GP Environment Essay: “We have very little control over the environment we live in.”

This is a GP Environment essay question formulated by our First Class GP team.

We strongly believe that this is an essential question to understand and grasp, especially if Environment is your focus for H1 GP.

Environmental issues have been at the forefront of international affairs. They are even listed as Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations.

Environment questions will become more of a staple in H1 General Paper, as predicted by us. Therefore, one tip we would like to give you is to add Environment to your areas of focus.

Before we move on to the Cheat Sheet for this question, let us dissect this question first.

“We have little control over the environment we live in.” To what extent is this true?

This is a fairly straightforward question to tackle.

It challenges the writer to judge how much or how little control we have on the environment.

If we choose to argue that we have very little control over the environment, there is a need to justify that any efforts to reverse the damage humans have inflicted are simply ineffective.

Also, we should list some natural activities that are simply beyond human control.

In contrast, we can argue that we have significant control over the environment. To do so, we need to evaluate the effectiveness of international co-operation and human efforts in preventing further damage.

Additionally, we also assert that there are some environmental activities that are within our control. Therefore, it will be fatalistic to assume otherwise.

Lastly, tackling this question requires some knowledge of geography. To help you , we highly recommend studying the following topics:

  • El Niño
  • Pleistocene Park
  • Polar ice cap reflectivity
  • Hydraulic Fracturing
  • Geoengineering

Now, let’s head to our First Class GP Cheat Sheet for this GP Environment essay!

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Understand how much control we have over the environment

Firstly, let’s argue that we have very little control over the environment.

Point 1: Some of the damages we have inflicted upon the environment could be irreversible. Even if human beings stop all of their economic activities, it is possible that the environment cannot be restored to its previous state.

  • Some environmental changes undergo the positive feedback loops where some degradation can lead to even more degradation.
  • Take global warming for instance. The rise in temperature can melt permafrost in colder regions, releasing even more greenhouse gases into atmosphere that warms up the planet even further.

Point 2: The powerful forces of nature are beyond human control.

  • According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, leading to warming of the planet.
  • Hydrological changes can result in unusually severe hurricanes and flooding as seen in the 2017 hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United State, and floods in Bangladesh.

Now, let’s develop our argument into a more nuanced one by evaluating.

Point: However, as powerful as these natural forces may seem, they are partially attributable to human activities.

  • Incidences of earthquakes have increased in the central region of America such as Oklahoma due to hydraulic fracturing and underground water disposal. Human activities are contributing to what we traditionally perceive as ‘natural disasters’.

Once that is done, we can argue that we have significant control over the environment.

Point 1: We have reasonable control over the environment because of human ingenuity in solving problems.

  • Geoengineering (or climate engineering) has been studied extensively in recent years to mitigate the effects of the sun on global warming. By spraying sulphuric acids on the upper atmosphere, we could partially block out sunrays that heat up the planet.
  • Carbon sequestration technologies can segregate carbon emissions from our combustion of fossil fuels and store the greenhouse gases

Point 2: With enough political will, we could drastically alter the fate of the planet.

  • With the ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2017, almost all countries have agreed to limit global temperature rise to within 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The world can look forward to more collective effort in addressing climate change.

If you have learned a lot from this GP Environment Cheat Sheet, take a look at our other GP Essay Cheat Sheets. We will be uploading regularly, so stay tuned for more!

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