Journal Questions

By: Maggie Vogl

Question 1

1. What is sustainable living? How could someone achieve sustainable living? Do you personally think you could reach sustainable living?

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources and personal resources. Think twice before shopping, ditch plastic, be water wise, drive less, have smaller families, and pay attention to labels. No, I live in the coutry where there is not much public transportation; and every store uses plastic for groceries and at shopping malls.

Question 2

2. Fossil fuels vs. Renewable energy -compare and contrast the two forms of energy. Look at the cost financially to humans and environmentally to the Earth. Convince someone to conserve energy.

Fossil fuels- a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. It creates pollution.

Renewable energy- energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power. It has to be stored.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources that will eventually run out. People should switch to renewable energy because people can have lower monthly utility bills, it can extend the life cycle and lower the ongoing maintenance costs of equipment, and it can lower exposure to the risk of energy price spikes and environmental or legal costs.

Question 3

3. Recycle- what does it mean to recycle? Why should someone recycle? How long does it take for these to decompose?

Recycling means to convert waste or other products into reusable material. Why someone should recycle: protects wildlife habitats, saves trees, reduces the need for landfills, helps reduce global warming, and reduces water pollution.

a. Tin Can- 50 years

b. Glass Bottle- 1,000,000 years

c. Disposable Diaper- 500-800 years

d. Wood- For some it takes 50 to 100 years, and for other it takes 200 to 300 years.

e. Paper- 6 weeks

f. Plastic Grocery Bag- 500-1,000 years

g. Styrofoam Cup- 500 years to forever

h. Aluminum Can- 200 years

i. Cotton T-shirt- 1-5 months

j. Apple Core- 2 months

k. Did any of these surprise you? It surprised me that a diaper takes 500 years to decompose.

Question 4

4. What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? What can we do here in Iowa to help decrease it, is it even possible?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Using less plastic bags and bottles will result in less littering, also we should use reusable bags.

Question 5

5. Define 2 Biomes of the world, define an ecosystem found in each and explain the Biotic and Abiotic factors involved.

Tundra: The ecosystem is a treeless regions found in the Arctic and on the tops of mountains, where the climate is cold and windy and rainfall is scant. Tundra lands are snow-covered for much of the year, until summer brings a burst of wildflowers. Abiotic factors are strong winds, poor soil, and little precipitation. The biotic factors are plants and wildlife.

Savanna: The ecosystem is a tropical grassland with warm temperatures year-round and with its highest seasonal rainfall in the summer. Abiotic factors are poor soil, warm climate, and water availability. Biotic factors are trees, grasses, other plants, animals.

Question 6

6. Choose any Biome; create a food chain defining the primary producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer, quaternary consumer, herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, scavenger, and decomposer.

Savanna biome:

Primary Producer- sun, trees, grasses, and shrubs

Primary Consumer- zebras, giraffes, and gazelles

Secondary Consumer- lions and cheetas

Tertiary Consumer- hyenas

Quaternary Consumer- birds or hawks

Herbivore- giraffes and zebras

Omnivore- warthog and baboon

Carnivore- lion and cheetas

Scavenger- hyenas

Decomposer- fungi, termites and bacteria

Question 7

7. What are Dead Zones in the Gulf of Mexico? What causes this situation? What can be done to help stop them?

Dead zones are low oxygen areas in lakes and oceans caused by "excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water. We can help by reducing agricultural and urban run-off.

Question 8

8. Define Keystone Species, give 2 examples; one a top predator and one not a top predator. Explain how their absence would affect the ecosystem.

Keystone species- a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically.

Grizzly bears and Hummingbirds

Question 9

9. Competitive Exclusion- define it and give 2 examples

Competitve Exclusion- the inevitable elimination from a habitat of one of two different species with identical needs for resources.

the red squirrel and a the grey squirrel

Question 10

10. Define the following terms and give 2 examples of each

a. Coexistence- to exist together, at the same time, or in the same place

Examples: Two plants growing in the same container

b. Parasites- An organism that lives off or in another organism, obtaining nourishment and protection while offering no benefit in return.

Examples: tapeworms and lice

c. Mimicry- the close external resemblance of an animal or plant (or part of one) to another animal, plant, or inanimate object

Examples: snakes and insects

d. Mutualism- is the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits from the activity of the other

Examples: the oxpecker and the rhinoceros, a bee and flowers

e. Commensalism- an association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm

Examples: mites and tree frogs

Question 11

11. Explain the Carbon Cycle and how do humans affect this cycle?

The carbon cycle is the series of processes by which carbon compounds are interconverted in the environment, chiefly involving the incorporation of carbon dioxide into living tissue by photosynthesis and its return to the atmosphere through respiration, the decay of dead organisms, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Humans are moving more carbon into the atmosphere from other parts of the Earth system. More carbon is moving to the atmosphere when fossil fuels, like coal and oil, are burned. More carbon is moving to the atmosphere as humans get rid of forests by burning the trees. Burning wood releases carbon into the atmosphere that had been stored in the tree.

Question 12

12. What is global dimming? Where does it usually affect and why is it a problem?

Global dimming is defined as the decrease in the amounts of solar radiation reaching the surface of the Earth.

The Southern Hemisphere has seen very small amounts of global dimming while Northern Hemisphere has witnessed more significant reductions, to the tune of 4-8%. Regions such as parts of Europe and North America has observed partial recovery from dimming while parts of China and India have experienced increase in global dimming.

Global dimming has caused severe changes in the rainfall patterns. Scientists believe that despite the cooling effect created by global dimming, the earth’s temperature has increased by more than 1 deg. in last century. If global dimming wouldn’t have happened, the temperature of this planet would be much higher and could have posed a serious effect on the lives of humans, plants and animals.

Question 13

13. Explain the Greenhouse Effect. How do the carbon cycle and the greenhouse effect go together?

The exchange of incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the Earth is often referred to as the greenhouse effect because a greenhouse works in much the same way.

Carbon is a building block of life and a form of stored energy. When fossil fuelsare burned for energy carbon is released. Carbon compounds move through plants and animals, the air, the ocean, and the earth. Carbon present in the air as carbon dioxide contributes to the "Greenhouse Effect" and related global warming.

Question 14

14. Define endangered species and give an example. How does a species become endangered? What if this species was a keystone species? What would happen to the current ecosystem? Why should humans care about the endangered species?

Endangered species is a species of animal or plant that is seriously at risk of extinction. An example of an endangered species is a jaguar.

A species becomes endangered because of threats from changing environments or predators. If a keystone species is endangered or extinct the species it supported will disappear, as will the other dependent species. The ecosystem would decrease or decline because the endangered species won't be able to help or regulate the environment it lives in. The loss of a single species may result in few environmental repercussions however, all life on earth is interconnected. If enough "living connections" are broken, whole ecosystems could fail the balance of nature could be forever altered, and our own survival could be jeopardized. Furthermore, the diversity of animal and plant life provide us with food and many of our life-saving medicines. When a species is lost, the benefits it might have provided are gone forever.

Question 15

15. Invasive Species- define invasive species; give 2 examples how do they affect the ecosystem they are now invasive too. How did the invasive species arrive to their new ecosystem?

Invasive species is a plant, fungus, or animal species that is not native to a specific location.

Examples: feral pigs and West Nile virus

How do they affect the ecosystem? Perhaps the most significant of these is the widespread loss of habitat. Some invaders can physically alter the habitat in addition to destruction. Other invasive species may not destroy habitat but can have an impact by killing large numbers of endemic species. Invasive species can also impact human health. They can also affect power plants and water treatment facilities.

Invasive species are primarily spread by human activities, often unintentionally. People, and the goods we use, travel around the world very quickly, and they often carry uninvited species with them.

Question 16

16. At one time rainforest covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface; today rainforest only cover 6% today; why should a person care about the lost rainforest ground? Why are the rainforest being cut down? What would happen if they all disappeared?

Rainforest control the Earth's climate.

Human are cutting down rainforest because: wood for both timber and making fires, agriculture for farms, land for poor farmers, grazing land, pulp for making paper, road construction, and extraction of minerals and energy. If all the rainforest got destoryed there would be no place for the carbon dioxide to go and we would have to find another place to get oxygen.

Question 17

17. Why is human overpopulation a major concern? Explain all the resources needed for a human to sustain life.

We could exceed the carrying capacity of Earth and depletion of precious resources. Carbon, oxygen, water, and land are resources needed for a human to substain life.

Question 18

18. Pesticides- what are they, how do they adversely affect the environment, and how does this create problems with the genetic diversity in crop production.

Pesticides are a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals. They affect human health from short-term and long-term impacts and cause many types of cancer, it also disruptes the endocrine system. They can ccumulate in water systems, pollute the air, and in some cases have other dramatic environmental effects, also damage agricultural land. Repeated use of the same class of pesticides to control a pest can cause undesirable changes in the gene pool of a pest leading to another form of artificial selection, pesticide resistance.

Question 19

19. Interpret this quote. “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have 4 years left to live.” Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee

The bees pollunate the food we eat, the crops we feed animals, and the plants we get oxygen from. If bees disappeared we would have no food to fed ourselves and the animals that we eat and raise, we would have to find another source of oxygen. We would eventually have to find another source of food but that would be very difficult.

Question 20

20. It is the year 2070 and you are having a conversation with your grandchildren about how the environment has changed since you were young- give a prediction of how the Earth would look to them.

The world would have less trees and a limited number of plants and animals because there would little room for wildlife, since people would destroy the environment the wildlife lived in.