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Food Web and Impact of Environmental Degradation Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 20th, 2022

Introduction

The food web is a natural interconnection that describes the manner in which energy is transferred from organism A to B, thereby supporting the survival of both plants and animals. Human beings form an important aspect or part of the food web since they are capable of engaging in activities and making decisions that could transform the overall experiences and outcomes of all other living organisms. Any form of obliteration will make it impossible for people to live sustainability and eventually achieve their goals. The questions of posterity remain critical and are capable of guiding more people and global leaders to make timely decisions and transform in an effort to maintain the integrity of the food web. Nonetheless, various problems exist today that have the potential to affect the food web and make it impossible for more people to get fresh, timely, and high-quality food. Moreover, these issues can also threaten the sustainability of the other organisms that rely on humans for food (Herforth & Ahmed, 2015). As of now, one of the most outstanding urgent problems disorienting the integrity of the food chain is that of environmental degradation.

Environmental degradation refers to the gradual decay of the environment due to the exhaustion of its natural resources, thus reducing the environment’s ability to sustain social and ecological objectives. This is as true as ever when applied to the food web, as there are few ecological systems that are as immediately important to the survival of humanity and other species that rely on it. The problem is multifaceted and affects all factors of production, results in a reduced downpour, catalyzes the speed of global warming, and eventually transforms human life in a negative manner (Trzcinski et al., 2016). Hence, evidence-based efforts and solutions would be needed in an effort to protect the integrity of the food web. Conservation efforts and promotion of sustainable practices are solutions that can help human beings protect the natural environment from continuous degradation and improve the effectiveness and naturalness of the food web (Tefft et al., 2017). Therefore, the effort to stop the disruption and degradation of the food web and the adverse effects associated with it should focus on promoting conservation and sustainable practices.

Terms

A brief note on terminology is necessary in the interests of greater clarity. While it might appear that ‘conservation’ and ‘sustainable practices’ refer to the exact same thing by different names, this is not the case. In the course of this paper, ‘conservation’ refers to the preservation of natural resources that are, in any way, involved in the functioning of the food web. On the other hand, ‘sustainable practices’ refers to the wide range of activities that contribute to the long-term maintenance and efficiency of the food web. To illustrate, an agricultural producer rotating crops to ensure that the soil maintains its fertility is an example of conservation. The end customer buying and eating one loaf of bread instead of buying two, eating one, and let the other one go to waste is an example of sustainable practice. Thus, while ‘conservation’ is essentially resource-centric, ‘sustainable practices’ is a broader term that encompasses all manner of activities that mitigate the existing negative impacts on or prevent potential harm to the food web.

Solution I: Conservation

Description

There are several binding reasons why humanity should devote its efforts to the conservation of natural environments and prevention of the negative effects associated with the disruption of existing ecological networks. Human beings are the primary stakeholders in the food web since they are more capable of making timely decisions and influencing the existence of other creatures than the other species present on the planet. Moreover, human activities, ranging from predatory exploitation of natural resources to unsafe industrial and agricultural practices resulting in environmental pollution, are one of the foremost factors that threaten the food web. As such, humanity is required to consider evidence-based approaches and solutions to protect the food web from the urgent problem of environmental degradation from practical and moral standpoints alike (International Resource Panel, 2016). Natural and habited environments play significant roles in supporting the food web and ensuring that man gets high-quality food from all the available sources. However, problems of deforestation and overuse of natural resources strain ecosystems and eventually trigger climatic changes, threatening the stability of the food web, the production and reproduction of food, and the access to it.

The list of challenges pertaining to the food web and associated with deforestation as well as other forms of natural resources exhaustion can be long and extensive. Still, it is necessary to cover it at least briefly in order to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem and the acute need for the solution. First of all, poor climatic outcomes and weather changes tend to affect the level of food production, thereby triggering droughts and increased poverty levels (Bieg et al., 2018). Specific agricultural cycles are tied to climate and weather conditions, meaning that the disruption of these will affect agricultural production as well. This leads to the second challenge inherently rooted in environmental degradation: most animals, including human beings, will be unable to lead a healthy and comfortable life. Moreover, it is necessary to look further than the immediate effects of environmental degradation and consider the long-term implications of the food web disruption. Thus, the third reason to engage in conservation efforts is that unaddressed challenges will eventually affect the overall integrity of the natural environment and affect posterity.

To summarize, the preservation of natural environments and ecological networks is essential in many respects, including the production of foods. Environmental disruptions threaten to upset the production and distribution of foods for a wide range of creatures, including humans and other animals. As a primary stakeholder in the food web and the actor best equipped to introduce impactful change, whether for better or for worse, humanity has an obligation to protect the food web from environmental degradation. Therefore, the first evidence-based solution to the problem of gradual environmental decay and its negative impact on the food web is the introduction and promotion of conservation efforts.

Potential Critique Points

The paragraphs above demonstrated the importance of preserving natural environments from disruption for the continued and reliable functioning of the food web. As will be shown below, this first solution gains the support of many professionals and experts in food security and environmental conservation as a means of addressing the challenges facing humanity in this respect. When undertook at a sufficient magnitude, this solution can ensure that more people or stakeholders are involved in supporting the delivery of sustainable results.

As a strategy, conservation offers several key strengths that should not be overlooked, and the first of these is that it has the potential to reduce destruction that otherwise affects the food web negatively. As mentioned above, gradual environmental decay and disruption of existing ecological networks threaten the stability of the food web because they affect the underlying factors of its functioning. Depletion of natural resources, such as freshwater or soil, can cause agriculture to become less efficient or even impossible. On a larger scale, environmental disruption can also affect weather conditions, which impacts the practicability of food production to a considerable degree. Even though the damage is not necessarily permanent, it still takes time for the environment to recover after thorough exploitation. Proper conservation measures will promote the overall sustainability of the natural environment and ensure that the food chains recover within a short time (Janmaimool & Chudech, 2020). As a result, conservation may provide for a swifter recovery of the environment, which, in turn, will prevent the depletion of vital resources and the inevitable challenges to the food web that come with it.

Another key strength associated with conservation as an option for safeguarding the environment from degradation and ensuring the stability of the food web is the practical plausibility of this solution. It was already mentioned that humanity is well-posed to mitigate or alleviate the effects of environmental decay in relative terms – that is, better able to address the problem than the other species. More importantly still, humans are also well-equipped to deal with the issue in absolute terms. Conservation efforts are possible since human beings already possess the relevant knowledge, competencies, and resources and can use these to prevent the ongoing degradation of natural environments and ecological networks that permeate them. Past studies and observations have revealed that the implementation of conservation efforts can help overcome most of the problems affecting the global community, such as climate change and global warming (Muro-Torres et al., 2020). The question is not in humanity’s capability of enacting these measures but solely in the allocation of resources and the presence of the political will. Thus, one more significant advantage of this solution is that it is certainly practically possible, and the means are already known.

One more essential strength inherent in conservation as a solution is the fact that virtually anyone can contribute to it, even if to a small degree. Conservation efforts have far-reaching positive effects that go beyond the immediate positive impact on the food web. Using natural resources skillfully and managing them rationally is crucial to ensure stable and reliable production of foods, but its positive implications extend even further than that. The implementation of such efforts will make the natural environment more sustainable and help solve a wide range of issues, including pollution and overuse of natural resources. Yet all of these depend directly on the magnitude of the efforts undertaken, and this in turn, depends on the number of actors involved. The key advantage of conservation is that all human beings can be involved in it, both at the domestic level and the environmental level (Maynard et al., 2020). To summarize, conservation as a solution has a comparatively low entry threshold because anyone can prevent wasting natural resources through one’s actions. This fact, in turn, means that the solution proposed allows involving a considerable number of actors.

Unfortunately, a number of key concerns arise that human beings should take into consideration if they are to achieve desirable results, and the first group of these weaknesses is purely practical. While humanity as a howl possesses the means to enact efficient conservation measures, it does not mean that every actor is equally well-equipped to do so. To begin with, regional difficulties, such as prolonged droughts, may prevent countries and entire regions from embracing the power of conservation efforts to the fullest extent. Secondly, some communities and developing nations might find it hard to implement proper measures to promote conservation (Surya et al., 2020). Under dire conditions, the primary goal is to deliver the sorely lacking resources, including food, to the community members as soon as possible. In this case, such communities and even nations can view predatory exploitation of natural resources as a preferable approach as compared to conservation if it offers higher yields in less time. In other words, while humanity, in general, is definitely capable of enacting efficient conservation efforts to preserve the food web, this estimation does not apply equally to all actors.

The second group of weaknesses associated with conservation as a strategy considers the subjective perception of environmental degradation as a problem. First of all, many people in all parts of the world do not identify environmental degradation as a major challenge affecting the food web. If people do not view the decay of the environment as a problem in the first place, they are not likely to perceive it as a genuine threat to the food web either.

Moreover, even if the people do not deny the idea of environmental degradation as an actual issue, they may still fail to link it with the food web for several reasons. Industrialization and urbanization discourage more people from focusing on the challenges affecting the food web because of their effect on population distribution between rural and urban areas and the division of labor. To put it simply, a considerable proportion of the population in developed industrialized nations is not involved in food production directly. Consequently, they remain unaware of the possible disorientations in the food supply chain and how it could affect them in the future. This lack of awareness will likely affect the efficiency of conservation efforts negatively unless the actors involved take corresponding measures to inform the population and emphasize the necessity of conservation.

Suggestions for Improvement

In order to facilitate conservation efforts and mitigate environmental degradation and its effect on the food web, it is possible to address some of the identified weaknesses through targeted action. First of all, as the efficiency of the efforts depends directly on the number of dedicated actors participating in them, attracting more countries and governments can help improve the targeted results. This approach will require a certain degree of flexibility, as not every nation is equally prepared and well-equipped to undertake large-scale conservation efforts, but this is a necessary challenge to overcome. Additionally, governments can provide additional training and guidelines to help more people embrace the concept of conservation (Lindgren et al., 2018). Promoting the idea will result in more people becoming aware of the necessity to contribute t the preservation of natural resources. When undertaken consistently and purposefully, continuous improvement efforts can help transform the situation and address the selected problem affecting the food web. Timely provision of resources and careful revaluation of ad hoc strategies for each country and region will be crucial for the conservation strategy to succeed in addressing the issue.

Solution II: Promotion of Sustainable Practices

The second solution that should also be efficient in addressing the urgent problem currently facing the food web is the promotion of sustainable practices. Mush like with the conservation efforts, sustainable practices are well-known, evidence-based, and capable of delivering timely results in an efficient and reliable manner. The most appropriate measures would be to conserve energy, consider proper initiatives to produce food at the personal level, and engage in sustainable agricultural practices. Individuals can introduce better procedures for producing and preserving food in their respective households as well as contribute to solving problems that might emerge. Better preservation techniques can help boost the effectiveness of the food web and prevent edible products from wasting. Moreover, households, companies, communities, and governments can seek approaches and impose policies that stress sustainability in a wide range of human activities for a better overall result. Just as conservation preserves the existing resources from irresponsible predatory exploitation, sustainable practices ensure that the products made with the use of these resources are employed more efficiently, reducing the load on the food web.

Potential Critique Points

Strengths

One crucial strength that makes sustainable practices a preferable strategy to address the issues with the food web is its high and nearly universal applicability. As a consequence, this solution is capable of delivering positive results within a short period because it attracts all possible partners. Individual citizens can take the initiative at the personal level to ensure that the integrity of the food web is maintained by adopting and promoting responsible food use and reducing food waste. On an organizational level, companies and households could be involved to maximize the efficiency of their resource use as it pertains to the food web functioning, reducing the need for additional resource intake. On municipal, regional, and national levels, governments should be involved to educate members of the public and provide the relevant ideas to preserve or promote the effectiveness of the food web. On the international level, countries and nations should cooperate and make binding agreements regarding sustainable practices, including those that pertain directly to the food web. Overall, there is a potential contribution available for every conceivable actor and a wide range of opportunities to impact the food web positively.

Another essential strength associated with sustainable practices as a strategy is its potential to attract new participants. Much like with the conservation strategy discussed above, the efficiency of sustainable practices depends directly on the magnitude of the fort and, therefore, on the number and prominence of the actors involved. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, sustainable practices have the advantage of providing swift, measurable, and quantifiable results, such as the reduction in food waste or an increase in the resource use efficiency by producers. Consequently, when such measures are taken, the chances are high that the international community will eventually detect positive results and recognize the efficiency of this solution (Turner et al., 2018). With this being the case, the number of national and international actors that embrace sustainable practices will probably grow, increasing the efficiency of the measure synergistically. Thus, the relative practicability of sustainable practices and their potential for delivering robust data in the shape of easily identifiable and measurable results should make this particular solution more appealing to potential participants worldwide.

Weaknesses

While the proposed measures are attainable and capable of delivering positive results, one should also be aware of the gaps that might affect the targeted outcomes. The weaknesses of sustainable practices as a strategy are largely the same that the ones inherent in conservation efforts and primarily concern the attraction of new participants. Previous paragraphs mentioned that sustainable practices that deliver swift and quantifiable results would likely be efficient in enlisting cooperation. However, this effect will only occur if the actors are willing to prevent or mitigate the threats to the food web and simply seek the best strategy. This is where the problem lies: not all organizations and governments could be willing to be part of this process and promote the notion of sustainability in the first place (Ritchie & Roser, 2020). Additionally, while sustainable practices are technically available to all kinds of actors, people might not have access to the financial and material resources to support sustainable solutions in their respective households. These considerations may limit the overall effectiveness of sustainable practices as a solution to address the problem affecting the food web.

Suggestions for Improvement

Overcoming the challenges associated with attracted new actors and increasing the magnitude and overall effect of sustainable practices are crucial for the success of this solution. It is necessary to involve as many key stakeholders as possible in order to achieve meaningful positive results. The solution has to be present at all levels, including individuals, households, companies, municipal, regional, and national administrations, and international organizations. Apart from that, every possible effort has to be undertaken to broaden the scope of sustainable practices. Humans need to consider additional practices that protect all living things, including plants and animals. Research would be needed to identify specific challenges affecting the food web in different countries and regions and proposed better solutions to make it more sustainable. Provided these suggestions are followed, promotion of sustainable practices will likely prove an invaluable strategy for addressing the challenge of environmental degradation and its adverse impact on the food web.

Conclusion

As one can see, the biggest or urgent problem currently facing the food web is that of continuous environmental degradation. Predatory exploitation of natural resources, irresponsible use of edible products, and high degrees of food waste pose a serious threat to the sustainability of the food web in the long run. As a technologically developed species and a key stakeholder in the food web, humanity has the responsibility to address the problems that face it. Evidence-based and practical solutions are necessary to protect the integrity of the food web and ensure its stable and continuous functioning in the foreseeable future. Conservation efforts designed to preserve existing natural resources and protect them from predatory exploitation should be an inherent part of the solution. The promotion of sustainable practices on all levels, from individual to international, is also a workable solution that can deliver measurable results in a relatively short time span. If undertaken at a sufficiently large magnitude with a considerable number of actors, such measures will mitigate the negative effects of natural environment degradation on the food web.

References

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Janmaimool, P., & Chudech, S. (2020). Effect of domestic and global environmental events on environmental concern and environmental responsibility among university students. Sustainability, 12(4), 1610-1629. Web.

Lindgren, E., Harris, F., Dangour, A. D., Gasparatos, A., Hiramatsu, M., Javadi, F., Loken, B., Murakami, T., Scheelbeek, P., & Haines, A. (2018). Sustainable food systems-A health perspective. Sustainability Science, 13, 1505-1517. Web.

Maynard, D. C., Vidigal, M. D., Farage, P., Zandonadi, P. P., Nakano, E. Y., & Botelho, R. B. (2020). Environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators applied to food services: A systematic review. Sustainability, 12(2), 1804-1822. Web.

Muro-Torres, V. M., Amezcua, F., Soto- Jiménez, M., Balart, E. F., Serviere-Zaragoza, E., Green, F., & Rajnohova, J. (2020). Primary sources and food web structure of a tropical wetland with high density of mangrove forest. Water,12(11), 3105-3122. Web.

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2020). Environmental impacts of food production. Our World in Data. Web.

Surya, B., Syafri, S., Sahban, H., & Sakti, H. H. (2020). Natural resource conservation based on community economic empowerment: Perspectives on watershed management and slum settlements in Makassar City, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Land, 9(), 104-133. Web.

Tefft, J., Jonasova, M., Adjao, R., & Morgan, A. (2017). Food systems for an urbanizing world (PDF document). Web.

Trzcinski, M. K., Srivastava, D. S., Corbara, B., & Dézerald, O. (2016). The effects of food-web structure on ecosystem function exceeds those of precipitation. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85(5), 1147-1160. Web.

Turner, C., Aggarwal, A., Walls, H., Herforth, A., Drewnowski, A., Coates, J., Kalamatianou, S., & Kadiyala, S. (2018). Concepts and critical perspectives for food environment research: A global framework with implications for action in low- and middle-income countries. Global Food Security, 18(1), 93-101. Web.

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