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Environmental Issues and Ethics Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Where can you see examples of biodiversity?

I understand that this question is in general, but I always try to look around in my community, where I live, and not just in a broad sense of the word. So specifically here in Seattle, there are numerous examples of biodiversity in my community, and all around me. Cedar River Watershed Biodiversity

Lichens and mosses on felsenmeer

The Cedar River Watershed is a cross-section of habitat from the central Cascade Mountains crest to the Puget Sound lowlands. It provides protection to a rich biological diversity. The watershed contains old-growth and second-growth forest, a variety of non-forested terrestrial habitats, and numerous streams and lakes. Discover the watershed’s biodiversity through a tour of our habitats. The watershed provides a rare opportunity to preserve and restore biodiversity in western Washington. The City of Seattle is actively assessing and documenting its current biodiversity to serve as a regional benchmark and to help implement its habitat restoration activities under the Habitat Conservation Plan.

Watershed habitats and species:

· Habitats
· Fish
· Birds
· Mammals
· Amphibians & Reptiles
· Plants & Fungi

Note: The Cedar River Watershed referred to in these web pages consists of the upper two-thirds of the hydrologic watershed, which is almost entirely under City of Seattle ownership. The lower third of the watershed, downstream of Landsburg, is largely under private ownership in unincorporated King County. Seattle Public Utilities. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.seattle.gov/util/EnvironmentConservation/Education/CedarRiverWatershed/CedarRiverBiodiversity/index.htm

What is its importance on the environment? Many people may support environmental causes to help preserve the “beauty” of Nature. However, that is in a strange way, not really a justifiable excuse as it is a subjective, human or anthropomorphasized view. For many decades, various environmentalists, biologists and other scientists, have viewed the entire earth as a massive living organism or system due to the interdependent nature of all species within it. Some cultures have recognized this kind of inter-relationship for a very long time.

Some have termed this Gaia. While there are disagreements and differences on how this works, it suggests that ecological balance and biodiversity are crucial for all of earth, not just humans. Is there a benefit to having more than one type of organism in an ecosystem? Yes of course – Numerous plant species will ultimately increase the crop variety. Diversity of species will ensure natural sustainability for all life forms. Withstanding disasters is hinges on a Healthy ecosystem.

And so, while we dominate this planet, we still need to preserve the diversity in wildlife.  Shah, A. (2011). Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares

Explain the term “Genetically Modified”.

(GMOs) refer to plants and animals with an altered genetic make-up. GMOs are generally altered or manipulated by a non-natural means in order to incorporate genes from another organism. Usually genetic engineering (GE) is done to achieve a trait not normally held by an organism, such as longer shelf life, disease resistance or different colors or flavors. The dangers vs. benefits of GMOs are widely debated, but genetic modification is currently allowed in conventional farming. In fact, many organizations and studies estimate that possibly 70% or more of all processed foods sold to consumers now contain genetically modified ingredients. As it stands right now, any food item that is certified organic CANNOT contain genetically modified ingredients.

Chait, J. (2013). Genetically Modified Organisms. Retrieved from http://organic.about.com/od/organicdefinition1/g/Genetically-Modified-Organisms.htm

Have you encountered food products with this type of labeling on it? No I have not encountered food products with a label showing that it contains GMO’s. Currently the majority of processed foods in grocery stores contain genetically modified sources. It has not been proven whether or not foods that contain GM’s can cause health problems. Australia, Japan, and dozens of other regions in the world require food labels to show whether GM’s are contained, this will allow consumers to decide whether or not to buy or not to buy, whether or not there is a risk or not. The United States and Canada do not have the

se requirements as of yet. There has been criticism against some

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companies, that have lobbied to ensure that the U.S. does not impose regulations to label products that contain GM’s. Unfortunately this lack of labeling will keep consumers ignorant, whether they realize it or not, its not the fault of the consumer. This simply prevents consumers from making a educated choice. Recently a survey given, presented that 53% of Americans would not eat GM foods if given the choice, while 87% of Americans surveyed want labels regardless, simply consumers have to take matters in their own hands, and let the federal government know what they want, and don’t want, before a change can come about.

Helping Consumers Identify Genetically Modified Foods

The non-profit Institute for Responsible Technology recently released a free iPhone app called ShopNoGMO, which provides consumers with a handy resource they can access right from the grocery aisle to identify non-GM brand choices across 22 grocery categories. The project also has an ingredient database to help food producers find non-GM ingredients to use in their processed foods. Project leaders hope their work can help prevent new GM crops from gaining a foothold and build a strong non-GM food sector across the country, despite lack of federal intervention.

Should Genetically Modified Food Products Be Labeled for Consumer Protection?. (2013). Retrieved from http://environment.about.com/od/health/a/Should-Genetically-Modified-Food-Pro ducts-Be-Labeled-For-Consumer-Protection.htm How do Genetically Modified Organisms compare to organically grown foods? GMO food threatens the biodiversity of life, our environment and the health of every animal (including humans) on the planet. (Landsman, J. (2012) GE foods damage our immune system

Do you know that people in the Philippines have developed antibodies to Bt – a biological pesticide? What this shows is that (when ingested) we process these engineered modifications in the digestive system – which triggers an immune response. These same people who consumed the GMO corn in the Philippines also developed resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin. (Landsman, J. (2012) Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found corn’s Bt toxin in pregnant women and their babies, as well as non-pregnant women. In Italy, government sponsored research fed mice Monsanto’s Bt corn which created a large range of immune responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from disorders that range from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer. (Landsman, J. (2012) One of the greatest threats to human existence

Farmers have used Bt-toxin (from soil bacteria) as a natural pesticide for years, the difference is they sprayed it on the plants, where it washes off and becomes biodegradable in sunlight. The toxins we’re talking about are thousands of times more harmful; do NOT wash off and threaten human health for generations. (Landsman, J. (2012) Get educated BEFORE your next trip to the grocery store

This is a simplified list of genetically modified foods: corn, soybean, sugar cane, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, bananas, strawberries, zucchini, pineapples, cocoa beans and yellow squash. The short list of processed foods made with genetically modified organisms include: popcorn, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soy sauce, frozen pizza, frozen dinners, dry cereal, baby formulas, canned soups, cookies, ice cream, and aspartame. To protect your health, stop buying processed foods and eat organic, whole foods – as much as possible. (Landsman, J. (2012) Bocco, D. (2013). Top 10 Genetically Modified Food Products. Retrieved from http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-genetically-modified-food-products.htm Landsman, J. (2012). Sound the alarm about genetically modified foods. Retrieved from http://www.naturalhealth365.com/food_news/gmo-2.html Define Charismatic Mega fauna

Charismatic mega fauna,’ a category that includes whales and other sea mammals, salmon and other inspirational fish, eagles and other flashy raptors. Bottlenose dolphins, Giant pandas, that create humans to feel inspired, and in awe of their beauty, and uniqueness. In each instance, these creatures cause numerous conservationists to reach out to the public, and use the inspiring characters of each to draw a sympathetic appeal from society. Although they are in a category of greatness, and wonderment they also help spotlight the hundreds of humbler but equally endangered species: the black-spored quillwort, the longhorn fairy shrimp. good or a bad thing for biodiversity?

In some cases it could be both, depending on the characteristics and behaviors of the particular creature. There may be a greater good in the extinction of such creatures, if the biodiversity of an ecosystem is threatened. If there is an invasive species that is being threatened by extinction then it could possibly be a good thing, in the realm of the “greater good”.

charismatic megafauna. (1999). Retrieved from http://www.wordspy.com/words/charismaticmegafauna.asp When considering efforts made to save endangered species, what defines how we choose to save one and not another organism (For example, condors instead of beetles)? Explain your answer. In ecology, predation is a mechanism of population control. Thus, when the number of predators is scarce, the number of preys should rise. When this happens, the predators would be able to reproduce more and possibly change their hunting habits. As the number of predators rise, the number of preys decline. This results in food scarcity for predators that can eventually lead to the death of many predators.” (www.Biology-Online.org) Because of this, predation is called a “positive-negative” relationship. (Campbell) A perfect example of this would be,” Galapagos tortoise’s cactus plants that grow on the Galapagos Islands.” (Bar-Yam, 2011). Another example is the koalas.

They have a special digestive system that allows them to break down tough eucalyptus leaves and remain unharmed by its poison (National Geographic). In some situations, as discussed in the charismatic mega fauna question, invasive species, and predators, have a purpose, in each ecosystem, and extinction to some species came about because of a change in climate, or habitat, either brought on by man, or an act of God, things are constantly in a state of flux, and change, and over long periods of time, the creatures that inhabit an ecosystem, change along with their surroundings. I believe that each of us has a soft spot somewhere within, that adores the koala bear, but that is only because of how cute they are, but in reality, they are quite vicious and they aren’t at all as cuddly as the “Teddy Bear” they are nick named.

Bar-Yam, S. (2011, February 28). Predator-Prey relationships. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from NECSI:

Ecological relationship. (2013). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_relationship

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