Standard VIII – Environmental Education Contents

Section I: Balance in Nature…………………………………........2 • What is an Ecosystem………...……………………………………2 • What is the Structure of an Ecosystem...…………………………...2 • Food Chains & Food Webs……….………………………...……...3 • Some Useful Ecosystem Websites…………………………………3 Section II: The Impact of Population on the Environment….......4 • Population Growth & Overpopulation……………………………..4 • Malthus’ Theory……………………………………………………4 Section III: Harnessing Resources……..………………..………..6 • What is Energy…..………………………………………………....6 • Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy.……………… ...….……….6 • Energy in India…………………………………………………….6 • Agriculture & Animal Husbandry………………………………….7 • Agriculture’s Impact on the Environment………… ...…………….7 • Animal Husbandry: Impacts……………………………………….7 Section IV: Environmental Pollution……………………………..8 • The Problem with Pollution…………………………........................8 • The Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Case Study……………. …… ...………..8 • Pollution & Its Impact on Humans………………………………...9 • Environmental Disasters………………………………………….10 • Pollution Prevention…………………………………………........10 Some Useful Websites……………………………………………11


Standard VIII – Section I: Balance In Nature
What is an Ecosystem?
A system is something that is made from lots of different parts that do different things, but all work together. The word Eco means living things and their surroundings or environment, so an ecosystem is a system made from the community of interacting living things and their surroundings. An environment may be defined as the area surrounding living things, e.g. the soil, water and the atmosphere (containing oxygen and carbon dioxide) and the area's conditions, e.g. rain, temperature, amount of light, dampness. What kind of factors do you think might influence what kind of Abiotic components are prevalent in any given ecosystem: Hint: LIGHT


What is the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary consumers? Primary: Secondary: Tertiary: Identify the ecosystem components in the pond environment below. Look for Biotic and Abiotic elements and also identify the producers, consumers and decomposers.

What is the Structure of an Ecosystem?
To understand the structure of any Ecosystem we must first look at the different components that are involved in creating it. All ecosystems around the world are made up of two main groups: (i) Abiotic Components: consist of the nonliving elements of the ecosystem. They include things like rocks, water, soil etc. (ii) Biotic Components: This includes all the living things in an ecosystem, from bacteria and viruses to birds and mammals (including you). Biotic components are further divided into Producers or Autotrophs, Consumers or Heterotrophs and Decomposers or Saprotrophs, like Fungi. Producers are capable of manufacturing their own food, while Consumers need to move in search of food. What are some examples of Producers & Consumers? List them below. Producers Hint: Trees Consumers Hint: Humans

Standard VIII – Section I: Balance In Nature
Food Chains & Food Webs
A food chain shows how each living thing in an ecosystem gets its food. Each link in this chain is food for the next link. We have already seen how an ecosystem is made up of producers and consumers, now we can see how these elements fit into a food chain. Two simple food chains are shown below. Most animals are part of more than one food chain and eat more than one kind of food. These interconnected food chains form a food web. Create a definition of the term Food Chain? What are the different components of a typical food chain? Why are there always more Herbivores than Carnivores in an ecosystem? What is the difference between a food chain and a food web? Create a simple food web to represent the ecosystem where you live. Look at the food web shown below for help.

Some Useful Ecosystem Websites
Food & Agriculture Organisation of the U.N U.N Environment Programme U.S Environmental Protection Agency – Free online Encyclopedia Envirolink

In a food chain, energy is passed from one link to another. When a herbivore eats, only a fraction of the energy becomes new body mass; the rest is lost as waste or used. Similarly, when a carnivore eats, only a fraction of that energy becomes mass. Because of the large amount of energy that is lost at each link the further along the food chain you go, the less food and energy remains available.


Standard VIII – Section II: The Impact Of Population On The Environment
Population Growth & Overpopulation
Our world population has grown more since 1950 than it has in the last 4 million years. With these additional people come additional demands on Earth’s Resources. However, understanding the impact of population on the Earth is not just a question of numbers and densities it also a question of resources and the carrying capacity of an environment. “Pop”ulation Quiz – Group Activity 1. What is the world population in 2005? a) 900 million b) 2.5 billion c) 6.3 billion d) 7.5 billion e) 12 billion 2. By how many people does the world grow each year? a) 11 million b) 24 million c) 45 million d) 83 million e) 160 million 3. At its current rate of growth, how long will the world’s population take to double? a) 9 years b) 22 years c) 54 years d) 95 years e) 148 years 4. What is the population of India in 2005? a) under 100 million b) about 350 million c) about 800 million d) over 1,000 million

Malthus’ Theory
Overpopulation occurs when the population of a living species exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. If a given environment has a population of 10, but there is food and drinking water enough for only 9, then that environment is overpopulated, while if the population is 100 but there are resources enough for 200, then it is not overpopulated. Overpopulation can result from increases in births, a decline in mortality rates, or from an unsustainable use and depletion of resources. In 1798 the economist Thomas Malthus argued that if left unrestricted, human populations would continue to grow until they would become too large to be supported by the food grown on available land. He proposed that, while resources tend to grow linearly, human populations grow exponentially. At that point, the population would be restrained through mass famine and starvation. Malthus argued for population control to avoid this happening. As the population exceeds the amount of resources the population decreases, since the lack of resources causes mortality to increase. This theory is described in Malthus’ famous J-curve.


Standard VIII – Section II: The Impact Of Population On The Environment
Group Activity: Water, Water Everywhere? As the world’s population grows, access to fresh water declines. This relationship is evident in both industrialized and developing countries and in both arid and wet climates. This next activity will introduce you to the relationship between population growth and water availability. What does the word scarcity mean to you? Why is there an important relationship between scarcity and population growth? What kind of scarcities have you heard of or experienced yourself? Have a look at the graph below and answer the following questions. Water, Water Everywhere? 1. By how much is the world population predicted to change between 1950 and 2050? 2. By how much is the average world per capita water availability predicted to change between 1950 and 2050? 3. As population increases what happens to water availability? Why? 4. If these predictions come true, how will the world be different in 2050? 5. Which parts of the world do you think will face the most serious water shortages? Why? 6. Do you know of water scarcity in your city? If yes, what is being done about it and how can you help? Group Homework – Water Survey We all drink the same water that Dinosaurs, Cleopatra, and Mahatma Gandhi did, and future generations will drink that same water too. That is why it is important that we use water wisely & protect water supplies whenever and wherever possible. To see how well people in your city conserve water Create And Conduct A Survey Of Water Usage in your building or society. Create questions that will help you estimate how much water people use in a usual day and find out if they actively try to conserve water. Then analyze your data and present it to the class along with suggestions on how water conservation can be improved. Make your presentation as visual as possible by creating graphs and charts and involve all members of your group. Before you conduct your survey, present a copy of your survey to your teacher, just to make sure you’re on the right path

Relative Sufficiency = more than 1700 m3 per capita Freshwater Stress = 1000-1700 m3 per capita Freshwater Scarcity = less than 1000 m3 per capita


Standard VIII – Section III: Harnessing Resources
What is Energy?
Energy is the ability to do work. Oil, coal, natural gas, wind, water – just to name a few - provide us with the energy we need in our daily lives. For example, we use natural gas, coal and nuclear power to generate electricity that makes the lights and fans in this classroom work. There are two forms of energy: renewable energy and nonrenewable energy.

Energy in India
India's energy consumption is increasing rapidly, from 4.16 quadrillion Btu (quads) in 1980 to 12.8 quads in 2001. This 208% increase is largely the result of our nation’s increasing population, rapid urbanization and industrialization. India faces significant challenges in balancing its increased demand for energy with the need to protect its environment from further damage. The graph below shows India’s current energy consumption by source:

Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy
Non-renewable energy: comes from sources that can’t be replenished in a short period of time. We get most of our energy from nonrenewable energy sources, which include fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal (thermal) and from nuclear energy. Renewable energy is a source of energy that can almost never be exhausted. We can obtain renewable energy from the sun (solar energy), from the water (hydropower, tidal and wave energy), from the wind (windmills & turbines), from hot dry rocks, magma, hot water springs (geothermal) and even from firewood, animal manure, crop residues and waste (biomass). Group Activity – Questions about Energy 1. Why is it important to utilize renewable sources of energy? 2. What are some of the problems associated with Renewable energy usage? 3. When are renewable sources of energy NO longer considered renewable? 4. Why is nuclear energy considered to be non- renewable? 5. Select any one type of renewable energy and find out how it works and how it can be used. Present your data to the class.

All India Energy Consumption
3% 7% 31%

7% 1% 51%

Coal Nuclear Hydro

Natural Gas Petroleum/Oil Renewable

• What can you tell about India’s energy consumption from the graph above? • How can the Indian government improve
the ongoing energy crisis?

• Which kind of renewable energy would be
the most successful in India? Why?

• Write a letter to the Prime Minister of India
telling him why you think India should focus more on and invest more money in renewable energy. Post it!


Standard VIII – Section III: Harnessing Resources
Agriculture & Animal Husbandry
Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fiber and many other desired products through the cultivation of a variety of plants and through the raising of domesticated animals or livestock, the latter is also known as Animal Husbandry.

♦ Some agricultural practices also leads to air
pollution through the release of ammonia, NO and particulate matter.

♦ Agriculture also uses a lot of water and so
places an additional stress on this resource. Did you know ??? The earth has a total land area of 130,043,970 km2, of this area, nearly 49,734,060 km2 is used for agriculture, this is over 50% of all the productive land on earth.

Agriculture is a completely human practice and often causes environmental problems because it changes natural land use patterns and is also responsible for the generation and release of harmful by-products and toxins into the natural environment.

Animal Husbandry: Impacts
Like agriculture animal husbandry or the raising of livestock also has serious implications for the environment. Some of these are listed below:

♦ Maintaining livestock leads to the production
of a lot of waste which can enter water sources and cause pollution and disease

Agriculture’s Environmental Impact
Agriculture is the most widely practiced human activity and has a tremendous impact on natural resources and the environment. Some of the negative effects of agriculture are listed below:

♦ Livestock like cattle and sheep require large
expanses of land a lot of feed which put pressure on the natural environment.

♦ Natural ecosystems (forests and grasslands)
are converted to agricultural land, resulting in the loss of biodiversity

♦ Animal husbandry can sometimes also cause harm and cruelty to the animals if not practiced properly
Group Activity: Questions 1. How does agriculture cause a decrease in biodiversity? 2. How does farming cause soil degradation and erosion? How can we prevent or reduce this? 3. Find an example of agriculture induced desertification in India. How did it come about? 4. Investigate the story of the Aral Sea, learn about how the demands of agriculture changed this ecosystem. Discuss your findings in class.

♦ The use of fertilizer leads to excess nitrogen
and phosphorus in the soil and water bodies causing soil pollution and eutrophication.

♦ Farming practices leads to depletion of minerals & nutrients from the soil and cause soil erosion. ♦ Herbicides, Insecticides and Pesticides have
detrimental impacts on the natural environment and human health.

♦ In some extreme cases, agriculture may lead
to desertification.


Standard VIII – Section IV: Environmental Pollution
The Problem with Pollution
As human beings we affect our environment and planet in many different ways. We grow food, generate energy, utilise land and other natural resources and unfortunately we also pollute. Environmental pollution is a very direct and often harmful activity, it is the release of environmental contaminants, resulting from human activity, into the air, soil or water. Pollution Watch: Complete the table below to learn more about the different types of pollution and their impact on the environment.

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Case Study
1 a.m., Monday, December 3rd, 1984. In a densely populated region of Bhopal, a poisonous vapor (methyl isocyanate) bursts from the stacks of the Union Carbide pesticide plant. The terrible human and environmental disaster that ensued is a testament to the importance of pollution control and regulation. Did you know ??? Of the 800,000 people living in Bhopal at the time, 2,000 died immediately, and as many as 300,000 were injured.

Type of Pollution
Example : Air Pollution

Vehicle Emissions Factories

Ecological Impact
Air pollution affects local climate and temperature Leads to acid rain

Examples of Pollutants
Smoke, Dust, Lead, Carbon dioxide, Sulphur dioxide

Example : Noise Pollution

Loudspeakers, Construction, Traffic

Affects animal & human health Causes stress



Standard VIII – Section IV: Environmental Pollution
Pollution & Its Impact on Humans
Pollution is a major cause of environmental health problems affecting both developing and the developed countries alike. The effects of pollution on health are very complex as there are many different sources and types of pollution and their effects vary from one type to the another and from one individual to another. Of all the different sources of pollution, air pollution and water pollution have the most direct impact on human health. The Health Impact of Air Pollution Air pollutants consist of gaseous pollutants, suspended particulate matter (SPM), volatile organic waste and suspended metals. The effects of these various pollutants on humans is tabled below. Pollutant
SPM (smoke, dust, fumes) Carbon monoxide (CO)

The Health Impacts of Water Pollution Water resources and aquatic habitats all around the world are threatened not only by over exploitation and mismanagement but also by severe pollution from domestic waste, industrial effluents and agricultural activity. Complete the following table, showing the effects of pollutants prevalent in water on human health. Pollutant
Pesticides (DDT, Organophosphates) Nitrates & Nitrites (NO3, NO2) Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (PCBs, Dioxins) Heavy Metals (Lead, Arsenic, Mercury Petrochemicals (Benzene)

Effect on human Health
Hint: DDT is potentially linked to breast cancer in woman

Effect on human Health
Causes Asthma & respiratory problems. Lead and arsenic cause lung tissue damage. Reduces amt of O2 entering the blood. Binds with haem containing proteins causing organ damage. Can cause damage to the nervous system. May cause cancer. Hazardous to kids. Oxidises to form sulphuric acid. Leads to respiratory diseases, affects the lungs. Causes Asthma, Emphysema and decreased lung function. Induces headaches & nausea Causes lung irritation, asthma and emphysema. Leads to acid rain & ozone formation Causes throat irritation, cancer, bronchitis, asthma & decrease in lung function.

Lead (Pb)

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) Ozone (O3) Nitrogen Oxides (NO, NO2) Tobacco Smoke


Pick any one of the pollutants listed above and find an actual example of its contamination in a natural habitat. Narrate the incident to the class.


Standard VIII – Section IV: Environmental Pollution
Environmental Disasters
An environmental disaster is a disaster due to human activity and should not be confused with a natural disaster such as an earthquake or the recent tsunami. There is little we can do to avert the progression of natural disasters, in some cases however, the incidence and magnitude of natural disasters is exacerbated by human degradation of the environment and disturbance of ecosystems. Floods, like those that rocked Mumbai in 2005, were made worse because of polluted rivers, land reclamation, poor drainage and mangrove destruction. Similarly, droughts, landslides and many other natural events are exacerbated by deforestation, bad land use & global warming. The hope is that future advances in science and technology and educated decisions about land use will provide early warning systems & reduce the impact of these disasters to a minimum. Man-made environmental disasters are an outcome of human activity, and as such they can be mitigated by responsible decision making and management. These disasters include oil spills like the Exxon Valdez (1989) and Gulf war (1991) spills and nuclear disasters like the one seen at Chernobyl (1986), now very relevant in view of India’s move towards nuclear energy.

Pollution Prevention
Pollution prevention and reduction is possible but requires individual, communities, industries and governments to make conscientious and responsible decisions about their activities. Agriculturists can reduce fertilizer and pesticide induced pollution by growing suitable crops and using biological controls instead of chemicals to protect crops and livestock. Industrialists can replace harmful chemicals with less harmful ones or invest money in cleanup operations and suitable disposal and governments can reduce pollution by creating laws to protect the environment and making sure these laws are enforced. What Can you do? We all engage in activities that cause some degree of pollution in the city, but if try and think about our actions first, pollution can become a thing of the past. Complete the table of Do’s and Don’t for the following activities. Pollution Do’s and Don’ts When you’ve had a sandwich from the corner sandwichwala… DO: DON’T: When you’ve made a mistake while writing your essay… DO: DON’T: When you’re deciding what drink you want to buy from the canteen… DO: DON’T: When its Holi and you’re going to play with your friends… DO: DON’T: When you see a friend throwing chocolate wrappers on the road… DO: DON’T:

[ The dead city of Pripyat, 3 km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant seen in the distance ]


Standard VIII – Some Useful Websites
Food & Agriculture Organisation of the U.N
This UN site contains information on agriculture and pollution U.N Environment Programme
Information on ecosystems, population growth and pollution Ministry of Environment & Forests (India)
A government of India website that has information on environmental issues and conservation in India, as well as current environmental policies and laws. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (India – Maharashtra)
Information on management of waste and pollution as well as statistic on air and water pollution in the city. U.S Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.A)
Information on ecosystems, wildlife, environmental issues, pollution and conservation. Toxics Link (India)
Independent organisation working to share information about the sources and dangers of poisons in the environment, as well as clean and sustainable alternatives for India and the World. Eco Kids (Canada)
Information, games and activities on ecosystems Envirolink
Information on ecosystems Tata Energy Resources Institute (TERI) – EduGreen
Information, games and quizzes for students on pollution, ecology and conservation. 11