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GEMS Students Raising Awareness About Global Issues

Kylie Begg, MYP/IGCSE Coordinator May 18, 2020
GEMS Students Raising Awareness About Global Issues

GEMS (Singapore) provides students with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the role of science in society and allows them to explore how scientific developments and applications are applied and used to address specific problems or issues in local and global contexts.

Grade 10 Science students have been doing some excellent investigation into IB MYP Criterion D “Reflecting on the impacts of science”. To develop a better understanding of the role of science, students were given a task to investigate a problem and write a blog post, record a podcast/vlog and design an infographic element to raise awareness about global warming, deforestation, photochemical smog or carbon footprint in their home country. 

The students worked very hard to research the information and refine their ideas. Today we are proud to share some samples of their work that won’t leave anyone indifferent. 

 

Environmental Awareness Podcasts 

Check out these informative podcasts recorded by Anna Fedoruk and Kacper Teodorczyk to learn more about deforestation and environmental awareness

 


  

Major Reasons of Deforestation in Malaysia

Check out a vlog filmed by Muthu Venkatachalam to learn more about deforestation in Malaysia.

 

Undesirable Effects of Deforestation in Turkey 

 

A blog post by Evren Oral 

Deforestation is, by definition, the removal of trees by any means to open up room for various different things, whether those are tourist attractions, buildings made for industrial purposes, necessary land for agriculture, and so on. According to the WWF, forests cover around 30% of the earth’s surface and can provide necessities such as food, medicine, or fuel for over a billion people (Derouin). There are a variety of reasons why deforestation occurs, ranging from an increase in demand to power, urbanization, accidental forest fires, and even governmental policies, and like numerous other countries around the world, deforestation is an existing problem in Turkey, my place of origin (“Deforestation in Turkey”).

One such example of deforestation caused by urbanization can be found in Istanbul. In Istanbul, many people struggle from long driving times, and for some people, returning home from work can take almost 5 or 6 hours. Some people believe that this can be solved by having their own private cars, but with the increase in cars, more people get stuck in traffic. Due to these heavy traffic problems in Istanbul leading to a range of other problems such as energy loss and air pollution, the government chose to build a third bridge at Bosphorus, and to do this, they had to cut approximately 381000 trees. Though, the government did promise to the public that 5 trees would be replanted for every 1 cut down ("Deforestation In Turkey").

Another source of deforestation in Turkey is the hot and arid climate that exists there during summers. This climate makes it considerably easier for an accidental forest fire to begin, and an example of this would be the forest fire in Zeytinköy, Muğla around the start of September 2017, which was difficult to control due to the factors of weather conditions and location. Choppy winds made the fire quickly spread around. According to explanations made by the governor of the province, around 150 hectares of forest had burned during the fire ("Deforestation In Turkey").

New governmental policies are also a major cause for deforestation in Turkey. To give an example, Mount Ida is a place rich in underground resources, and because of this, there are many ongoing mining processes there. The Turkish government had given permission to 21 companies to prospect for gold in 2007, despite protests from the people living there relying on agriculture. These protests took place because the residents suspected that cyanide was used in the process of mining, and they were worried that it would affect their crops. Aside from that, it was also necessary to cut down and remove every tree in the area being mined in order to open up space. It is unknown how many trees were cut down during the mining process ("Deforestation In Turkey").

In the top table above, it can be seen that for areas with a tree cover of at least 10%, the statistics, the tree cover extent in the year 2000 was around 13 million hectares, as opposed to the decrease to around 11 million hectares in the year 2010, and around 10.5 million hectares in the year 2018. In the second column of the table, it shows the total amount of area, including both forested and non-forested. It is considerably easier to visualize the loss in tree cover by looking at and comparing the “% land area” columns for each year. If you look at the percentage of land area with 10% tree cover or more, you can see that the amount of tree cover has been steadily declining over the years ("Deforestation Statistics For Turkey"). If you look at the table on the bottom, it is also easy to visualize both the amount and the percentage of tree cover loss. It can be seen that from 2001 to 2010, the average amount of tree cover loss per year was around 26000, whereas between 2011 and 2018, that number went up to around 33000, making the average tree cover loss per year overall around 29000. When multiplied over 18 years - 2001 to 2018, it can be seen that the amount of tree cover loss over that time was around 530000 hectares, making the percentage tree loss 4.1% (“Deforestation Statistics For Turkey”).

On top of this, there exists a range of other events related to deforestation. For example, there had been an increasing pressure on the environment and people of Turkey, which as of right now, began around two decades ago, hidden under the slogan of “urban transformation.” As of 2013, this pressure had increased by the bringing about of numerous new environmentally destructive laws and regulations, while existing laws to protect the environment from unchecked construction and development have been undermined, and compulsory "environmental impact assessments" for new projects have had their rules changed so decisions are far more likely to favour the investor (Aksogan). Protests against the building of hydroelectric and coal power plants - which required the destruction of forested areas to construct - have happened in the past, and on top of that, forest laws had also been altered. The law known as "2B" redefined some forests as no longer being forests, thus allowing them to be cut down and turned to construction sites. As of 2013, the government had recently also added the category of "forests that won't benefit from protection," which altogether essentially meant that more forests could legally be cut down. This change, together with the policy of “urban transformation”, led to a series of uncontrolled construction across Turkey, and opening space for that construction.

Some examples of these protests to protect green spaces in the past include the protest at around 1993 against the gold mine that would have been constructed at Mount Ida, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, and this resistance eventually led to a call for local democratic rights. For years, there have been protests against hydroelectric and coal projects along the coast of the Black Sea, protests made because of the imminent destruction of necessary resources in the environment. All of these protests had faced similar intimidation from authorities (Aksogan). In 2011, protesters at a coal plant were attacked by police forces with tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons for about 12 hours. Most recently and most notably, there was a protest against the destruction of Gezi Park in Istanbul, in defence of Article 56 of the Turkish constitution, which stated that the people had a right to live in a healthy and balanced environment and that it is the duty of the state and its citizens to ensure that the environment remains healthy and clean, the latter relating back to deforestation (Aksogan).

Yet another example of deforestation in Turkey is that it can be seen as somewhat of a tourist country, and in order to support mass tourism, the usage and conversion of large natural lands to built tourism-related facilities is often necessary. Around the world, forests and coastal zones are some of the principal locations used for the construction of tourist facilities. Whereas forests are necessary to constitute tourism's natural capital and raw material, they also suffer the impacts of individual activities or facility development associated with tourism. Deforestation is one of the most important global environmental consequences of mass tourism development. Similar to many parts of the world, mass tourism activity is heightening pressure on forests and other natural areas in Turkey (Kuvan).

There are various impacts that deforestation has on the environment, as well as other reasons for the prevention of deforestation being a necessity. The main reason that impacts people is that forests are an important resource, and as mentioned at the start, they are a source of food and other resources for many people (Derouin). While it is occasionally necessary to cut down forests in order to open up space for various human actions such as agriculture, the action of deforestation, whether intentional or accidental, can eventually lead to negative impacts on the environment, such as climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, alongside a range of problems for indigenous people ("Effects Of Deforestation"). One example of the negative impacts of deforestation that is applicable to Turkey is that the practice of deforestation can lead to the loss of habitat (“Effects Of Deforestation”). In the example of Mount Ida, it was mentioned that every tree in the area would have to be cut down in order to clear enough space for mining operations, but doing so would mean destroying the habitat of many endemic plants. Despite the protests against the mining operations being for valid reasons besides deforestation, deforestation was still one of the main impacts of those operations (“Deforestation In Turkey”).

Another major impact of deforestation is the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as the lack of trees means that a greater amount of greenhouse gases will be allowed to escape into the atmosphere. And because trees are also necessary to regulate the water cycle and help control the amount of water in the atmosphere, the removal of trees would essentially mean that less of the water in the air would return to the soil, leading to dryer soil and less fertile land for growing crops (“Effects of Deforestation”). Once again, the example of Mount Ida is applicable, because by following on from this logic, it can be assumed that the removal of enough trees in that area could have negatively impacted the agriculture of the people who were living near there (“Deforestation In Turkey”).

Despite all the negative impacts and problems relating to deforestation, there are several solutions that exist that could in theory help to remedy the problems caused by deforestation or attempt to lower deforestation entirely. Some of these solutions include green business, eco-forestry, laws and regulations, community forestry, replanting/reforestation, among numerous others. Green business, for example, concerns preventing the waste of various materials. To explain, it is essentially about reuse, recycling, and green methods of production and utilization - recycling products such as paper, plastics, and wood products as well as adopting responsible consumerism so as to not have to rely on trees for these resources as much ("7 Fantastic Solutions To Deforestation"). Eco-forestry, on the other hand, is a possible solution to deforestation that is more oriented around minimizing the damage caused by collecting resources such as timber. Eco-forestry is essentially acknowledging that timber from forests is sometimes necessary while still keeping the process as environmentally friendly as possible - only cutting down carefully chosen trees that wouldn’t fall and cause major damage to the area. This solution goes somewhat hand in hand with certain solutions such as reforestation and community forestry, which are both solutions-oriented around planting trees to perform reforestation. But whereas reforestation is entirely about replanting trees, community forestry is a solution that also helps to spread awareness (“7 Fantastic Solutions To Deforestation”).

Arguably one of the most effective means of combating deforestation is through laws and regulations. The concept of it is that efforts to stop human activities that harm forests can be helped by imposing laws and regulations against certain actions at governmental and organizational levels. This could turn out to be necessary, as some people are more focused on the immediate economic benefits than the long-term environmental impacts (“7 Fantastic Solutions To Deforestation”). It is also possible to counteract deforestation through means such as sensitization and educative campaigns, which like community forestry, aim to spread awareness about deforestation. Although it is a simple solution, it is considerably more feasible to achieve, and it makes it easier for people to understand the various causes, impacts, and possible solutions to deforestation, especially when the information is supported by anecdotes from communities that have been affected by the negative impacts of deforestation, such as farmers (“7 Fantastic Solutions To Deforestation”). In conclusion, I can say that there have been major impacts on Turkey due to actions that led to deforestation on a large scale, such as the construction of bridges, mining operations, and accidental forest fires. These impacts, however, can be argued to be reversible in some way or another, and future actions leading to deforestation can be stopped. Forests that have already been destroyed could be replanted, for example.

If the Turkish government decides to take action, deforestation could hopefully be stopped in Turkey.


Material cited:

Derouin, Sarah. "Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects". Livescience.Com, 2019, Accessed 5 May 2020. 
"Deforestation In Turkey". Blogs.Ntu.Edu.Sg, Accessed 5 May 2020. 
"Deforestation Statistics For Turkey"Mongabay, 2020, Accessed 5 May 2020. 
Aksogan, Pinar. "The Fight To Protect Turkey's Green Spaces Began Decades Ago". The Guardian, 2013, Accessed 5 May 2020. 
Kuvan, Yalcin, "Mass Tourism Development And Deforestation In Turkey", Taylor & Francis, 2011, Accessed 5 May 2020. 
"Effects Of Deforestation", Pachamama Alliance, Accessed 6 May 2020. 
"7 Fantastic Solutions To Deforestation", Matteroftrust.Org, Accessed 5 May 2020.

 


   

Raising Awareness About Global Warming 

 

Students were given a case study and tasked to design creative infographics that will stand out and promote global warming awareness. 

Case study: One of the significant problems caused by burning fossil fuels is the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect (EGE), leading to global warming (GW). In December 2015, 195 countries negotiated the ‘Paris Agreement’ which aims to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃ (above pre-industrial levels). Countries are furthermore expected to aim to reach a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

Below artworks, designed by Prachet Trikha, Vladislav Den and Tony Shi, explain the causes and environmental impact of global warming.

 

 

 

 

Kylie Begg,
IGCSE/MYP Coordinator,
Science Teacher

 

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