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Natural Systems and Construction of Designed Systems

Aug 22, 2022
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Key Concepts

  • Earth
  • Natural system
  • Designed system

Introduction: 

Natural Systems and Construction of Designed Systems Earth has a complex system that can respond abruptly to changes within the system – these quick changes such as earthquake, tsunami, volcano etc., can be highly non-linear. There is strong evidence that the Earth system is susceptible to sudden changes. 

Human-induced worldwide change has pushed the Earth system into a such state — where climatic and other environmental conditions are going out of the range from at least last half million years, increasing the unpredictable changes with harmful consequences. Hence, exploring and calculating the Earth system interactions is very important. 

 Earth 

Changing Earth System 

The Earth system is our planet’s networking system that includes physical, chemical, and biological processes. It consists of the land, oceans, atmosphere, living things, polar regions, and poles. It comprises of the planet´s natural cycles such as the carbon, water, nitrogen, phosphorus, Sulphur, and other cycles — and deep Earth processes.  

Life is also an essential part of the Earth system. Humans affect carbon, nitrogen, water, oxygen, phosphorous, sulphur, and many other cycles and processes. Humans are part of the Earth system and have now become a main source of change within the system.  

Latest research work of the Earth-system has collected a complete system of the working of the Earth system over the last hundreds, thousands, and millions of years. 

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The research shows that human activities have a major influence on global climatic and environmental systems.  

But it is also clear that these systems showed a range of natural variability in the past that went beyond what can be noted and measured today. 

The Earth system needs a new scientific method and conceptual and technical tools.  

Key findings include: 

  • During last 16,000 years, there is an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 
  • There is an increase in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere since last 800,000 years. 
  • Antarctic carbon dioxide and temperature differ over the last 800,000 years, showing a close relationship between climate and the carbon cycle. 

Features of the environmental crisis 

Climate change:  

Human caused climate change is due to the pollution of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases and other contaminants is one of the major global environmental problems. Mainly pollution occurs as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from industries, the destruction, and burning of forests. Climate change already has observable ecological and social effects, and its impact is seen globally such increase in surface temperature, change in species distribution and ecosystem function etc. 

Causes of climate change 

Ozone depletion: 

The depletion of stratospheric ozone due to the atmospheric pollution by halocarbons such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs is very serious environmental problem. It is a major issue because the lack of protective ozone layer at high altitudes results in increased levels of harmful solar ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation reaching the earth’s surface. These radiations cause wide range of health-related and ecological effects.  

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Ozone depletion 

Lower quality of water: 

Water quality can be degraded by contamination with pollutants. The contaminated water causes health-related and ecological problems such as the degradation of coral reefs. A major source of water pollution is the run-off waters to shores that occur in many coastal areas; such run-off water may contain increased levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, that come from agricultural land and from human communities. Many other human activities such as mining, industrial processes lead to water pollution, which may create toxic effluent. The marine environment gets polluted by oil spills, accumulation of plastics and the bioaccumulation of persistent organic chemicals. 

Causes of water pollution 

Scarcity of fresh water:  

Apart from pollution of freshwater, there are other reasons for the scarcity of fresh water for drinking in many parts of the world. Many water scarcity problems are related to poor water resource management practices. 

Causes of the environmental crisis 

Technological developments: It allowed humans to exert a greater influence over natural resources and ecosystems. 

Increasing in human population: It is one of the major causes of environmental crisis. 

Increase in resource and energy consumption – Since the industrial revolution, and around 1950 –economic growth and rising standards of human beings have been the cause of environmental crisis. 

Systems analysis 

Systems analysis has been developed in order to examine the complexity in the real world. Systems analysis highlights the importance of understanding the structure and the relationships between and within different parts of the environment. The systems analysis approach can be useful in understanding the environment in which different parts of a system change with each other and to external factors. Systems analysis allows scientists to concentrate on the parts of the environment in which adjustments has occurred. As a result of the change of systems analysis by scientists, the study of the environment became a dynamic subject that focuses on the knowledge and understanding of environmental adjustments and transformations processes.  

Materials and energy move through systems in several ways such as series of flows, through cycles such as carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, water cycle etc. and by transformations; in case of a river system or stream system – water, sediments, nutrients, living things, gases in dissolved form, pollutants, and energy all pass through the system. 

System boundaries help to define the limits or boundaries within which the components work together and thus specify the scale of the system and the ways in which different systems are related to each other. 

Summary

  • Earth has a complex system that can respond abruptly to changes within the system. The Earth system is our planet’s networking system that includes physical, chemical, and biological processes.
  • Carbon change, ozone depletion, water scarcity is some of the features of environmental issues.
  • Technological development increases in the human population are some of the causes of the environmental crisis.
  • Systems analysis has been developed in order to examine the complexity in the real world. Systems analysis highlights the importance of understanding the structure and the relationships between and within different parts of the environment.

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