WHAT IS NATURE
HOW NATURE WORKS: FOOD CHAIN AND ENERGY FLOW
All living things are made up of proteins, each with different roles in the organism. They form bones and muscles, release hormones, and powerful immune system responses, to name a few. Each protein comprises its own unique sequence of the same 20 amino acids that are found in all life on Earth. Our connection to Nature is embedded in the cells we are made of, in the resources we use to live, and even in the vibrations that come from our magnetic field.
Nature has amazing systems for providing constant sources of energy and nutrients, in a variety of forms, to support the many complex and diverse communities of thousands of species and their ecosystems.
THE FOUR LAWS OF ECOLOGY
1. Everything is connected to everything else: Life relies on other life. Trees give us shelter from the weather, bees pollinate plants, and plants give us oxygen. The food we eat connects us to all four of earth’s systems; air, water, life, and land. Our food crops come from the environment, it’s grown in the soil where water and nutrients are provided, using carbon dioxide from the air and energy from the sun.
2. Everything must go somewhere: Waste doesn’t simply disappear. Waste created from one process will end up in another process. Oxygen is the waste product from plants when they create food during photosynthesis. It’s released back into the air and supports life that breathes oxygen.
3. Nature knows best: Everything in nature has a purpose and can be recycled into another form. Trying to improve or change the natural process always ends up having a negative effect. Adding fertilizers to make crops grow bigger and faster than nature intended can damage soil microbes and pollute waterways.
4. There’s no such thing as a free meal: Every resource we take from the environment has a cost attached. The burning of fossil fuels provides power and transport, but the waste products increase the temperature of the atmosphere and decrease air quality by adding harmful gases, which can enter the food chain.
We’ll talk more about these laws throughout these lessons. With these laws in mind, we can weigh the true cost and benefit of our actions, and make decisions for the present and future generations.
Let’s take a look at ecosystems to find out what they are and how they work.
Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2021. You may freely use, copy and share these Learning Activities for educational purposes.
For questions or comments, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.