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Air pollution, acid rain and smog, and the hydrologic cycle:
Air pollution is becoming a serious problem throughout the world. Recently an Asian Brown Cloud has
been discovered hovering over parts of China and Southeast Asia. Every year more and more people
are affected by asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses. Major cities throughout the world
are issuing smog alerts to their citizens. Which chemical pollutants are involved? How do they work
their way into the water cycle? How are they carried? What types of environmental damage do they
impose? How is human health being affected? What is currently being done about existing smog
levels? Is Canada working with other countries to help solve this problem?
2. Overfishing, our dying oceans and the hydrologic cycle:
Overfishing is a serious problem for many of our marine organisms, many of whom are on the verge of
extinction. On the west coast, farmed salmon far outnumber wild salmon. Cod stocks on the east coast
fell to the point of destroying the cod industry during the 1980s. Shark populations have been
noticeably falling in recent years. Large fishing nets which scrape the bottom of the ocean floor
indiscriminately harm diverse number of life necessary for the sustainability of large food webs. Adding
to the problem is the dumping of pollution into rivers which empty in to oceans. A large dead zone
currently exists in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil spills, such as the recent accident in Spain, take decades, if
not centuries, for the surrounding marine life to recover from. Which fish are currently overfished? Are
their any regulations for fishing particular fish? Is dolphin-friendly nets ocean friendly? Which fish
should environmentally friendly consumers avoid eating? Which types of water pollutants pose the
most damage to marine life? How are oil spills cleaned up? What is currently being done to clean up
and protect the worlds oceans?
3. Deforestation, loss of biodiversity and the carbon and hydrologic cycles:
Large tracts of forest are being destroyed every day to make room for farming, human habitat, and
industry. In the process, many diverse organisms are losing their habitats and are forced to move away
or die. Many unknown species are being destroyed before they are even discovered. Why does the
removal of trees from an ecosystem have large effects on both the soil nutrients and the surrounding
weather? Why is loss of small forest organisms so important? Canada is home to the only rainforest in
the Northern Hemisphere, and yet deforestation continues in Claquot Sound, British Columbia. How
can we as Canadians criticize countries such as Brazil when we are also at fault? What regulations are
there is place for the cutting down of forest in Canada? Is extinction form loss of habitat simply a part of
natural selection? Studying animals and their behaviors in zoos promotes awareness of their plight and
allows biologists to study them and attempt to increase their numbers. Live zoos, such as the African
adventure in Los Angeles, provide a safari experience without going to Africa. Is watching animals in
zoos an acceptable replacement for watching exotic wildlife? Some scientists believe that stem cells
from animals and plants on the verge of extinction should be kept so that these organisms can one day
be brought back by cloning. Is cloning a reasonable solution to human-caused extinction? Ecotourism
is a new type of industry which focuses on using locals to educate tourists and putting the money made
form the tourism back into sustaining the environment. What are some examples of successful
ecotourism? What can the average person do to prevent some of the effects of deforestation?

4. The greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change and the carbon cycle:
Carbon emissions are causing tremendous damage to the environment and upsetting the climate
balance of the planet. Evidence as to the degree of change in carbon pollution over time have
recently come from studying chemicals embedded within glacial ice in the Alberta Rockies. How does
a change in the carbon emissions in the atmosphere cause the greenhouse effect? Which chemicals
are responsible? Where do they come from? The past few years have brought some of the hottest
summers on record throughout the world. Genetic changes in response to warmer temperatures
have recently been documented in specific bird and fish populations. What are the current and
projected effects of global warming? What has been Canadas response to climate change? Hoes
does it differ from other countries such as the United States and Britain? Is Canada doing enough?
Why does the Alberta government disagree with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol? What can the
average consumer do to decrease carbon emissions on a daily basis?
5. Agriculture, monoculture farming, overpopulation and the nitrogen cycle:
Current farming practices include using deforested land to grow mass amounts of a single crop.
Indigenous crops are being lost to big farming industries which focus on growing cash crops only.
Poor countries that have large debts are growing food for export rather than to feed their starving
populations. Third world farmers see very little of the profit made from the selling of their crops to
large multinational companies from coffee, to bananas, to cocoa. Poor farming practices, as a
result of the Green Revolution, include over-using expensive fertilizers to encourage growth. Despite
producing more food than can be consumed, more and more people are starving worldwide. The
planet is reaching a point where it will no longer be able to sustain its exponentially growing human
population. How is the over-use of fertilizers affecting the nitrogen cycle? What affect does this have
on the soil quality and aquatic environments? Why are farmers only growing certain kinds of crops?
What effect do monocultures have on the ecosystem? What does it mean to be organically grown?
Are there any regulations on organically grown food? What is the significance of crop rotation and
polyculture techniques on the nitrogen cycle and the surrounding environment? What can the
common consumer do to put a stop to bad farming practices? What is meant by fair trade practices
when it comes to food?
6. Pesticides, bio amplification and the phosphorus cycle:
Pesticides are used worldwide to kill pests that destroy crops. DDT has been used extensively
worldwide to kill mosquito populations and help decrease malaria in tropical areas. Its widespread
use has been associated with cancer and mutations. It has been shown to weaken the shells on the
eggs of eagles and peregrine falcons populations. DDT has been found in the breast milk of Eskimo
women in the North. As well, several strains of mosquitoes are now genetically resistant to DDT.
Twelve POPs (persistent organic pollutants) have been deemed the dirty dozen and have been
abandoned throughout North America. Several companies in the Unites States however still produce
and sell these products to other countries whose regulations are not as strict. Many cities across
Canada are considering a ban on lawn pesticides. Which pesticides are the most dangerous? What
kinds of health effects do they have on organisms? How do pesticides get into and travel in the food
chain? How are humans affected by pesticides? Are pesticide alternatives available?
7. Energy use and alternative technologies and the carbon cycle and oxygen cycle:
Our current use of hydrocarbon fossil fuels as an energy source is causing major disruptions in the
ability of the earth to sustain life. What types of fuels are currently being used by industry and
consumers? Are there current and future technologies being developed that are less harmful to the
environment? How do they work? Which countries are currently adopting proactive policies
concerning cutting down on and changing their energy sources? How can we make our homes and
our lives in Canada more energy efficient?
8. Environmental action and the individual, community, country and global level and
hydrological cycle, phosphorus cycle:
It is often difficult for us as humans to grasp the idea of long term environmental impact. What we do
today, effects the earth for hundreds and thousands of years. Destroying the smallest of organisms in a
food chain eventually impacts the top carnivores. Industrial pollution travels around the globe and affects

all communities. What effects has globalization had on the environmental movement? Why are more
and more people protesting global summits? Is the world as a whole addressing environmental
concerns? Who are some of the environmental leaders in Canada and the world? What are they fighting
for and how do they fight for it? How do ecomercenairies, ecotourists and Earth Day activities help to
engage local populations into making a difference? How can you make a difference in your school, your
community, your country, and as a citizen of the world?