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Earth's atmosphere supports and protects all of its life, giving the planet its blue skies, mild temperatures, and weather. But people use the atmosphere for another purpose: as a dump for waste gases and particles. Air pollution obscures vistas, damages ecosystems, and compromises human health. Combined with water in the atmosphere, air pollutants create acid rain. In the upper atmosphere, air pollutants damage the ozone layer, which protects life from the sun's harmful rays. Excess emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane push global temperatures higher, creating global warming. While some pollutants are successfully regulated, as population grows and industries expand, more intensive solutions are needed to deal with the many types of air pollution and its consequences. This provocative book tackles these issues in a straightforward manner and shows readers what they can do to help conserve our planet's atmosphere.
Earth's seas play a tremendous role in the planet's systems: Ocean currents transfer water and heat around the globe, and ocean ecosystems are among the most biologically productive anywhere. But the oceans are being abused. Wild fisheries are harvested to the point of collapse, and some aquaculture damages life and the environment. People intentionally or inadvertently dump wastes - sewage, oil, toxic chemicals, detergents, fertilizers, and invasive species - and all have an impact on ocean ecosystems. Offering full-color photographs and illustrations and captivating text, ""Oceans"" introduces young science students to these urgent issues. This important new work shows how protecting the oceans requires protecting the entire planet, and describes the importance of setting aside marine reserves to save vital ecosystems.
Earth's astonishing diversity of life - in coral reefs, Arctic tundra, tropical rainforests, deep-sea hot springs, and many others - is amazing for its beauty and for the ecosystem services it provides. People, however, exploit organisms and ecosystems for food, clothing, shelter, medicines, and fuel, damaging or destroying many ecosystems. As a result of human activities, species extinctions are occurring at a rate 10 to 100 times faster than in the planet's recent history. ""Biosphere"" candidly explores these pressing issues in a clear, accessible format. The information covered in this eye-opening new book discusses how ecosystems must be set aside, habitats restored, and global warming thwarted. Readers will learn how organisms can be saved in their native habitats or in zoos, or their genes can be preserved in freezers.
There is no place more remote than the Arctic and Antarctic, but their remoteness has not kept them isolated: Pollutants released in developed lands travel on air and water currents into the polar regions, the ozone hole has widened over Antarctica, and global warming is causing its greatest damage in the world's iciest locales. Along with an understanding of how human activities are changing the polar regions has come an appreciation of their importance in global climate, biological productivity, and biodiversity. ""Polar Regions"" is a crucial new book that explains how many scientists are providing forewarning of the changes that will come to the entire planet if society continues on its current trajectory. Featuring full-color photographs and illustrations, sidebars, suggestions for further reading, and Web sites, this book arms readers with the information necessary to take a stand in protecting our fragile planet.
People exploit the land for desired resources, such as oil, minerals, or timber, or they convert vast expanses of natural terrain to landscapes that better meet their needs: Forests become tree plantations, wilderness is converted to agricultural land, and even farms are paved over to make cities. Already about half the ice-free land area has been converted for human purposes, and that number is growing rapidly. Geosphere is an invaluable new resource that introduces students to sustainability - the idea that economic and social development, along with environmental protection, must be achieved together. Enhanced by illuminating full-color photographs and illustrations, sidebars, a glossary, and other useful study features, this book details how sustainability is gaining ground with individuals, communities, regions, and even nations, and shows readers how they, too, can become involved.
Though climate change is normal in Earth's history, global warming has raised average temperatures to their highest in two millennia, resulting in melting ice caps, shorter winters, changes in the seasonal behaviors of animals, and more extreme weather. And though greenhouse gases are essential for keeping the planet's temperatures comfortable, fossil fuel burning and other human activities are increasing greenhouse gas levels and causing temperatures to rise. While a decade ago many scientists were skeptical that human activities could impact the climate system, their models now show that only human activities can account for the magnitude of changes being seen. ""Climate"" is a timely new book that discusses the issue of global warming and what we can do to prevent its rise. Highly visual and written in a clear, accessible manner, this book adresses how people must use energy more efficiently, develop alternative energy sources, and lower emissions technologies.
Earth is the water planet, but only a tiny amount of the planet's water is fresh and usable, and water pollution has become a monumental dilemma as we enter the 21st century. Though developed nations now regulate some pollutants and as a result their waterways are cleaner, new chemicals are increasingly being released into the environment, resulting in a toxic soup that may be causing cancers, development problems, and other concerns in people and wildlife. And besides pollution, overfishing and engineering projects are destroying freshwater ecosystems. Hydrosphere is a concise examination of the pressing issues affecting our water supply. This potently written and illustrated new book explains how society needs to adopt a precautionary principle in water matters by better understanding the consequences of their actions before, not after, those actions occur.
No other species in Earth's history has been able to disregard the natural laws that govern population size quite like humans have. And as a result we have experienced an unfathomable population explosion: a nearly 7-fold increase in three centuries and from 3 billion to 6.6 billion in just 45 years (1961 to 2006). But population growth has come with an increase in resource consumption, which has created a number of environmental problems: Farmland is being degraded, fresh water is becoming polluted, fish are being overharvested, forests are being flattened, fossil fuel emissions are driving global warming, and the list goes on. Many scientists suggest that society must now develop sustainably, improving the current economic and social circumstances while protecting the environment for future generations.The insightful ""Humans and Natural Environment"" presents these eye-opening facts in a manner accessible to young readers, thanks to its abundant full-color photographs and illustrations, readable text, and helpful sidebars.
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