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Dependence Of Man On The Environment

1611 words (6 pages) Essay in Environmental Sciences

27/04/17 Environmental Sciences Reference this

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An ecological footprint measures humanity’s consumption of the natural resources. This technique is helpful because it shows how much of the natural resources human need for everyday life. However, the ecological footprint concept can be misleading as well. Ecological footprint does overlook renewable energy sources (sun, water) which reduce non-renewable sources (oil, coal). W. Cunningham and M. Cunningham (2008) add, “These [renewable sources] increase the world’s carrying capacity for people [as well]” (p. 79).

5. How might growing populations lead to solutions to society’s problems?

The only reason how population growth can be beneficial to society’s problems is by creation and innovation. In other words, more people can lead to additional manufactured goods that serve millions. “… [more] people boosts human…intelligence that will create new resources…” (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 77)

8. In which parts of the world are populations declining?

The parts of the world that populations are declining are North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 79)

Discussion Questions 1 and 6

1. Suppose that you were head of a family planning agency in India. How would you design a scientific study to determine the effectiveness of different approaches to population stabilization? How would you account for factors such as culture, religion, education, and economics?

If I were the head of a family planning agency in India, I would want to know what type of birth control method is better for stabilization the India population. I would interview my clients to find out family size preferences and choice of desired birth control. However, to curb a fast growing population, I would offer a special incentive, such as higher education and/or cash for couples to wait a certain amount of time to have children. Since family plays an important role in India, I would still offer family planning alternatives to try to slow population growth. I believe this would be good start to stabilize population growth in India.

6. In chapter 3, we discussed carrying capacities. What do you think the maximum and optimum carrying capacities for humans are? Why is this a more complex question for humans than it might be for other species? Why is designing experiments in human demography difficult?

I think this is a complex subject. Some people believe humans are considerably over their carrying capacities, which is the cause of poverty. While others say, our environment has the potential to carry humans despite of limited resources. Has the world reached its carrying capacity? I believe since the human population has a tendency to grow in an exponential way, the advancement of today’s technology should increase our resources as well. “[Some] believe…technology and enterprise can expand the world’s carrying capacity [that would] allow us to overcome any problems we encounter” (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 75).

I also think this is a more complex question for humans than other species because humans have the advantage of reducing birth rates through family planning.

Since demography is the study of a population’s size and growth, experimentation may be difficult because according to (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008) every day “[p]eople continue to be born and die” (p. 79). Furthermore, I believe the purpose of a designed experiment is to rule out an estimation of human population. Unfortunately, due to some growing and shrinking populations, consistency will be impossible.

Chapter 5: Text Practice Quiz Questions 1, 9 and 16

1. Why did ecologists want to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone Park? What goals did they have, and have their goals been achieved?

Ecologists wanted to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone Park because of the rapid growth of the elk and deer populations. Since the elk and the deer inhabitants damaged the trees and shrubbery in the park, ecologists needed to minimize the elk and deer growing residents. Therefore, wolves became predators, which minimize the elk and deer population and the Yellowstone Park was restored. W. Cunningham and M. Cunningham (2008) adds, “while wolves preyed on the elks, the wolves population grew, the elk figures decreased and the park was recovered” (p. 95).

9. Define biodiversity and give three types of biodiversity essential in preserving ecological systems and functions.

Biodiversity is a diversity or assortment of organisms in a specific biological community. W. Cunningham and M. Cunningham (2008) state that “[t]he three types of biodiversity essential to preserve ecological systems and functions are: …genetic diversity (heritable measure of individual species), species diversity (description of diverse organisms within an ecosystem), and ecological diversity (a variety of species in diverse environments)… (p. 108).

16. What is a flagship or umbrella species? Why are they often important, even though they are costly to maintain?

A flagship or umbrella species is an appealing living thing used to protect its entire ecosystem. Even though it is costly to preserve flagship or umbrella species, a tiger for instance, will represent the entire feline environment. “…the protection of flagship or umbrella species would help more organisms in it ecosystem” (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 121)

Discussion Questions 1 and 5

1. Many poor tropical countries point out that a hectare of shrimp ponds can provide 1,000 times as much annual income as the same area in an intact mangrove forest. Debate this point with a friend or classmate. What are the arguments for and against saving mangroves?

Mangroves advantage:

A sheltered habitat for aquatic organisms such as fish, crabs, and shrimps.

Since these organisms feed on the mangrove’s roots for nutrients, from a human perspective, fish, crabs, and shrimp can also offer economic benefits, which would lead to high efficiency.

Mangroves disadvantage:

Vulnerable to marine pollution such as oil spills and sewage leaks.

W. Cunningham and M. Cunningham (2008) confirm the pros and cons of mangroves, “Both marine species…and terrestrial species…rely on mangroves for shelter and food [however, mangroves] are also poisoned by sewage and industrial waste near cities” (p.105).

5. Many ecologists and resource scientists work for government agencies to study resources and resource management. Do these scientists serve the public best if they try to do pure science, or if they try to support the political positions of democratically elected representatives, who after all, represent the positions of their constituents?

I think since science involves experimentation and detection, ecologists would benefit by supporting the political council. In other words, I believe ecological science is a political process because the ecologists’ research focuses on society’s concerns such as biodiversity extinction. Since there are some organisms in the biodiversity community that offer specific benefits such as medicines and food supplies, the political government would help the scientists serve the public by sustaining the biodiversity ecosystem.

Chapter 6: Text Practice Quiz Questions 2, 3 and 10

2. What do we mean by closed-canopy forest and old-growth forest?

A closed-canopy forest is “[when] tree crowns cover most of the ground….a old-growth forests are those that cover a large enough area and have been undistributed by human activities long enough that trees can live out a natural life…” (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 129)

3. Which commodity is used most heavily in industrial economies: steel, plastic, or wood? What portion of the world’s population depends on wood or charcoal as the main energy supply?

Wood is a product used frequently in industrial economies. “More than half of the people in the world depend on firewood or charcoal as their principal source of heating and cooking…” (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008 p. 129)

10. What was the first national park in the world, and when was it established? How have the purposes of this park and others changed?

According to W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008), “The first national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park, was established in 1872. The Yellowstone National Park along will a few others were established to preserve natural scenery because of the disappearance of scenic beauty due to the land being sold to railroad and timber companies” (p. 140).

Discussion Questions 1 and 6

1. Paper and pulp are the fastest growing sector of the wood products market, as emerging economics of China and India catch up with the growing consumption rates of North America, Europe, and Japan. What should be done to reduce paper use?

According to (W. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, 2008), a couple of ways to reduce paper consumption is to:

Recycle paper

Instead of printing copies, email the data (p.136)

For instance, instead of paying bills by mail, register with e-statements and pay bills online. In additions, instead of buying newspapers and magazines from the store, sign up for online subscriptions.

6. Why do you suppose dry tropical forest and tundra are well represented in protected areas, while grasslands and wetlands are protected relatively rarely? Consider social, cultural, geographic, and economic reasons in your answer.

I believe dry tropical forest and tundra are well represented in protected areas because of its vast diversity of organisms and valuable resources such as paper and lumber. Therefore, conservation would avoid logging and extinction. In contrast, I assume grasslands and wetlands are rarely sheltered because of lack of lumber. However, the particular biome offers income to humans, such as grazing. In this case, minimum protection is required. Basically, tropical forests and grasslands are utilized by humans- tropical forest areas (benefits from lumber for fuel and paper products)-grassland areas (benefits of large herds of grazing animals).

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