Unit 4: People and the Environment


 Discussion assignment

Your posts should cover the questions below in full, and be at least 300 words long. Then reply to and peer-review at least three other posts by next Wednesday 11:59PM UoPeople Time, and rate the posts and replies.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) assessed the consequences of ecosystem change on human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, the MEA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.

Open the link to the report “Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Health Synthesis”. To understand the health impacts of ecosystem change, read the “Summary for Decision Makers”, pages 1-10 of this document. Then answer the following questions:

1. What is this report about?

The report is an overview of the different ecosystem changes and the impact on the human health. There is also a prioritized action plan inside the publication with the most important challenges.

2. List two new things you learned from reading this report. What are they? Explain them.

 I learned that over half of the world’s population still using solid fuels for cooking and heating and they are used inside homes, which has the consequence of indoor pollution. Health effects like increased mortality and respiratory problems are the result (Corvalán et al, 2005).

 The people achieved a significant reduction of malnourished people through an increase in food production.  To achieve the reduction the result was about 60 percent irreversible changes to the ecosystem service (Corvalán et al, 2005).

3. What two actions would you take to reduce the threats to human health and life from one of the infectious diseases listed in Table 1.1 (page 24)?

 One of the most problematic problems worldwide is still Cholera caused by Escherichia coli bacteria. The reason for this is the global warming (Corvalán et al, 2005).

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is heavily reproducing under conditions of warm water surfaces.

The people should try to take care of melting their water better before drinking it or cooking meals with this water. Escherichia coli is not stable to long heats above 85 degrees, so cooking of the water maybe is a little step. This not killing all bacterias but reduce them. The people can maybe use natural disinfection methods like pepper in the water.

4. List one question that you would like to have answered as a result of reading this report.

 There are listed several actions in this document, a lot of tasks also. But my questions are – what are the solutions and what they are really doing to handle these problems?


Corvalán, C., Hales, S., & McMichael, A. J. (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: Health synthesis. Retrieved December 2, 2016.

Written assignment 


Every human in the world has a significant impact on the water cycle, as well as me. Every day I use resources and have a major impact on this cycle. We often use resources without thinking much about it. It is simply normal to us, that enough of these resources are available for the people. Water is just always available to us. 

Every day that I take a shower, take a bath, cook with water or just go swimming in the sea I have an important influence on our water cycle. Water that I use comes from our community water supplying system. 

This water has been cleaned from bacteria and so on. This water is from reservoirs filled by rain and groundwater. It does cost much work to bring the water into my home. The used and dirty water from my home goes back into this cycle after a recycling process.

To produce our daily life products like plastics, food and most of all products, water is required. 

The pollution from this production has also impacted the water cycle. Also, pollution of, for example, industries and traffic make the rain acid. The acid rain falls and makes the plants ill. Also, the groundwater could be polluted from chemicals and other toxins if I do not care about the deposit of waste or buy products that are created from plastics.

So, every time I use a product created from plastics or produced with water, I have also a major impact on our water cycle. If I don’t take care of our environment and for example don’t recycle waste I impacted our water cycle.

I consume a lot of electricity in my home, every day. Electricity requires a whole part, fossil fuels for producing in power stations. There is also an impact on the water cycle – the stations use coal for example. There is an impact on the cycle because coal is mined in crafts. If there is less coal in the soil, the water is less filtered and not as clean as before. The trees can’t grow on the crafted soil. Fewer trees produce, less condensate. Less condensate produces less water in the reverse.

My life changes significantly if I try to reduce my impacts on the environment because I diminish my comfort. Maybe I think deeper about the consequences, of my personal actions, maybe more concrete about the products which I buy in a supermarket. I could think about the production steps of a product or how many toxins are being released in the economic cycling after or until producing the product.

It is hard to find a wise way for the environment next to my personal lifestyle. If you worry too much about our environment we lack personal comfort; if we take to little about our environment we shall experience in the future may be the consequences of our personal lifestyle. Also, our personal budget is an essential factor in environmentally conscious thinking.

But, if all the people don’t take care of our environment, we get wicked results, like global warming, toxic water and so on. So, we should find a middle way of this. 


Yes, I can change some behaviors to reduce the impact on our water cycle. I can take a shower instead of taking a bath to reduce the amount of water I use for my personal hygiene. I can try to reduce the amounts of waste from plastics (much water is required to produce). I can use also public transport instead of my own car to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses.

A big impact on the water cycle has the energy consumption of my electronic devices and light bulbs, which is easy to reduce.

I easily can reduce the amount of consumed energy in my home by installing energy-saving lamps or LED lamps to reduce the amount of energy used in my home. I can switch off devices if I don’t use them actively because devices sometimes use energy in standby mode.

The selection of an electric supplier, which uses renewable energy sources, like wind or solar could also have a positive impact on our water cycle.

My personal target in the next months is to find a reasonable way to have an average level of comfort next to sufficient and average environmental considerations.

(730 words)

Learning Journal

Visit these links to learn about different ways you can help biodiversity:

1. What kind of labels are listed here? Why?

On the website are listed many label types. The customer requires information about these labels, to know what the label means. So the customer can deliberately choose the products he wants to buy. There are a lot of labels in which the various products are characterized. For example, there are labels for tracking the reliability of a product like the “Fair Trade Certified”.

A “Fair Trade” certificate means that the workers who are producing the goods have fair work conditions and the environment would be also protected (Cho, 2016).

The U.S. department created an international label to mark electronic devices which are energy efficient, the “Energy Star” label. The consumer products like computers, household devices, etc. must have an efficient energy-saving level to get certified (Cho, 2016).

2. How do your consumer (buying) choices affect biodiversity?

My purchase decisions affect biodiversity as well. For example, if I buy “Fair Trade” coffee, I make sure that the product is produced under environmentally conscious faces. This positively affects biodiversity. Also, the buying of energy-saving household products or computers affect our biodiversity positively. The devices with an “Energy Star” label consume less energy and help to protect our biodiversity more than devices with high energy consumption.

3. Pick one of these methods that you feel would be usable in YOUR city/village/town. How? Explain.

I think a better integration of the “Energy Star” label would help to reduce the energy consumption of my county. If we can spread this more to the people we can reduce the energy consumption may be significant. People use still old household devices that have a higher level of energy consumption.

4. One or two sentences or your own personal reflection on something you learned this week.

I learned about our global problems, like indoor pollution or food security and the problems of global pandemics like cholera. Environmental toxicology is next to environmental health a very interesting topic and if we look together at all the topics, things look more logical; one problem depends on another, and so on.

5. How is the class going so far for you?

My graded quiz in Unit 3 was not good. My quiz result only was 68 percent. I worry about the next graded quiz and have a little fear about it. I read the required information, but I don’t remind about it in the graded quiz. It is a lot of information to read and also in English.

That is maybe a problem. The quiz questions were really hard for me. Maybe I have to prepare better for the next exam.


Cho, R. (2016). What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity. Blogs.ei.columbia.edu. Retrieved 5 December 2016, from http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/04/30/what-you-can-do-to-protect-biodiversity/

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