Taking the course has brought me to a deeper understanding and appreciation of what nature has given us freely and a realization of what contributions I make in the process of destroying her. It is fascinating to realize that everything we do has an effect on either its preservation or tearing down. This makes our attitude or actions towards her very important and critical because if she is destroyed, its inhabitants will also be destroyed along with her.
The last three months has been like going through an evolution. An evolution of knowing what my lifestyle is contributing to the degradation of the environment and the life it supports. I became aware of the various ways I contribute to its degradation. Some can’t be helped but what can be done is reduce pollution and degradation of the environment through simple steps, which if I can be able to pass on to my family and friends will have an impact. If a domino effect can be achieved, then its impact can be felt. Everything has to start small. If those small things come together, they can become gigantic, just like the things we do. It is not right to think that I am just an invisible dot in the world, because if everyone thinks this way then nothing will be achieved. Let’s think of ourselves as a powerful invisible dot.
All the exercises/activities are eye openers. Rather than just making you read on effects of things, the personal applications makes one reflects on the lifestyle he is on. It is very fulfilling to personally solve the amount of “effect” you bring in to the environment. It makes a person look and identify other possible things with the same effect and the right attitude he can do to minimize the effects it has to the environment.
Personally, I love to go driving around, but realizing the amount of fuel it consumes and the scarcity of fuel, I have to look for alternative methods of having quality time with myself. Instead of driving, I’ll try resorting to biking. This way, I can save fuel, which is fast depleting, while I can have my exercise while reducing air pollution which is one major cause of climate change.
Material from Unit 1: Species Interaction Shape Biological Communities
Interaction of different species is a natural thing that occurs in a specific place. Life is truly a survival of the fittest. Different species, human included, fight for the limited resources available in the area. Animals compete for food to be able to survive. Some are treated as predators who kill others living organisms to be able to survive while others are parasites to other living organisms. However, not all relationships between organisms are one sided. There are relationships called mutualism in which the survival of each other depends on each other.
Humans can be both predators and parasites. We become predators when we kill other organisms for food and we become parasites when we rely on the fruit of the plants for our survival. However, we can also enter in a mutualism kind of relationship. Our pets for example, rely on their masters for survival, and the pets enhance the lives of their masters.
When some species find it hard to live anymore in the specific environment because of several factors, they become endangered. It is very important to practice balanced in an environment to minimized the elimination of certain species. I game on Endangered Animals Species found sheppardsoftware.com is very timely to give information not to kids alone but alsoto the general public of some of the most endangered species around the world together with an overview of how they live.
Material from Unit 2: Current Environmental Conditions
The current environmental conditions are not good; however, there are indicators that all is still hope. Before, the earth was capable of supporting the needs of its inhabitants. Everything was well provided however, because of the different technological advances and the population boom, resources are becoming scarcer. Climate change has taken its toll.
Gardner and Stern of Environmentmagazine.org presented a shortlist of simple things an individual can do to help save the environment. These are very important tips which if everyone in a household and if every household will practice can be a great impact on the environment. It focuses on the reducing carbon emissions and ways of mitigating climate change in our surroundings. It is estimated that these simple steps can save around 52.8% of energy use and carbon emissions (2009). If every household around the world could do this then what a great impact it could be to the environment.
Air pollution in New York
Material from Unit 3: Human Disturbance on Biomes
Humans as the most dominant organisms on earth are the most destructive specie. Almost every ecosystem have experience human disturbance. Both terrestrial and aquatic biomes have been disturbed by humans some to the extent that the living conditions in these natural ecosystems have totally changed.
Part of the marine biomes is coral reefs. These are very important because they supply millions with food and other resources. Aside from supplying food, they are the natural habitat for most marine resources. Because of human disturbances, they have become less productive, less diverse and less resilient. It is a must that these coral reefs are preserved or some be restored especially during these times when the world population is rapidly increasing needing more supply of food.
In a video by Steve Palumbi, a marine biologist of Stanford University discussed the importance of coral reefs and the effects of human disturbance to it. Overfishing and run-off nutrient load causes the decay and dying of coral reefs. The rise of global sea level and the increase in temperature are also contributing factors to the decay of the coral reefs.
There are simple things that can be done to avoid. The best way is to stop throwing waste, either solid, liquid or gas wastes in bodies of water. Aside from these, people should help advocate for fishing without the usage of destructive materials like dynamites which can destruct the coral reefs. If all people around a community will help each other to preserve the diversity surrounding them, then the next generation could still see the diversity they are currently having the privilege to see.
Coral Reef Destruction (Before and after)
Coral Reef Destruction
Material from Unit 4: Conservation Biology
A lot of species today are due for extinction. Several factors contribute to the decline of certain species however; a big part comes from human factor. It is sad to think that the ones dominant species on earth are slowly reducing in numbers and those still surviving are finding it hard to live. Conservation Biologist have been studying species on the brink of extinction and trying to revive them however the task is not easy. Without proper care, their chances of survival are very slim. Not only animals are on the brink of extinction. Plant species too can die when they are not properly cared for.
Emma Marris of Nature.com wrote in 2011 that there is a large possibility that the national parks we see today will be totally different 10 years from now. She says that even if there is an existing conservation program in the area, climate change can take its toll. They have observed that although they have been doing everything to protect these from forest fires, natural forest fires can occur. No matter how hard people try to conserve the natural habitat of living organisms, climate change still has its share. The real fight to fight by people must be the reduction of effect of climate change. In our own little way, by changing our life styles we can contribute to the conservation of our ecosystem. This is not only the task of conservation biologist but of all mankind.
Some identified animals that are already on the verge of extinction.
Material from Unit 5: Getting by with Less Water
Water is life. The world is currently experiencing scarcity in water supply especially fresh water. The movie For the Love of Water (FLOW) is an effective medium to make people realize the importance of water. The documentary shows up to what extent people do just to get hold get access of water. It also shows how big companies privatize power supply and contaminates them.
This is a wake-up call to people who doesn’t value water. With the diminishing forest that we have, our water supply is greatly affected. Different countries are experiencing potable water supply scarcity. People fight for water. The government should find ways to address this by having programs such as reforestation and having policies on proper usage of water. Water contamination and privatization should not be allowed. Individuals much practice water conservation even in our own little way because everything starts from each of us.
Water conservation starts with us individuals. Practice using containers instead of running tap water, reduce the amount of water when taking a bath, doing laundry or washing the dishes. Do not use more than enough. Recycle water by putting in a container the water used for laundry or dishes and using it later on for flushing the toilets. To avoid water pollution, do not throw toxic materials and other dirts on bodies of waters and canals.
Water is really life as evidenced by these pictures.
Material from Unit 6: Human Caused Air Pollution
Air pollution has become one of the major problems that cause the depletion of the ozone layer. Most of the causes of air pollution are from the activities of humans. Although air pollution has been there centuries ago, the increasing number of population and industrialization has also increased air pollution to the point that in some places, the air is not healthy anymore.
A video on Air Pollution Causes, Effects and Solutions posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTsxx1KZwlM) is an excellent eye opener on the extent of air pollution currently present of the earth and their effects and the simple solutions an individual can do to make earth a more healthier place to live especially for our children and also help in the mitigation of climate change and numerous diseases. It is very important to reduce our carbon emissions since this is the major cause of climate change. One way to these is by tuning up vehicles regularly and reducing the use of vehicles that uses fuel as much as possible. Try walking or using bicycles.
Material from Unit 7: Nuclear Power
Although nuclear power belongs to the conventional power sources, its effects to living organisms are inevitable when problems in the plant arise. Take for example the bombing of the nuclear power plants in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where vegetation and all other traces of lives were completely wipe out and humans exposed to the radioactive materials were also affected. Not only them by their unborn children as well who suffered from defects.
As an aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan, its Fukushima nuclear plant also suffered a meltdown where people within a specific radius were evacuated to ensuretheir safety. However, its government is still not sure as to the extent of its effect especially to the children. As a result, a long-term study on its health consequences to about 360,000 children is being conducted by the government to look into the health hazards of nuclear plants. (Tabuchi, 2011)
This step is very important to confirm the extent of health hazards nuclear plants can do so necessary precautions can be done by the government even to the extent of stopping the operations of the plants.
Nuclear power plant explosion in Japan.
Material from Unit 8: Alternative Fuels
The world is currently experiencing the aftermath of the lack of energy sources, especially fuel. Every commodity is affected by the increase in fuel. Since fuel is not a renewable energy source, there will come a time when the fuel sources will be depleted. It is a must for individuals and governments to look for alternative fuel resources. Several possible renewable resources have been identified and implemented by different countries, but still, the efforts are not yet enough. It will be good to see if 100% of the energy requirements of countries would come from renewable resources. Aside from lessening its cost, it will also decrease the carbon monoxide emissions which are one of the major pushers of the climate change.
It is noteworthy to see that even big countries are promoting and supporting the use of renewable resources. In the US, President Obama recently announced its $14B funding support to studies relating to the generation of vehicle fuel from a certain kind of algae. (US Department of Energy, 2012) This is a very important step since US is one of the biggest consumers of fuel.
It is a must for the all countries to find alternative power sources that does not put the environment to further harm. Countries especially those who do not have fuel sources must explore on tapping renewable energy resources like solar energy, wind energy and water energy. The initial investment required may be huge but the return of investment and its being environment friendly is what makes this alternative worth trying.
Biggest solar plant in Germany (ACME Company)
Energy from water
Material from Unit 9: Waste Management
Proper waste management is very important. Local officials must promote proper waste management in their communities to avoid health hazards especially hazardous materials and hospital waste.
Recycling is one of the major ways of waste management. Airplanes are not excluded. In a video called How they Do It? Airplane Recycling (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEPDgSUCVbw&feature=related) different ways of recycling airplanes are shown and the products from it. Instead of just letting them stay on crash sites or on hangars, these planes can be put to use. Since most of its composition are metals, it’s recycling cost is cheap. This should not only be done or airplanes but as well as other land and sea vehicles to put them to good use.
There are a number of ways to reduce my waste stream. First is using degradable materials. If it can’t be helped then we should try using recyclable materials so that the volume of waste would be reduced. As much as possible, everything should be recycled. Even if the local government does not have laws on the usage of plastics, we, as individuals must avoid using them.
Collected plastics for recycling of the Washington State University
Endangered Animals Game (2012). Retrieved on March 19, 2012 at http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/kidscorner/endangered_animals/endangered_game.htm
Gardner, Gerald T. and Stern, Paul C. (2009). The Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Curb Climate Change.Retrieved on March 19, 2012 at www.environmentmagazine.org/Archives/BackIssues/September-October2008/gardner-stern-full.html
Human Impacts on Coral Reefs. Retrieved on March 19, 2012 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2KmFJu1yPA
Marris, Emma (2011). Conservation biology: The end of the wild. Retrieved on March 19, 2012 athttp://www.nature.com/news/2011/110112/full/469150a.html
Tabuchi, Hiroko (October 10, 2011). In Japan, a Long-Term Study on Radiation Leaks’ Effects. New York Times. Retrieved on March 19, 2012 athttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/world/asia/japan-studies-radiation-effects-on-children.html?_r=1
US Department of Energy (February 23, 2012). President Obama Announces $14 million Funding Opportunity to Develop Transportation Fuels from Algae. Biomass Program. Retrieved on March 19, 2012 at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/news_detail.html?news_id=18119