Man and nature, Four Seasons of the year
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MAN AND NATURE
Four Seasons of the year
Slovakia has a moderate continental climate. A year is divided into 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn (Am/ fall) and winter. Each season lasts about 3 months.
Snow and ice melts as it is getting warmer and warmer. Spring is often connected with grass growing, blossoming of plants, migratory birds are coming back from the southern countries. Everything is visibly vivid, full of greenery, full of life. At the spring equinox days are as long as nights – 12 hours. The first flowers appear: dandelions (púpava), daffodils (narcis), forget-me-nots (nezábudka), lilies of the valleys (konvalinka), violetsand tulips. Birds such as swallows (lastovička) and cuckoos (kukučka) come back from the south. The weather is unpredictable and changeable. The temperatures are often below zero at night but days may be quite warm. Sometimes the sun shines and soon after it rains.
It is the warmest season of the year; often characterized by heat waves and followed by either droughts then fires (Australia), or by thunderstorm and floods, landslides; in warmer countries even by hurricanes, tornadoes etc. There are lots of storms in summer – it gets dark and cools down, there is a strong wind, thunder and a flash of lightning. It is dangerous to stay under a tree during a storm because the lightning might hit it. After the storm we can sometimes see a rainbow. Summer is also a time for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries. Normally summer is associated with hot weather suitable for spending most of the time outside by the water, sunbathing or swimming or just doing nothing; as vast majority of people have their summer break/holiday. At the summer solstice days are longest and the nights are shortest.
Autumn (BE) / Fall (AE)
Autumn, known as fall in the US or Canada, is considered to start with September equinox and is often accompanied by rains especially in November. Temperature cools down in the mornings, and even during the days. It is the season of melancholic atmosphere. The sun sets earlier and rises later, days get shorter, nights get longer. Sometimes we can still enjoy some days of Indian summer. It is the time of harvest, people usually gather vegetables and fruits from their gardens and fields, we pick apples, pears, plums and gather potatoes.Grass turns yellow and it dries. Leaves become yellow, orange, brown and by November trees become bare.A lot of people go mushrooming. Birds fly to the south. The weather is unsettled, the sky is often cloudy, mornings are dull and it looks like rain. It becomes damp, chilly, wet and rainy.
The temperature varies from cold to chilly or absolutely freezing. There are snowfalls, icy wind and hard frosts. The nights are longer and the days are shorter. Freezing weather often occurs with blizzards and snowdrifts. In the snow-covered country animals may face difficulties finding something to eat. On the other hand, people can enjoy skiing, throwing snowballs, building snowmen, sledging, sliding and skating on lakes which are frozen. The temperature is often below zero. The roads become icy and slippery.
THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEMS OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Human intervention into the environment: The most serious ecological problems today are the pollution of water, air and soil, destruction of ozone layer, greenhouse effect, acid rain, deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, weather and climatic changes, global warming, disappearance of many animal and plant species.
POLLUTION: Pollution is a damage of air, water and soil caused by chemical waste and gases. All pollution is caused by chemical substances from factories, laundry detergents, fertilizers, exhaust fumes from cars etc. It has three forms- water, air and soil Water pollution - water in rivers, lakes oceans is polluted by industrial and city waste or by acid rain. By means of that water plants and animals die, people drink poisonous water as well. Air pollution - is caused by chemical substances and poisonous gases, carbon dioxide, lead, compounds of sulphur and nitrogen from cars, factories, laundry detergents etc. released in the air. Soil (land) pollution - industrial and city waste which is dumped near the rivers pollute soil as well. Much of the domestic rubbish is put in the landfills or is buried. The use of pesticides and fertilizers also pollutes soil.
We must admit that air, water and soil are closely linked; and their quality influences the quality of our life. (For example packaging paper, bottles, cans are buried, causing soil pollution, if they are burnt, they cause air pollution or dumped in the water, causing water pollution). We breathe the air, drink the water or we water the plants in our gardens. So it is us who should care for we are absolutely dependent on the nature around us.
ACID RAIN - Factories, power stations and cars produce a lot of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other waste gases in the air. Some of them mix with water in the atmosphere and then fall to the earth as acid rain. Acid rain causes damage to trees, rivers and buildings.
OZONE LAYER - is a layer of gas above the earth which protects it from ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer, eye damage, blindness, influence our immune system etc. Scientists have discovered holes in this layer are caused by substances called CFC's (chlorofluorocarbons), used in refrigerators, cans, plastic material etc.
GREENHOUSE EFFECT - is caused by harmful gases known as greenhouse gases. It causes global warming. Normally, heat from the sun warms the earth and then escapes back into space. But carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases in the atmosphere trap the sun's heat and this is slowly making the earth warmer. (It is comparable to the greenhouses in the gardens.)
DEFORESTATION - Rainforests help to control global warming because they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. But large areas have been destroyed recently - people cut down the trees for firewood, or for farming, building material etc. When they are cut down, the soil is washed away in the tropical rains and that area changes into a desert. Many animal and plant species become extinct.
WEATHER CHANGES The Earth's climate is dynamic and changing. Greenhouse effect, acid rain, poisonous gases, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide etc. in the atmosphere lead to GLOBAL WARMING. The results of global warming are: rising temperatures, melting of arctic ice, rising of sea levels. Scientists predict that some seaside areas will disappear under the sea in the future. There is increased evaporation, more intense rainstorms and drier soils. Humankind has changed our planet. Weather patterns have changed and there are more and more weather-related natural disasters: tornadoes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc.
ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION
Plants are an important part in the cycle of nature. Animals depend on them directly or indirectly (for their food supply, they cannot make their own food). Plants also produce the oxygen we breathe. They use energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air and water and minerals from the soil. Then they produce water and oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis. Nowadays the existence of some plants is in danger. There is The Red List of Threatened Species which names the animal and plant species in danger of extinction. There are many worldwide organizations that try to save life on the Earth. Animals in danger: grizzly bear, green turtle, panda, orangutan, dolphin, lowland gorilla some species of birds (owls, eagles, parrots, storks), polar bears, Siberian tiger, koala, black rhino, African elephant, lizards, crocodiles, bats...
Plants in danger: some kinds of birch trees, orchids, edelweiss, some cactus types etc.
You can find some endangered species of plants and animals even in Slovakia. Many of them are protected by law. Here are at least some of them: great bustard, chamois, brown bear, gray wolf, golden eagle, lynx, otter etc. And of course some plants should be mentioned too: pulsatilla, gentian, edelweiss, primrose, snowdrop etc.
Animals and plants protection Because some plants and animals are in danger of extinction (they may not exist much longer), it is important to protect them. We can't hunt the animals and pick the plants, we have to increase their number, protect their habitats, we shouldn't buy products which are made from endangered animals, buy environmentally friendly products, don't pollute streams or rivers, protect the environment in general.
environmentally friendly products (environment-friendly, eco-friendly, nature-friendly or green)- products that are less harmful to the nature
Also governments pass various laws to protect the environment - the use of unleaded petrol in cars, not using ozone-destroying chemicals in sprays, smoking in public or work restriction etc. Contaminated lands are turned into parks. Trees are protected and new ones are planted. Green belts are established around major cities in Britain (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester) to provide some place for recreation.
HOW TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT (BE GREEN)
- Reduce (the amount of solid waste), Reuse (the material), Recycle (the material)
- use green products - recycled paper, organic fruit, vegetables
- plant new trees
- use alternative sources of energy - solar, tidal, wind, hydro, geothermal etc. • use unleaded petrol, walk to school, ride your bike to do the shopping, use public transport • recycle plastic, buy non plastic materials (wooden toys)
- save electricity (turn off unused lights) • turn off the TV - watch less, read more, turn off the computer when you are not using it
- buy fresh food which doesn't need a lot of packaging • save as much water as possible (have short showers, stop the water when brushing teeth) • separate the rubbish • don't buy products made from protected animals • don't drop litter in the street • don't shout in the forest etc.
Organizations They inform people about green issues: the Green Peace, the Rainbow, the Friends of the Earth etc.
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