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9.1 Human Activities that Endanger an Ecosystem

Human activities that threaten an ecosystem
1. Human activities often affect whole ecosystems.
2. With great advancements in the medical field, modern farming techniques and better
infrastructure, the worlds population has grown to over 6 billion today.
3. Conflicts, therefore, arise between the need to meet the immediate human demands in
the short term and the need to protect and conserve ecosystems from long-term
4. Many of the problems related to the environment are the results of human activities
and human interference with the ecosystems.
5. The negative effects of hasty, unplanned development and the mismanagement of the
ecosystems result in various environmental problems such as air and water pollution,
the greenhouse effect, global warming and the depletion of natural resources.
6. These problems bring about negative effects that increasingly threaten the economic
resources, health and survival of ecosystems.
7. Some human that have undesirable effects on the environment are as follows :-
(a) Deforestation which leads to soil erosion, landslides, flash floods, climatic
changes, the loss of biodiversity, and the greenhouse effect and global warming.
(b) Burning of fossil fuels which leads to the greenhouse effect, global warming, and
air pollution.
(c) Overuse of fertilisers in intensive farming which leads to eutrophication and water
(d) Dumping of domestic and industrial waste which leads to water pollution.


The impact of human activities on the ecosystem
Deforestation and its effects
1. The rapid destruction of woodlands or the removal of trees from forests is known as
2. Every year, vast areas of forests are cleared to make way for agriculture and
3. Tropical rainforests have important ecological roles.
(a) Rainforests are the oldest ecosystems on Earth and house almost half of the flora
and fauna of the world.
(b) They contain many unique species which provide food, medicine and other
biological products. Plants from the tropical rainforests provide about one quarter
of pharmaceutical products available today. According to the National Cancer
Institute, 70% of the plants useful in the treatment of cancer can only be found in
the tropical rainforests.
(c) Rainforests regulate climate by influencing wind, rainfall, humidity and
temperature patterns.
(d) Rainforests are also called the carbon sink of the Earth because they absorb vast
amounts of carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and at the same time release
oxygen into the atmosphere.
(e) They also serve as water catchment areas.
4. Despite their importance, it has been estimated that more than 50 million acres of
rainforests are destroyed or seriously degraded every year.
5. In general, deforestation results in
(a) Soil erosion
(b) Flash floods
(c) Landslides
(d) Disruption to the carbon and nitrogen cycles
(e) Severe climatic changes
(f) The loss of biodiversity


Burning of fossil fuels and its effects
1. The burning of fossil fuels adds about 75% of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
2. An increase in carbon dioxide level is associated with the greenhouse effect and
global warming.
Intensive farming and its effects
1. Excessive use of land for intensive farming decreases the space and resources
available for other species.
2. In intensive farming, farmers often use inorganic fertilisers, which contain nitrates,
phosphates and potassium ions, to improve crop yields.
3. Since nitrate and ammonium ions are highly soluble, they do not remain in the soil for
long and are quickly leached into the surrounding rivers and lakes.
4. This leads to eutrophication.
The effects of an increase in domestic waste and industrial waste
1. An increase in human population generates an increase in both domestic and
industrial waste.
2. The dumping of waste in landfills poses a great danger to loving organisms as toxic
substances and other pollutants from the dumpsites leak into the ground and
eventually pollute the nearby water resources.
1. Pollution can be defined as any undesirable change in the physical, chemical or
biological characteristics of the natural environment. It is the result of harmful
substances or energy released through human activities.
2. There are four types of pollution: air, water, thermal and noise pollution.


Air pollution
1. Air pollution is caused by the release of harmful pollutants into the air.
2. The main sources are from factories, motor vehicles and burning of fossil fuels.
3. Factories release smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide while motor vehicles
release lead compounds, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen.
4. Air pollution causes pollution of the atmosphere.
5. The Department of Environment of Malaysia has formulated a set of air quality
guidelines, termed Recommended Malaysian Air Quality Guidelines (RMG) for air
pollutants, defining the concentration limits of selected air pollutants which fight
adversely affect the health and welfare of the general public. In line with the need for
regional harmonisation and for easy comparison with countries in the region, the Air
Pollutant Index (API) was adopted.
6. The index is calculated according to the average concentration of several air
pollutants namely sulphur dioxide (SO
), nitrogen dioxide (NO
), ozone (O
), fine
particles (PM10) and carbon monoxide (CO).
7. Air pollution causes three main problems:
(a) Greenhouse effect
(b) Thinning of the ozone layer
(c) Production of acid rain
API Descriptor
0-50 Good
51-100 Moderate
101-200 Unhealthy
201-300 Very unhealthy
>300 Hazardous


Acid Rain
1. Causes of acid rain
(a) The combustion of fossil fuels (coal, air and gas) in power stations, factories,
domestic boilers and internal combustion engines releases large quantities of
sulphur dioxide (SO
) and oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO
(b) Both sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen combine with water vapour in the
atmosphere to form sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively.
(c) Then they fall to Earth as acid rain.
(d) Rain is naturally acidic, with a pH of about 5.6. this acidity is due to the carbon
dioxide in the air, which dissolves in rain to form carbonic acid.
(e) However, the pH of acid rain is less than 5.0.
2. Effects of acid rain
(a) Agriculture:
The soil becomes very acidic and unsuitable for the cultivation of crops.
Acid rain causes the leaching of minerals such as potassium, calcium and
magnesium. This affects the growth of crops.
Photosynthetic tissues are destroyed. Plant leaves turn yellow and fall off.
The roots are damaged and cannot absorb minerals.
(b) Aquatic ecosystem:
Acid rain causes insoluble aluminium ions to accumulate in lakes and
rivers. The concentration of aluminium ions eventually reaches a toxic
level which can kill aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates.
Increased acidity in the aquatic ecosystems also kills phytoplankton which
changes the food chain.
(c) Health:
Acidic soil releases the ions of certain heavy metals such as cadmium, lead
and mercury which may contaminate the supply of drinking water.
(d) Buildings:
Metal railings and bridges corrode.
Limestone, stonework and marble monuments are eroded due to chemical


3. Acid rain can be reduced by
(a) Cleaning up emissions from power stations and industrial plants with scrubbers.
This process involves the spraying of water to trap pollutants.
(b) Cleaning up emissions from vehicle exhausts through the use of catalytic
converters. The pollutants react with one another in the catalytic converters to
produce less harmful products.
Water Pollution
1. Water comprises 70% of the Earths surface.
2. Living organisms depend on water for survival.
3. Water pollutants can harm the aquatic life in rivers, lakes or seas. Polluted water can
also harm humans and other animals.
4. The rapid increase in human population has increased the levels of water pollution.
The pollution is caused mainly by contaminants from:
(a) Domestic sources such as sewage and detergents
(b) Agricultural practices, for example, run-off from excessive use of fertilisers and
(c) Industries, for example, discharge of toxic chemicals (mercury, lead and zinc) and
radioactive materials
(d) Thermal pollution
(e) Oil spills
1. Eutrophication is the artificial nutrient enrichment of an aquatic system with organic
material or inorganic nutrients, causing an excessive growth of an aquatic plant life.
2. Eutrophication can be caused by:
(a) The leaching of inorganic fertilisers, especially nitrates and phosphates, from
agricultural lands
(b) The input of untreated sewage as well as discharge from sewage treatment plants
(c) Run-offs containing animal wastes from pastures and farmlands into lakes, rivers,
or ponds.


What is BOD?
1. Biochemical oxygen demand (B.O.D) refers to the amount of oxygen that is utilised
when all of the organic matter in one litre of water is oxidised by living organisms in
the water.
2. The measurement of B.O.D. is an indication of the level of water pollution.
3. If there is a large amount of organic waste in the water supply, the quantity of aerobic
bacteria working to decompose this waste will also be great. In this case, the B.O.D
value will be high and, subsequently, the dissolved oxygen level in the water declines
4. Generally, an increase in the B.O.D level corresponds to a decrease in the dissolved
oxygen levels. The dissolved oxygen level is an indication of the level of water
pollution. It also shows how well the water can support aquatic plant and animal life.
5. A higher dissolved oxygen level (or a lower B.O.D level) indicates better water
quality. A lower dissolved oxygen lever (or a higher B.O.D level) indicates poor
water quality.
Thermal pollution
1. In thermal pollution, the temperature of a body of water is unintentionally raised as a
result of human activities.
2. Causes of thermal pollution:
(a) Hot water is discharged into nearby lakes and rivers from the effluents of
industrial processes and the cooling towers of electrical power stations which use
water as a cooling agent.
(b) The excess heat that is released into the environment leads to thermal pollution.
(c) Thermal pollution causes the temperature in a body of water to rise above the
normal value. The increase in temperature can be between 5
C and 10
3. Effects of thermal pollution
(a) Water temperature can affect the level of dissolved oxygen. When the temperature
of water increases, oxygen becomes less soluble in water.
(b) For some species, a sudden increase in temperature can lead to instant death
because many aquatic species can only survive within a certain range of

(c) The death of these species may have a negative effect on the food chain, causing
the entire ecosystem to collapse.
4. Ways to prevent thermal pollution
(a) Control the amount of hot water discharged from industrial plants and power
stations into the surrounding lakes and rivers.
(b) Control the amount of hot water or industrial effluents discharged into still or
slow-moving rivers.
Noise pollution
1. Noise from cars, motorcycles, aeroplanes, construction sites, agricultural and
industrial machinery can be a form of pollution.
2. The noise level of residential areas should not exceed 55 decibels (dB).
3. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), prolonged exposure to noise
levels at or above 80 dB can lead to deafness.
4. Excessive exposure to high levels of noise is considered a health risk because noise
can contribute to stress-related problems such as high blood pressure, coronary
disease, ulcers, depression and headaches.
5. Loud noise can cause an arousal response in which a series of reactions occurs in the
body. Adrenaline is released into the bloodstream. A persons heartbeat rate, blood
pressure, and respiration rate are likely to increase. The blood vessels constrict and
the muscles become tense.

9.2 The Greenhouse Effect and the Thinning of the Ozone Layer
The greenhouse effect
1. The greenhouse effect is an effect in the atmosphere as a result of the presence of
certain gases, called the greenhouse gases.
2. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are similar to the glass panes of a greenhouse
which trap the heat and warm the greenhouse.
3. Carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane, nitrous oxide, low level ozone,
and water vapour make up the greenhouse gases.
4. With the exception of CFCs, most of the greenhouse gases occur naturally. However,
all of them are also the results of human activities.
5. Today, data collected around the world show a steady increase in the concentration of
greenhouse gases. At the same time, there is also rapid development and
6. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric concentrations of
carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 30%, the concentrations of methane have
more than doubled, and the concentrations of nitrous oxide (N
O) have risen by about
7. Scientists believe that the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas)
and other human activities such as increased deforestation and industrial production
are the primary reasons for the increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon
8. As the concentration of greenhouse gases rises, the greenhouse effect increases,
trapping more heat in the atmosphere and raising the average temperature on Earth.
9. This overall rise is the average temperature of the atmosphere is known as global
warming. The increase in atmospheric temperature has been high enough to cause
changes in the global climate.
10. The effects of global warming :
(a) Occurrence of floods
As the mean temperature rises, the polar ice caps and glaciers melt.
This causes a rise in sea levels.
A rise in sea levels causes low-lying areas to be flooded.


(b) Climate changes
Global warming leads to changes in wind direction and the distribution of
rainfall. As a result, agricultural activities are affected.
Global warming causes weather patterns to change. This affects the
distribution of species in certain regions.
(c) Occurrence of drought
Global warming increases the frequency of droughts.
The land becomes dry and infertile
This leads to a drop in crop yields.
(d) Spread of diseases
With warmer climates, pests and vectors may spread to new areas.
The warmer conditions lead to an expansion of territories for disease-
carrying vectors, resulting in an increase in the outbreaks of diseases such
as malaria and dengue fever.
11. Below are some of the steps which can be taken to reduce the greenhouse effect.
(a) Reduce the burning of fossil fuels to conserve energy.
(b) Develop alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar and geothermal energy.
(c) Reduce deforestation for farming.
(d) Replant trees which have been cut down.
12. International cooperation as well as individual action is needed to lessen the effects of
global warming.
13. International treaties that bind countries to their commitment of limiting and reducing
the amount of carbon dioxide as well as other greenhouse gases which are released
into the atmosphere must be implemented.


The thinning of the ozone layer
1. The ozone layer is a region in the atmosphere, between 20 and 25 kilometres above
the surface of the Earth.
2. The ozone layer contains high concentrations of ozone molecules (O
) that absorb
ultraviolet (UV) radiation and shield organisms from its damaging effects.
3. Consequently, UV radiation has risen by 7% per decade in the northern hemisphere
and by 10% per decade in the southern hemisphere.
4. This layer of ozone shields us from excessive ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
5. The destruction of the ozone layer is mainly due to the increasing levels of
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere.
6. CFCs are very active chemicals that contain chlorine, carbon and fluorine.
7. CFCs are used as coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators, propellants in aerosol
cans and foaming agents in the making of Styrofoam packaging.
8. CFCs are extremely stable and can remain in the environment for as long as 75 to 100
9. The consequences of ozone depletion are very severe. Prolonged exposure to
ultraviolet radiation can lead to higher risks of
(a) Skin cancer, such as melanoma. Ultraviolet radiation causes mutations that can
lead to skin cancer.
(b) Cataracts
(c) Sunburns
10. Ultraviolet radiation weakens the immune system and the ability of the body to resist
infectious diseases.
11. Ultraviolet radiation reduces nutrient contents and crop yields of plants such as soya
beans and peas.
12. Leaf cells and chlorophyll are easily damaged by the ultraviolet rays. This lowers the
rate of photosynthesis and reduces crop yields.
13. Ozone depletion also leads to an increase in the temperature on Earth.
14. Ways to reduce ozone depletion
(a) Reduce or stop the use of CFCs.
(b) Replace the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) with hydrochlorofluorocarbons
(HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Unlike CFCs, these gases break down
in the atmosphere and return to Earth in the form of rainwater.

9.3 The Importance of Proper Management of Development Activities
and the Ecosystem
The need for development and the effects of an increasing population on
the ecosystem
1. Lower death rates, better medical care and better basic facilities have contributed to
an increase in the human population.
2. As the population of the world increases, so do the needs of this population. The need
for more food supplies, water, homes, hospitals, transport systems and energy has led
to deforestation, the burning of fossil fuels, the building of more dams and reservoirs,
and the production of more domestic and industrial waste.
3. The drive for development and the attempt to raise the standard of living have led to
many economic activities and development projects.
4. These activities and development projects have led to frequent human interference
with the balance of nature. This leads to the pollution of the environment.
5. The negative effects of hasty, unplanned and unmanaged development are various
environmental problems.
6. These environmental problems threaten our health, the management of resources and
the ecosystem.
7. There is a conflict between the need to meet the requirements of an increasing
population and the need to deal with the growing environmental problems.
8. In order to reduce the negative effects of development, every economic activity or
development project must be balanced by efforts to manage the environment in a
sustainable manner.


Measures taken in the management of development activities
Implementation of laws
1. The government has implemented laws to protect and govern biological resources and
the environment.
2. Many laws and regulations are designed to control pollution which affects the quality
of land, air and water. Below are some of the acts.
(a) The Environmental Quality Act, 1974, 1989
This is the principal legislation that regulates and governs the prevention and
control of pollution as well as the enhancement of environment.
(b) The National Forestry Act, 1984
This act aims to protect and preserve the forests and wildlife of the country.
(c) The Protection of Wildlife Act, 1972
3. It is hoped that these legislations will protect the quality of the environment from
irresponsible people or companies.
Use of technology
1. Install catalytic converters in vehicles to clean up exhaust emissions and convert the
harmful gases released during the combustion of fossil fuels to less harmful products.
2. Use unleaded petrol to reduce the emission of lead into the environment.
3. Treat sewage in sewage treatment plants before it is discharged to reduce water
4. Treat toxic waste from factories before it is discharged into the environment.
5. Use microorganisms to clean up the environment. For example, certain bacteria are
used to break down oil spills at sea.
6. Develop hydrogen-based fuel-cell vehicles to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
7. Use technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Liquefy the
carbon dioxide and store it underground.
Education on the management of resources
1. The public must be educated on the importance of protecting and caring for the
environment through the mass media and various environmental campaigns.

2. The public must be educated on the concept of the 4Rs.the 4Rs stand for recycle,
reuse, reduce and recover.
3. Recycling means collecting and segregating waste according to the types of materials
and turning this waste into new products.
4. Reuse means use thing such as old plastic containers and bottles again for other
purposes instead of throwing them away.
5. Reduce means cutting down on the use of materials. For example, the use of plastic
bags which are non-biodegradable should be reduced. Instead, use plastic bags which
are biodegradable and environmental friendly.
6. Recover means to harness heat energy from the burning of materials or refuse in
factories or incineration plants. This heat energy can be used to generate electricity.
7. Recycling is important because
(a) Fewer landfills will be needed to dispose of rubbish and wastes.
(b) It cuts down the use of natural resources
(c) It saves energy.


Preservation and conservation of soil, water, the flora and fauna of forests, and
mangrove swamps
1. The management of natural resources in an ecosystem involves preservation and
2. Preservation involves efforts to protect an ecosystem so that natural resources are
utilised in a sustainable manner and that the equilibrium of the ecosystem is
3. Conservation involves efforts to return an affected ecosystem to its natural
4. Sustainable agricultural development is the effective use and preservation of soil to
ensure continuous agricultural production.
5. Clean water is a precious resource and commodity. As such, water sources and water
catchment areas must be preserved.
6. (a) The Malaysian rainforest, for example, contain more than 50% of the worlds
plant and animal species.
(b) If deforestation proceeds faster than afforestation, many of these species could
become extinct before they can be documented.
(d) Therefore, the sustainable use of forests is important to strike a balance between
continual harvesting of forest products, and at the same time maintaining the
environmental service of forests.
7. The following are some sustainable and planned forest projects.
(a) Establishment of a level of selective harvesting. This means only mature trees are
(b) Reforestation or large-scale replanting of trees. Replanting programmes ensure
that forests where logging activities have been carried out are not damaged and
that the forests continue to be productive and are able to support the diversity of
(c) Implementation of restoration programmes to restore damaged habitats so that
natural resources and wildlife can be preserved.
(d) Greater productivity from existing agricultural lands will reduce the pressure to
convert more forests for agricultural purposes. In this way, farming and harvesting
of timber can still be carried out and biodiversity can be protected at the same

8. (a) Mangrove swamps are a rich source of biodiversity. Mangrove trees are used as
fuel, building materials and pilings. Mangrove swamps provide food, nesting and
nursery areas for many animals. The dead leaves and twigs in the water encourage the
growth of microorganisms that provide food for young marine organisms.
(b) Mangrove swamps play an important role in flood control, nutrient retention,
sediment control, and the prevention of coastal erosion. They also act as a barrier
against rising sea levels.
(c) When an area of a mangrove swamp forest is cleared for aquaculture and
development, many plant and animal species are threatened to the point of extinction.
(d) Industrial waste pollution also contributes to the threat of extinction.
(e) Hence, mangrove swamps found along the coastlines must be protected, preservd
and conserved.
The practice of biological control
1. Biological control is the use of natural predators to control the population of pest
2. This method involved the prey-predator relationship.
3. The predators do not harm the crops.
4. Some examples of biological control are
The use of Khaki chambel (a species of ducks or itik telur) to control the
population of gold snails (siput gondang emas) which feed on paddy stalks.
The use of the hoverfly larvae to control aphids which feed on crop plants.
5. Biological control is better than chemical control which involves the use of pesticides.
This is because
The use of pesticides is indiscriminate and sometimes harmless organisms as
well as the pest species are killed.
The effects of pesticides can be persistent and remain in the environment for
long periods.
Pests develop resistance. Hence, a larger amount of pesticides may now be
required to produce a similar effect.
The cost of using pesticides is high.
The extensive use of pesticides pollutes the environment.


The use of renewable energy
1. Renewable energy is energy flow that occurs naturally in the environment and can be
harnessed for the benefit of humans. It is inexhaustible and does not pollute the
2. Examples of renewable energy are
Solar energy
Wind energy
Flowing water
Wave energy
Geothermal energy
Biomass energy
Palm oil fuel
The efficient use of energy
1. Reduce the burning of coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels.
2. Substitute natural gas for coal at power plants.
3. Improve fuel efficiency in vehicles- use cars that run on energy-efficient engines.
4. Use a cleaner fuel by reducing the content of sulphur in diesel and switching to gas.
5. Improve energy efficiency in factories.



Name: Lim Suying
Class: 4SC5
Teacher: Puan Rozita bt Romli


9.1 Human Activities that Endanger an Ecosystem ................................................................................ 1
Human activities that threaten an ecosystem .................................................................................... 1
The impact of human activities on the ecosystem ............................................................................. 2
Pollution .............................................................................................................................................. 3
9.2 The Greenhouse Effect and the Thinning of the Ozone Layer .......................................................... 8
The greenhouse effect ........................................................................................................................ 9
The thinning of the ozone layer ........................................................................................................ 11
9.3 The Importance of Proper Management of Development Activities and the Ecosystem .............. 12
The need for development and the effects of an increasing population on the ecosystem ............ 12
Measures taken in the management of development activities ...................................................... 13