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Human Population and the Consumption of Resources - Construct an Argument (6-8 Grade NGSS)

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As the world population approaches 8 billion people, our effect on the planet is important to consider. Humans use resources every day to feed, clothe, house, and entertain themselves. As we live longer and our world population grows, the amount of resources we use grows as well. All these resources have to come from somewhere on Earth and will affect the planet’s systems – the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), geosphere (land), biosphere (habitats).

Research and report on how human population and resource consumption affect some aspect of the Earth’s systems.

Create a graph (or talking points) that reflect the changes in the size of human population(s) in a given region or ecosystem over a given timespan, its per-capita consumption of resources, and the changes in the Earth systems in that region (or ecosystem) in the timespan. Then:

1. Discuss whether the evidence is sufficient to determine a causal relationship between the consumption of natural resources and the impact on the Earth system.

2. Consider alternative interpretations of the evidence and describe why the evidence supports the claim they are making, as opposed to any alternative claims.

3. Use reasoning to connect the evidence and evaluation to the claim. Describe a chain of reasoning for how the increases in the size of the human population causes the increases in the consumption of natural resources and how natural resource consumption causes changes in Earth systems.

Some suggested topics from which to choose:
• Overfishing ocean fisheries
• Agricultural expansion in the Amazon Rainforest
•  Expanding commercial agriculture worldwide
• Desertification from overgrazing cattle
• Deforestation resulting from housing expansions and the need for more lumber
• Aquifer damage from the growing need for freshwater,
• Damage to rivers worldwide in the quest for sand for making cement for building,
• Choose your own.

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Fulfillment of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
• Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (MS-ESS3-3),(MS-ESS3-4)

MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems. [Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence include grade-appropriate databases on human populations and the rates of consumption of food and natural resources (such as freshwater, mineral, and energy). Examples of impacts can include changes to the appearance, composition, and structure of Earth’s systems as well as the rates at which they change. The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.]

Citing Research References

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When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "Human Population and the Consumption of Resources - Construct an Argument (6-8 Grade NGSS)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. March 22, 2023
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