Questions & answers 3: Environmental worldview, sustainability of biodiversity, and the environment

Question 1: How does poverty cause harmful environmental effects?

Answer: Poverty leads to desperation for survival, and causes poor people to harm the environment by degrading wildlife, species of fish, forests, soils, grasslands, and renewable energy resources at an ever-increasing rate. In places with large populations, the overall environmental impact is higher because of improper disposal and littering of waste in the environment, amongst other negative effects.

Question 2: What major health-related problems are associated with poverty?

Answer: Due to the fact that poor people have limited access to adequate sanitation facilities and clean drinking water, the following problems usually occur:

  • malnutrition: this is caused by a lack of protein and other important nutrients needed for good health; it could lead to several other problems as well.
  • water-borne diseases: this is caused by pollution of drinking water by human and animal faeces.
  • respiratory diseases: this is as a result of people inhaling smoke from open fires or poorly vented stoves used for heating and cooking inside homes.

Question 3: What is environmental worldview?

Answer: Environmental worldview is a set of views and beliefs each person has about how the world’s environment works, and what they think their role is in it. Each group of people have different opinions about how environmental problems should be handled and balanced with socio-economic problems.

Question 4: How do environmental worldviews affect environmental problems?

Answer: If similar data is given to different people who have widely different environmental worldviews, each person would arrive at almost different conclusions because of the difference in their assumptions, moral, religious and ethical beliefs.

Question 5: What is environmental ethics?

Answer: Environmental ethics are beliefs about how the environment should be treated. It expresses the conviction about what is right and wrong, as regards to how the environment should be treated.

Question 6: What is an environmentally sustainable society?

Answer: An environmentally sustainable society is one that has enough current and future basic resources needed by its people, in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of present and future generations to meet their own basic needs.

Question 7: What does it mean to “live sustainably”?

Answer: To live sustainably means to live comfortably on natural resources (natural income). Natural resources include renewable resources (such as plants, animals, soil, atmosphere and bodies of water—oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, etc.) provided by the Earth; and non-renewable resources like fossil fuel, coal, etc. To live sustainably means not to degrade or deplete the Earth’s natural capital which supplies income, and provides mankind with resources for the foreseeable future.

Question 8: How important enough is social capital when it comes to creating a sustainable society?

Answer: When it comes to creating a sustainable society, social capital, which involves bringing people together and harmonizing their different views, helps societies to find a common ground  and understanding to work together in order to solve environmental problems facing any society.

Question 9: What is biological extinction?

Answer: This is a term used to describe incidences in which species can no longer be found anywhere on Earth. Any specie that cannot be found, is said to be have suffered biological extinction.

Question 10: Why is it important for mankind to prevent its activities from causing extinction of other species?

Answer: The most important reasons are as follows:

(i) Each specie is an important part of the Earth’s life-supporting system. Each specie provides natural resources and natural services that keep mankind and other species alive. For example, mankind depends on some insects for pollinating crops, and some birds for natural pest control. Each specie is ecologically valuable because they play key roles in energy flow and chemical cycling.

(ii) Most species contribute to economic services: services that support each economy. For example, various plants provide economic value as food crops, paper, medicine, etc.

(iii) It’s likely that from analysis of previous extinctions, future generations of mankind won’t enjoy the diversity of life-sustaining biodiversity we are currently enjoying, if we make some species extinct.

(iv) Last but not the least, all species have the right to live/exist, regardless of how useful they are. According to people who hold this view, mankind has an ethical responsibility to protect species from becoming extinct, especially if causes of extinction are man-made.

Question 11: What is mass extinction?

Answer: Mass extinction is the extinction of many species in a relatively short period of time.

Question 12: What are endangered species?

Answer: Endangered species are species that have few survivors in quantities that could make them become extinct in a short period of time.

Question 13: What are threatened species?

Answer: A threatened species (a.k.a., vulnerable species) are species that have enough remaining survivors, but due to their depreciating numbers, would likely become endangered in the near future.

Question 14: How many segments does the environment consist of?

Answer: The environment consists of the following segments:

(i) The atmosphere: the gases surrounding the Earth.

(ii) The hydrosphere: all water resources (oceans, seas, rivers, etc.)

(iii) The lithosphere: consists of all minerals occurring in the earth’s crusts and soil.

(iv) The biosphere: is the sphere where all living organisms and interact with the environment.

Question 15: Why is environmental studies important?

Answer: Environmental studies is important because it enlightens us about the importance of protecting the environment from pollution, and conserving its renewable and non-renewable resources.

Question 16: Why is the current rate of the world’s growing population an environmental challenge?

Answer: The growing population is an environmental challenge because it puts heavy pressure on natural resources, and reduces the ability for countries/regions to develop socio-economically.

Question 17: Why is poverty an environmental challenge?

Answer: Poverty is an environmental challenge because poor people, who depend on resources in their immediate surroundings, plunder resources much faster than nature can renew them.

Question 18: What is deforestation?

Answer: Deforestation is a process whereby trees are cut down indiscriminately, and to such an extent that it leads to empty spaces of lands that were once covered with trees.

Question 19: What are the most significant negative effects of deforestation on the environment?

Answer: The most significant negative effects of deforestation are: soil erosion, landslides, and loss of agricultural productivity.

Question 20: What are the major causes of land degradation?

Answer: The major causes of land degradation include:

(i) Increasing urbanization, industrialization and other soil-related activities.

(ii) Unplanned clearing of forests, and littering of forest litter.

(iii) Washing away of soil particles from deforested areas: soil erosion, which has resulted in high increase in run-off, pollution and increase in turbidity and mineralization in many rivers.

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