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Ecology, Global Changes, and Environmental Issues

Updated on September 30, 2014
Rainforest Frog
Rainforest Frog | Source

The Environment - Global Changes And Their Effects On Earth's Ecosystems

Ecology is the study of the relationships between living organisms and their natural environment, as well as between groups of living organisms.

Global Changes are world-wide changes involving such things as climate, the carbon cycle, the water cycle, the level of the sea, food webs, the loss of sea ice, biological diversity, and more. Although global changes used to be mostly a result of plate tectonics, volcanic action, meteorites, changes in the earth's orbit or in its tilt, etc, global changes today are primarily related to the actions of humans. As the population of humans has grown, the stress we place on our earth increases.

In this article, we'll be talking about some of the changes to the environment that are directly related to humans and their actions.

These global changes include things such as:

acid rain,

the ozone layer,

chlorofluorocarbons,

the destruction of the rainforests,

global warming and the greenhouse effect,

pollution,

the loss of topsoil,

ground water depletion,

and the human population explosion.


Go Green Ideas: Help Save The Earth!

In addition to discussing these environment concerns, we'll also consider what can be done to help save our environment! Several green ideas that would make good projects for students are mentioned. If you have a great Go Green! idea that's not listed here, please use the guestbook near the bottom of the page to suggest it!

The Rainforest frog you see at the top of this page is called a Blue-jean Frog, or a Strawberry Poison Dart Frog. He lives in Costa Rica. His bright colors serve as protection, indicating that he's poisonous and warning predators not to eat him. His diet is mostly made up of ants and mites. The alkaloids in the ants he eats does contribute to his toxicity.

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Global Changes And The Environment

The students in our homeschool co-op are studying biology this year.

For our biology unit on global changes and the environment, in addition to the resources and information on this page, we'll be using Holt Biology, and engaging in a variety of labs and hands-on activities to learn more about the world around us.

We welcome all of you to join us as we explore these important issues pertaining to the environment.

Holt Biology - This is the biology text our homeschool co-op is using this year.

Holt Biology, Student Edition
Holt Biology, Student Edition

Holt Biology is available in hardback as well as CD.

 

Global Change

Global Change - Acid Rain, Ozone Layer, Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect

Global Change

Humans play an important role in our environment. What we do influences ecosystems all over the world.

  • Acid Rain - Acid rain is caused by the release of sulfur into the environment by coal burning power plants. The sulfur mixes with water vaop and creates sulfuric acid. When this sulfuric acid comes down as rain (or other forms of precipitation), it's called acid rain. Many living organisms are being hurt by this acid rain.
  • The Ozone Hole - The Ozone Layer is the protective ozone that exists in the atmosphere surrounding the earth and allows life to exist on earth. Scientists have discovered that a hole is growing in our ozone layer. This hole, called the Ozone Hole, allows more ultraviolet radiation to reach earth. This ultraviolet radiation may lead to more cases of cataracts and cancer, especially skin cancer and eye cancer. CFCs (described in the next section) are the primary cause of this hole in our ozone layer.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons - Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are believed to be the primary cause of the ozone hole. They were invented in the 1920s and are used in aerosol spray cans, refrigerator and air conditioning coolants, and the making of stryofoam cups and containers (like what you may bring food home from a restaurant in!). The United States have now banned CFC's from being used in aerosol cans for this reason.
  • Global Warming - Global Warming is an increase in the average temperatures on earth. It has been noted that as carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has increased, so have the temperatures on earth. Part of this increase in carbon dioxide comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Greenhouse Effect - Greenhouse gases (water vapor, CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) trap heat within earth's atmosphere much like a greenhouse for plants traps heat inside it. We want heat on earth - we couldn't live without it - but we don't want TOO much! The increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere may be increasing the greenhouse effect thus leading to global warming.

The Effects of the Behavior of Humans On Earth's Ecosystems

Save The Rainforest

The Effects of the Behavior of Humans On Earth's Ecosystems - Chemical Pollution, Loss of Resources, and Human Population Increase

Chemical pollution of our environment is a serious matter. Spills from oil tankers injury and kill thousands of animals. Some factories create dangerous chemicals that can get into our environment. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are also toxic to our environment. And once these dangerous chemicals are in our environment, it's hard to get rid of them!

  • Biological Magnification. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals can accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals. As these toxic chemicals move up the food chain, from one organism eating another, these chemicals become even more concentrated. This is what is meant by biological magnification.
  • DDT - DDT is a pesticide that use to be widely used for the purpose of killing insects that may damage crops. It's use has now been restricted in the US. Why? Because it was harming our environment. DDT causes bird eggs to be very fragile and break easily. Because of DDT, many species of birds were declining in numbers, due to their problems with their eggshells.
  • Extinction of Species In The Rain Forest - Did you know that we've already lost about half of our tropical rain forests? And more of rainforest are being destroyed every day. Rainforest land is being burned to create farmland or pastures for farm animals. In the process, many species of plants and animals are becoming extinct. It has been predicted that we may lose up to 1/5 of the species of plants and animals on earth. As you read this, keep in mind that everything on earth is connected. When even one species becomes extinct, the results can be far reaching, affecting so many other species as well. What if one or more of the species that are dying off hold the key for preventing or curing cancer?
  • The Loss of Valuable Topsoil - Topsoil is the very rich, fertile layer of soil on the top of the ground. The world has lost about a third of it's topsoil since 1950 and is continuing to lose several centimeters of topsoil per decade. Certain agricultural practices allow rain and wind to wash the topsoil away.
  • The Depletion and Pollution of Ground Water - Ground water is the the water that collects below the earth's surfaces, in the soil, rocks, and sediment. Ground water is the source of water in aquifers (porous rock reservoirs), springs, and wells. We are using water at a faster rate than it can seep into the aquifers. Also, ground water is being polluted by toxic chemicals and the disposal of chemical wastes.
  • Increase in The Human Population- More people are being born than are dying each year. If we continue to increase in numbers at the rate we are currently doing, the population of humans on earth will have doubled from what it is now in just over 60 years. The human population is increasing the fastest in Asia, African, and Latin America. Yet, it's not expected that humans will continue multiplying at this rate. In fact, the rate has already begun declining.


    So what's the problem with having so many people on Earth? The more people on earth, the more resources we use, and the faster our resources get depleted. For how long can the earth support 6 billion people?

What Can We Do To Help The Environment?

Solving Environmental Problems

Some things are already being done to reduce air and water pollution.

  1. Some sewage treatment facilities now remove chemicals in addition to bacteria.
  2. "Scrubbers" are devices which reduce the sulfur emission pollutants from factory smokestacks. The "Clean Air Act of 1990" requires that these scrubbers be placed on power plant smokestacks.
  3. In some cities, "carpool lanes" have been set aside for cars driving with more than one occupant in order to encourage people to ride together.
  4. By law, cars must have catalytic converters in order to reduce the emissions they give off.
  5. Reducing pollution costs money. (Paying for a scrubber on a smokestack costs more money than paying for a smokestack alone. Likewise, paying for a catalytic converter on a car costs more money than buying a car without one.) In order to help offset the increased expenses of reducing pollution, sometimes things which pollute the environment are taxed. An example is the gasoline tax.

5 Steps to Solving Environmental Problems Successfully

  1. Assessment - The first step to solving environmental problems is assessment. Assessment includes collecting data and making a model.
  2. Risk Analysis - During the second step to solving environmental problems, scientists predict what will happen (both positive and negative effects) if they implement various types of environmental interventions.
  3. Public education - The third step is to inform the public about the various alternatives and their predicted results and costs.
  4. Political Action - In the fourth step, the public votes (or may have their elected officials vote instead) on a plan.
  5. Follow-through - The fifth step consists of monitoring the results over time. Has the plan been successful in helping the environment? Has it solved the environmental problem?

Youth making changes in the world.

When many people make even a small change in their habits, the earth benefits immensely. It all adds up!

The youth in our homeschool co-op have all pledged to do something to help the environment this year, in addition to the things they and their family were already doing. They have selected projects such as sewing and using reusable shopping bags, eating less fast food, setting up a solar panel, and many others!

What can you do to make a difference in our world?

Things YOU Can Do To Help The Earth

How do you help save our environment?

What are you already doing to help Planet Earth?

See results

*** About Fluorescent Light Bulbs!***

If you or your family use fluorescent light bulbs, please, please be aware that these must be disposed of properly. If you simply throw them into the trash, you're releasing highly toxic mercury into our environment! In some locations, these light bulbs can be returned to the store where you purchased them. For more information, please visit: Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out.

Where can you return used fluorescent bulbs? - Where can you recycle other items as well?

For an environmental project, why not collect used fluorescent bulbs and/or batteries from others in your neighborhood and take them to the appropriate location for recycling or safe disposal? You'll not only be cleaning up your neighborhood this time, you'll also be indirectly bringing attention to your neighbors that it release mercury into the environment when people throw their fluorescent bulbs away.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? - That's something easy everyone can do to help the earth.

ChicoBag Snack Time rePETe (Recycled PET) Baggies Snack and Sandwich Reusable Bags, Pack of 3
ChicoBag Snack Time rePETe (Recycled PET) Baggies Snack and Sandwich Reusable Bags, Pack of 3

Use these reusable bags to carry sandwiches and snacks to school, work, on a picnic, etc!

 

Sew Your Own Grocery Tote Bags! - This is even better than buying new bags! Make your own out of materials you already have on hand!

We've made several reusable shopping bags out of material we had on hand. You can see a photo of one of them above. By the way, old knit or flannel shirts work great too for making shopping bags, especially shirts kids have outgrown!

Follow the links below to find the directions for making your own reusable cloth shopping bags!

Are you composting your food scraps, cereal boxes, paper, tea bags, lawn clippings, etc? - Composting is an easy step for most people. It really takes very litt

Composting reduces the amount of stuff you throw away, and gives you nice rich dirt for your garden!

You don't have to have a fancy compost bin in order to compost. You can keep your empty (flattened) cereal boxes, paper products, and food scraps in a plastic bag in your house until you're ready to take them out to the compost pile outside.

Outside, you can use an empty rolling trash barrel with holes drilled in it to put your food scrapes, leaves, and other items. Or section off a small part of the yard for your compost. Watch the youtube below for ideas on creating compost bins.

Over 20 years ago, I saw a show on TV that demonstrated how to make a compost bin out of an old plastic garbage can. We made one and are still using it today! It works well!

All my family does, by the way, is throw the items to be composted into the bin. We never bother to turn the items over or add special composting chemicals. We just throw the items in the bin, close the lid, and forget about it. We get really rich soil as a result, and it doesn't take years to get it either!

We were given another composting bin by a relative, so now we add to one for a few months and leave the other one alone to compost. After we remove the compost we begin using it as our bin to add items too and leave the other bin alone to do it's job.

More Ideas For Things YOU Can Do To Help Protect Our Beautiful Planet

How about taking a couple of friends and some trash bags, and cleaning up a nearby park or other area? (Remember to use gloves and be careful as to what you pick up.)

Ecology, Global Changes, Environmental Issues, &

Go Green Ideas: Help Save The Earth!

© 2011 - 2014 Janiece Tobey. All rights reserved.

Webpage created on 12/13/11.

Page last updated 8/22/14.

What are you doing to help save our earth? Are you taking steps to protect our environment?


Guestbook - Comments? Questions?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think I am somewhere in the middle with my environmentally-friendly efforts, so I should really step it up. Great ideas here!

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 5 years ago

      Back for a second visit - great lens!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great ecology lens! *blessed

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      Fascinating lens with lots of easy to follow great suggestions for protecting the environment. Blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Very great resources, I found myself spending a lot time here - clicking out to your sites, watching the videos, etc. and I thought - ooh, this deserves a blessing! Also bookmarked to a couple of sites. :)

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      One step is that I learned on your lens. Thanks!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
      Author

      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      @julescorriere: Thanks so much for the comment and the Squid Angel Blessings! The projects of the youth are due in a few weeks. Hopefully at that time I can get some photos of them and post them, if it's okay with the teens!

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      What an informative lens. You certainly give your readers a lot to think about. I would also love to see photos of some of the examples you talk about. Have you thought about adding more? Congratulations on Making the Best of Squidoo 2012 Earth Day Lenses. Blessed!

    • Nomadabstracted1 profile image

      Nomadabstracted1 5 years ago

      This is full of helpful information!

    • profile image

      jjprusk 5 years ago

      Trying to raise the awareness of the impact of methane and cows on the environment (www.squidoo.com/methane-the-real-environmental-problem)

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I like reading your lenses, your doing a great job keep up the good work!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Happy Earth Day!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      O i absolutely love the bag-making idea! I never thought of that! Great lens!

    • profile image

      chiquitasmom9665 5 years ago

      i really enjoyed all the info i learned it made me want to be more globaly consciensous

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning to congratulate you on another well deserved front page feature and wishing I could bless this again...Happy Earth Dad!

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      Great lens! Happy Earth Day!

    • profile image

      fish-oil-expert 5 years ago

      Thanks for the environmental tips. I'm interested in making a similar lens. Happy Earth Day!

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

      Building lenses about protecting environment is one of my goal in this area :)

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      Congratulations on being featured on the Earth Day monster board. I am ashamed to admit that I do much less recycling than I used to. I haven't found a good way to recycle plastic bottles since being on the road. I'm going to have to work on that. On a positive note, I've had to downgrade my toilet paper to use in an RV which helps because quilted toilet paper uses virgin wood (I wonder how many people know that?)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      If only the deaf could hear and the blind could see, what a difference this lens woould make. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012 and also on Earthday and what is wrong with our planet earth. Hugs

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You did a really nice job on this lens. And I love your intro picture!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. Happy Earth Day!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      The main reason why eco-friendly alternatives cost more is: We are not paying the real cost for the resources that we're using.

    • ferginarg lm profile image

      ferginarg lm 5 years ago

      Awesome lens and topic, thanks for helping stimulate a good cause - saving our planet.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      People of all ages need this information but I'm so happy to hear you are teaching your children, so another generation can work towards a cleaner environment! Great job!!

    • InfernalCombust profile image

      InfernalCombust 5 years ago

      Great lens, and very informative!

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago from America's Dairyland

      Well informed and intelligently written lens! You offer lots of resources for helping change destructive behavior.

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 5 years ago from Chico California

      We do most of the things you listed to concern energy and recycle. I did learn something new about fluorescent light bulbs. We have a shop light and haven't ever needed to replace the bulbs yet, but, now I know to dispose of them properly. I wouldn't have thought of it. Do the packages have this information on them?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am proud to say that apart from "car pooling" we do everything on your list and more, including recycling textiles and batteries.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      It's frightening to me how fast these changes are occurring. And even as we talk about making the situation better, we continue to increase our emissions. :-(

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a subject close to my heart! Hope the people are getting smarter around this sensitive issue than ignoring it over insensitive pursuits! :(

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Excellent tutorials about our environment, ecology, biology and more - very thorough and well formatted. I read somewhere recently about X politician who claims that global warming doesn't really exist and is a farce... geez, wanted to send him on a vacation through the hole in the ozone!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      For my enviromental project I am going to plant our Christmas tree and I'm goin to water it regularly to keep it alive. I'm reducing waste by planting it instead of just letting it die then throwing it away.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My family travels a lot so I am going check the air in my mom's car tires on a regular basis and make sure nothing heavy (when we don't need it) is in the car. Doing these things on a regular basis will reduce the amount of gas we use and then we will not be putting out as much pollution in the environment as we normally would.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My family has a lot of appliances that we use in our household daily and that need to be charged quite often- cell phones, cameras, laptops, ipods, game devices, etc. So to try to help conserve some of the energy that is used everyday from charging these devices, my dad and I set up a solar panel. Instead of using current domestic energy from an outlet, we are harnessing some of the sun's energy to charge some of the things we use everyday. Now even though this is great and it helps the environment, all good things have a down side. Solar panels can be very pricey, so do some research before you go out and buy any.

      It is likely that conserving water will be a big deal in the future, so why not start conserving now? Taking quicker showers, reusing shower water and rainwater, watering plants and yards at the right time of day, these are all things that we are capable of doing to help conserve our water reserve. I personally take longer showers, so I will try to decrease the amount of time it takes for me to take one.

    • profile image

      KimAndryscyzk 5 years ago

      When I walk down the street in my neighborhood I see a lot of aluminum cans lying on the ground. My plan is to recycle cans that I see on the ground to keep them from staying there for ever.

    • profile image

      Ignoria 5 years ago

      I am going to trim down my 30-60 minute showers to 15 minutes, or half an hour if I have to shave. And, since my laptophas to be charged pretty often, I will stop leaving it plugged in when I'm not using it and use it more economically along with my iPod and Phone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How to Reduce the Amount of Resources We Use

      By Kaellan H.

      Problem: Being twins, my brother and I create a lot of dirty laundry! Washing and drying clothes uses a lot of energy. I wanted to think of some ways that we could reduce the amount of dirty clothes that the two of us put in the laundry. My mom said that only changing our clothes once a week was not a good option.

      -I put a clothesbasket in my room for dirty laundry so that we donât accidentally mix the clean clothes with the dirty clothes.

      -I am going to try to put my clean clothes away so that they do not get mixed in with the dirty clothes.

      - I will hang up my bath towel so that I can use it more than once.

      - I will try not to get my shirt and pants dirty so that I can wear them more than one day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How to reduce resource consumption

      By Kelley H.

      Problem: Our family is on the go a lot and we tend to eat fast food for many meals. This creates a whole bunch of waste and it does not promote healthy eating habits.

      -For days that we are away from home all day, I am going to fix healthy snacks to take on the road like fruit.

      -I will pack lunches to take with us.

      - I will save fast food cups to reuse on different days so that they do not end up in a landfill

      -I am going to cook one meal a week for my family using a new and healthy recipe that I have found.

    • Alex Tobey profile image

      Alex Tobey 5 years ago

      For my biology project on the environment, I'm going to sew a reusable cloth bag to be used when we go to the store.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My son did a bottle drive (collecting beer bottles, wine bottles etc) then sent all the money to WWF to save endangered species.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Excellent article about the changes to our environment, you bring up a very important subject if we want to save our planet. You article creates awareness. I try to do most of the things you listed above and encourage my children to follow.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 5 years ago

      this is a great reminder for all of us that so many changes heve been done to our environment by our actions and to be aware and help protect and save our environment.

    • JanieceTobey profile image
      Author

      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes!! I agree with you, Andrew! This is true for so many things - not just environmental issues. For example, although education costs money, the cost of not educating can cost even more. Eating healthy can cost money, but the cost of not eating healthy can cost even more. Thanks for your comment, Andrew!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The lists and resources in this lens offer many starting points for deeper exploration. One point that I found particularly interesting is #5 under Solving Environmental Problems: "Reducing pollution costs money."

      From a purely financial perspective, and using our current economic model, this is undoubtedly true. However, environmental degradation has a cost. It is just not a cost we pay at the cash register. If you take a wider view, and and look at costs to society, a strong argument can be made that the real cost of failing to prevent environmental degradation is greater than the cost of the preventative measures. Of course this takes the discussion into the realm of economics and introduces concepts such as avoided costs, externalities and tragedy of the commons.

      Great lens!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Its long past time for us to get serious about global changes and the environment...thank you for leading the way in making us more aware with your usual excellence in teaching....all I can add is some green footstep angel dust.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very informative and helpful lens on learning more about our environment and how to protect it. It's amazing how many little things that we do on a daily basis can make a big difference. I've featured this lens on my Protecting Our Environment lens. Blessings!

    • Shoputopian profile image

      Karnel 6 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

      What a great lens there is always going to be people that need to be made aware that our planet is worth saving...I have written a few different lenses on this very topic...

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      Well done - blessed by a travelling angel.

    • Hedremp profile image

      Sandra Wilson 6 years ago from Wilson Education Resource Centre

      thanks for the great lens - I will share with my homeschool friends!

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 6 years ago

      Very nice summary of what's going wrong! Will you do a lens on how individuals can combat each of these problems? Like avoiding styrofoam take out containers, styrofoam in addition to the CFS is also not recyclable like cardboard and some plastics. Avoid purchasing food grown in other countries and out of season, not only food miles, but also in some other countries they are still using DDT and other poisons banned in the US> Grow some or all of your own food at home and really reduce the amount of pollution of all types that each person is responsible for. Very nice lens!