Abi's Blog

Mar 28

Degradation of Soil

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Here is a photograph of an example of degradation of soil where the human activity and erosion correlates with one another. In this example, it can be found next to the elementary school building. Soil degradation is when the soil quality in an area which is usually caused by agricultural or industrial causes. In this case, there were other reasons for the cause of this soil in this area to have land degradation such as urbanization and this area of the plantation usually gets flooded on some occasions.

Mar 13

Case Study: Rainforests

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Nowadays many natural areas have been threatened by human activities. However, I have chosen to look more in depth about the Amazon rain forest and how the impact of human activity is causing this rain forest to be threatened.

An example of human impact to the rain forest is the act of deforestation to extract the oil, mining, logging and hunting. The rain forest provides a lot of resources which is great economically. However, as demands of these resources increase, it causes the degradation of the area as more land is being cleared out. Furthermore, the area is used for other purposes such as agriculture land or for livestock. Also, these areas would attract more human activities such as those who are seeking new businesses which they can build from these resources.

Data shows that the areas where the areas where human activities are clearing the areas by destroying the trees around the Amazon River. Also, other activities caused by humans such as fires are destroying the trees and clearing out the area.

From our impacts, it makes the trees which grows in this region more difficult to survive during the dry season. Another problem resulting from our impact is that it makes the soil more infertile; making it harder for trees to grow. From this, it also affects the living organism living this this ecosystem.

“Layer upon layer of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria that are spread throughout the forest endlessly recycle the ecosystem’s nutrients. The infertile soil is not well suited to farming, and when the forest is cleared to make way for farms, farmers face the dilemma of how to enrich the soil. In a part of the country where millions of people earn less than $100 per month, expensive soil additives and fertilizer aren’t options. Instead, farmers clear cut the forest and set it on fire in order to turn the nutrients locked up in the forest biomass into a soil-fertilizing ash.” (The Watchers)

 

Work Cited:

Information:

“Amazon Rainforest May Be Changing by Human Impacts on the Region’s Weather.” The Watchers. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2012/01/20/amazon-rainforest-may-be-changing-by-human-impacts-on-the-regions-weather/>.

“THREATS TO RAINFORESTS FROM HUMANKIND.” Mongabay.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0803.htm>.

Images:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6IyZd9lXkX0/UJFMyviHryI/AAAAAAAAABk/Sq0NQ7UAo3E/s1600/Amazon+Rainforest.jpg

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0803.htm

Mar 10

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Outline how soil degradation can be caused by human activities

Soil Degradation is when there is a decline of quantity and quality of the soil which is usually caused by the surrounding environment or human activities. Human are mostly primarily responsible for soil degradation although it is a very complex process with other fundamental impacts as well. One of the actions which are caused by human activities which impacts erosion is deforestation. It is the process when vegetation in the area is removed which therefore kills the roots which binds the soil and makes the soil more exposed to wind and water. Once it is exposed to wind or water, the soil will erode even faster because there is nothing to protect the soil. Another action from human activity which can cause soil degradation greatly is agriculture activities especially when using chemical fertilisers and using the land for grazing. The use of chemical fertilisers interferes greatly with soil as it contaminates and replenishes the nutrients in the soil. Although this impact can be found worldwide, soil degradation is more severe in countries which relies on agriculture the most for income. Grazing on the other hand, is another example of how it exposes the soil to the wind and water as the top layer of soil is prone to erosion. The fourth action is some economical activities such as mining which is a process where soil is extracted from the land which leads to an exposure of bare soil. Removal of soil leads to loss of vegetation and the rich soil on top. The last examples of how human activities impacts soil degradation is through developmental activities such as building roads as it requires land to build them.

Explain  the importance of soil organisms in ecosystems

The organism which stays in soil all or most of their life are categorised as soil organisms although there are some which can be distinguished into even smaller groups. These organisms which are found in soil which can be categorised into groups actually have different functions and can play different roles in the soil.  One importance of soil organisms is that it helps with the fertility of the soil by contributing to the aggregation of soil particles, enhancing cycling of nutrients and helping some plants to obtain nutrients from the soil. Decomposers are the first example of how their function in the soil is quite an essential key to combine the soil particles together and  breaking down all the dead debris which is usually a dead organism left there to be accumulate. The dead remains are usually the organic matter which is transformed into other properties reflects on the importance of how some of these soil organisms’ roles are vital for recycling, releasing and storing nutrients in the soil.

Evaluate the anthropocentric view that it is important for everyone in society to participate in environmental decision-making. Discuss one example of the successful involvement of communities in solving environmental problems

It is important for the society to realise that soil plays a very important part in our lives. If we continue to destroy the soil through our own actions it means that we will destroy one of our vital functions for humans. Soil can be used for many different purposes and is one of the resources that have more than one function. Every day, we use soil to produce our food by growing them in soil and helps improve the water quality by filtering materials once it is added into the soil. However, human activities which impact the soil should be taken in consideration by the society because it takes a long time for it to develop which means that soil should be considered as a non-renewable resource. Although some of us already taken in consideration how we must try and decrease our damage to soil, it will still be a very challenging task to reserve soil since we rely on it for our survival. There have been a number of methods which has been thought of in order for us to conserve soil however, it comes to a conclusion that human activities impacting soil from economical and agricultural factors had been ignored for too long which leads to several different approaches to how we can conserve soil. An example of a community which got involved for solving this environmental problem is a case study on soil conservation on the Great Plains in the US. Throughout the drought in 1935, this led to soil erosion caused by wind as a response to that time period when there was a high demand on food. Eventually, a conservation act included different methods which would try and reduce the rate of erosion by using techniques such as using temporary cover crops such as millet or shallow ploughing to eliminate weed. However, there was a further decline in nitrogen levels although the fallow cropland technique as a way to regenerate nitrogen in the soil. Although they tried to tackle this by converting some areas for permanent grazing, herbicide was introduced to the old farming methods. As a result, it was easier to control weeds as well as reduce the risk of soil erosion and nitrogen loss. However, the herbicide (paraquat) is a toxic chemical and is highly poisonous. In other words, although there are new techniques and methods to try and conserve soil, there will always be a new problem from the new techniques.

 

Citations:

IASIJA, MOHIT. “What Are the Main Causes of Land Degradation ?” What Are the Main Causes of Land Degradation ? N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <http://www.preservearticles.com/201101082863/main-causes-of-land-degradation.html>.

“Soil Degradation.” Soil Degradation. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013. <http://www.goodplanet.info/eng/Pollution/Soils/Soil-degradation>.

“The Soil Ecosystem.” The Soil Ecosystem. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <http://eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/COG/COGHandbook/COGHandbook_1_3.htm>.

Mar 04

Species Conservation

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Endangered: Acerodon jubatus (Golden-capped Fruit Bat)

These golden-capped Fruit Bats are endangered and impacted their population is due to severe habitat loss and hunting. Although these fruit bats have been moving from their roosting sites to other sites, locals would continue to hunt down these bats for leisure and for food. Although, there have been special roosting spots for this species however; these are rarely protected with proper safety.

These days, the species is protected by the Philippine Wildlife Act to prevent a greater decrease of the golden-capped fruit bat population. Also, locals agreed not to build anything close to the species’ roosting site that can disturb it. Furthermore, there is a captive-breeding programme which will be able to help stabilise the species’ population.

 

Recovered: Acipenser brevirostrum (Shortnose Sturgeon)

Although Shortnose Sturgeon already started with a fairly small population, the species began to be threatened by the amount of fishing in their habitat. It is not illegal to fish in the water in which the species inhibit which impacts the species greatly. Furthermore, construction of damns is a prevention of migration and habitat loss since they are unable to migrate up and down stream.

However, the shortnose sturgeon has now recovered since more research about these species was operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Shortnose Stureon recovery and Management Plan also helped out to increase the number of this species. Furthermore, in some locations where the species inhibited are protected by prohibition of fishing and habitat destruction.

 

Extinct: Rucervus schomburgki (Schomburgk’s Deer)

This species became extinct around 1932 mainly after their loss of habitat when rice production in Thailand increased. Nearly all their habitat which they depended on was destroyed and many were hunted down. Also, their antlers were used in some Chinese medicine which lead to further decrease of population.

 

Citations

Duckworth, J.W., Robichaud, W.G. & Timmins, R.J. 2008. Rucervus schomburgki. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.

Friedland, K.D. (University of Massechusetts) & Kynard, B. (U.S. Geological Survey) 2004.Acipenser brevirostrum. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.

Mildenstein, T., Cariño,A., Paul, S., Heaney, L., Alviola, P., Duya, A., Stier, S., Pedregosa, S., Lorica, R., Ingle, N., Balete, D., Garcia, J.J., Gonzalez, J.C., Ong, P., Rosell-Ambal, G. & Tabaranza, B. 2008. Acerodon jubatus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.

“110 Success Stories for Endangered Species Day 2012.” 110 Success Stories for Endangered Species Day 2012. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://esasuccess.org/>.

 

Feb 07

Solar and Natural Gas

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Solar energy

(Renewable)

– It is non-polluting, no carbon dioxide is produced.-          It’s free except for capital expenses- It’s healthier for the environment, compared to burning fossil fuels and other electrical power.

– You can get clean energy without harming the environment.

– It reduces pollution

– It can be installed anywhere

– It produces green and clear power that doesn’t harmful to the environment we live in.

– You need to spend many spaces to build solar panels

– It is very expensive to purchase them.

– It only works where there’s a sufficient amount of sunlight.

– It doesn’t last long.

– The efficiency relies on the location of the sun

– It is usually useful during the day

– It is highly limited by environmental factors

Natural gas

(Non-renewable)

– It is cheap compared to other resources, it is cost-effective.

– Can be safely stored and burned.

– It can be easily transported

– It’s relatively abundant

– Natural gas is more economical than electricity,

 

– It is highly flammable so it can be dangerous if it is handled carelessly.-          It cannot be effectively used since it is a highly combustible substance.- Constructing and managing transportation pipelines costs a lot if not the transporting of the substance itself.

– Contributes a large amount of carbon dioxide to greenhouse gases.

– Most made out of methane which is more dangerous than carbon dioxide.

– It contributes strongly to greenhouse emissions.

– It can leak, can cause an explosion (destroys the surrounding environment)

Advantages of solar energy in our life

http://articles.cnn.com/2007-10-01/world/solar.energy_1_solar-power-solar-panels-energy-supply?_s=PM:WORLD

“All About: Solar Energy.” CNN. N.p., 01 Oct. 2007. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.

The Solar energy is often considered as the best out of all energy resources because it does not have harmful side effects while other energy resources such as fossil fuel do have side effects (air pollution and ozone depletion).

 

Advantages of solar energy:

Generate heat and light but it can fly oru planes, drive our cars and desalinate our water.

20 days’ supply of sunshine is equal to the amount of energy we get from coal, oil and natural gas.

On the other hand, solar energy is not used worldwide as energy resource. In fact, BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007 reported that natural energy resources such as solar and wind only contributes around 1% to world’s electricity generation.

 

Disadvantages of natural gas

“Keynsham residents against natural gas extraction plans”

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-20526551 )

 

UK Methane wanted to extract natural gas from coal-beds in the areas of Keynsham. The 560 residents in Keynsham submitted objects against UK Methane’s proposal about extracting natural gas in their areas.

Disadvantages of natural gas:

The process of extracting natural gas contains environmental and safety problems.

It has been proved that extracting natural gas from coal-beds is dangerous.

Water can be contaminated through fracture or by the leftover chemicals in the wastewater.

 

Our Group’s decision:

Natural gas can be used in both LEDC and MEDC while solar energy only cannot be generated and used in every LEDC or MEDC. This is because solar energy mostly relies on the environment as it can only generate energy from sunlight. Even if the country can afford the solar panels, the level of sunlight which they receive will completely affect how much energy they can use each day. Also, the cost of building a solar panel is quite expensive which would be a problem for LEDCs. Unlike the other non-renewable resources, natural gas is cheap and is cost-effective which will more economical for both countries. Despite the fact that natural gas produces less carbon dioxide than other non-renewable resources, it is still damaging to the surrounding environment. Unlike solar power, natural gas more advantages since affordable in both countries and it doesn’t rely on the weather/location. If natural gas is used in both countries, they should be aware of the consequences if they do use this resource as it will harm the environment.

Group: Abigail, Ji Hoon Lee, Hyun Su

Sep 30

Symbiotic Relationships

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Mutualism

Definition:

Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit from each other. It is the relationship in which two organisms live together.

Example:  Ostrich/Red Fronted Gazelle

A red fronted gazelle and an ostrich is a good example of mutualism as both of them are getting benefitted in the relationship. Gazelles are known for having bad hearing, but have good eye sight. However, Ostriches are known for having bad eye sight but great hearing. Furthermore they are helping each other survive by benefitting with the other’s good eye sight or hearing as they move around the African savannahs.

Red Fronted Gazelle

Ostrich

Gazelle and Ostrich

Parasitism

Definition:

Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which a one species benefit at the expense of the other (the host) from which it derives food. Even some plant parasites draw food from the host via their roots.

Example: Mistletoe/silver birch

Mistletoes actually grow on a range of host trees but still benefits from these trees. When mistletoe grows on a tree, they would start to absorb nutrients of the older and mature tree which they have taken root into. This means that the mistletoe is actually benefitting from this relationship although the host tree is not because they are losing their own nutrients

Mistletoe Growing on Silver Birch

Commensalism

Definition:

Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one living organism benefits from the other while the other is not significantly harmed or benefitted in any ways.  Sometimes it may involve in one organism using another for transportation or housing. This is different from parasitism as there is nothing significantly harming the other.

Example: Hermit crab/Snail shell

A hermit crab and a snail shell is a good example of commensalism as it shows how only one organism is being benefitted but the other is not being harmed. A hermit crab is the only crab which has a soft shell which means they would need to finds a shell in order to protect themselves. This means they would find an empty snail shell which is not used by the snail. Therefore, this shows that the hermit crab is benefitting from the snail even though the snail is not particularly being harmed.

Shell less Hermit Crab

Snail Shells

Hermit Crab in a Shell

 

Predator/Prey

Definition:

Predation occurs when one animal or sometimes a plant hunts and eats another animal. Also, these predator/prey interactions are often controlled by negative feedback mechanisms as a way to control population densities.

Example: Mountain Lion and Desert Cottontail

An example of predator/prey is when a mountain lion hunts a rabbit. This means that the mountain lion is being benefited as it eats the rabbit as it is a carnivore and needs to hunt. The rabbit however dies since it is the prey in this relationship.

Desert Cottontail

Mountain lion

Mountain Lions Hunting Rabbit

Sep 10

Definition of Knowledge

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From what I think, a good definition of knowledge is when one gets information from a source which they would be able to justify, believe it, and if it is actually true. If one of these factors is not present, then it would not completely be knowledge as it would make knowledge false.

Here are some examples:

Justify and Belief (truth absent):

You can justify something and believe but the truth can actually affect  the knowledge because if it is false, then it is actually not information which can be true forever.

Justify and Truth (belief absent):

You can justify it even if it is the truth, but if you don’t believe, the it will just be information that you know and it is only something you are aware of. Also, it is also the thought of accepting the information because you can still know it.

Truth and Belief (Justification absent):

You can know it is the truth and you can believe it but there could be no evidence that can be justified to make it true.

The only problem about this is that people do not really know the difference between information and knowledge. Of course there are actually differences between knowledge and information since each of these ends up of each are on the opposite sides of the line. Belief however, ends up somewhat in between knowledge and information. Other than that, someone can say that it is knowledge BUT they would have to justify, believe it and the information is the truth. If it lacks one of the elements, it wouldn’t be true forever.

 

Aug 27

Open System: Pond

Closed System: Table

May 21

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