Overview The final project for this course is the creation of an environmental issue paper. The final product represents an authentic demonstration of competency because, in the field of environmental science, it is important to remember that all ecological processes and subsequent environmental issues are interrelated.
No one ecological process or environmental issue stands alone. Imagine for a moment that you are an avid fisherman and have learned that a population of a particular fish species in a local river is critically low. In broad terms, the issue is loss of biodiversity, which could impact water quality downstream and the availability of food for predators in the river. The specific causes of this issue may be wide-ranging; the river may have been recently dammed, or there may be a chemical spill that has yet to be discovered or fully realized. If the river runs through a major city, it may be a repository for urban runoff and human wastewater containing endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
If the river runs through an agricultural area, it may be subject to sedimentation and pollution from pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and large-scale animal feeding operations. Very few environmental issues are caused by a single factor, which makes implementing solutions challenging. In this example, legislation such as a ban on fishing the species may be a temporary fix, but it does not address the core problems. Effective solutions may include removing the dam, requiring urban runoff to be treated, increasing treatment of human waste, and/or convincing local farmers to use more environmentally friendly practices. However, these solutions are easier said than done. For the final project, you will write a short paper on the environmental issue of your choice.
This assignment is your opportunity to investigate an area of environmental science that interests you. The issue you choose must have local consequences and impact you directly or indirectly. As part of this assignment, you will describe the ecological processes that have been disrupted and explain how human activities have contributed to the problem. You will also summarize the proposed solutions to the issue and comment on the advantages and disadvantages of each. Finally, you will discuss how the issue relates to you and state the steps that you could take to reduce your impact. As with most complex issues, suggested changes are not feasible for everyone all the time, so this is your chance to truly reflect on the practicality of making changes in your life.
The final project is divided into two milestones, which will be submitted at various points throughout the course to scaffold learning and ensure quality final submissions. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Three and Five. The final product will be submitted in Module Seven. In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:
Explain significant environmental issues facing the natural world for determining the extent of their local impact
Describe the extent to which the basic ecological processes involved in significant environmental issues have been disrupted by daily human activities
Explain the strengths and weaknesses of proposed scientific solutions to major environmental issues
Develop feasible strategic plans for mitigating one’s personal impacts on the environment
Prompt Before you begin, you need to make sure that you have chosen an environmental issue that is of interest to you and that impacts you directly or indirectly. While you can choose any environmental issue you like, remember that you will need to explain the ecological processes behind it and discuss the relationship between the issue and humans on global and local scales. You must get approval from your instructor after you select your issue and before you begin writing.
I. Environmental Issue: To begin your paper, you will describe the global impact of your chosen environmental issue and describe the interactions of the ecological processes that are involved in the environmental issue. You will then describe the impact of this environmental issue on your local community. These impacts may be direct or indirect and may influence local ecology, or human activities or jobs.
A. Identify the local environmental issue you have chosen and briefly describe its impact on the environment on a global level. Support your description with scientific facts.
B. Describe the impact of this environmental issue on your local community. This may include impact on local ecology or impact on local human activities. Support your description with specific examples.
II. Human Impact: In this section, you will take a deeper dive into your chosen environmental issue to assess and describe how and why human activities
impact the ecological processes involved. A. Identify the ecological processes that are impacted by this environmental issue and briefly describe how each has been impacted by the environmental issue. Support your description with scientific facts.
B. Discuss how the ecological processes related to this environmental issue have been impacted, directly and indirectly, by human activities.
Support your discussion with examples.
C. Explain how human activities in your local community directly and indirectly impact the related ecological processes. Support your explanation
III. Potential Solutions: In this section, you will identify and describe proposed solutions to your chosen environmental issue that have been put forth by the scientific community. You will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and you will discuss the extent to which human activity will influence, and be influenced by, these proposed solutions.
A. Identify current potential solutions that have been proposed by the scientific community for mitigating the environmental issue, and briefly describe each. Support your description with scientific facts.
B. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed solution. Support your explanation with scientific facts.
C. Briefly describe how human behavior would have to change in order for the solutions to be effective. Support your description with specific
IV. Reducing Personal Impact: Now that you have investigated the ecological processes behind your chosen environmental issue, the human impact on those processes, and proposed solutions to the environmental issue, it is time to reflect on your personal impact. In this section, you need to develop at least three personal, feasible strategies that you can implement in your own life to lessen, or even eliminate entirely, your impact on your environmental issue.
A. Identify your personal habits and daily activities that impact the ecological processes related to the larger environmental issue and describe the impact of each habit or activity.
B. Based on the ecological impact of your previously identified habits and activities, describe how your daily life impacts the larger environmental issue.
C. Prioritize your previously identified habits and daily activities by which have the greatest impact on the environmental issue. Support your
prioritization with scientific evidence.
D. Based on your prioritization, list three strategies that will help mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the top three personal habits and
daily activities you have identified. For each strategy, do the following:
i. Explain how the corresponding habit or activity will be altered by the strategy. Support your explanation with specific examples.
ii. Explain how your use of this strategy and corresponding changes in your personal life will contribute to the previously identified potential scientific solutions. Support your explanation with scientific facts.