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Re: Discussion Assignment Unit 8

 
Ecology is the scientific study of the relationships between living animals, plants, and
other organisms and their environment; intentional or unintentional activities by
humans can have beneficial or harmful effects on that environment.

Choose a specific ecosystem (eg a coral reef, a desert, a rainforest) and briefly describe
a situation where human intervention has significantly altered it (either for the better or
the worse).  Remember to describe the ecosystem both before and after the changes
and explain the factors that have caused the transformation (examples would include
logging companies clearing large areas of forest or the introduction of a treatment plant
that reduced the amount of raw sewage piped into the sea). 

Discuss how far you believe human beings should go to protect current ecological
systems (if at all) and whether you think there is ever a time when natural ecology
should be sacrificed for human needs.

Introduction

I always imagine a dystopian world far into the future when we have to discuss the
detrimental impact that humans have on our planet but as I have mentioned before in
other discussion posts, I truly believe we as humans have the ability to turn things
around and of course everything is trial and error, as how would we have known plastic
was going to be a major problem until we got through the process. Humans certainly
do unintentionally (not always as it can be intentional from the start) at first contribute
to the destruction of ecosystems and then it becomes intentional when they are now
aware of their destruction yet they continue with their actions. Let us examine the
desert as an example of human activity and whether it is beneficial or harmful.

The Desert

All deserts have one thing in common is that they are arid and can be divided into five
types according to the causes of their dryness; subtropical, coastal, rain shadow,
interior, and polar. It covers one-fifth of the land area and is home to one-sixth of the
earth’s population (National Geographic Society, 2018A). The desert receives very little
precipitation and the amount of water that gets evaporated exceeds the rainfall thus
there is very little water available to the living inhabitants (Openstax College, 2013).

The desert is home to plants and animals that have adapted to the desert ecosystem.
Desert plants grow far apart, that allows getting as much water around them as
possible, their leaves are adapted to not lose much water and many plants are annual
and some are perennial. Other adapted water-saving systems are deep roots, reduced
foliage, and water saving stems. (National Geographic Society, 2018A).
Xerocoles (animals adapted to live in desert biome) avoid the sun by finding shade and
cool burrows. Most of them are nocturnal. If you look at the camel, they have adapted
to desert environments by storing fat in their hump and the hydrogen molecules from
the fat combine with inhaled oxygen to form water (National Geographic Society,
2018A). I actually found this super cool, by the way.

Firstly, all biomes do suffer from interrelated causes. Pollution is one of them which
leads to global warming, increase in greenhouse gases and depletion of the ozone
layer. Drilling for oil in the desert is the other factor on how humans have offered their
destruction. But of course, natural courses like climate change also contributes to
destroying the desert ecosystem (National Geographic, 2018B).

Long-term irrigation for agriculture will lead to high salt levels in soil that will not be
able to support plants, grazing of animals destroy plants and animals and the potassium
cyanide that they use in gold mining poison many plants and animals. Off-road vehicles
and dumping of nuclear waste also destroy the natural habitat. Deserts sadly have been
used for nuclear testing too (National Geographic, 2018B).

We should do everything in our power to help to restore destroyed and surviving


ecosystems without trying to break something else in the process of course (which is
very idealistic as I have mentioned above, we only know what we have done sometimes
over a period of time).

I would honestly like to say that there should NEVER be a time where natural
ecosystem should be sacrificed for human needs but unfortunately, it will never be the
case. We destroy ecosystems all the time by building concrete jungles and use natural
resources for medicine and food through agriculture and farming, so in my opinion, we
cannot say we will never destroy natural ecosystems. But, I feel that we should do
everything in our power to preserve and conserve wherever and whatever we can and
create a balance which is very important so we can work in synchrony with our fellow
organisms.

Conclusion

Once again, I truly believe we as humans have the ability to turn things, unfortunately,
this can only be done if the 1% of the population that holds the ‘wealth’ of the world
can use their monetary power to change things but it is mostly not the case. The rich
get richer, the poorer get poorer and our earth will continue to be raped of its resources
contributing to the dire depletion and destruction of our ecosystems. I know people say
every little help counts, like cycling to work, recycling, upcycling and cleaning up, sure
all this does help and contribute to the well-being of our planet, but as Lorax says in Dr.
Seuss book “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get
better. It's not,” I believe that the 1% that have all the ‘wealth’ should be the ones to
change and contribute their monetary resources to the many projects that exist to save
the planet, only then we can see an expeditious change. We do live in a world of greed!

With all that being said, I also think humans are certainly not the main cause of
detriment to the planet. We have to bear in mind that over the eons of years there
were many natural occurrences that destroyed the planet without the existence of
humans, but humans certainly do contribute by possibly accelerating the natural
processes of extinctions and destructions.

PS – I put wealth in inverted commas because I do not believe that monetary wealth is
wealth in itself. It would soon be a useless commodity if we do not give Earth back
what she rightfully deserves. How far is your gold coin going to go when we have no
essential resources like food or water. Biting into a gold coin may be very tasty (just
being sarcastic).

Reference

National Geographic Society. (2018A). Desert. Nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved


from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/desert/

National Geographic Society. (2018B). Desert Threats. Nationalgeographic.org.


Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/desert-
threats/

OpenStax College. (2013). Biology: Chapter 33 summary.  Houston, TX: OpenStax CNX.
Retrieved from http://cnx.org/contents/185cbf87-c72e-48f5-b51e-
f14f21b5eabd@9.85:1/