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b) Define the term ecosystem

The ecosystem is an interacting community of organisms and the environment they exist in. An ecosystem is made up of a biotic component (the living organisms) and an abiotic component (the climate, humidity, availability of gases etc).

c) Outline Hkhkh how the impact of the rise in human population may affect ecosystems and result in a loss of biodiversity

As humans out- compete other species for the Earths natural resources, species may become extinct (loss of biodiversity)

Growth of monocultures on farms eliminates other plant species as well as the insects & birds that feed off them

The problems caused by a rising human population

Increased destruction of habitats for urban growth

Introduction of non-native species by humans, which out-compete natural species & alter habitat Increased use of pesticides can kill unrelated species Increased pollution of air & land Depletion of fossil fuel resources to provide energy Depletion of food stocks such as oceans fisheries

Greater demand on water supplies leads to draining of rivers etc. Deforestation around large rivers can lead to flash floods

Overuse of fertilisers can lead to leaching of nutrients into surrounding water systems & eutrophication

d) Discuss the ecological, economic & scientific importance of biodiversity, with reference to aesthetic, medical & agricultural considerations

Biodiversity is important for the following reasons: 1. Humans rely on other species for food, fibres & medicines

2. We may not yet understand all the resources available to us

3. We enjoy looking at & living amongst other species

e) Describe the effect of human activity on the carbon cycle, to include deforestation & burning fossil fuels and their contribution to global climate change
Carbon atoms are the building blocks of many biological molecules, including carbohydrates, proteins & lipids Living organisms take a carbon source from their environment & recycle it so that life can continue Carbon is passed through organisms along food chains & is returned to the atmosphere during respiration Carbon is found in fossil deposits, in solution, within the tissues of organisms or released as gases such as methane & carbon dioxide

Excellent link showing the predicted climate changes in the UK based on experimental results http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/climateexperiment/whattheymean/theuk.shtml http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/sci_nat_how_the_world_is_changing/html/6.stm

The carbon cycle

So why is more CO2 entering the atmosphere than being removed from it? It has a lot to do with human activities (anthropogenic pollution). See notes below

1.

An increase in the number of humans mean there is a greater demand on fossil fuels. These are combusted and the energy released is used to generate electricity or for heat energy directly. Fossil fuels are also used in the making of clothing, plastics & petrol

An increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere

2.

Humans are carrying out deforestation on a large scale. Levels of photosynthesis & respiration drop but because the remaining vegetation is often burned, this releases far more CO2 into the atmosphere

An increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere

3. Humans carry out intensive farming. This uses a lot of energy & fossil fuels for the heating of animal enclosures or greenhouses. In addition, animals generate a huge amount of manure which releases CO2 as it decomposes

Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere are linked to rising global temperatures. This is evidence for climate change

f) Evaluate the evidence that links carbon dioxide level to climate change

Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been measuring atmospheric CO2 levels for 50 years

This is a very remote location so the CO2 readings collected here will be valid & not contaminated by industrial releases of CO2

At Mauna Loa Observatory, measurements are obtained by collecting gas using weather balloons

At other centres, air that is trapped in the glacial ice sheets of Greenland can be analysed for different gas levels using gas chromatography. This allows scientists to establish the change in gas composition over thousands of years & compare them to global temperatures & level of human activity The warmest years on record have occurred when atmospheric CO2 has been highest Data from ice-core analysis shows there is a positive correlation between rising global temperatures & rising CO2 levels The North Pole has thinner ice sheets than ever before & by 2020 there will be no glaciers in Europe

So what have we discovered?

BUT.....some scientists question the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere as being the main cause of global warming. They argue that other gases & water vapour, amount of light being reflected from the Earth, percentage of snow & ice coverage & cloud cover will all affect global temperatures.

g) Explain what is meant by the term carbon footprint & outline some different ways that individuals & governments can minimise carbon emissions
The carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have upon the environment & the amount of greenhouse gases produced by these activities. It is measured in units of CO2, usually as tonnes per year As individuals we produce a Primary Footprint & a Secondary Footprint

Direct impact on the environment through everyday life e.g. driving to college

Pollution caused by your buying habits & personal lifestyle choices e.g. buying bottled water

Switch to green energy supplier energy from renewable sources


Use energy efficient appliances Car-share or take public transport or cycle

Turn down central heating & hot water

So how can individuals reduce their Primary carbon footprint?

Turn off lights & do not leave appliances on stand by

Insulate loft, water pipes & walls & choose double glazed windows

Use energy saving light bulbs (soon to be the only type of light bulbs you can buy

Do not buy bottled water So how can individuals reduce their Secondary carbon footprint? Reduce meat consumption

Recycle, reuse & reduce products & packaging

Think about your leisure activities are they energy expensive?

Buy local foods to avoid travelling

Buy organic foods as lower energy impact

Calculate your own carbon footprint: www.direct.gov.uk & use the CO2 calculator How are governments encouraging businesses & individuals to minimise carbon emissions?

1. Government grants are available for companies to become carbon neutral & to have zero emissions 2. Targets are set for local council recycling rates 3. Introduction of pollution permits for the oil, coal & gas industries an agreed CO2 pollution level is set based on atmospheric CO2 levels in 2006. Industries must not exceed this CO2 level & the level will be lowered yearly, forcing industries to become more energy efficient 4. Allowing companies to buy certified carbon credits if they cannot reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in a year. These credits along with the CO2 emission rate of a business have to be documented as part of the companys accounts. A factory could use its carbon credits to purchase machinery to clean its emissions 5. Voluntary carbon credits like certified carbon credits, these are traceable in the accounts of a business. One of the best examples is an airline company which allows you to pay for the carbon footprint created during your flight. Your flight pays for a certain number of tress to be planted somewhere in the world

Carbon credits explained in detail http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_credits#How_buying_carbon_credits_can_reduce_emissions