management to protect these areas. Lastly we need to find solutions to decrease our huge appetite for petroleum. In doing so we alleviate several problems, cut down on destroying pristine areas which are home to many species, lower water and air population and slow down the process of greenhouse gases. All of these are important to sustain our environment.