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Class Supplement,TOEFL Essay, Human Activity and the Environment


Writing Topic
If is often said that the Earth is being seriously damaged by humans. Others feel that the ecological damage of human activity has been exaggerated, and that humans are making the Earth a better place to live. Which opinion do you agree with?

Let’s Think
We hear things like the first statement every day. Most scientists and the public agree on the view that humankind is destructing the Earth. Let’s take a look at the second one. It says that the idea of the first statement is an exaggeration and that we are “making the Earth a better place to live.” For whom are we making the Earth a better place to live, other lives or us? Are we doing good to nature through our activity? Are all of our activities related to nature sustainable?

Usually, when one gets something there is another that loses it. Through activity involving nature, our society gains something (development) and the environment loses something (destruction).

When we were cavemen, our activity was part of nature. Like other animals, we slept in our “nests,” and hunted and gathered what we needed to survive. We made a fire to cook, but it was not enough to cause global warming. Perhaps we collected pretty stones and shells for some reason, but the amount was not so much as to damage the environment.

Now, highly-developed technologies allow us to affect the environment on a large scale. We clear cut forests to make towns and fields, bulldoze mountains to get minerals, and drill rocks in the desert and ocean bottoms to get oil and gas. We also kill insects with chemicals to grow food, overfish tuna, cod and many other kinds of fishes to fulfill our palate, and wipe out some species for fashion and hobbies. We pollute air, water, and soil for production and transportation. In addition, we have started global warming by releasing a large amount of greenhouse gases into the air to keep up with the growth of society.

By doing these things, we invade other animals’ natural habitats, deplete natural resources and destroy the environment. To expand our territories, to survive, and to enjoy ourselves, we are doing harm to nature. It is obvious that our activities are causing environmental strain. Our activities make our life more convenient and exciting but nature is affected.

The word “ecological damage” is about disturbing Mother Earth and causing decline or extinction of lives. Have you ever heard any reports that the number of lives increased after we set foot in some pristine land or ocean bottom? In fact, it is predicted that about one-fourth of all plants and vertebrate animals may go extinct by 2050 due to global warming. Ecological damage seems to be no exaggeration.

Of course we cannot live like a caveman. We need energy. We need food. Development is good for us. However, it is usually bad for the environment, and in the end it is bad for us as well because humankind is part of nature.

♦Clarify the connection between human activity and its negative/positive effects on the ecology when you write your essay on this topic.
e.g. cut trees to build houses → fewer creatures → destruction of the eco-system

♦Avoid becoming emotional. The topic requires you write about not your feelings but your judgment on the causal connection between our activity and ecological damage.

Global Warming Controversy: There are some people and scientists who are skeptical about global warming theory, but most scientists, politicians, and ordinary people believe it is true and it is caused by humans: “There is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. (Wikipedia)”

Climategate: In 2009, one of the global warming research centers was hacked and robbed of its emails, which were used to raise suspicions of “global warming conspiracy” or “climategate.” Based on some of the email messages, skeptics claimed that global warming was a hoax. However, rigorous investigations concluded that there was nothing wrong with what the researchers were doing and it was proved that global warming is not a hoax: “Over the course of the next year, six independent investigations looked into the allegations. None of the inquiries found evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. (Wikipedia)”

An Inconvenient Truth: An Academy Award-winning documentary film about climate change, specifically global warming, presented by former United States Vice President Al Gore. Al Gore’s claim is that global warming is real and largely human-caused. (Wikipedia)

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