CONSERVATION (Part 1 of 5)   Leave a comment

The reasonable use of the Earth’s natural resources water, soil, wildlife, forests, and minerals is a major goal of conservation. Conservation is the preservation and maintenance of the environment to meet human needs for production while insuring that proper consideration is also given to aesthetics and recreation. An effective conservation program results in a continuous production and supply of native plants and animals, and the continued availability of critical mineral resources. Timber, fuels, ores, and other resources are being depleted at such a rapid rate that the need to conserve them has become crucial. The prevention of environmental pollution from industrial, agricultural, urban, and domestic sources, including toxic chemicals, radioactive wastes, and elevated water temperatures, is another concern of conservation. People concerned with conservation seek to prevent the waste of natural resources, to maintain a high-quality environment, and to preserve the natural heritage for future generations.

1869: Birth of ecology. Most people are unaware that the subdivision of biology called ecology is over a century old. Over the course of its development, ecology has emerged as one of the most significant and studied aspects of biology. Ecology refers to the overall interrelated system of nature and the interdependence of all living things.

The word ecology has been popularized more recently because of the many environmental concerns that have been raised since the 1970s. But as a word, ecology was coined in about 1869 by a German zoologist named Ernst Haeckel. A researcher in evolution and a strong supporter of Charles Darwin’s theories, Haeckel spent most of his career teaching at the University of Jena.

The study of ecology dates back to the ancient Greek philosophers. An associate of Aristotle named Theophrastus first described the relationships between organisms and their environment. Today the field of ecology has expanded beyond narrow biological studies to include environmental pollution, population growth, and food supplies.

2300 BC: Invention of paper In ancient Egypt paper was made from the papyrus plant. The stalk was split, sliced, pressed and dried into thin sheets. In China, a government servant named Ts’ai Lun is credited with inventing paper in AD 105. He made the paper from mulberry fibres, hemp waste, rags, fish nets, and other materials. It took many centuries for this invention to travel west: it reached Samarkand, in Central Asia, by 751 and Baghdad by 793. Finally, through Arab contacts, this technology arrived in Europe in about the 12th century. Three hundred years later the invention of printing with moveable type spurred the demand for paper in Europe. Even so, processes for making it were not technologically advanced, and shortages persisted for several hundred years. The use of wood pulp in the early 19th century greatly increased the paper supply. In the 20th century, concern over deforestation led to the growth of recycling processes for paper.

 Soot, car fumes, and acid rain pollute the air.

The world’s rain forests are being destroyed.

Toxic waste and garbage contaminate the water.

Pesticides and chemicals poison our food.

Strip mining ravages the land.

Gas and oil are wasted.

Humans have been slowly destroying the world’s resources for years.

The goal of conservation is to make the environment clean and healthy while continuing to use the Earth’s resources. This goal is gaining popularity throughout the world as all nations begin to see the results of abusing the environment.

Everyone must think seriously about the environment. Humans cannot live happy, healthy lives in an unhealthy world.

Renewable Resources can be maintained with careful planning. Examples include:

wild animals

forests

soil and water

grasslands

Non-renewable Resources will eventually be used. Examples are:

oil, coal, and gas

gold and silver

uranium

iron

Natural resources are sometimes classified as renewable or non-renewable Forests, grasslands, wildlife, and soil are examples of renewable resources. They can be regenerated, and prudent management can maintain them at steady levels. Such resources as coal, petroleum, and iron ore are non-renewable Consumption, wasteful or not, of their limited supply speeds the rate at which they are depleted.

Every creature, large or small, plays a part in the balance of nature.

Balance of nature means the way in which everything in nature depends upon other things in nature in order to live. All of nature works well together, with one creature or plant or mineral supporting others. Sometimes it appears that the elements of nature are not working well together, for example when a volcano erupts or when lightning starts enormous forest fires. However, both of these events that may seem like total disasters are extremely helpful in that they make it possible for new habitats to be created.

In many cases, people have upset this balance of nature. The Earth’s environment can handle some of the bad things done to it, but with so many people living on the Earth, there’s no such thing as “a little bit” of damage. All people on Earth need a healthy, balanced environment.

Natural resources are a vital part of sustaining human life, and conservation measures are designed to control, manage, and preserve them so that they can be used and appreciated to the fullest. Freshwater habitats must be kept clean for drinking and for recreational activities. Soils must be kept fertile, without the accumulation of toxic chemicals from pesticides or herbicides, to provide fruits and vegetables. Forests must be managed in a manner that can provide not only lumber and pulpwood for paper products but also homes for native wildlife. The use of oil, coal, and minerals important for an industrial society must be carefully monitored to be certain that the supply does not dwindle too rapidly. The proper conservation of these natural resources is of key concern in maintaining the balance of nature in a world with a large human population.

The Abuse of Natural Resources

When the first European settlers arrived in North America, they found a continent rich in natural resources. Much of the land was covered with forests where wild animals abounded. Great herds of bison roamed the grasslands. The soil was deep and fertile. Clean lakes and streams, unpolluted with silt and chemical wastes, held a wealth of fish.

In the struggle to obtain food, clothing, and shelter the settlers cut down and burned most of the Eastern forests. As they moved westward, they ploughed up the grasslands to plant corn and wheat. Their growing cities dumped sewage and waste materials from factories into the lakes and streams.

The roots of hundreds of thousands of ground-covering plants and grasses form a sponge-like net that holds the topsoil in place and soaks up rainwater.

If this plant cover is removed:

There is no net to hold the soil down, and nothing for rain to soak into.

The good soil needed for farming and the water needed to fill underground reservoirs wash away into streams and rivers.

Flooding occurs because the rivers and streams can’t hold all of the water and soil that is washing away.

Flooding is a major problem in areas of North America where rain tends to fall quickly in heavy thunderstorms. In Europe rains usually fall slowly and gently enough not to wash away bare topsoil.

The settlers who first came to North America didn’t know that the heavy rains of America would cause so much damage to bare soil. They also had no idea that the methods they used to plough and plant crops were causing soil problems to worsen.

Much of the spring and summer rain in the United States falls in torrential thunderstorms, especially in the vast Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio river basins. The farmers who settled the country were mainly Europeans who had been used to gentle rains. The methods of tilling and planting which they brought with them were not suited to the new climate. The land’s capacity for water storage was diminished by the loss of the grasses that hold soil in place and prevent the escape of rainwater. With the blotter like plant cover gone, many rivers flooded when the winter snows melted. During natural drought periods, wells ran dry and crops died in the fields. Dust storms blew the topsoil away. Birds and animals that once thrived in the forests and on the prairies became scarce. Some kinds vanished forever. Fish died in the unclean waters.

The Conservation of Natural Resources

The Earth’s environment will continue to become less healthy unless all nations work together to improve it. To protect our world, everyone must understand the need for conservation.

People who worry about the environment have grouped together into organizations that fight for conservation, such as:

the Sierra Club

Greenpeace

the Nature Conservancy

the World Wildlife Fund

Many of these groups have succeeded in getting laws passed to protect land, wildlife, and other natural resources. Once laws have been passed, anyone who disobeys them can be punished.

The abuses of the past and even the present have emphasized the need for the wise use of natural resources. Conservation groups have promoted corrective legislation and instituted legal proceedings against violators. People have been made increasingly aware that their continued existence depends on these efforts to stop environmental deterioration.

Individuals have no right to destroy nature’s wealth for profit. The logging company that cuts down too many trees without replanting for the future; the industrial plant that fouls a river or pollutes the air with its wastes; the farmer who neglects his own farm and so damages his neighbour’s land are injuring their whole community. The camper whose carelessness starts a forest fire; the automobile driver who wastes gasoline; the picnickers who tear up armfuls of wild flowers or litter the landscape with their garbage; the hunter who kills more than the legal limit all are abusing natural resources. Conservation is everyone’s responsibility. It is a uniquely human problem. Stringent laws to stop the waste and destruction of natural resources must be supported and effectively enforced.

RESULTS OF LACK OF CONSERVATION

  1. Rampant streams destroy land and fail to recharge underground water sources.

  2. Bad forestry leaves timber fire-prone and causes soil erosion and flooding.

  3. Poor farming methods drain soil fertility and hasten erosion by wind and water.

  4. Sprawling, monotonous suburbs blight good land and foster obsolescence.

  5. Rural industrial parks create pollution that can affect downstream communities.

  6. Abandoned mining operations poison streams and permanently scar the landscape.

  7. Haphazard placement of industry leads to the pollution of water and air in cities.

  8. Failure to treat garbage and sewage adequately contaminates the surroundings.

  9. Bad industrial zoning downgrades nearby property and produces urban eyesores.

  10. Polluted rivers cannot sustain fish life and need costly purification for drinking.

  11. Poorly managed traffic facilities snarl urban travel and aggravate air pollution.

  12. Densely grouped high-rise apartment buildings wall out air and sunlight.

Conservation can help maintain the natural beauty of a community. When land is mistreated, the countryside can become unattractive. Vacant lots covered with trash, bare roadsides, and garbage-laden streams are ugly. Conservation also helps preserve areas suitable for recreation. As cities grow crowded, natural areas are needed for people enjoying leisure time. People need city parks, county forest preserves, and national parks; grass and trees bordering roads and highways; and sparkling streams.

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Posted 2011/12/21 by Stelios in Education

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