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Environmental Study

1. How Does Affluence Both Negatively And Positively Affect The Environment?

About the environment, affluence relates to the average consumption of each person in the population (Affluence and Environmental Impact). An increase in demand leads to an increase in production. Affluence increases the production rate to meet the growing demand. The dilemma of affluence is this: on one hand, it increases production rate giving room for job creation, while on the other hand, it increases the rate of pollution in the environment due to the construction of more factories and the challenges of waste management.

Consumption is influenced by lifestyle and organization (qt. in Affluence and Environmental Impact). In a state of poverty, the primary goal is survival rather than preservation of the environment. The polluted environment leads to sicknesses that further impoverishes people due to the absence of medical health insurance. Neglecting the environment exposes the poor to greater risks as well as increases crime and depression rate, especially when they are unable to satisfy their basic needs.

2. Energy Flow

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Food is a source of energy for all living things. Food chain, in ecology, is the sequence of transfers of matter and energy in the form of food from organism to organism (Food Chain). In the food chain, the sun is the main source of energy. Green plants generate energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis. This energy is transmitted upwardly through the food chain. The food chain comprises four levels also known as trophic levels. They include the producer (e.g. all green plants), the primary consumer (e.g. grasshopper), the secondary consumer (e.g. frog, grasshoppers), and the tertiary consumer (e.g. hawk). Secondary and tertiary consumers are carnivores.

Green plants are important in the food chain because they are producers. Energy production of the food chain depends on biomass (i.e. renewable energy source in plants) and the Net Primary Productivity (NPP). The Net Primary Productivity is the net amount of primary production of energy in plants after energy loss from respiration. Respiration being a metabolic activity in plants also takes energy from the sun. The energy pyramid demonstrates the direction of the flow of energy in a food chain. From the shape of the pyramid, it is observed that energy reduces as it moves to the top. This reduction of energy as it transmits to the top of the pyramid is known as the second law of thermodynamics. The energy pyramid is related to the second law of thermodynamics for it regulates the flow of energy in the ecosystem. This explains why there are few carnivores (tertiary consumers) in the food chain. Too many organisms at the top of the food chain will create an imbalance in the energy distribution in the food chain.

3. Three Limitations Of Science

I. The nature of the scientific investigation process limits the results to tangible and measurable data. Such things as love and beauty, which rank among the highest of human values, are far beyond the limits of science. There is no scientific formula for measuring love or the level of beauty.

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II. The reality of extraterrestrial activities, which are beyond human understanding e.g. witchcraft, voodoo, etc., is still an issue in the world. The most science can do is to label them as non-existent since they cannot be proved in the laboratory. Issues of witchcraft are treated as mere superstition. Moreover, witchcraft is believed to pose a threat to human life.

III. The knowledge we get from science is descriptive knowledge. The reality of life itself calls for experience. The more experience we have about people and things, the better life we have. But we need sound moral judgment in inter-personal relationships. The descriptive knowledge offered by science is limited in this regard. Scientific knowledge cannot tell us the right behavior and attitude to adopt.

4. Generalist And Specialist Species

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Generalist species refers to an animal that can survive on a wide variety of foods and in different habitats, e.g. cockroaches, rats, etc. The specialist species is an animal that can survive only on a limited diet and in a specific habitat, e.g. koalas, sword-billed hummingbirds, etc. Based on this description, the generalist species has greater chances of adaptation to climatic changes based on its ecological niche. The Ecological Niche of an organism describes how that particular individual "fits" into its ecosystem (Ecological Niches). The cockroach as a generalist species can adapt to any climatic change. According to Dr. James H. Jarratt, one reason for this success may be related to diet--they are scavengers and will eat anything organic. The cockroach eats anything and can find food anywhere. They feed on cheese, beer, leather, and decaying organic matter. The ecological niche of any species is important to climatic changes and adaptation.

5. Biological Evolution

Regina Bailey defined biological evolution as any genetic change in a population that is inherited over several generations. These changes may be small or large, noticeable or not so noticeable. (Bailey 2013). These changes occur at the genetic level of a population. One of the processes of genetic change is natural selection. Natural selection is based on Charles Darwin's conclusion that in any given generation, some individuals are likely to reproduce and survive more than the rest. (Kratz and Siegfried 2013). Natural selection is not selective, it occurs among all organisms. There are several types of evidence in support of evolution theory. These include (a) biochemical evidence the evidence from genetic code reveal a similarity in support of a common origin of all organisms; (b) fossil records these are traces of organism that lived long ago, which can be found in some museums around the world; (c) comparative anatomy- some organisms possess similar features though different functions, e.g. human beings and monkeys possess similar limbs, but use them for different purposes; and (d) observable events scientific research through observation of organisms, which shows that evolution is an ongoing process. There are arguments among scientists concerning evolution through the process of natural selection. They include: (a) organisms in the process of natural selection are merely trying to adapt. For scientists, it is a process. (b) Genetic changes in evolution occur slowly. However, scientists believe that it can also be fast. (c) Biochemical evidence and genetic change in a single individual occur once, i.e. during a life span.

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6 . Scientific Theory

The scientific theory according to Regina Bailey gives explanations and predictions for naturally occurring phenomena based on observations and experimentation (Bailey 2013). This is opposed to the layman's understanding of theory, which Kim Ann Zimmerman denotes as unproven or speculative. (Zimmerman 2012). Scientific hypotheses pass through a series of testing by different scientists via approved scientific methods before becoming a theory. The hypothesis is a mere guess that is open to further verification. As such it is the early stage of the development of a theory.

Imperatively, scientific theory varies from layman's understanding of the term. Biological evolution should not be dismissed simply because science terms it a theory. Repeated studies on biological evolution reveal the same results. The evidence of fossils, observable events, biochemical evidence, and comparative anatomy of organisms make biological evolution a fact. The theory of biological evolution is scientific knowledge about life. In the theory of evolution, genetic study reveals a common origin of organisms. Therefore, scientific theories are verifiable objective truths.

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