Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions.
The Glossary Game: Write down each of the key words printed in bold in this study session. Cut the paper into strips with one word on each strip; fold them and put them into a bowl. Take a strip, read the word and write a definition in your notebook. Then check your definitions with those in the study session.
This game is intended to familiarise you with the terms you will meet again in subsequent study sessions. To find the right answer, you can check the definition written in your own words with that in the study session.
Which of the following statements are false? In each case explain why it is incorrect.
- As a population increases, the amount of natural resource extraction and consumption increases.
- Agriculture doesn’t have any negative impacts on the environment.
- As a population increases, more waste is produced as a result of increased activity.
- The environment influences human beings, both positively and negatively.
- The impact of human activity on the environment is always damaging.
2 is false. Agricultural activity can have significant negative impacts on our environment, including loss of biodiversity, water contamination, climate change, soil erosion and pollution.
5 is also false. Some human activity can prevent damage or repair past damage, for example recovery of hazardous materials from waste and reforestation programmes where many trees are planted. It is important to work towards creating a better environment in order to protect our health, and because environmental improvements such as tree-planting can have many beneficial effects, such as creating more spring water, a higher water table, and less soil erosion and flooding.
Explain why biomass resources are classified as renewable. Give two examples of biomass resources that can be over-used despite being renewable. What are the consequences of their over-exploitation?
Biomass resources are derived from living organisms. They are renewable because they are replaced by the continuing processes of growth and reproduction. However, they are vulnerable to over-exploitation if they are used more quickly than they can naturally reproduce and regenerate. Overfishing and deforestation are examples of the over-use of biomass resources. The consequences include loss of biodiversity and loss of income for the people who depend on these resources for their livelihood.
Imagine you have a colleague who always blames technology for environmental problems. What would you say to your colleague to demonstrate that technology affects the environment in both a positive and a negative manner?
You could start by saying that technology plays an important role in improving the quality of our lives and our environment. For example, we use renewable energy such as wind and solar power to reduce the release of greenhouse gases, and we use high-tech waste treatment plants to protect water sources from pollution. But you would agree that technology can also damage the environment. For example, e-wastes contain many toxic substances that can pollute groundwater, soil and air. So your conclusion is that technology can have both positive and negative environmental impacts.