Nat­u­ral sys­tems – Cont’d

WEATHER, CLI­MATE, VEG­E­TA­TION AND SOIL

Jamaica Gleaner - - YL - Send ques­tions and com­ments to kerry-ann.hep­burn@glean­erjm.com

FO­CUS QUES­TION

How does the hu­man im­pact the ecosys­tem?

Ecosys­tems are sys­tems con­sist­ing of liv­ing be­ings, in­ter­re­lated among them­selves and with their en­vi­ron­ment. An ecosys­tem does not ex­ist in iso­la­tion. Its ex­is­tence is de­pen­dent upon the com­po­nents within it and its re­la­tion­ship with ex­ter­nal el­e­ments.

Hu­mans in­ter­act with the world ev­ery day, but some of our ac­tions are more harm­ful than oth­ers.

Hu­mans can af­fect the ecosys­tem in a neg­a­tive way, by pol­lu­tion, waste dump­ing, over hunt­ing of an­i­mals, over­fish­ing, in­dus­trial gases, en­ergy use and not us­ing biodegrad­able prod­ucts.

NEG­A­TIVE EF­FECTS OF HU­MAN AC­TIV­I­TIES

Air pol­lu­tion is caused by: Cars Fac­to­ries Dif­fer­ent types of gases (caus­ing the green­house ef­fect)

HU­MANS POLLUTE

The land, wa­ter and air with un­wanted refuse.

Peo­ple lack proper san­i­ta­tion, which means that drink­ing wa­ter around the world is con­tam­i­nated with waste and disease.

Open wa­ter is of­ten con­tam­i­nated by agri­cul­tural chem­i­cals, fuel from pass­ing boats, and even lit­ter.

Prac­ti­cally over 2.4 bil­lion peo­ple do not have ac­cess to clean wa­ter.

The world pop­u­la­tion as of 2017 is 7.6 bil­lion, so a quar­ter of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is with­out clean wa­ter.

It is rare to find a beach in the world that does not have lit­ter.

In some coun­tries: The smog caused by air pol­lu­tion is deadly and can block out the sun in a dense haze.

Wood har­vest­ing in ru­ral ar­eas is bad for hu­man health and it is cre­at­ing wood fuel short­age.

Coal plants pro­duce so much pol­lu­tion that it is col­lect­ing in our at­mos­phere, caus­ing breath­ing haz­ards and af­fect­ing the weather.

Hu­mans pro­duce about 300 mil­lion tons of plas­tic each year.

More than eight mil­lion tons of that plas­tic are dumped into the oceans and, in 2017, an es­ti­mated five tril­lion pieces of plas­tic lit­ter the seas.

Plas­tic in the oceans has over­whelm­ing ef­fects on ma­rine life.

GLOBAL WARM­ING

The CO2 emis­sions that come from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els are af­fect­ing the planet’s ecosys­tem.

The in­crease of CO2 in the at­mos­phere traps heat that would oth­er­wise es­cape into space, in­creas­ing the Earth’s over­all tem­per­a­ture.

DE­FOR­ESTA­TION

As our pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to in­crease, hu­mans cre­ate more and larger farms, which means re­mov­ing the dwin­dling num­ber of forests.

Forests are also cleared for the lum­ber that we use to build our houses and to make room for new houses. Eigh­teen mil­lion acres of trees are cleared cut ev­ery year for wood. This has dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects for the wildlife that once called those forests home. Hu­man waste en­ters other nat­u­ral ecosys­tems where it can cause them to be­come un­bal­anced. Some­times this waste can build up to harm­ful lev­els.

Ex­am­ples of hu­man waste that can af­fect ecosys­tems are: House­hold waste In­dus­trial waste Agri­cul­tural waste Gases pro­duced when fos­sil fu­els are burned.

Hu­mans some­times har­vest plants and an­i­mals from nat­u­ral ecosys­tems and this can also un­bal­ance them. For ex­am­ple, har­vest­ing tim­ber can lead to soil ero­sion and loss of habi­tat, while har­vest­ing fish from the oceans can cause species to be­come threat­ened and un­bal­ance food webs.

In many coun­tries:

Nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion has been re­moved and re­placed with crops for food or the pro­duc­tion of fu­els or by graz­ing an­i­mals.

As well as de­stroy­ing the nat­u­ral habi­tat and re­duc­ing bio­di­ver­sity, soil ero­sion can cause rivers to be­come silted up (clogged up with silt), plus the lack of shade and the lack of mois­ture in the soil can cause de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion (when fer­tile land turns into rel­a­tively life­less desert).

POS­I­TIVE EF­FECTS OF HU­MAN AC­TIV­I­TIES PRESER­VA­TION

The for­ma­tion of Na­tional park ser­vice Na­tional wildlife refuge sys­tem Man­aged wilder­ness ar­eas

Ecosys­tems have been pre­served so that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions may ex­pe­ri­ence the splen­dour of the land­scape, de­spite en­vi­ron­men­tal pres­sures such as in­creased tourist traf­fic.

POL­LU­TION CON­TROL

Through Clean air Clean wa­ter Other reg­u­la­tory mea­sures (hu­mans have re­duced the amount of pol­lu­tion they cre­ate, al­low­ing ecosys­tems to re­cover from past im­pacts such as acid rain).

EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL AWARE­NESS

When hu­man re­cy­cle, we use 90 per cent less en­ergy, thereby re­duc­ing their en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and ben­e­fit­ing the ecosys­tem.

Agri­cul­ture has a huge ef­fect on our ecosys­tems:

pes­ti­cides and other toxic chem­i­cals used in food pro­duc­tion can wash down­stream. Killing many types of an­i­mals. Pol­lut­ing our wa­ter­ways. Mak­ing hu­mans ill. Fer­til­iz­ers can wash down­stream, caus­ing ‘blooms’, large pop­u­la­tions of al­gae and bac­te­ria, which can harm fish pop­u­la­tions.

The next les­son will be on veg­e­ta­tion and the ecosys­tem.

Min­is­ter of state in the Min­istry of Na­tional Se­cu­rity, Senator Pear­nel Charles Jr, and Miss Ja­maica World 2017 Solange Sin­clair en­gage girls at the South Camp Road Ju­ve­nile Cor­rec­tional and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre dur­ing the launch of the men­tor­ship arm of the We Trans­form youth em­pow­er­ment and rein­te­gra­tion pro­gramme at the fa­cil­ity on October 17.

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