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Human impact on the environment
How does human activity affect the environment?

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6 billion people in the world and over 95 million babies are born per year – that is an average of three babies per second! Has the rate of population growth always been the same? 4 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .Population growth There are about 6.

Exponential growth 5 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Why do you think is the case? 6 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . This means that the larger the population. medicines. vaccines)  more and better food  cleaner water  better sanitation The biggest increase in population is in developing nations. An increase in average life expectancy is largely responsible for the rapid increase in population. Why do people live longer than they did hundreds of years ago?  better healthcare (hospitals. the faster it grows. rather than developed nations.Exponential growth The human population is said to be growing exponentially.

Most analysts assume that birth rates will fall within the next 50 years.Predicting future growth rate Computer models can be used to make predictions about population growth by using assumptions about birth rate. Why do you think this might happen?  decreased fertility  lack of resources  disease  war How important do you think predictions about climate change and unsustainable development are in the analysts’ calculations? 7 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Future population growth 8 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

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global warming. damage to the ozone layer and smog. sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). and has been made worse by humans’ reliance on burning fossil fuels for energy. Air pollution.  particulates – These are tiny particles suspended in air (e. smoke) and which are usually produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. 10 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .g. acid rain. Air pollution has been a major problem since the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th Century.Air pollution Human activity produces two main types of air pollutant:  noxious gases – These include carbon dioxide (CO2). Each of these has serious implications for the environment and human health.

Global warming and greenhouse gases One of the greatest threats caused by air pollution is global warming. Key greenhouses gases include:  carbon dioxide (CO2)  methane (CH4)  water vapour (H2O)  nitrous oxide (N2O) 11 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . A greenhouse gas is an atmospheric gas that absorbs infrared light. which leads to an increase in the Earth’s temperature. Global warming is caused by a build-up of greenhouses gases.

The greenhouse effect 12 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

The greenhouse effect 13 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

which traps so much of the solar radiation that the planet becomes extremely hot. which is hot enough to melt lead! Venus’ atmosphere is mostly made up of carbon dioxide.How hot can the greenhouse effect get? The planet Venus is further from the Sun than Mercury but has an higher average temperature. 14 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . The hostile climate conditions on Venus make it impossible for life to survive. Its surface can reach up to 482°C.

Greenhouse gases 15 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

but what does it mean? Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth’s temperature due to the greenhouse effect. Remember. global warming and climate change are not the same thing and should not be used interchangeably.What is global warming? The term “global warming” is often used in connection with climate change. This enhanced greenhouse effect may lead to significant climate change. which can cause changes in climate. the term “global warming” is being used now to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other human activities. 16 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . However.

Carbon is present in all living things and moves through the environment in a chain of reactions called the carbon cycle.Why is carbon dioxide so important? Carbon dioxide is considered the most significant greenhouse gas. from 50 to 200 years. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased since the industrial revolution in the 19th century. This is because carbon dioxide can remain in the environment over a long time. Any process producing carbon dioxide today could affect the climate for hundreds of years. How might human activities have contributed to this? 17 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Atmospheric carbon dioxide 18 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

How many examples of burning fossil fuels can you think of? Are there any alternatives? 19 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .Carbon dioxide levels Carbon dioxide is one of the most important greenhouse gases because atmospheric concentrations have risen dramatically over the past century. deforestation and flooding land for the construction of hydroelectric dams have all contributed to rising levels of carbon dioxide. Why do you think this is? Burning fossil fuels.

Tiny marine animals called phytoplankton extract carbon from the carbon dioxide to make their skeletons and shells. or is burned.  oceans – Carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water.  forests – All green plants absorb carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis. 20 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . depending on the temperature and pressure. The absorbed carbon is only released back into the atmosphere when the plant dies and rots.What is the carbon sink? Before the industrial revolution. carbon dioxide levels were usually kept in check by the carbon sink – forests and oceans that capture and store carbon.

The carbon sink 21 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Acid rain 22 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

increasing the risk of skin cancer. hydrogen. 23 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .What damages the ozone layer? The ozone layer is a protective part of the atmosphere that absorbs some of the Sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. CFCs are used in fridges and freezers. Damage to the ozone layer means that more UV rays reach Earth. The production and use of CFCs is now banned in many countries and could be worldwide in a few years. aerosol sprays and packaging materials such as polystyrene. The ozone layer is damaged by chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). which contain the elements carbon. chlorine and fluorine.

It has a distinctive brownish haze. Ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons react with oxygen.What is smog? Smog is a mixture of air pollutants and particulates that is sometimes found in the lower levels of the atmosphere. in a reaction catalyzed by sunlight. Smog can reach dangerous levels in builtup areas. 24 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . a highly toxic gas. causing irritation to the eyes and lungs. A large part of smog is ground-level ozone.

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The nutrients. pesticides and fertilizers all pollute water. streams and lakes. which causes excessive algal growth. 26 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . industrial waste.Water pollution Sewage. Eutrophication is the accumulation of nutrients in water. phosphates and nitrates in these substances cause eutrophication. oil. Fertilizers and sewage can easily be washed into rivers. This leads to a reduction in oxygen levels and the death of aquatic life.

Eutrophication 27 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Eutrophication 28 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

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Land pollution often leads to water pollution.Land pollution Land and soil can be polluted by two main types of substance:  solid waste – such as plastic. metal. crude oil and waste from industrial processes. paper and other manmade substances  chemicals – such as herbicides and pesticides. 30 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . as chemicals are washed into rivers and lakes.

metal and wood are thrown away. plastics. each UK household produces over 1 tonne of rubbish each year. How could you estimate the amount of rubbish you throw away each year? 31 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . On average. billions of tonnes of paper. synthetic materials.How much waste? Every year.

 Incinerating waste reduces volume.What are the options? What methods are there for disposing of waste materials?  Landfill is the cheapest solution.  Composting uses natural biological processes to decompose organic materials.  Recycling materials allows them to be useful again. but often produces toxic chemicals. 32 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 . soil and water. and reduces the need to use more raw materials. but cannot be used to dispose of non-biodegradable waste. but sites quickly become full and the waste contaminates the surrounding air.

If products were redesigned to be biodegradable or easier to recycle. How could you reduce the amount of waste you produce? 33 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .What is the best solution? The best way to deal with waste is to produce less of it! It takes 100 kg of resources to make 10 kg of shopping. and most of that ends up in the bin. the amount of waste and disposal costs would be significantly reduced.

Recycling rates 34 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

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36 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .  greenhouse gas – A gas that traps the Sun’s infrared radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere.  chlorofluorocarbon – A chemical that damages the ozone layer. causing excessive algal growth and reduced oxygen levels.  global warming – The rise in the Earth’s temperature caused by an increase in greenhouse gases from human activity.Glossary (1/2)  biodiversity – The number of different species within a specific habitat.  eutrophication – Over-enrichment of water with nutrients.

Glossary (2/2)  indicator species – An organism whose presence or absence provides information on environmental conditions. 37 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .  particulate – A type of pollution consisting of tiny particles.  smog – A hazardous type of air pollution containing ozone and particulates. such as smoke.  pollutant – A substance that contaminates air.  ozone – A gas that is toxic at ground level but which forms a protective layer higher in the Earth’s atmosphere. water or land.

Anagrams 38 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .

Multiple-choice quiz 39 of 37 © Boardworks Ltd 2006 .