Stewardship - Looking after something so it can be passed on to the next generation.
Environment - The surroundings in which plants and animals live and on which they depend to live.
Global Warming - The increase in the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere (thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect).
Since the middle of the 20th century the temperature of the Earth has been getting higher. This is known as Climate Change or Global Warming.
Scientists have different opinions about why climate change is happening. However, many scientists think that recent climate change is being caused by humans.
What can we do to reduce global warming?
Obvious suggestions are to reduce the amount of energy being used and/or increase the use of 'clean' fuels to generate energy such as wind power, which does not produce greenhouse gases. There are many ways in which this can be done.
Actions by Individuals
All of us, especially in the most developed parts of the world, use large amounts of energy every day. Even small actions such as turning off electrical appliances when they're not being used or walking to the shops instead of using a car will help to reduce the amount of energy being used. Supporting environmental charities such as Greenpeace that lobby governments and fund scientific research is another way in which individuals can play a part.
Actions by governments and international organisat
Most people believe that the only way we will be able to tackle climate change is if the whole world works together. There are many ways of doing this - for example, by setting laws that factories have to keep to in relation to the gases they produce. Many industrial countries have agreed to targets by which they have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is still a long way to go before all countries agree on both the causes and solutions of climate change.
Actions by scientists
Scientific research is essential if humans are going to be able to tackle climate change. This means research into the causes and consequences of climate change - the more that we understand about why it is happening, the more able we will be to do something about it and research into possible solutions such as alternative energy sources or finding ways or reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, all scientific research is very expensive.
Some effects of global warming
As polar regions warm up, the ice melts, increasing the sea level. This means that many places are at risk of disappearing as the land will be underneath the sea.
As some places get hotter there will be more drought and, as other places get hotter, they will have more rain, leading to flooding. Both situations may lead to shortages of food and famine.
Extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flash floods will increase.
Some animals and plants will die out (become extinct) because they will not be able to adapt to the changing climate.
Pollution is the contamination of the environment, which damages and spoils, so that it is no longer clean, healthy or able to provide the best possible conditions for humans for animals. Most pollution is caused by waste - products that humans do not want.
The problem of waste
Increased technology constantly leads to the development of new products which leads to a lot of waste, for example computers. Most waste cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable (it does not break down naturally if buried or exposed). Waste takes up space, spreads disease and releases dangerous chemicals into the environment, but we are generating more every year.
Land, or soil, pollution can lead to poor growth, loss of wildlife habitats, soil erosion, desertification and other types of pollution (such as water pollution). The most common example is dropping litter, but at industrial levels land pollution can be very serious. The most dangerous waste is radioactive waste. This can cause huge health problems for humans and other wildlife, as well as lowering soil fertility and stopping it growing food.
Other types of land pollution include deforestation (where forests are destroyed) and mining, both of which leave the land barren.
Air pollution happens when substances or chemicals affect the natural balance of the air. An example is sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides from the coal-fired power stations, which lead to acid rain. Acid rain harms soil, water and all forms of life as well as buildings. Air pollution can cause smog (industrial 'fog') and breathing problems for humans and animals. Many scientists believe that global warming is caused by air pollution.
Water pollution is the contamination or rivers, lakes oceans and reservoirs by chemicals or other matter that affects the water's quality.
One example of water pollution is eutrophication. This is when sewage fertilizer make water plants grow. When they die, they are broken down by bacteria. As the bacteria. As the bacteria feed, they use up the oxygen and the fish die.
Many people as individuals and organisations help to clean up pollution. See the picture of Thames 21 Volunteers above as an example. However, it would be far better to prevent the pollution from happening in the first place.
Create less waste
If there were less waste to dispose of, there would be less pollution. Individuals, businesses and governments can all play a part in creating less waste. Examples would be recycling things (using them again or sending things to recycling centers instead of putting them in rubbish bins) or buying products that have less packaging.
Many developed nations, such as the UK, have strict anti-pollution laws that help to limit pollution levels. They also impose several penalties on companies that break these laws.
Alternative energy sources
Greater energy efficiency and using cleaner fuels that do not produce waste would mean there was less pollution.
Alternative manufacturing methods
Scientists are researching ways of manufacturing in ways that create less waste or that get rid of waste more effectively.
To be infertile means being unable to have a baby naturally. Up to 10 per cent of couples in the UK who want to have children suffer from problems of infertility and for many of them it brings great emotional pain.
There are a wide range of medical treatments for infertility now available. These either use the sperm and egg of the parents or the sperm and/or egg which have been donated by another person.
Fertility treatments are very expensive, whether for the couples themselves or for the National Health Service (not all treatment are available on the NHS).
There are no guarantees that fertility treatment will work and many attempts over several years may be needed.
Fertility drugs can cause uncomfortable side-effects.
Is it right?
Is it ever right to interfere with nature at all?
Is it right for the NHS to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on fertility treatments when that money could be spent on treating people with life-threatening conditions and illnesses?
The world is already very over populated. Isn't being unable to have children nature's way of trying to control population level?
Who is entitled to this treatment? Married couples? Unmarried couples? Same-sex couples? Single people? Who has the right to decide?