3. Biodiversity and Conservation Intended Learning Outcomes



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Environmental Ethics

3. Biodiversity and Conservation
3.1. Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lessons, the students will be able to:

  1. Scrutinize the instrumental and intrinsic value of nature

  2. Understand the importance of maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity

  3. Evaluate some measures for conservation to environmental protection

  4. Examine some arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation, and develop their own stands using theories of ethics


*Prerequisite knowledge: Normative Ethics, the nature of morality, moral principles, moral reasoning, theory of conduct, theory of value & virtue (Refer to ‘NSS Ethics and Religious Studies Curriculum Support Materials - Compulsory Part: Ethics - Module 1: Normative Ethics’)

3.2. Introduction
In our daily life, we may encounter some ethical questions arise from the following situations:
In his book ‘Earth in the Balance: on Environment’, Al Gore1 wrote, ‘The big lie in this debate is that a good environment is bad economics. We ought to seek, and we can find, sustainable growth that doesn’t undermine human health or the natural ecosystems that support life… The bottom line is that there is not only an environment to be saved but money to be made in reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases.’
In our civilization, ecological balance/biodiversity and economic development seem always contradicting each other. In a world with so much poverty and hunger, how can we justify paying so much attention to conservation to environment protection?

A dog owner told her friend, ‘Donna is my beloved dog, and I feed her with chicken and beef every day. We should be kind and friendly to dogs. I just can’t imagine why people in Guangxi could be so brutal to run Dog Feast each year!’


In some societies, killing some kinds of animals for food is fine, but the others are unethical or illegal. How to draw such fine line?

In these lessons, the students will contemplate issues regarding the instrumental and intrinsic value of nature, the importance of maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity, environmental conservation, as well as using animals for food and experimentation.




References:

  • http://0-go.galegroup.com.edlis.ied.edu.hk/ps/retrieve.do?isETOC=true&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=hkioel&resultListType=RELATED_DOCUMENT&contentSegment=9780737752670&docId=GALE|CX3021100015

  • http://assets.wwfhk.panda.org/downloads/eco_vandalism_how_to_guide.jpg

  • http://blogsdelagente.com/qijie/2010/09/13/the-importance-of-environment-protection/?doing_wp_cron

  • http://earthuntouched.com/causes-biodiversity-loss-rtr/

  • http://nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Biodiversity.aspx

  • http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/ecological_balance/

  • http://www.ask.com/science/environmental-conservation-important-8051203e35763b4f

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/eating_1.shtml

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml

  • http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/kla/pshe/references-and-resources/ethics-and-religious-studies/support-materials-compulsory-part-module-1-normative-ethics.html

  • http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/intrinsic-value-ecology-and-conservation-25815400

  • http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1921340/hong-kong-recycling-plant-set-deal-electronic

  • http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1923535/mountains-misery-tin-shui-wai-residents-left-fearing-safety

  • http://www.sustainablemeasures.com/node/33

  • http://www.tutorvista.com/content/biology/biology-ii/environment-and-environmental-problems/ecological-balance.php

  • http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/

  • http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/ecosystem_diversity/

  • http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/genetic_diversity/

  • http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/species_diversity/

  • https://books.google.com.hk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=shSmG2-J7nAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA206&dq=arguments+for+or+against+using+animals+for+food+and+experimentation&ots=FFiYopSTly&sig=QSLNcCK82nj6AKoRBkc9bIVpzvg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

  • https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/02/02/plastic-paradise-hong-kongs-packaging-problem/

  • https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/CAS-biodiversity/why-is-biodiversity-threatened/local-threats-to-biodiversity/a/answers-to-the-exploration-questions-local-threats-to-biodiversity

  • https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/CAS-biodiversity/why-is-biodiversity-threatened/local-threats-to-biodiversity/v/human-activities-that-threaten-biodiversity

  • https://www.morehouse.edu/facstaff/nnobis/papers/Journal-of-Applied-Phil-Cohen.pdf

  • http://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/7262917/ciwf-personality-test-complete-set.pdf

  • http://www.faradayschools.com/teacherspages/srsp-home/11-16/srsp-11-16-topic-5-u1d-animal-rights-issues/



    1. Teaching and learning process


Suggested teaching period: 4 lessons.


  1. Introduction

    1. Ask students to find some photographs on nature which arouse their feelings, and to share with their classmates.

    2. Play the online video on ‘Nature Is Speaking: Julia Roberts is Mother Nature’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGpx_HMVoUU&index=2&list=PL5WqtuU6JrnWOoUhgaP-1UtEoDSn4lSr8 (~2 minutes). Ask students the following questions:

      1. What have we humans done to Mother Nature? How do our daily lives affect her?

      2. When nature thrives, people thrive; when nature falters, people falter, or worse’. Do you agree? Why?

      3. After hearing from Mother Nature, how would you response to her? (May ask students to write a letter to Mother Nature.)



  1. Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature: maintenance of ecological balance and biodiversity

    1. Review the concepts of ‘instrumental’ and ‘intrinsic’ values with the students using ‘Worksheet 1: Revision on instrumental and intrinsic values

    2. Ask students to form groups. Give them 3 minutes to brainstorm the value of nature and write on post-it notes one by one. Then, ask them to categorize them by ‘instrumental value’ and ‘intrinsic value’ separately. After that, ask each group to post their work on the blackboard and share their answers. In the meantime, students are required to complete ‘Worksheet 2: Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature’. Teacher facilitates a class discussion afterwards.

    3. Ecological balance

      1. Play the following online videos (or other related videos in Chinese):

  • Introduction to Ecology’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlnFylwdYH4 (~5 minutes)

  • Ecological balance’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0u5iAInalM (~1 minutes)

Ask students to form groups and complete ‘Worksheet 3: Ecological balance (I)’. Discuss their answers afterwards.

      1. Distribute ‘Worksheet 4: Ecological balance (II)’ and ask students to complete it in pairs. Pick some students to share their answers.

    1. Biodiversity

      1. Have students to form groups and complete ‘Worksheet 5: Biodiversity (I)’. Discuss their answers together afterwards.

      2. Play the online video on ‘Human activities that threaten biodiversity’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RC3Hsk90t8 (12:50 mins) (or other related videos in Chinese). Ask students to complete ‘Worksheet 6: Biodiversity (II)’. Then, check and discuss the answers.




  1. Importance of conservation to environmental protection

3.1. Ask the students to do a newspaper cutting at home on topic of ‘environmental destructions’, and present their findings in the following lesson. Alternatively, teacher may demonstrate some current news headlines concerning peoples’ acts destroying the environment by showing the sample headlines (see the samples in this unit). Ask students:

  • Do you think Hong Kong people have enough awareness of environmental protection?

  • What are the negative impacts of these destructive acts to people, other species, and nature itself?

  • How can we raise people’s awareness of the importance of environmental protection?

Teacher can ask students to form groups and brainstorm some ways to promote environmental protection. Meanwhile, teacher may separate the blackboard into 4 columns and ask each group to write down their suggestions respectively. Facilitate a class discussion afterwards.

Personal

Social


National

International

3.2. Ask each group representative coming out to draw a ‘Scenario card’. Discuss how to deal with the problem if they witness it, and do a presentation. Students may work on ‘Worksheet 7: Measures for conservation to environmental protection’ while listening to the presentations, and give feedbacks to their fellow classmates.


  1. Arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation

    1. Students are given a self-survey to view their perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. (worksheet 8)

    2. Students are then given two stimuli to arouse their awareness of the situation of animals that are being tortured by human beings. Students are further led to consider the nature of animal rights. (worksheet 9)

    3. Ask student to gather some arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation. They may finish Question 1 of ‘Worksheet 10’ at home, and present their findings in their groups during the lesson.

    4. Assign the roles of (a) Buddhist, (b) animal right activist, (c) meat manufacturer, and (d) scientist to the groups, and have them to present their views on the issue. Teacher (or a designated student) may perform as a facilitator for the forum.


5. Conclusion and students’ self-evaluation

5.1. Review the key learning points of the topic on ‘Biodiversity and conservation’ with

the students.

5.2. Ask students to consolidate their knowledge and evaluate their learning outcomes by completing ‘Worksheet 10: Summary & self-evaluation’.





Worksheet 1: Revision on instrumental and intrinsic values
Read the following passage and then complete the task below.

Intrinsic and Instrumental Value
Virtue Ethics stresses the importance of virtue/value. Value can be divided into two types, “Intrinsic Value” and “Instrumental Value”.
What is “Intrinsic Value”? A certain action is virtuous, since it has in itself the characteristics of virtue. For instance, while “humanity”, “righteousness”, “truth”, “goodness” and “beauty” may all be understood differently by people of different cultures, religions or ages, the vast majority of people would still acknowledge that they are virtues.
What is “Instrumental Value”? The importance of some values lies in the fact that we can obtain some higher or more important value through them. For example, through sacrifice, struggle and diligent study, we can achieve a happy life.
Source: Intrinsic Value and Instrumental Valueat http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/kla/pshe/references-and-resources/ethics-and-religious-studies/support-materials-compulsory-part-module-1-normative-ethics.html


Analyze the following cases to see if ‘intrinsic’ or ‘instrumental’ values are shown. Explain your answers.

Case

Analysis

Filipino farmers are keen on protecting the banana farms because they bring them job opportunities and income.

Nature provision’ here is of *intrinsic / instrumental value, because:


Within Druidry (ancient Gaul, Britain and Ireland), nature is regarded to be absolutely sacred. Druids show respect to nature by all means without questioning why.

Nature provision’ here is of *intrinsic / instrumental value, because:





Worksheet 1: Revision on instrumental and intrinsic values

(For teachers’ reference)

Read the following passage and then complete the task below.

Intrinsic and Instrumental Value
Virtue Ethics stresses the importance of virtue/value. Value can be divided into two types, “Intrinsic Value” and “Instrumental Value”.
What is “Intrinsic Value”? A certain action is virtuous, since it has in itself the characteristics of virtue. For instance, while “humanity”, “righteousness”, “truth”, “goodness” and “beauty” may all be understood differently by people of different cultures, religions or ages, the vast majority of people would still acknowledge that they are virtues.
What is “Instrumental Value”? The importance of some values lies in the fact that we can obtain some higher or more important value through them. For example, through sacrifice, struggle and diligent study, we can achieve a happy life.
Source: Intrinsic Value and Instrumental Valueat http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/kla/pshe/references-and-resources/ethics-and-religious-studies/support-materials-compulsory-part-module-1-normative-ethics.html


Analyze the following cases to see if ‘intrinsic’ or ‘instrumental’ values are shown. Explain your answers.

Case

Analysis

Filipino farmers are keen on protecting the banana farms because they bring them job opportunities and income.

Nature provision’ here is of *intrinsic / instrumental value, because:
Wealth / happiness (the ultimate intended outcomes or values) are brought by the means of protecting the environment.


Within Druidry (ancient Gaul, Britain and Ireland), nature is regarded to be absolutely sacred. Druids show respect to nature by all means without questioning why.

Nature provision’ here is of *intrinsic / instrumental value, because:
It has value in itself. If people devote themselves in protecting and respecting the nature, it thrives and sustains its sacredness.








Worksheet 2: Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature


  1. Collate the instrumental and intrinsic values of nature presented by your fellow classmates.

Instrumental value

Intrinsic value

E.g. Nature provides job opportunities and income for human beings.

E.g. The sacredness of nature is good in itself.





  1. How important is nature … (Are these considerations intrinsic or instrumental?)

    1. To you?



    1. To other animals?



    1. To human generations?



    1. In itself?





Worksheet 2: Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature

(For teachers’ reference)

  1. Collate the instrumental and intrinsic values of nature presented by your fellow classmates.

Instrumental value

Intrinsic value

E.g. Wealth - Nature provides job opportunities and income for human beings.


  • Natural resource value / need fulfillment - It provides food for human and other animals.

  • Comfort & safe - It provides shelters for people.

  • Cultural value / civil advancement - It provides natural resources such as fuels, metals to build infrastructures; and inspires peoples to write literature.

  • Medicinal value / health- It provides medicine for people.

  • Spiritual value / joy & peace - It helps people nurture spirituality and relax.

  • Recreational value – Diving, hiking, climbing etc. give people fun.

(Or other reasonable answers)



E.g. Sacredness - The sacredness of nature is good in itself.



  • Subjective intrinsic value

Many people value species and ecosystems intrinsically (e.g., for their complexity, diversity, spiritual significance, wildness, beauty, or wondrousness).


  • Objective intrinsic value

All living organisms, species and ecosystems have a good of their own. According to the natural-historical value view, natural entities have intrinsic value in virtue of their independence from human design and control and their connection to human-independent evolutionary processes.
(Or other reasonable answers)


Reference: http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/intrinsic-value-ecology-and-conservation-25815400

  1. How important is nature …(Are these considerations intrinsic or instrumental?)

    1. To you?

    2. To other animals?

    3. To human generations?

    4. In itself?

(Any reasonable answers)

Worksheet 3: Ecological balance
Watch the online videos on ‘Introduction to Ecology’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlnFylwdYH4, and ‘Ecological balance’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0u5iAInalM. Write down some key points in the box below.

  1. What is ‘ecology’?




  1. Why is ‘Interdependence’ important to living organisms and nonliving components? Please explain with examples.




  1. What is ‘ecological balance’? Please explain with examples.






  1. Draw a mind-map to illustrate ecological balance.




  1. Challenging level (Optional): What factors may disrupt ecological balance?






Worksheet 3: Ecological balance (I)

(For teachers’ reference)
Watch the online videos on ‘Introduction to Ecology’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlnFylwdYH4 & ‘Ecological balance’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0u5iAInalM. Write down some key points in the box below.

  1. What is ‘ecology’?

Ecology is the study of the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical environment.


  1. Why is ‘Interdependence’ important to living organisms and nonliving components? Please explain with examples.

It is important because the survival of species is dependent on other living organisms and nonliving components.

E.g. Human needs oxygen produced by plants to survive;

E.g. Plants need carbon dioxide from human or other organisms, or volcano eruptions.



  1. What is ‘ecological balance’? Please explain with examples.

Ecological balance is the condition under which there is a perfect equilibrium in the energy production and consumption in the given ecosystem.

Or in other words, it is a stable balance in the numbers of each species in an ecosystem.

E.g. In some traditional Asian villages, parents will plant some trees for their new born baby. These trees will support the consumption needs of a newly formed family (new wooden houses) when the baby becomes an adult and ready for marriage after 20 years.





  1. Draw a mind-map to illustrate ecological balance.

(any reasonable answers)


  1. Challenging level (Optional): What factors may disrupt ecological balance?


Man-made causes:

Human population explosion, overfishing, over hunting, over consumption of food and natural resources, war, genetic engineering, introduction of new species, pollution & global warming, etc.


Natural hazards:

Volcano eruption, fire, drought, flooding, landslide, earthquake, typhoon, etc.


The above factors may lead to sudden death of some species, which cause ecological imbalance.




Worksheet 4: Ecological balance (II)
Read the following article and then answer the questions below.

Ecological Balance in Nature
The environment in which the man and other organisms live is called the biosphere. The biosphere is made up of different regions that have different types of flora (plants) and fauna (animals). The types of organisms in an area are determined by various factors such as the climate, temperature, rainfall, etc.
The regions based on their physical and biological nature are classified into ecosystems. For example, pond ecosystem, evergreen forest ecosystem, desert ecosystem, etc. The organisms, in addition to being dependent on the environment for their needs, are also dependent on each other. This dependency is especially for food. This results in the presence of food chains and food webs.
Source: http://www.tutorvista.com/content/biology/biology-ii/environment-and-environmental-problems/ecological-balance.php




  1. Fill the following food chains with examples on each level.




Grassland (e.g.)

Pond

Forest

Desert

Carnivore (Predator) 2

Eagle










Carnivore (Predator) 1

Snake










Herbivore (Consumer)

Rabbit










Producer

Grass













  1. Give an account of how human upsets the ecological balance. Take the food chains in Question 1 as examples to elaborate your answer.



  1. Challenging level (optional): ‘There is nothing wrong for human to disrupt ecological balance, for nature has the capacity to resume equilibrium itself.’ Do you agree? Explain your answer using theories of ethics.


Or “There is no point to sacrifice so much for the so called equilibrium since the nature will come up with a new equilibrium later.





Worksheet 4: Ecological balance (II)

(For teachers’ reference)

Read the following article and then answer the questions below.

Ecological Balance in Nature
The environment in which the man and other organisms live is called the biosphere. The biosphere is made up of different regions that have different types of flora (plants) and fauna (animals). The types of organisms in an area are determined by various factors such as the climate, temperature, rainfall, etc.
The regions based on their physical and biological nature are classified into ecosystems. For example, pond ecosystem, evergreen forest ecosystem, desert ecosystem, etc. The organisms, in addition to being dependent on the environment for their needs, are also dependent on each other. This dependency is especially for food. This results in the presence of food chains and food webs.
Source: http://www.tutorvista.com/content/biology/biology-ii/environment-and-environmental-problems/ecological-balance.php




  1. Fill the following food chains with examples on each level.




Grassland (e.g.)

Pond

Forest

Desert

Carnivore (Predator) 2

Eagle

Egret

Tiger

Snake

Carnivore (Predator) 1

Snake

Fish

Fox

Lizard

Herbivore (Consumer)

Rabbit

Tadpole

Squirrel

Grasshopper

Producer

Grass

Algae

Tree (fruit)

Desert plant

Arrow showing food chains levels.

(Or other reasonable answers)




  1. Give an account of how human upsets the ecological balance. Take the food chains in Question 1 as examples to elaborate your answer.

Human usually try to modify the environment to fulfill his needs and wants. For example, human may destroy the upper level of the food chain by exhaustive hunting of tigers and foxes for making hide products. This resulted in increased population of herbivores that in turn adversely affected the plant population. Less cover of vegetation on land led to desertification.
On the other hand, human may also destroy the lower level of the food chain by uprooting grasslands, filling up ponds, and knocking down forests for building houses and infrastructures. With that, all habitants become homeless and starved, which causes their death, or even extinction of some species.



  1. Challenging level (optional): ‘There is nothing wrong for human to disrupt ecological balance, for nature has the capacity to resume equilibrium itself.’ Do you agree? Explain your answer using theories of ethics.

(Any reasonable answers)
Or “There is no point to sacrifice so much for the so called equilibrium since the nature will come up with a new equilibrium later.

(Any reasonable answers)






Worksheet 5: Biodiversity (I)
Read the following articles and then answer the questions below.

Information 1: What is biodiversity?
Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact. 
Biodiversity comprises all the millions of different species that live on our planet, as well as the genetic differences within species. It also refers to the multitude of different ecosystems in which species form unique communities, interacting with one another and the air, water and soil. 
Source: http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/




Information 2: Levels of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is explored at three levels:

Genetic diversity

It refers to the variety of genes within a species. Each species is made up of individuals that have their own particular genetic composition. Within a species there may also be discrete populations with distinctive genes.


http://www.icr.org/article/mechanisms-adaptation-biology-genetic/

Species diversity

It refers to the variety of species within a region. It is not evenly distributed around the world or across continents. Thirty-four biodiversity hotspots have been identified globally. These hotspots collectively comprise just 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface yet hold especially high numbers of species that occur nowhere else – half the world’s plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species. They are also home to 75% of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds and amphibians. 

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/


Ecosystem diversity

It refers to the variety of ecosystems in a given place. Within any broader landscape there is a mosaic of interconnected ecosystems.

All species depend on other species for survival. Ecosystems vary in size. A large stand of forest or a small pond can each be described as an ecosystem.


Sources:
http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/genetic_diversity/

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/species_diversity/

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/ecosystem_diversity/






  1. From the above information and your knowledge, why is biodiversity important to people and the health of ecosystems?



  1. Challenging level (Optional): Illustrate the importance mentioned in question 1 with a local or regional case which contains negative impacts brought by diminishing biodiversity. What intrinsic or instrumental values are undermined in your chosen case?



Worksheet 5: Biodiversity (I)

(For teachers’ reference)

Read the following articles and then answer the questions below.

Information 1: What is biodiversity?
Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact. 
Biodiversity comprises all the millions of different species that live on our planet, as well as the genetic differences within species. It also refers to the multitude of different ecosystems in which species form unique communities, interacting with one another and the air, water and soil. 
Source: http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/




Information 2: Levels of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is explored at three levels:

Genetic diversity

It refers to the variety of genes within a species. Each species is made up of individuals that have their own particular genetic composition. Within a species there may also be discrete populations with distinctive genes.


http://www.icr.org/article/mechanisms-adaptation-biology-genetic/

Species diversity

It refers to the variety of species within a region. It is not evenly distributed around the world or across continents. Thirty-four biodiversity hotspots have been identified globally. These hotspots collectively comprise just 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface yet hold especially high numbers of species that occur nowhere else – half the world’s plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species. They are also home to 75% of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds and amphibians. 

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/


Ecosystem diversity

It refers to the variety of ecosystems in a given place. Within any broader landscape there is a mosaic of interconnected ecosystems.

All species depend on other species for survival. Ecosystems vary in size. A large stand of forest or a small pond can each be described as an ecosystem.


Sources:
http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/genetic_diversity/

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/species_diversity/

http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/what_is_biodiversity/ecosystem_diversity/






  1. From the above information and your knowledge, why is biodiversity important to people and the health of ecosystems?

Biodiversity is important to people, because

  • It provides us with varieties of foods and materials and contributes to the economy.  Without a diversity of pollinators, plants, and soils, we can buy much less products in markets. 

  • Most medical discoveries to cure diseases and lengthen life spans were made because of research into plant and animal biology and genetics.  Every time a species goes extinct or genetic diversity is lost, we may also lose the chance to have a new vaccine or drug.

Biodiversity is important to the health of ecosystems, because

  • Biodiversity is an important part of ecological services that make life livable on Earth. They include everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, which wetlands and forests do, to providing oxygen for animals to breathe. 

  • Biodiversity allows for ecosystems to adjust to disturbances like extreme fires and floods. If a reptile species goes extinct, a forest with 20 other reptiles is likely to adapt better than another forest with only one reptile. 

  • Genetic diversity prevents diseases and helps species adjust to changes in their environment. 

(Or other reasonable answers)
Reference: http://nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Biodiversity.aspx

Illustrate the importance mentioned in question 1 with a local or regional case which contains negative impacts brought by diminishing biodiversity. What intrinsic or instrumental values are undermined in your chosen case? (Any reasonable answers)





Worksheet 6: Biodiversity (II)
Watch the online video on Human activities that threaten biodiversity’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RC3Hsk90t8, and complete the tasks below.


  1. Multiple choice questions - circle the correct answer




  1. Which of the following statements are true about ‘carrying capacity’?

  1. It refers to the maximum number of individuals of a given species that an area's resources can sustain indefinitely without significantly depleting or degrading those resources.

  2. If human population exceeds the planet’s limit, famine occurs to limit it.

  3. Technology enhances the ‘carrying capacity’ of our planet.




  1. i & ii only

  2. ii & iii only

  3. all of the above


  1. According to the 2003 paper by McKee et al., which of the following factors are tightly linked?

  1. human population growth, and species richness

  2. human development, and beauty of landscape

  3. quality of life, and pollution




  1. What are the human mediated local’ factors causing biodiversity loss?

  1. Land-use changes

  2. Global warming caused by greenhouse effect

  3. Pollution

  4. Resource exploitation

  5. Ocean acidification

  6. Exotic species

  1. ii & v

  2. i, iii, iv & vi

  3. all of the above


II. Discussion questions


  1. Elaborate how the human mediated ‘local’ factors diminish biodiversity.



  1. Challenging level (optional) – Survivors

Carrying capacity refers to the population that can be supported indefinitely by its supporting systems.
A simple example of carrying capacity is the number of people who could survive in a lifeboat after a shipwreck. Their survival depends on how much food and water they have, how much each person eats and drinks each day, and how many days they are afloat. If the lifeboat made it to an island, how long the people survived would depend upon the food and water supply on the island and how wisely they used it.
Reference: http://www.sustainablemeasures.com/node/33


Imagine that you are one of the survivors in a lifeboat, with the following conditions:

Population size

10 people:

You, young couples, a strong man, a pregnant woman, a child, an injured old lady, a doctor, a priest



Resources available

Water (for 10 people in 20 days)

Food (for 10 people in 15 days)

Fishing tool, 4 paddles, a knife


Remarks

It takes 30 days to reach the closest island.




    1. What would you do for survival?



    1. How would you use and distribute the resources? What are the guiding principle(s)?



    1. In case it is running out of water and somebody should be sacrificed in order to preserve others, who should that one be? Using theory of values to explain your answer.



    1. What are the analogies of this scenario to ‘carrying capacity’ of the planet?





Worksheet 6: Biodiversity (II)
(For teachers’ reference)

Watch the online video on Human activities that threaten biodiversity’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RC3Hsk90t8, and complete the tasks below.


I. Multiple choice questions - circle the correct answer

  1. Which of the following statements are true about ‘carrying capacity’?

  1. It refers to the maximum number of individuals of a given species that an area's resources can sustain indefinitely without significantly depleting or degrading those resources.

  2. If human population exceeds the planet’s limit, famine occurs to limit it.

  3. Technology enhances the ‘carrying capacity’ of our planet.




  1. i & ii only

  2. ii & iii only

  3. all of the above



  1. According to the 2003 paper by McKee et al., which of the following factors are tightly linked?

  1. human population growth, and species richness

  2. human development, and beauty of landscape

  3. quality of life, and pollution




  1. What are the human mediated local’ factors causing biodiversity loss?

  1. Land-use changes

  2. Global warming caused by greenhouse effect

  3. Pollution

  4. Resource exploitation

  5. Ocean acidification

  6. Exotic species

  1. ii & v

  2. i, iii, iv & vi

  3. all of the above


II. Discussion questions

  1. Elaborate how the human mediated ‘local’ factors diminish biodiversity.

Land-use changes

  • Habitat destruction and conversion of habitat to human use make local organisms homeless or even dead.

  • Crop monoculture restricts biodiversity.

Pollution

  • Water pollution leads to ‘downstream effort’. For example, waterborne pollutants like pesticides from a farm field may run into a local river and be carried downstream. Furthermore, ‘dead zones’ with low oxygen level in the ocean caused by nitrogen fertilizers and wastewater disposal kill marine organisms. In addition, manmade hormone drugs discharged in the water destructs water-living organisms’ reproductive function, which is called hormone mimics.

  • Noise pollution causes hazards to birds & marine mammals.

  • Light pollution strays sea turtles & birds etc. which causes their death.

Resource exploitation

Lumbering, overfishing, mining, destruction of seabed caused by trawlers…all these cripple biodiversity.

Exotic species

  • Introduce new species into a place might be good for increasing biodiversity, but in some cases, that can be destructive.

  • When we introduce a species to a new area, other associated organisms come along as well. For example, if we bring a cow from one place to another, the parasites accompany.

  • Some introduced species can provide new food sources and habitats for native species. But more often, the introduced species compete with the natives. For example, the introduction of comb jelly into Black Sea destroyed the marine ecosystem. They collapsed the anchovy fisheries in the region by eating the anchovy eggs and larvae.

  • They lack natural controls such as predators or diseases that keep them in check in their native habitats. Another good example of invasives are pathogens that include disease causing organisms like fungi or bacteria or even viruses.


References:

http://earthuntouched.com/causes-biodiversity-loss-rtr/



https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/CAS-biodiversity/why-is-biodiversity-threatened/local-threats-to-biodiversity/a/answers-to-the-exploration-questions-local-threats-to-biodiversity




  1. Challenging level (optional) – Survivors

Carrying capacity refers to the population that can be supported indefinitely by its supporting systems.
A simple example of carrying capacity is the number of people who could survive in a lifeboat after a shipwreck. Their survival depends on how much food and water they have, how much each person eats and drinks each day, and how many days they are afloat. If the lifeboat made it to an island, how long the people survived would depend upon the food and water supply on the island and how wisely they used it.
Reference: http://www.sustainablemeasures.com/node/33

Imagine that you are one of the survivors in a lifeboat, with the following conditions:



Population size

10 people:

You, young couples, a strong man, a pregnant woman, a child, an injured old lady, a doctor, a priest



Resources available

Water (for 10 people in 20 days)

Food (for 10 people in 15 days)

Fishing tool, 4 paddles, a knife


Remarks

It takes 30 days to reach the closest island.




    1. What would you do for survival?

    2. How would you use and distribute the resources? What are the guiding principle(s)?

    3. In case it is running out of water and somebody should be sacrificed in order to preserve others, who should that one be? Using theory of values to explain your answer.

    4. What are the analogies of this scenario to ‘carrying capacity’ of the planet?

(focus on the concepts of justice and equality when considering the proper use of limited resources. Who will set the rules and who will be the victim when facing shortage issues in the society?)

(Any reasonable answers)






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