Global Environmental & Ecological Issues Global Ecology Essay

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Global Environmental & Ecological Issues

Global Ecology Assignments

Climate and Air Pollution - Climate change is an environmental issue in the news almost daily, and air pollution impacts us on a global level. What are the implications of global warming? Do you think the efforts to improve air quality are worth the economic costs? (One page).

The implications of global warming is a bit of a misnomer since the effects of global warming are already being felt -- already having dire impacts on the environment. Global warming is impacting the environmental niches by changing the climates and weather patterns. These are not simple issues and include very complex problems. One such problem is that as the countries in the north grow warmer, the diseases that are normally found in southern countries migrate north through insect migration. Diseases such as malaria and plague can move back into environments in which they were eradicated eons ago. Some scientists argue that the reason malaria has not been fully eradicated in some countries is due to global warming at its present levels.

The weather patterns changing as a result of global warming include destructive weather effects such as hurricanes, the occurrence of which is tied to the temperature of the oceans. In 2004 and 2005, hurricanes occurred more frequently and they were stronger than what would be considered typical. Many parts of the earth will experience flooding -- directly from the warmer temperatures that bring storms like those in tropical areas and indirectly from the melting polar ice caps. Not all areas of the earth become wetter and warmer with global warming. Some parts of the earth will suffer droughts and intense heat waves. Africa and Europe are expected to experience the most severe droughts. The dire conditions surrounding drought and famine are likely to increase wars and conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. These changes would cause very disastrous economic consequences. Just dealing with the effects of destructive storms is sufficiently daunting, but bringing about a resurgence of deadly diseases coupled with drought, famine, and pestilence could overwhelm the resources available to address the problems.

There is no question that the cost of improving air quality to lessen global warming is "worth it." To do otherwise is to commit to costs that are unfathomable.

20 deadliest environmental effects of global warming. Environmental Graffiti. Retrieved

Energy - If you had to argue the benefits of wind energy, what would they be? What are the risks? Support your claims with at least two references in addition to your text in support of your position. Cite your sources in APA format. (One page).

The World Wind Energy Association reported in 2010 that wind power can generate 430 TWh annually, or approximately 2.5% of worldwide electricity usage (World Wind Energy Association, 2010). The average annual growth in new wind power installations over the past five years has been 27.6% (World Wind Energy Association, 2010). By 2013, wind power market penetration is anticipated to reach 3.35% by 213 and 8% by 2018 (World Wind Energy Association, 2010). Several European countries and other countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration (World Wind Energy Association, 2010). As of 2011, Denmark has reached 28% of their stationary or grid electricity production; Portugal has reached 19%, Spain has reached 16%, Ireland has reached 14% and Germany has reached 8% (World Wind Energy Association, 2010). A total of 83 countries around the globe were using wind power on a commercial basis in 2011 (World Wind Energy Association, 2010).

Wind power is a very positive alternative to fossil fuels ("Wind & the UK," 2005). The benefits of wind power are generally apparent and include the following attributes: clean, plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, and has a small footprint ("Wind & the UK," 2005)

The cost per unit of wind power for the energy it produces is roughly equivalent to the cost of establishing new natural gas or coal plant installations ("Wind & the UK," 2005) Even when people object to the installation of wind power installations, they are hard pressed to compare any drawbacks they may have with other sources of energy, on a point-by-point basis ("Wind & the UK," 2005) As wind power moves to larger installations, issues regarding some of these complaints solidify ("Wind & the UK," 2005) For instance, siting, land availability in optimal resourcing locations, aesthetic issues, and environmental concerns gains some legitimacy ("Wind & the UK," 2005)

World Wind Energy Association (2010). Retrieved

Wind and the UK's 10% Target, The British Wind Energy Association Briefing Sheet. The Energy White Paper - The Green Light for Renewable. Retrieved

Greenhouse Gases - Visit Greenhouse Gases Lab (accessible through the Labs section of Contemporary Environmental Issues) and complete the virtual lab. In this lab you will use a computer model to explore how human activities are creating a blanket of heat-trapping pollution in Earth's atmosphere. The model illustrates sources of top heat-trapping pollutants and their general impacts on Earth's temperature. In order to complete this lab, download the Greenhouse Gases Lab Instructions. Answer the Lab Questions at the end of the document. To answer the Lab Questions, you will reflect upon how destabilizing Earth's climate not only impacts ecosystems and biodiversity, but also critical elements of human well-being, such as fresh water supplies and agricultural production. Save it as a Word document and submit it. (Three pages)

Nuclear Power- All energy sources have drawbacks. Even the clean hydropower option has negative ramifications. Weigh those against the possible consequences of developing nuclear power, a controversial alternative to fossil fuels. Discuss the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster as well as the 20th century Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in drawing conclusions about risk vs. reward of nuclear energy use. The paper must be two to three pages in length and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least one scholarly resource other than the textbook to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your resources in text and on the reference page. (Three pages)


Hydropower and nuclear power generate electricity by causing huge turbines to spin. The process of creating hydropower is familiar to most people as the dams that enable the process are dominant elements of a landscape and attract many thousands of visitors each year. Hydropower processes require large amounts of water to pass through turbines situated in a dam, causing the turbines to spin and generate electricity (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). The operation of nuclear power plants generates steam to spin turbines which produce electricity. In nuclear power plants, the steam is produces when radioactive rods are used to heat water.

The primary benefit to using hydropower and nuclear power to generate electricity is that practically no greenhouse gases are produced by either method (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). A secondary benefit is that both nuclear power plants and hydropower dams can be located in geographic areas that do not have an abundance of natural resources that could be used to generate electricity, such as wind, tides, natural gas, or coal (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). A third benefit of both hydropower and nuclear power is that of low cost (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). Once the initial capital expenditures have been made, operations for both methods are -- comparatively speaking -- inexpensive: water is virtually free and uranium to power nuclear plants is, interestingly, relatively inexpensive (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). In addition, hydroelectric power plants may be stopped and started easily in response to the needs of an electric grid, and maintenance is a generally straightforward and infrequent (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012). Unlike the dams of hydroelectric plants, nuclear power plants consume comparatively little space (Widder, 2010). In summary, nuclear power plants and hydropower plants are energy-efficient, inexpensive, and practically non-polluting sources of electricity (Widder, 2010).

Some very substantive drawbacks are attributed to both hydropower and nuclear power. The primary drawback of using these methods to generate electricity is the potential for consequences to the environment (Widder, 2010). Hydropower is essentially non-polluting, but the siting of a hydroelectric dam is critical -- errors made in this regard can wreak havoc on entire ecological niches (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012; Widder, 2010). Nuclear power is considered to be a safe method of generating electricity -- barring some important and exceptional circumstances or incidences -- but the waste products of nuclear power plants are highly toxic and have long lives, making disposal challenging and potentially creating risk where none existed previously (Okonkwo & Ezeonu, 2012; Widder, 2010).

Possible Consequences of Nuclear Power

Fukushima Daiichi. The Fukushima Daiichi (number one) is a currently disabled nuclear power plant that is located on the seaward side of the island of Japan, in an 860-acre site in the towns of Futaba and Okuma ("Dirty inheritance," 2012). The plant was put into operation in 1971 ("Dirty inheritance," 2012). Six boiling water reactors (BWR) in the plant were used to drive electrical generators that produced 4.7 GWe ("Dirty inheritance," 2012). (A GWe…

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