New York State Chemistry RegentsNew York State Earth Science Regents

Human Impact on the Environment
Living Environment Regents June 2003 Question 36 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2003


Correct Answer: (2) The air pollution problem in Baltimore is increase by the addition of pollution from other areas.

Incorrect Answers:

There are insufficient data to conclude statements 1, 3 and 4

Living Environment Regents June 2003 Question 35 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2003


Correct Answer: (3) human

Humans have the most diverse activities that cause harm to the ecosystems. Agriculture flourishes with the increase of human population that needs to be provided for. This lead to depletion of fish species due to overharvesting, spread of toxic compounds for controlling crop pest, and depletion of surface and groundwater by irrigation.

Living Environment Regents June 2003 Question 34 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2003


Correct Answer: (1) draining the swamps where mosquitoes breed

This has the least effect on the environment.

Incorrect Answers:

Spraying the swamps with chemical pesticides or oil could solve the mosquito infestation but may lead to other problems such as poisoning of other ecologically significant organisms.

Increasing the number of native fish might cause depletion of resources in the swamp.

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 60 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004


Biodiversity refers to the variety of life in n area which is usually measured as the number of species that live in an area. Loss of biodiversity is the main problem of the wide destruction of natural habitat, especially in tropical rainforests. In fact, IUCN reported that 73% of the extinct, endangered, vulnerable and rare species were concerned by habitat destruction.   Biodiversity is a crucial natural resource, and the threatened species could provide important crops, fibers, and medicines. Areas with high biodiversity should not be converted into industrial or agricultural sites to prevent loss of biodiversity.

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 57 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004


Correct Answer: Chlorinated hydrocarbons are synthetic compounds produced industrially. These include pesticides such as DDT and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols). Studies have shown that these chemicals damage the endocrine systems of a large number of animals, including humans.    These toxins are dangerous because as they become more concentrated as they go beyond the different trophic levels. Because of this, DDT has been banned in the United States (since 1970s).

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 56 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004

Correct Answer: This might be the time when laws were passed to decrease the amount of chemical toxins released in the environment. Since it became stricter during this time, industries could just decrease the amount of toxins released easily and so the graph remained constant.

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 55 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004


Correct Answer: Significant amount of chemical toxin release may cause imbalance the amount of the toxins and antitoxins in the environment. If the amount of toxins would decrease, there would be an excess in the amount of antitoxins. These antitoxins could have been used for metabolic processes.

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 29 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004


Correct Answer: (4) increasing human population

More food must be produced in order to sustain the increasing human populatison. Because of this, more natural habitats were disrupted and used for agriculture. Agriculture also disrupts the nitrogen cycle. This also causes great loss of biodiversity.

When fossil fuels are burned (for human activities like in factories, vehicles, etc.), the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases. This further causes global warming that induces dramatic climate changes in the whole planet.

Humans also dump toxic materials in the environment which causes biological magnification of toxic products accumulation in organisms at the topmost level of the food chain.

These are just some of the several activities of humans that greatly affect the ecosystems of the Earth.

Incorrect Answers:

Use of air pollution controls and use of natural predators to control insect pests have no negative effects on the ecosystem, consequently, they prevent the disruption of ecosystems.

Recycling of glass, plastic and metals were also done to prevent ecosystem disruption. However, there were some studies that they can also be harmful to the environment, especially when they are combusted during the process.

Living Environment Regents June 2004 Question 27 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2004


Correct Answer: (1) increased burning of fuels

The increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has started ever since the Industrial Revolution. This is due to the combustion of fossil fuels and wood (removed by deforestation). The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere continues to increase up to this date. The rising carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere affects immensely the Earth's heat budget. Much of the solar radiation that strikes the planet is reflected back to the space. Even if carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere are transparent to visible light, they intercept and absorb much of the reflected infrared radiation, rereflecting it back to the Earth's surface.  This process keeps some of the solar heat. This is known as the greenhouse effect.

Incorrect Answers:

Increased productivity by vegetation is one potential consequence of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. It has been tested in experimental greenhouses that when the carbon dioxide concentration was increased, C3 plants increased in growth. Thus, C3 species may spread to areas previously inhabited by C4 plants.

Mineral availability has no direct effect on global warming.

Living Environment Regents June 2006 Question 62 PDF Print E-mail
NYS Living Environment Regents June 2006


Deforestation is the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands.

Deforestation is brought about by the following: conversion of forests and woodlands to agricultural land to feed growing numbers of people; development of cash crops and cattle ranching, both of which earn money for tropical countries; commercial logging (which supplies the world market with woods such as meranti, teak, mahogany and ebony) destroys trees as well as opening up forests for agriculture; felling of trees for firewood and building material; the heavy lopping of foliage for fodder; and heavy browsing of saplings by domestic animals like goats.

To compound the problem, the poor soils of the humid tropics do not support agriculture for long. Thus people are often forced to move on and clear more forests in order to maintain production.

There are many consequences faced by the environment because of deforestation. There is alteration of local and global climates through disruption of:

a) The carbon cycle. Forests act as a major carbon store because carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken up from the atmosphere and used to produce the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that make up the tree. When forests are cleared, and the trees are either burnt or rot, this carbon is released as CO2. This leads to an increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 is the major contributor to the greenhouse effect. It is estimated that deforestation contributes one-third of all CO2 releases caused by people

b) The water cycle. Trees draw ground water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere (transpiration). In Amazonia over half of all the water circulating through the region's ecosystem remains within the plants. With removal of part of the forest, the region cannot hold as much water. The effect of this could be a drier climate.

Aside from the climate changes, deforestation also causes soil erosion with the loss of a protective cover of vegetation more soil is lost. Soil erosion further causes silting of water courses, lakes and dams.

Another effect of deforestation is the extinction of species which depend on the forest for survival. Forests contain more than half of all species on our planet - as the habitat of these species is destroyed, so the number of species declines.

To lessen the effects of deforestation, we must prevent forest fires, avoid conversion of forestlands to other land uses ie agriculture, mining area, etc.

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