When the Gemini astronauts brought back the first color pictures of the Earth from space it had a profound effect on mankind. It was our first glimpse of how beautiful and fragile our little planet is. It got people thinking about how to preserve the Earth. It's been an ongoing struggle ever since. Preserving Earth's priceless resources while still having enough food, energy and land for more than seven billion people to live is no easy task.
Awareness of how we affect the planet is the first step in environmental conservation. It is the first step in becoming a green member of society. There are many ways each of us can help conserve resources and keep our planet clean and healthy for generations to come. To be an environmentalist, you first have to understand how the environment works. Read about our Earth's ecology, atmosphere, habitats, and resources and how we affect them. This will give you a better understanding of this amazing blue ball on which we live.
NGSS Earth Science and Life Science Progression K-12
ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes
K-2 Water is found in many types of places and in different forms on Earth.
3-5 Most of Earth’s water is in the ocean and much of the Earth’s fresh water is in glaciers or underground.
6-8 Water cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere, and is propelled by sunlight and gravity. Density variations of sea water drive interconnected ocean currents. Water movement causes weathering and erosion, changing landscape features.
K-2 Plants and animals can change their local environment.
3-5 Living things can affect the physical characteristics of their environment.
6-8 The fossil record documents the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of many life forms and their environments through Earth’s history. The fossil record and comparisons of anatomical similarities between organisms enables the inference of lines of evolutionary descent. Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources and ecosystem services they rely on. [Content found in LS4.A and LS4.D]
9-12 The biosphere and Earth’s other systems have many interconnections that cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and life on it.
ESS3.A Natural Resources
K-2 Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.
3-5 Energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural sources and their use affects the environment. Some resources are renewable over time, others are not.
6-8 Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for different resources, many of which are limited or not renewable. Resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.
9-12 Resource availability has guided the development of human society and use of natural resources has associated costs, risks, and benefits.
ESS3.C Human impacts on Earth Systems
K-2 Things people do can affect the environment but they can make choices to reduce their impacts.
3-5 Societal activities have had major effects on the land,ocean, atmosphere,and even outer space. Societal activities can also help protect Earth’s resources and environments.
6-8 Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.
9-12 Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change
6-8 Human activities affect global warming. Decisions to reduce the impact of global warming depend on understanding climate science, engineering capabilities, and social dynamics.
9-12 Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.
LS2.A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
K-2 Plants depend on water and light to grow, and also depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.
3-5 The food of almost any animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants, while decomposers restore some materials back to the soil.
6-8 Organisms and populations are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors, any of which can limit their growth. Competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems but the patterns are shared.
9-12 Ecosystems have carrying capacities resulting from biotic and abiotic factors. The fundamental tension between resource availability and organism populations affects the abundance of species in any given ecosystem.
LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
K-2 [Content found in LS1.C and ESS3.A]
3-5 Matter cycles between the air and soil and among organisms as they live and die.
6-8 The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Food webs model how matter and energy are transferred among producers, consumers, and decomposers as the three groups interact within an ecosystem.
9-12 Photosynthesis and cellular respiration provide most of the energy for life processes. Only a fraction of matter consumed at the lower level of a food web is transferred up, resulting in fewer organisms at higher levels. At each link in an ecosystem elements are combined in different ways and matter and energy are conserved. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are key components of the global carbon cycle.
LS2.C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
3-6 When the environment changes some organisms survive and reproduce, some move to new locations, some move into the transformed environment, and some die.
6-8 Ecosystem characteristics vary over time. Disruptions to any part of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all of its populations. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.
9-12 If a biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, including one induced by human activity, the ecosystem may return to its more or less original state or become a very different ecosystem, depending on the complex set of interactions within the ecosystem.