WU Wk 6 Social Change Environmental Challenges and Changes Discussion

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Reflections and Social Change

Over the duration of this course you have developed a foundational understanding of ecology and have investigated many of the challenges facing the natural functioning of healthy ecosystems. In our final Discussion, reflect on your learning and consider the big ideas that you will take with you after you leave the course. Think about the challenges facing our species and others and consider some of the possibilities that can lead to a brighter future for life in the ecosphere.

With these thoughts in mind, complete the following:

Respond back to at least two of your colleagues’ or professor’s postings in a substantive manner, meaning a minimum of 1 full paragraph. Simple “I agree,” “Good post,” or one-line question posts are not enough for full credit. Be substantive as you engage your colleagues.

Brittany Harris

Week 6 Discussion-Environmental Challenges and Changes


The first area that I found most important about this class was Unit 3 – Ecosystems, Biomes, and Biodiversity. I found learning more about this to be more important in realizing the enormous amounts of human impacts on our surrounding ecosystems. From deforestation to overpopulation, and the burning of fossil fuels, humans have imposed significant threats to our environment, atmosphere, and ecosystems. At the rate we are going through these resources, it could get to a point where fossil fuels are depleted, ecosystems and biomes will continue to be threatened by human impact, and the biodiversity among us would become more threatened. In my opinion, the rate of deforestation among the Amazon rainforest is substantially higher than it needs to be. It is mostly due to overpopulation and greed by big companies that are using the rainforest as dump sites and wastelands, thus completely destroying habits for plants, animals, and the indigenous people that still call it home.

The next area I found to be especially important in this class was in Unit 5 – Earth’s Climate System. Growing up I always heard climate change and global warming referenced but did not really know or care to learn much about it. When looking at all the statistics provided and understanding that climate change is caused by the entire human population, was rather alarming and eye-opening for me. After learning so much more about this issue, I feel it is especially important that the world stop relying on burning fossil-fuels for almost everything. Though the number of carbon emissions has gotten better collectively over the past few years, the number is still fairly high, and I feel that government intervention and more involvement could have a much more significant impact than it currently has.

Personally, the biggest environmental challenge I think we are facing is the melting of all the ice and glaciers. Some of the issues that climate change has caused will have significant effects on certain ecosystems. For example, I did not realize that so much of the Arctic Sea Ice has melted and that polar bears are now threatened with extinction. Not only does the loss of the sea ice affect just the polar bears, since they are a keystone species it also impacts much of the ecosystem. The polar bears are not able to forage for the food they normally survive off of, so the animals they are now relying on for food takes away food sources from other smaller animals (Clay et al, 2018). The rate of sea ice melting is now approximately 13.1% per decade (climate.nasa.gov).

One particular plan I will implement this year, and will make a diligent effort going forward, to help with my carbon footprint is to plant a bigger garden. Last year I planted a fairly small garden since it is only me that eats the majority of vegetables in our household but looking at the statistics of how much energy is wasted in producing food products makes me want to do better. For example, my favorite vegetable is broccoli, and it is the one vegetable I always keep on hand. I live in Virginia and the climate is not that great for producing broccoli unless you plant it very early in the season, so I almost always just eat frozen broccoli instead. Last year I hesitated and ended up starting the garden late, so the majority of all my vegetables did not produce anything which means I bought all my vegetables from the grocery store. Gardening is one thing I can be more diligent about instead of relying on store-bought produce that has been transported to the grocery store from all over the place.


Clay et al, 2018. ‘Introduction to Environmental Science.’; Laureate Inc. Accessed on 14 December, 2020.

NASA Global Climate Change. (2020, 7). Arctic Sea ice minimum | NASA global climate change. Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/

Reta Cartrette

RE: Week 6 Discussion – Agents of Change in a Changing World!

While taking this course this term, I found a few things interesting I wanted to discuss. In Week One, we discussed land and resource management, and with this, what caught my attention was the deforestation that even took place way back when. In the Mayan civilization, deforestation was crucial. The Mayans wanted more of a luxury life, and so they ignored the soil in which they farmed. Just like today, deforestation back then was being cut for population growth. I heard a realtor say this week that in Horry County, where I am from, 160 families are moving in a day; wow, many people in a day. This made the forest bare in the Mayans’ time, and since wood was their main source, it became less and less. In fact, Easter Island faced the same challenges of deforestation, which puts a strain on the wildlife and their food resources (Clay et al., 2018).

Human water usage also caught my attention in week four. At times we only consider ways we use water every day. Things such as showers, washing dishes, and our drinking water. I found it interesting that Thermoelectric power and irrigation in the largest freshwater usage. The largest portion of the water used by households is for laundry, sinks, and showers. When we did the lab on our water footprint, I was amazed at how much water I use daily. One would never have thought about virtual water, which is the water it takes to make the clothes we wear or the food we consume on average. I had never heard of virtual water before this course, which was also interesting to me. It is a shame that our water is polluted daily by runoff from roadways and concrete, also by agricultural runoff from pesticides and herbicides. “The acid rain releases pollutants onto the ground which can harm soil, forests, streams and lakes” (Clay et al. 2018).

The environmental challenge was air pollution I found compelling. “The World Health Organization says 4.2-7 million people die a year from air pollution and 9 out of 10 people breathe the air that contains high levels of pollutants” (World Health Organization, 2019). Air pollution mainly comes from human impact by emissions from industrial sources to vehicles we drive. Since the covid 19 pandemics occurred, a study shows that it has played a role in air pollution by transporting virus molecules in the air (Lau, 2020). Air pollution can also be linked to long-term illnesses and short-term illnesses, such as cancer, heart DZ, stroke, and asthma. To sneezing, coughing, and dizziness are caused by air pollution. Environmental impacts are greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane gas, and sulfur oxides. These greenhouse gases are the main factor in climate change (Nunez, 2019).

Deforestation would be a cause I would advocate for. The end of deforestation would conserve wildlife for all countries. This could be the quickest way to control global warming. If an organization has the ability to destroy a forest, it can surely help to save it also. As humans, we can make a difference to save forests by our daily choices by steering clear of single-use packaging, eating sustainable foods, and recycling wood products such as paper. We can do our part by educating our families, friends, and communities. We can also help by planting our own trees, using less paper, and not burning wood fire and using electricity. Be the change to help our environment.


Clay et al. (2018) “Introduction to Environmental Science” Laureate Education. Accessed 1/5/2020

Lau, B. (2020, July 7). How Air Pollution Contributes to the Spread of COVID-19. Earth.org – Past | Present | Future. https://earth.org/air-pollution-exacerbating-the-spread-of-covid-19/

Nunez, C. (2019, February 4). Air Pollution Causes, Effects, and Solutions. Nationalgeographic.com. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/#close

World Health Organization. (2019, July 30). Air pollution. Who. Int; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1


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