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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
• Scientists are using chemicals from plants rather
than oil to produce things such as plastics.