You are on page 1of 28

CHAPTER 6

Managing Our Changing Environment

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Learning Outcomes
You Will Learn:
• to explain the reasons for the constantly changing
environment
• to describe the impact of human activities on the
environment at local, regional and global scales
• to explain the role people play in managing the
changing environment
• to justify the need to protect and conserve the
environment
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Lead-in: For Better or For Worse?
(Suggested Answers)
1. The activity in the photograph
shows deforestation.
• The physical environment would
likely be changed into a human
environment.
• We clear forests for land to build
urban settlements like cities and
roads, for useful resources like
timber and for agriculture.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Lead-in: For Better or For Worse?
(Suggested Answers)
2. These changes have both positive and
negative impacts.
• Clearing forests enables us to expand our
cities, land transport networks and improve
our lives economically and socially by raising
our standard of living (more space and less
congestion).
• However, deforestation can cause us to
permanently lose the biodiversity in the forests.
• Can you think of examples where biodiversity
in the forests can be used to improve our
lives?
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
TASK

•Brainstorm and suggest three


ways in which human beings
have changed the
environment

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


New roads
MRT station

Transport

Changes in the
neighbourhood/
community

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Lead-in: For Better or For Worse?
(Suggested Answers)

3. We can help protect and conserve


forests by practising the 3Rs — Reduce,
Reuse and Recycle.

• Can you think of some examples?

• Refuse, Repair

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Lead-in: Using the Earth’s Resources
Extension Activity
• We extract mineral resources, like coal, iron,
copper and aluminum, from the Earth’s crust and
process them into useful materials to meet our
needs.
• In doing so, we make enormous changes to the
physical environment. It is also important to realise
that the environmental effects of using these
resources extend beyond its mining stage of
extraction to its eventual use.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Our Constantly Changing Environment
• We constantly change our environment as we find
means to survive and make our lives more comfortable.
• As the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, the
need for food, housing, amenities and other necessities
will increase as well. In order to meet these needs, land
has to be cleared for urban settlements and agriculture.
As a result, we often make changes to the environment.
• Although these changes benefit us in many ways, they
have adverse impacts on the environment.

Cars and factories emit


Forests are cleared to make way for pollutants into the air.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
urban settlements and agriculture.
Our Constantly Changing Environment
Growing world population
• Today, the world’s population stands at some 7.1 billion
people. By 2050, it is expected to reach 9 billion.
• The rapid growth of the world’s population will cause an
increase in the demand for natural resources. When
more resources are consumed by people, more rubbish
is generated.
• As Singapore’s population continues to grow, more
waste is generated. To meet the future increasing
demand for incineration of waste, more incineration
plants are being built.

Waste awaiting incineration in an


incineration plant. Incineration
produces a highly toxic waste
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
material known as fly ash.
Our Constantly Changing Environment
Advances in technology
• As technology advances, the rate in which the
environment changes also increases.
• For instance, today’s farmers depend on
machinery like tractors and combine harvesters
to cultivate large areas of land for agriculture
within a shorter period of time and with less
manpower.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Our Constantly Changing Environment
Advances in technology
• The pace of industrialisation has also increased due to
advances in technology. With automation in factories,
mass production of goods is possible. The integration of
global transport networks has made it easier to transport
goods between cities and countries.
• For example, the invention of container ships has greatly
facilitated the growth of industrialisation and global
international trade.

The integration of rail and sea transport


modes has made the transportation of
goods and cargo more efficient.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Problems caused by human activities
• Pollution is the introduction of substances into the
environment such that it results in unpleasant or
damaging effects to the environment.
• Global warming is the increase in air temperatures
throughout the world.
• Ozone depletion is the gradual destruction of the
ozone layer caused mainly by the release of
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Major sources and health and
environmental effects of air pollutants
Major Health Effects Environmental
Sources effects
Carbon Vehicles Headaches and
monoxi fatigue, especially
de in people with
weak
cardiovascular
health
Lead Vehicles, Accumulates in Kills
(burning bloodstream over fish/animals
leaded time; damages
gasoline) nervous system
Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Impact of human activities at various scales
• An environmental impact at a local scale affects
only the area where a problem occurred.
• For example, studies have shown that waste
disposed at landfills can contaminate groundwater
and nearby water bodies.

Most landfills release


greenhouse gases like
methane and carbon
dioxide and eventually leak
hazardous chemicals.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Impact of human activities at various scales
• An environmental impact at a regional scale
affects a few countries located in the same part of
the world.
• An example is the occasional haze that engulfs
parts of Southeast Asia caused by smoke from
widespread burning of forests and agricultural
plantations in Indonesia.
• Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are
affected by haze.

Haze covering a cityscape

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Impact of human activities at various scales
• An environmental impact at a global scale affects the
whole world. The impact of human activities is the greatest
at the global scale.
• Changes to the global atmosphere will result in global
warming and ozone depletion which affect all life on
Earth.
• Global warming will cause ice and snow-covered areas in
the Poles to melt and cause sea-levels to rise. As a result,
low-lying countries like Bangladesh are more susceptible
to flooding.

Coastal cities like Cancun,


Mexico, are susceptible to
flooding as global sea levels
rise due to global warming.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Impact of human activities at various scales
• Ozone depletion damages crops and phytoplankton
in the oceans, and will cause increased incidence of
skin cancer and eye cataracts in people.

Source: NASA Observatory


Ozone depletion over the
Arctic region from 1981–
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
1999.
Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Impact of human activities at various scales
• As the global impacts of global warming and
ozone depletion are catastrophic, it is necessary
for a worldwide coordinated effort where
individuals and national, regional and
international organisations work towards
minimising these impacts.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


The need to Protect and Conserve
the Environment
Managing the environment to meet our needs
• With a growing world population and advances in
technology, the use of natural resources is
increasing.
• We have to manage the scarce resources wisely to
meet our needs.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Managing the consequences of our actions
• Problems such as pollution, global warming and
ozone depletion result as we change the
environment to meet our needs.
• As all living things on the Earth are interdependent,
ignoring these problems will precipitate a global
environmental crisis which will have adverse
environmental consequences.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Impact of Human Activities on the
Environment
Managing the consequences of our actions
• Hence, we need to practise environmental
conservation where we use the Earth’s resources
carefully to ensure that there are enough natural
resources left for future use(sustainability), and
damage to the environment is kept to a minimum.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Skills Builder: Suggested Answers
1. Industrialisation, agriculture, mining, deforestation, the
damming of the reservoir and forest fires are some of the
human activities that can be identified in the picture.
2.
(a) 1. Factories release greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere and cause global warming.
2. Discharging untreated industrial waste into the
Industrialisation river causes water pollution.
(b) For (1), the impact is global. For (2), the impact
may be local or regional. (Accept plausible
answers.)

(a) Harmful substances in the pesticides from crop dusting


may find their way and accumulate in the food
Agriculture chains of living things. This may cause undesirable
health effects.
(b) Local

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Skills Builder: Suggested Answers
2.
(a) Mining (e.g. coal) causes land disturbance, soil
erosion, air and water pollution. For example, mining
Mining can result in the emission of toxic chemicals into the
atmosphere.
(b) Local

(a) Deforestation alters the climate of the affected area


and causes soil erosion. Living things also lose their
Deforestation
habitats.
(b) Local

(a) The dam allows water to accumulate in the


reservoir behind the dam and controls the water flow
in the river downstream. The migration and spawning
Dam
of some fish may be affected. Downstream cropland
may be deprived of nutrient-rich silt.
(b) Local or regional

Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


Skills Builder: Suggested Answers
2.
(a) The burning of forests, either deliberate or accidental,
releases smoke into the air and causes air pollution.
Forest fires
Haze may occur.
(b) Local or regional

3. (a) People have built solar power plants to produce


electricity from renewable solar energy. Solar power plants
do not release greenhouse gas emissions like carbon
dioxide but are costly.
(b) People can help conserve and protect the
environment by reducing dependency on fossil fuels and
thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, treating
industrial waste before discharging it into rivers and seas,
practising reforestation and reducing synthetic pesticide
use, etc. (Accept any plausible answers.)
Copyright © 2006-2011 Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.