Category Archives: Human Impacts

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

In the current age of environmental destruction it can be difficult to keep paying attention to the news. But some stories stand out as being real alarm bells, and this very sad piece on the iconic barrier reef highlights a lot of purely human-caused issues. To add to the misery, now the reef is under further threat from destructive dredging and dumping… to make way for shipping lanes for coal mining in Australia. #EpicFail.

MrT’s students: note the image above has a caption and links back to the original source, not to an image hosted on my WordPress. Make sure your writing does the same. 

Ending Overfishing Animation

This is a neat animation by The Black Fish (@theblackfishorg) on Ending Overfishing, highlighting issues of overfishing, bycatch, fish-farming and the tensions between science-recommended catches and econonmy-driven catch limits. It connects directly to the Population Ecology option topic.

 

Niches for Species: How Wolves Change Rivers

This video is an excerpt from George Monbiot’s recent TED Talk (posted here a while back), and really sets up the imagery of an ecosystem as it responds to change. A great clip, well suited to starting off the Ecology units.

Niches for Species: George Monbiot’s TED Talk on Rewilding.

This TED Talk from Guardian environment writer George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) makes a compelling argument for rewilding: putting back what we have taken from nature, letting the ecosystems do what they will and allowing the megafauna to re-reshape the ecosystem.

“It offers us the hope that our silent spring can be replaced by a raucous summer.”

The connections across the curriculum here are clear, most notably to 5.1 Ecosystems and HL Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity. Well worth 15 minutes and could be the stimulus for class discussion.

Crash Course Ecology: 12 Videos with Hank Green

I’ve featured Hank Green’s Crash Course Biology here a number of times and many of his videos have been embedded into the topic pages for the IB Biology course around this site. Prolific as he is, his ‘Crash Course Ecology’ series has just finished, so here are 12 episodes that pull together elements of the the Core and Option topics (as well as a lot more).

The full playlist is here: Crash Course Ecology. It’ll take about as long as Avatar to get through it all, and you’ll learn more about environmental change, impacts and solutions.

Episode 1: The History of Life on Earth

The rest of the episodes are linked after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

Atmosphere & Pollution Resources

These are for the Grade 10 Environmental Science students. More are on the topic page, here.

Habitable Planet chapters

Somewhere, by Miadox. Beautiful timelapse of nature & industry.

Just in time for Earth Day, here’s a lovely Vimeo video by Miadox. Timelapse images of human impacts and influences, mingled with nature.

I saw this on Twitter from the QI Elves. They also posted this great clip of an eagle owl. Follow them!

The Story of Electronics (video): cut down the ‘stuff’ this holiday

Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?

Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.

For more videos like this, check out her YouTube channel or book.

Embryonic Stem Cell Patents Banned in EU

Yesterday, the European Court of Justice banned the issuing of patents for embyronic stem cell research, stating:

A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.

The decision has caused widespread concern amongst European stem cell researchers, yet has been welcomed by other groups on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

So why is it such a hot topic?

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (Nissim Benvenisty, via Wikimedia Commons)

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (Nissim Benvenisty, via Wikimedia Commons)

Use the resources here, and others that you can find, to discuss the following questions in your group. Be prepared to feed back to the class with a summary of no more than 5 minutes.

  • What are (embryonic) stem cells and how do their properties facilitate research?
  • Where are stem cells found? Are they all the same?
  • How do stem cells eventually become differentiated and specialised?
  • Outline at least one recent successful therapeutic use of stem cells.
  • Identify a range of stakeholders in the debate. What are their views and reasons for them?
  • Can you propose potential solutions or workable compromises that could reduce the impact of the ban on scientific research?
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Resources:

EuroStemCell’s Stem Cell Story (with a load of great, free resources and videos on their website)

Some write-ups on this news story here:

About Stem Cells:

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Theory of Knowledge

The embryonic stem cell debate generates strong and emotive knowledge issues, which is evidenced by the fact that the case was passed all the way up to the European Court of Justice. There are many stakeholders in embryonic stem cell research, each with their own knowledge claims and beliefs.

With this recent ban on patenting methods based on the destruction of embryonic stem cells, we add the elements of patenting and intellectual ownership (and of course the knock-on effects to funding, progress and public perception).

To what extent does the embryonic stem cell debate highlight potential conflicts between the areas of knowledge of the natural sciences and ethics and between the ways of knowing of emotion and reason?

After reading through, understanding and discussing the resources, what knowledge issues can you identify?

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Connections:

This follows on from a related story in the USA last year:

Comments have been disabled on this post, but are open on the TOK page for the same content.

Cane Toads: The Conquest

A direct link to the Ecology and Conservation option, Cane Toads: The Conquest is a 3D horror-documentary.

Looks like fun!

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