Clean Air and water
Negative Human Activities
Air and water Pollution
Unhealthy Environmental Effects
Rise in sea level
Polluted air and water
Drought and Famine
Positive Human Activities
Good Farming Practices
The term environment refers to all the physical surroundings of an object, a person or an animal. It is divided into two parts; the natural environment and the man-made environment. The natural environment consists of all elements that exist without mans intervention. These include the solar system, the earth and the air among others. Man-made or artificial environment, as the name suggests are all creations of man. Buildings, roads, bridges, ocean liners and space craft are just but a few.
All these components interact in complex ways to create forces that shape the environment, for better or for worse. This results in creation of dependency chains. Elements depend on each other for survival. If the natural order of the system is disrupted, then the environment is put under stress which if not checked, would result in devastating outcomes. The interconnected nature of the earths environmental systems means that a change in one variable in one place may have an effect another place half a world away.It is the natural law of action and reaction. This has been the case with human emission of industrial gases into the environment at a rate more than nature can absorb them, resulting in pollution of the environment as manifested through adverse weather patterns such as smog.
A good understanding of the environment and the mechanisms that influence it is therefore vital in taking appropriate measures and strategies to ensure that it is managed and conserved properly. The aim of this research paper is to educate the DMC community on their immediate environment and to create awareness on the need for good environmental management practices.
Definition of Terms
Ecology is the relationship between a group of living things and their environment. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/ dictionary/ecology)
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.
This is an arrangement of the organisms of an ecological community according to the order of predation in which each uses the next usually lower member as a food source. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/ dictionary/foodchain)
A pollutant is a substance that makes land, water, air, etc., dirty and not safe or suitable to use: something that causes pollution. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/ dictionary/pollutant)
The focus of environmental research is to provide solutions to the environmental problems that face our world today. This has been aided by research into biological, physical and chemical sciences. Works in these fields have enabled a better understanding of the effect of natural and artificial forces on the environment. An understanding of ecological relationships and ecosystems and how humans influence them has been made possible by the sciences. In addition, studies into environmental agents such as atmospheric gases,organic and inorganic elements have shed light on their effect on the environment.
Origins of Environmental Research
Human understanding of the environment is as old as civilization itself. Early societies such as the Inca showed great understanding of the environment and the need to manage it in the way they farmed. They are pioneers of modern day environmental management through use of sustainable farming methods such as canal irrigation, terracing of hillsides and planting of hybrid crops (Smithsonian)
Later on, there came the scientific discoverers such as Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. Through their curiosity, the expanded the scope of human knowledge on natural laws and the earth itself hence providing the foundation on which modern day research into environmental science is based on.
Emerging Issues in Environmental Research
A major breakthrough in research on environmental was the discovery of the phenomenon now known as greenhouse effect by French scientist Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier in the 1920s. He discovered that radiation from the sun reflected off the earths surface but got trapped in the atmosphere causing a rise in global temperature. John Tyndall would later discover that water vapor and carbon dioxide were the main agents responsible for the greenhouse effect. Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist later discovered human contribution to the heat trapping envelope around the earth through release of carbon-dioxide from massive coal burning in the industrial revolution, hence accelerating global warming (BBC).
Subsequent research would later cast more light on this theory and develop proof of the real implications it had on global climate, a phenomenon dubbed climate change. Global warming brings about a shift in climatic zones, resulting in drought and famine in previously productive areas and spread of tropical diseases. It is also responsible for the gradual melting of the polar ice cap resulting in rise in sea levels hence submergence of coastal areas. The recent spike in adverse weather patterns such as hurricanes can also be attributed to this occurrence. Thisstimulatedindividual and government action to cut carbon emissions and reduce on greenhouse gases. Reduced use of fossil fuels and development of alternative sources of energy have been prioritized in a bid to reverse the situation. Emphasis is now being put on recycling rather than burning of plastic waste (WWF, EDF).
Scientific research into the environment has also brought to the fore other environmental effects of human behavior that were previously clouded by ignorance. These include:
Depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere by some kind of chemicals called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) found in products such as aerosol sprays. This causes penetration of harmful radiation from the sun into the earths atmosphere potentially causing skin cancer in humans and also affects plant life.
Water quality degradation through improper sewerage management can lead to water-borne diseases. Release of chemical pollutants into the environment is harmful to the organisms which rely on the water for consumption and habitation. DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), used in pesticides accumulates up aquatic food chains and poses health risk to human and animal health. Its effects were first chronicled by American Biologist Rachel Carson in her book; Silent Spring. Heavy metal such as lead and asbestos can cause cancer in humans if consumed in large amounts in drinking water. Oil spills are harmful to aquatic life.
Soil degradation caused by poor soil management practices and dumping of pollutants such as inorganic matter which inhibits natural processes of soil organisms.
Air contamination by smoke from industrial and domestic engines, incinerators and forest fires can cause respiratory diseases.
With a better understanding of the damage human activities are causing to the environment, people have been spurred to action. Governments are formulating more environmental friendly policies so as to mitigate environmental disasters. Campaign groups are creating awareness calling for sound practices on the part of individuals, households and firms to ensure environmental sustainability and conservation.
JustificationIn view of the above information about the state of our environment, this research is necessary to determine the level of awareness of DMC students about environmental issues both locally and abroad. It will also help to sensitize them on the importance of good lifestyles that safeguard the environment.
Research QuestionsWhat are the immediate environmental concerns for the DMC community?
What measures can be put in put in place to mitigate the concerns mentioned in (1) above?
What impact has climate change and global warming had on the DMC community?
Data CollectionResearch MethodsMixed method research will be used for this proposal. This is because it combines both qualitative and quantitative research methods hence proffers the advantages of both. Qualitative research will be pursued by conducting interviews, use of focus groups and administering questionnaires. These will help gauge the level of understanding of environmental issues by the populace.
Quantitative methods on the other hand will be useful for collecting numerical data and figures on particular variables such as carbon dioxide levels at DMC in parts per million. This will be done through experimentation and reference from secondary sources such as the local metrological station and online sources. Such data will be important for easier identification of trends in the environmental situation at DMC. It will also be easier to present it in form of charts for reporting purposes.
Sample and Ethical ProceduresThe sample to be used for this research will be drawn from the entire DMC community. This will include students, faculty staff, non-teaching staff and local residents. In addition, environmental experts will be interviewed. The wide sample will help us get a wide variety of opinions as possible. It will also help us determine patterns in environmental awareness in the community.
Ethical procedures that will be followed are ensuring utmost confidentiality of the respondents in terms of their opinions and personal data. We will also issue a disclaimer to reassure that this research is solely for academic purposes in regard to this unit.
Personal Benefits of this research
This research will be personally beneficial as it will give me essential proposal writing and research skills. In addition, it will give me an in-depth understanding of both local and global issues pertaining to the environment. Indeed based on the preliminary research for this proposal, I already have a better appreciation of the dynamics of the environment. How the different elements interact in a delicate manner to ensure that the natural order of things is maintained.
In addition, I have been much aggrieved at the way in which we as humans have acted in blatant disregard to the environment, hence affecting the delicate balance of nature, with dire consequences. The greatest lesson has been that actions have consequences and whatever I choose to do...
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