Environmental Impacts on Ecosystems
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Ecosystems are controlled both by external and internal factors. Once outside factors affect these systems (things like habitat change, climate change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution), some ecosystems tend to deteriorate and die. Littering
Human activities contaminate ecosystems around the world—from pole to pole, from the highest mountains to the ocean deep. One of the major concerns about littering is the impact on wildlife and marine life. Debris impacts the environment, economy, and human health and safety. The extent of the impacts is determined by the type of debris and where it settles. In the ocean (e.g., submerged, floating, or within a sensitive habitat) fishing nets, plastic bags, and tires can sink to the ocean floor and break and smother coral reefs. Fishing line can float along the ocean surface and catch vessel propellers causing costly damage. A syringe can wash up on the beach and be stepped on by a beachgoer resulting in a wound and possibly an infection. Regardless of the type or the location of the marine debris, it can have serious impacts. Litter has a devastating effect on wildlife as well. Animals can swallow or get entangled in many of the litter items that people leave in the environment. Living in a littered environment can have a depressing effect on people. (World Wildlife, 2014) Litter in the United States is an environmental issue and littering is often a criminal offense, punishable with a fine as set out by statutes in many places. Litter laws, enforcement efforts, and court prosecutions are used to help curtail littering. Littering and dumping laws, found in all fifty United States, appear to take precedence over municipal ordinances in controlling violations and act as public safety, not aesthetic measures. Similar from state-to-state, these laws define who violators are; the type or "function" of the person committing the action, and what items must be littered or dumped to constitute an illegal act. Don't Mess with Texas was a slogan used on a campaign to reduce littering on Texas roadways by the Texas Department of Transportation. . The campaign is credited with reducing litter on Texas highways roughly 72% between 1986 and 1990. Texas does have a litter penalty law as follows: Texas Health & Safety Code §365.012 - Litter weighing five pounds or less is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500. If between five and 500 pounds, class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both. If between 500 and 1,000 pounds or for a commercial purpose, class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $4,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both. State jail felony if the litter to which the offense applies: (1) weighs 1,000 pounds or more; (2) disposed of for a commercial purpose and weighs 200 pounds or more; or (3) contained in a closed barrel or drum. Punishable by imprisonment up to two years and a fine up to $10,000. (See Tex. Penal Code §12.21 et seq.) (Oleen, 2014) Ethics are difficult to teach and are not equally shared by all people. To decide if your behaviors are ethical you must ask yourself the following questions. Is it legal? Would it be good if everybody did it? And would it make you proud? Ethics will play a big role in making that decision. Ethics are the rules or values you use to help you choose behavior that is fair to others and to you. We practice ethical behavior when we “do the right thing” even when we think we won’t be caught or punished for our behavior. (Christensen, 2013) Conclusion
As human populations...
References: Christensen, N. (2013). The Environment and You. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education, Inc.
Oleen, J. S. (2014, March). States with Littering Penalties. Retrieved from NCSL: National Conferrenceof State Legislatures: http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/states-with-littering-penalties.aspx
World Wildlife. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/pollution
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