Environmental Resources Worksheet Essay
Using the assigned readings from Week Four, write a 50- to 75-word response to each of the following questions.
Your responses will be assessed according to the accuracy of the content.
1. How do minerals affect society?
Minerals have aided in the continuous growth of developing nations and also, “had abundant mineral deposits that enabled them to industrialize” (Berg, 2013). However, as a consequence of industrialization, “these countries largely depleted their domestic reserves of minerals so that they must increasingly turn to developing countries” (Berg, 2013). Also, minerals affect the global economy. For example, China “controls more than 90 percent of the global supply of rare earth metals, has also reduced its exports to other countries, in a move that could affect market prices” (Berg, 2013).
2. What is the difference between metallic and nonmetallic minerals?
Provide two examples from each category and discuss their uses. Minerals are divided into two categories: metals and nonmetallic minerals. Metals are “malleable, lustrous, and good conductors of heat and electricity”, while nonmetallic metals “lack these characteristics” (Berg, 2013) . Gold is a metal used for currency and iron is a metal used for steel buildings. Gypsum is a nonmetal that is used for drywall. Silicon is another nonmetal that is used for electronic devices.
1. How are minerals extracted from the Earth and processed?
There are two ways to extract minerals from the Earth, either surface mining or subsurface mining. Surface mining is done when minerals are closer to the surface. Subsurface mining is used when the minerals are too deep to be removed by surface mining. Smelting is the “process in which ore is melted at high temperatures to separate impurities from the molten metal” (Berg, 2013). 2. What are the different ways minerals can be mined? Provide a brief description of at least three types of mining. What effect does extracting minerals have on the environment? Other than land damage, extracting minerals causes air pollution of the air, soil, and water. Also, it destroys vegetation and causes soil erosion. Possibly most importantly it affects the water supply. Mineral extraction “exposes large areas of dissolved toxic substances to precipitation, greatly accelerating polluted runoff” (Berg, 2013).
3. What is your definition of soil? What is soil composed of? Why is soil important to the environment?
Soil is the uppermost layer of the Earth and supports life on earth. Soil is composed of four parts: mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. Soil is very important to the environment because various organisms depend on soil for life and “supports virtually all terrestrial food webs” (Berg, 2013). 4. What types of organisms are found in soil? Determine the relationship between soil and organisms. Ants, moles, snakes, and earthworms are just a small number of the many organisms that are found in soil.
Essentially, organisms and soil depend on each other to remain balanced. Organisms that live in soil provide “ecosystem services, such as maintaining soil fertility, preventing soil erosion, breaking down toxic materials, and cleansing water” (Berg, 2013). 5. What is soil erosion? How can soil become polluted? What effect does soil erosion and pollution have on the environment? Soil erosion is the “wearing away or removal of soil from the land” (Berg, 2013). Being that soil erosion reduces the amount of soil in an area, vegetation growth can become very limited. As a result, it disrupts the balance of the ecosystem by eliminating food sources. 6. What is the purpose of soil reclamation?
Soil reclamation can be executed by “(1) stabilizing the land to prevent further erosion and (2) restoring the soil to its former fertility. To stabilize the land, the bare ground is seeded with plants that eventually grow to cover the soil, holding it in place” (Berg, 2013). Once the soil is returned back to its original state, the land can be used again.
Forestry and Rangeland Resources and Management Strategies
7. Differentiate between government-owned and public lands. Which government agencies are involved with government-owned lands? What is the purpose of government-owned lands? Government owned lands “provide vital ecosystem services that benefit humans living far from public forests, grasslands, deserts, and wetlands” (Berg, 2013). These places include national parks and provide protection for endangered species and flood and erosion control. Public land is available for recreational purposes such as hiking, swimming and boating. 8. Why is the forest an important ecosystem? What is your definition of forest management? What is its purpose? Describe the concept of sustainable forestry. The forest is an important ecosystem because it “provides many goods and services to support human society” (Berg, 2013). They also provide employment for millions of people worldwide. Forest management is the managing of timber production.
The purpose of forest management is to produce as much timber as possible. 9. What effect does the harvesting of trees and deforestation have on forests and the environment? Is there a preferred method for harvesting trees? Explain. Both the harvesting of trees and deforestation result in “decreased soil fertility” (Berg, 2013). The vital minerals that are needed by soil are washed away because there are no trees to absorb them. Also, this takes away food sources and shelter for various organisms. This disrupts the delicate balance of ecosystems. Selective cutting, is when a small group of mature tress are individually cut or in small clusters. This means that the rest of the forest is left undisturbed.
However, this method is expensive and does not generate timber needed quickly enough. 10. What is a rangeland? Describe rangeland degradation and desertification. What effect does degradation and desertification have on the environment? Is there a preferred method for harvesting trees? Explain. Rangelands are “grasslands, in both temperate and tropical climates, that serve as important areas of food production for humans by providing fodder for livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats” (Berg, 2013). Degradation is “both a natural and a human-induced process that decreases the future ability of the land to support crops or livestock” (Berg, 2013).
Desertification is progressive degradation that produces desert-like conditions on land that was used previously and was plentiful. 11. What is overgrazing? What effect does this have on rangelands? What strategies can be employed for managing and conserving forests and rangelands? Overgrazing is a “situation that occurs when too many grazing animals consume the plants in a particular area, leaving the vegetation destroyed and unable to recover” (Berg, 2013). When rangelands are overgrazed, “plants die, the ground is left barren, and the exposed soil is susceptible to erosion” (Berg, 2013). The rangelands have to be taken care of by practicing techniques that are environmentally friendly.
12. What is the difference between industrialized and subsistence agriculture? What effect do these methods have on the environment? Industrialized agriculture are modern “agricultural methods that require large capital inputs and less land and labor than traditional methods” (Berg, 2013). Subsistence agriculture supports on the farmer and their family with little reserves. Industrialized agriculture causes pollution and lowers an ecosystem’s biodiversity. Subsistence agriculture relies on more human and animal labor and has a much smaller impact on the environment. 13. What is one agricultural challenge, other than soil erosion, that society faces? Explain your answer. One agricultural challenge that society faces is the lost of agricultural land. Countries are starting to expand and grow rapidly.
With so much space being needed for expansion, this takes land that could have been used for agricultural purposes. The loss of rural land means that food will have to travel longer and use more resources to do so. 14. How would you describe sustainable agriculture? How does it affect the environment? In regards to agriculture, what are the advantages and disadvantages involved with genetic engineering? I would describe sustainable agriculture as agriculture that is better for the environment and leaves less of a footprint on the Earth.
It also promotes high diversity. It has minimal long term impacts on the environment by using less pesticides and using biological diversity instead (predator-prey relationship). The advantage of genetic engineering is that any organism can be used and it takes less time to engineer another breed. The disadvantage is that there is yet to be seen what long term effects genetic engineering has on the environment or on humans.
Berg, L. (2013). Visualizing Environmental Science (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
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