Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies Unit 8.2 Religion, Environment and Medical Issues Key Words Global Warming: The increase the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. Natural Resources: Naturally occurring materials which can be utilised by humans. Creation: The act of creating the universe, or the universe which has been created. Environment: The surroundings on which plants and animals live and on which they depend to continue living. Stewardship: Looking after something on behalf of another so that it can be passed back or on to the next generation of stewards. Conservation: Protecting and preserving natural resources and the environment. Artificial Insemination: Injecting semen into the uterus (womb) by artificial methods . Embryo: A fertilised egg in the first eight weeks after conception. Infertility: Not being able to have children. In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF): The method of fertilising an egg in a test tube. Surrogacy: An arrangement where a woman bears a child for another woman. Organ Donation: Giving organs to be used in transplant surgery. Global Warming Twenty of last thirty years have been recorded as the warmest years since records began. And it looks like the Earth is continuing to get warmer. The expected average temperature rise of just 20c by 2050 will lead to an increased rainfall of around 20% in Britain. In addition to this, sea levels will rise due to the polar ice caps melting. This could lead to coastal regions being lost, whilst Mediterranean countries such as Spain could become deserts. Possible Causes of Global Warming 1. The Greenhouse Effect The burning of fossil fuels (gas, coal and oil) produces carbon dioxide. This produces a barrier in the atmosphere rather like the glass in a greenhouse so that the heat from the sun can get through, but cannot get back out again. Many scientists believe that this is causing the Earth to warm up. This is often called ‘global warming’. Possible Causes of Global Warming 2. Natural Climate Change 3. Solar Activity Some scientists say the climate change is simply part of the natural cycle of the planet. They say the hottest periods over the past 10,000 years were before humans started producing carbon emissions. Some scientists claim that natural radiation from the sun is the cause. They say solar flares cause there to be less clouds and so more of the sun’s heat warms the Earth. They say if global warming was due to human activity the troposphere (the Earth’s atmosphere 1015km up) would be warming quicker than ground level, and its not. They also state that nature naturally produces more C02 emissions than humans ever will. They also doubt humans are the cause as temperatures dropped after WWII whilst carbon dioxide levels rose rapidly. The Threat of Pollution 1. Acid Rain The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil releases sulphuric and nitric acid. These pollutants go into the atmosphere and change the rain water in clouds making it so acidic that it can burn things when it comes to Earth. Buildings and forests are being destroyed by acid rain produced by the UK burning fossil fuels. The Threat of Pollution 2. Radioactive Pollution Nuclear power stations do not produce carbon dioxide, but do produce nuclear waste which takes thousands of years to be safe. Waste is buried without knowing if the storage boxes will be able to contain it safely for this length of time. When living things come into contact with excess radiation, they can be killed, get cancer or have seriously ill offspring. The Threat of Pollution 3. Eutrophication An excess of nitrates, nitrites and phosphates in rivers is leading to a lack of oxygen and an increase in aquatic plants, which is causing fish to die and poisons to enter water supplies. This is caused by fertilisers being washed into streams, sewage pollution, and the lack of trees to soak up the nitrogen. This could lead to major health problems for humans such as septicaemia. The Threat of Pollution 4. Human Waste Human causes of pollution include things such as sewage, rubbish and litter. Sewage needs to be treated before it is safe to enter the water system again it carries hundreds of diseases and can cause eutrophication. Billions of tons of rubbish is dumped every day to rot in the ground giving off toxic gases, and litter has been identified as the main cause of the increase in the UK rat population to around 70 million. The Environment: Secular Analysis There are many conflicting arguments about how to deal with environmental problems, even amongst scientists. 1. Government Action: Set carbon emission limits on cars, heavier tax for those who use the roads more and unnecessarily. Signing up to the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions unlike the USA who refused to as it would affect the American way of life and China and India who refused as it would stand in the way of their own industrial progress. 2. Alternative Lifestyles: Some people only use natural products such as cotton or wool, eat organic food, and ride bikes instead of driving cars. If we all lived this way there would be no environmental problems. 3. Science and Technology • There are now several alternative ways of making electricity which do not produce carbon dioxide or nuclear waste. • Car manufacturers are looking at water, sugar cane and electric batteries as alternatives forms of power. • Most cars are now made of up to 75% recycled material. Better efficiency means it would take 50 small cars built in 2007 to produce the same pollution as 1 small car in 1977. Although the • number of cars will • be higher pollutants emitted from cars will have reduced by 75% by 2010 from 1992. • Scientists are using chemicals from plants rather than oil to produce things such as plastics.