Of all the planets in our universe, there is only one that we know that supports life and its called Earth. There are humans, which is the most intelligent species on the planet and capable of anything. But as they learned to use the natural resources for their good, the exploitation of the environment also started. Because of great urbanization and excessive use of resources, the ecosystem all over the world is becoming vulnerable. The ecosystems of the world are fulfilling their work for us every day like filtering water, sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and many more benefits that the natural world provides us for free. The temperature on earth is rising, pollution is at its peak and urbanization is leading to more and more deforestation. There are many environmental issues that are beyond our control, but the majority of the problems are created by the humans themselves. There are so many species on the earth which are on the verge of extinction, and many have already become extinct. Because of intensive farming, irrigation, monoculture, tile drainage, plasticulture, habitat fragmentation, urban sprawl, nuclear fallouts, High-level radioactive waste management and application of nanotechnology, the problems like climate change, environment degradation, bad air quality, ocean acidification, birth defects, hydraulic fracturing and habitat destruction are emerging. There is an obvious need of awareness regarding our environment and issues relating to it. So, here are some great environmental threats that can result in a destruction of our ecosystem.
1. Polar Ice Melting
Polar ice melting is the melting of large amounts of ice and is a result of climate change. This is an important issue because it can cause a significant rise in sea levels and coastal areas with low elevation would be underwater. It also destroys habitats for many organisms that can cause them to be endangered or even extinct. Over the past 100 years, earth’s temperature has increased more than 2 degrees Celsius and this rise in temperature have caused the sea level to rise 6 to 8 inches or 15 to 20 cm. About 90 percent of the world’s ice and 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is stationed in Antarctica, which is located at the South Pole. The ice here has an average thickness of 2133 meters. If all the ice of Antarctica were to melt, sea levels around the world would rise 61 meters above sea level. However, the average temperature in Antarctica is -37 degrees Celsius and the temperature in most of the continent never go above freezing temperature. Greenland is another large body of ice, and the ice here is more likely to melt as it is located closer to the equator than to Antarctica. Organisms live in both the North and South Poles, and continuation of the constant rate of melting would soon result in the destruction of habitats that would cause many species to be endangered or extinct. This issue may not be that urgent as the global temperature is are rising slowly but still it is quite important.
2. The Greenhouse Effect
Because of greenhouse gases, thermal radiation is trapped inside earth’s atmosphere. It re-radiates in all directions, heating up the atmosphere thus creating the Greenhouse Effect. The short wavelengths of visible lights can get past the transparent spectrum while the long wavelengths of infrared radiation can not. Much of the greenhouse effect is not under our control, but there are certain gases that we put into the atmosphere like Nitrous Oxide, Carbon Dioxide, Perfluorocarbons, Sulphur Hexafluoride and HFCs. Of all the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane have the largest concentration. The greenhouse effect today is mostly natural as it is what heats up the earth and keeps it from becoming too cold. But if too much greenhouse gases are released and the effect becomes uncontrolled, global temperatures may rise rapidly.
Deforestation is the removal of forests where land is converted to a non-forest use land after it is deforested. About half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone and each year almost 16 million hectares of forest land disappears. Originally, half the US, 3/4th of Canada, nearly all of Europe and mostly the rest of the world was forested. Why is deforestation such a big environmental issue? Increased greenhouse effect is one of the results. Plants, through the process of photosynthesis, take up carbon dioxide, and as they are deforested in large amounts, the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere rapidly increases. When forests are destroyed, the regulation of the flow of water is disturbed which results in drought and flooding. More and more soil is exposed to the sun, and it becomes dry which causes a major loss of nutrients from it. Remaining nutrients are washed away when it rains and even the replanting won’t work. Deforestation also takes away the habitats of organisms that live in the forests in large amounts. Deforestation is obviously a result of overpopulation and humans need more space to reside.
4. Water Pollution
Water covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface and is an extremely important resource for us and our environment. The various causes of water pollution include sewage & waste water, industrial waste, pollution & leakage of underground storage, dumped waste into bodies of water, oil pollution, radioactive waste and acid rain. Oil spills make up to around 21 percent of the oil that enters the ocean, and other sources include oil shipping and oil pumping. This is quite harmful to aquatic organisms also as oil gets caught in the feathers of the marine birds and stops them from flying, the marine plants get destroyed, and the sea animals get killed. Marine dumping is also another major issue of water pollution, and all this litter interferes with marine life very badly. All the dumped organic matter and nutrients cause an increase in aerobic algae. This algae depletes oxygen from the water; This causes fish and other aquatic organisms to suffocate. We just have to be aware that littering anywhere will eventually lead to water pollution. Some major ways of treating water pollution are industrial water treatment, denitrification, Septic Tanks and ozone waste water treatment system.