Grade 2: Eco-assignments
There are different environments and different people all over the world and also in our country. Certain animals are adapted to survive in specific regions where they display their own peculiar behaviour to do so. We are to accept and respect the differences in culture that exist between different types of people if we are to live in peace and harmony.
A few hundred years ago the South African landscape was exposed to a vast number of influences. Colonialism brought with it not only new products, never seen before, but also different peoples from various backgrounds. Differences in culture and beliefs made co-operation between various people groups very hard. Things people valued came under threat, especially land ownership. If one is for instance used to a nomad existence and a piece of land frequently visited is now permanently occupied by a European settler or had been turned into hectares of plantation, how would you continue your way of nomadic life? These differences led to various clashes and even full-blown wars.
But development continued nevertheless. To supply in the ever-increasing needs of an ever-increasing human population more land was required to grow produce like grain, fruit and vegetables on and to raise live stock. Big dams were built to supply enough water for houses and industries. Various mining operations started exploring our rich mineral content – copper and gold was abundant. Coal reserves were mined to be used to generate electricity for the many new industries that sprang up as well as the many houses requiring energy to heat water and run appliances. Factories were built to process minerals into usable products and to make furniture and paper from trees. But the generation of electricity also produced much air pollution. Adding to this was also the increase of motor vehicles whose exhaust fumes contributed their share of smelly gas.
As huge land areas were cleared from trees and stones, big scale agriculture was introduced claiming much land where previously man and animal used to live in harmony. Many animals were slaughtered and the habitat of those that survived was becoming smaller. As the rich fertile soil was ploughed and exposed to the sun and rain the process of soil erosion set in. The roots of trees and veldt plants were no longer there to bind the soil together. The mono-culture plantation did very little in this regard. It takes very, very long for soil to be formed which means that once soil is washed away by the rain, it can not be replaced. As nomadic practices were no longer possible, herds of animals fed on the same piece of land year in and year out also contributing to soil erosion and desertification as the ground cover was not given a chance to recover.
Many job opportunities were created and people became less reliant on the natural world for their basic needs. However this new way of life also forced many to leave their homes to go and earn money in cities and towns far away. Although many are still today valuing their cultural roots (dress-code, implements, practices, housing types and spiritual beliefs) many embraced new ways of life.
Consumerism became prominent. People across cultures would accumulate stuff they wanted because they were able to afford it. These new products that flooded the market, contributed to the status of many people who owned it. People wanted more than what they needed. No doubt value systems changed. Spiritual values and even family values diminished in importance. Media and advertising popularised consumer goods that were not truly essential for survival, and masses of people are buying in.
People now believe that in order to make a good living you needed to have real money – subsistence faming no longer provides enough for the family. Some family members were required to go and work as migrant labourers in mines and other industries very far from their homes. As people moved away from natural surroundings to the towns and cities, they also lost much of their affinity with nature. Industrialization, road-infrastructure and farming went from strength to strength occupying and cutting through the historical migrating routes of herds of animals. The balanced co-existence between man and animal changed drastically. Huge amounts of resources were being mined to be made into useful marketable products. Much of these resources were also exported to markets overseas.
In nature the stronger wins and natural selection sees to it that the best stock or best adapted to the environment survives. But they also compete with human beings for resources. Apart from different cultures living within the same borders, we as humans also share the environment with other animals. Being the most dominant species, we as humans have the upper hand. We are usually more able to fend for ourselves and protect our produce from animals than they are to protect themselves (let alone the resources they require to live by) from us. Before this huge-scale industrialization took place, ecosystems were able to secure the survival of many species of animal bird and plant life. If there were periods of drought and water shortage the numbers of the animals would decrease, but in good seasons it would increase. As their food and water resources became fewer their competition between species also became stronger. Due to the impact of humans some species like the Cape Lion have even become extinct. Nature suffered at the hand of human progress.
But a lack of resource base also causes competition between human beings. For example need for non-renewable minerals and energy resources. Every one also wants the best soil for food production (foodsecurity). Fertile soil have a lot of organic components – poor soil happens because of over—— we need to take care
So, although this progress offered a big variety of jobs for many people to afford a better existence, it had a significant negative impact on the natural environment. Presently people are becoming more aware of this and there exists a need to make products that are more environmentally friendly along more sustainable methods. As land is becoming more expensive and good quality water becomes harder to find, people are realizing the importance to save. Some are recycling their garbage and use their kitchen waste to make compost.
Due to so many different peoples entering and occupying the land many different cultures, building styles, music, clothing now form part of our rich society in South Africa. It is important to respect what is important to all groups. Some cultures might have been more instrumental in providing more products to convenience our lives and other cultures again might teach us more about living in harmony with nature. Most people are aware of the stresses that we put on the natural world and is trying to faind ways to live more sustainably. It is becoming more important to draw from our various strengths as we move into a new future where resources are running low.
1) Show a series photos of housing structures and ask the learners to identify where those structures would be found – rural / town or city / township / squatter camp
2) See how many signs of cultural significance in each photo’s house you can find
3) List the resources that it required to construct each of these houses and identify which one had required the most resources to build and which the least. Tell us which one is the most environmentally friendly.
4) List the resources available to each of the housing structures such as space, water, electricity and transport
5) Mention ways in which each of the houses on the photos could be improved
1) Compare photographs of then (black & white) and now (colour) and identify differences in: dress-code, everyday objects, and landscapes
2) Explain how people’s lives (culture and practices) changed when moving from one environment to the next – like from rural life to city life.
3) Explain the reasons for different life-styles in rural and urban settlements and how it applies to the chronology of time
The world we live in is inhabited by people as well as animals and insects and plants. We and each type of animal and plant needs certain resources to survive, like food.
1) Human versus animal: Compare how certain animals and humans have similar need for resources (food in this case) and therefore competition between humans and animals exist. For example both the jackal and the human live on chicken / sheep or both the caterpillar and the human eats from the mango. As a result competition should stay healthy (sustainable) otherwise there would be no crop for the mango farmer or no animal stock for the live-stock farmer.
2) Human versus human: Other resources that are shared between humans and animals include air, water and habitat. Resources that humans normally do not share with animals are minerals (gold / iron / copper) and fossil energy (coal, oil and natural gas) Competition for these resources exist between humans. Relate this in terms of city power cuts and copper cable theft.
3) Biotic versus a-biotic: In nature we find living things (animals and plants), called biotic elements and non-living things (air, water and soil), called a-biotic elements. Biotic and a-biotic elements are continually interacting with each other, and when this interaction is maintained harmony exists in the environment, securing the continued health of both biotic and a-biotic elements. For example where water (a-biotic element) in a river flow past reeds (biotic) in a river, the roots of the reeds take up water and is so nourished. In return the water is cleansed from impurities as the reeds hold it back and the downstream pool will have lovely clean water for other animals to drink from. Give us some more examples.
4) Soil and fertility: All organic things die eventually. After death they rot and gradually decay and become part of the soil again releasing valuable nutrients and elements back into the underground where the roots of plants once again benefit from it. Compare soil that is poor in nutritional value and soil that is poor.
We consume all the time. We consume food and water to stay alive; we consume by for example buying clothes to wear or by buying stationary to be used at school. We also consume electricity when we use electric appliances like kettles and washing machines. The things that we buy and the power that we use all come at a price. Some one has to pay for it.
1) Explain the difference between needs and greeds.
2) Tell us who consumes what in your house
3) Compare if some members are consuming more than others
4) See if there is a way that they can change their habits to consume less
5) Give us reasons why some people accumulate more than others, e.g. following the newest trends as seen advertised on TV and magazines.
The products that we consume need to be made or manufactured. It requires various raw materials and human skill or effort to create products. The raw material could come from mining iron, gold or copper and other minerals. Raw materials like bricks and cement originally come from mud and stone.
1) Where are your family members working – do they gather raw materials to be shaped into useful products, are they making useful products or are they selling useful products?
2) What tools and skills are they using to do this?
Decide together on a useful item you can make from raw materials found in your neighbourhood.
1) Make the product
2) Then have a group discussion where decide where the product can be used.
a. How much will people be willing to buy it for? Is this more than the money you invested into the making of the product – is it profitable?
b. Is there a big need for the product on your neighbourhood?
c. Could it affect the natural world in a negative way?
Collect recyclable products in your home where you sort them in separate boxes/containers marked, glass, plastic, metal, paper. Write down the materials you sort in each separate box and compare it with your fellow learners.