Week 5 - Conservation, Biotic and Abiotic, Studying the Environment, and Ecological Footprint

Lesson 1

INTRODUCTION

So far in your journey of discovery you have learned the basic concepts in ecology. Ecosystems are not only fascinating and beautiful, they provide the foundation for all life on Earth - including us. Studying them is absolutely essential for our survival. Humans are out growing the resources on this spaceship we call Earth. Our waste products are polluting these living systems to the point where their survival is not guaranteed.

It is very important that we learn to rethink our relationship with the Earth and with each other. What we need to do is create a sustainable relationship with the biosphere. To be sustainable means to use the Earth's resources in such a way that they are capable of being used indefinitely. Simply it means that your great, great, great grand kids will live in a world where they, and the other creatures on Earth, will have the same opportunities as you.

 
ACTIVITY A: Intended Actions can Lead to Unintended Consequences





Required Readings

Science in Action 7
pages 66 - 72
or

Science Focus 7
pages 64 - 65


All species of organisms interact with their environment and human beings are no exception. With our rapidly increasing population we are putting a great strain on global ecosystems. A large majority of the world is still struggling to satisfy their needs, while those people in richer countries, like Canada, have great impacts on the environment by purchasing things that are wants, not needs. Over the course of this lesson we shall explore some of the intended actions and unintended consequences of humans on their environment.

Destruction of Wild Habitats

One of the largest businesses in Alberta is the forest industry. Trees are used for lumber for building construction and for paper. These practices are happening worldwide. With the loss of forest area by clear cutting, the habitat of many species of plants and animals are destroyed. This has lead to the extinction and local extinction (extirpation) of many plants and animals. Earlier in this unit, you learned that an ecosystem is healthy when there is a great diversity of species that interact together in complex food webs. Forest companies replant logged areas with only a few tree species and this greatly disturbs the food webs of the original ecosystem. This can lead to diseases and insect invasions in these new forests.
With our increase in population, many homes and neighborhoods are being built in areas that were once wild ecosystems. Because of this there are more dangerous interactions between people and wild animals. Coyotes, bears and cougars have become a problem in some new neighborhoods, especially in the western regions of Alberta.
Exercise 4.1: Threatened Species in Canada

ACTIVITY B: Walk Softly and Care for the Land



Required Readings

Science in Action 7
pages 66 - 72
or

Science Focus 7
pages 18 - 25


In the 1990s the world became very aware of all the harm our culture and society was doing to the environment. Questions came about as to how long we would be able to live in a world which was changing rapidly at the hands of mankind. We began to take a closer look at that damage we were causing to the environment and what we could do to repair it. In the new millennium, we are making efforts to reduce global pollution by putting tougher restrictions on industry. Forestry loggers are now replanting where they harvest trees. Our cars have become more fuel efficient and we have learned to recycle and reuse much more than the generations before us. Nonetheless, we need to continue to be conscious of how we are using our natural resources and how we can do our part to lessen the harmful effects on the environment.

In this section, you are going to watch a video that is broken down into five Quicktime movies. This video is entitled "Walk Softly and Care for the Land". In the video, a student, Kate, has to complete a research assignment about land use in Alberta. She decides to make a video with her friend Paul. Through the process they will become informed about Alberta land use and misuse.




Watch the five movie
sections and answer
the questions below.


Part 1: "WALKSOFT.MOV"
click here

Part 2: "WALKSOF1.MOV"
click here      

Part 3: "WALKSOF2.MOV"
click here       

Part 4: "WALKSOF3.MOV"
click here

Part 5: "WALKSOF4.MOV"
click here