Quiz on Environmental Issues

Young Eco-Lifestyle Quiz - Introduction

Global Environmental Problems

Most of us are aware that human activities have led to environmental problems affecting our own lives and threatening future generations of life on this planet. Most notably, the burning of fossil fuels is leading to significant climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. This is largely responsible for global warming, the melting of the polar ice shelves, rising sea levels, damage to the Ozone layer, and increased incidence of extreme events such as violent storms, flooding and landslides. Other major contemporary environmental issues influenced by human pressures include:

  • Scarcity of water supply, especially in arid regions, given conflicting demands for agricultural, industrial and potable water resources;
  • Reduction in the quality of soil resources resulting from overgrazing and agricultural intensification, leading to impacts such as soil erosion and decreased fertility;
  • Increasing species extinction caused by land use change, leading to reduction in biodiversity and ecological resilience - something not fully understood in terms of its impact, for example on food chains.

Household and Lifestyle Pressures

As well as impacts made by industry, other human pressures on the environment are associated with households and human lifestyles. Approximately, 60% of goods and services, including food and personal transport, purchased in industrialized countries are for domestic consumption, indirectly giving rise to growing demands for energy, water and materials (OECD, 1998). Household heating, lighting and appliances are responsible for nearly a third of energy delivered in the UK and a quarter of CO2 emissions, with passenger cars accounting for a further 13% of UK carbon emissions (See ). Thinking of this, we can see how we as individuals might be actually contributing to these environmental impacts through the way we live. In other words our lifestyles, that is our way of life in work, home and leisure, our habits and behaviours as well as our values and attitudes, have impacts on the environment.

Direct and Indirect Impacts on Soil

We directly impact on the environment through our industries and lifestyles. Not only do we impact on the environment as a whole but also on soil in particular, through agriculture, industry, land use and building. When farmers use irrigation waters containing salt from seawater, the soil can become salinised and damaged, losing fertility. When we build on land or cover the soil with concrete or gravel we seal the soil, making it difficult for the soil to perform some of its usual functions, such as supporting biodiversity, wildlife, plant growth, filtering air contaminants, providing raw materials and absorbing carbon emissions. When we spread pesticides and nutrients we can pollute water and soil quality, as well as negatively affect wildlife and bio-diversity. When we over-use the grass covering sports surfaces we can erode the grass and damage the soil through compaction - perhaps you have seen puddles forming in the goal mouth in winter!

We also indirectly impact on the environment through our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the cycle of changes that this generates by accelerating climate change. Our lifestyles and industry are clear influences here. Climate change leads to soil erosion, evaporation of soil water, increased soil aridity, changes to the organic matter and micro-organisms living in the soil, as well as flooding and landslides.

The Eco-Lifestyle Quiz

The Eco-Lifestyle Quiz takes about 10 minutes to complete and gives you an idea of the impacts you make on the natural environment by living the way you do. The quiz examines your use of transport, energy and water, and your shopping, leisure, home, and waste impacts. At first, it may seem difficult to relate the impacts of our lifestyle on the environment, but lifestyle decisions can have either positive or negative effects on the environment. Collectively, large populations can make a significant impact depending on whether people adopt lifestyles that are more or less sustainable. The Eco-Lifestyle Quiz does not measure your ecological footprint or whether you have a sustainable lifestyle, but it can provide you with an idea of how eco-friendly your lifestyle is, that is whether it is likely to be sustainable.

It is a simple quiz which considers a number of themes including; transport, leisure, energy, water, shopping, home and garden, and waste. Read each question and try to choose a reply that reflects your lifestyle.

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