Humans like all other living beings thrive because of the environment. Nature provides us food, shelter and security. In the past few centuries, man has taken to over-exploiting nature’s bounties for personal gains. Nature can replenish its resources, but only so much. Men’s want is greater than his need. And this unjustified want has caused irreparable damage to Mother Nature. Some wounds never heal. Let us discuss what aspects man has overlooked in his greed and how our actions have had a negative impact on the environment.
The population is on an exponential rise since the 1900’s. In the present day, we are adding a billion lives every single day. That’s a lot of people! Earth cannot support beyond its carrying capacity. The idea is very simple. Humans need food, shelter and other resources to survive. These resources are limited in supply. But with population growth their demand increases. This causes a strain on the environment. There isn’t enough food in the environment to feed the ever-increasing population.
- Depletion of resources: More people need more things to satisfy their needs. That’s the basic idea governing overpopulation. But to fulfill his needs man can go to extreme length. Overpopulation results in men cutting down trees, resulting in deforestation. Forests are waning away. Animals are also hunted in an irresponsible manner for financial gains. Oil and gas are consumed rapidly, leaving deficiencies for future generations.
- Degradation of the environment: Overusing non-renewable energies do more harm than they do good. This is because these fuels are not clean, i.e., they give out carbon dioxide on combustion. A few effects of using fossil fuels are listed below:
- Air pollution: Air pollution means contamination of the air we breathe. Air is essential to living. But if air is adulterated with unwanted particles, it can cause serious health risks. This polluted air poses health issues to not only humans but to other organisms as well. The carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles is a major source. Other sources include factories, power plants and industries that give out a wide range of toxic elements to the environment like sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, etc. Air pollution severely affects the mortality rate. It is also known to cause cancer and various lung diseases. Acid rain and smog are a few phenomenon caused by air pollution.
- Water pollution: water pollution is the contamination of water such that its quality deteriorates, and it is unfit for use. Water is an essential component of life and is needed by humans for drinking, washing, bathing and myriad other purposes. It is true that water covers seventy-one percent of the earth’s surface, but most of this water is unfit for use as it has a high saline content combined with other undesirable compounds. Only two point one percent of this water is fresh, i.e., appropriate for use. Filthy water is the breeding ground of insects, mosquitoes, flies, etc. that can cause various diseases like malaria. Drinking soiled water also causes countless water-borne diseases. Fishes die if the water is too toxic, thus marine life isn’t spared either.
- The scarcity of fresh water: Due to the large population, the water drawn from underwater sources for our fresh water needs is huge. The underwater reserve is depleting faster than it can replenish and this will lead to an acute shortage of water in the coming years.
- Land pollution: It is very easy for humans to forget that the land that gives them life does the same for countless other animals, insects and birds. Land pollution is the aftereffect of littering and improper disposal of wastes. It is also caused by deforestation, soil erosion, agricultural and mining activities. Crops grown on polluted soil contain toxic elements that enter our bodies when we eat these. Land pollution can skin cancer and respiratory diseases as well. Wildlife suffers from loss of habitat and natural resources.
Earth’s temperature is rising. It’s something we can all feel in the summers, which gets hotter every year. The rise in global temperatures can be attributed to increasing in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. These gases are generated every day for daily purposes like the generation of electricity requires burning of coal. Our daily commute results in the emission of these gases from our vehicles. One major consequence of climate change is the loss of biodiversity. Most species cannot adapt to the steep rise in temperatures and hence they perish. This change in temperatures can affect our health and food supply. Escalating temperatures also increase the threat of ascent of numerous diseases such as malaria.
OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
The ozone layer, also known as the Earth’s protective layer, has suffered depletion and harm since the late 1970’s. The main cause of depletion being the use of compounds and gases that react negatively with the ozone in the atmosphere, especially CFC’s. Because of this same reason, there is a complete ban on the production of such compounds today. The ozone layer prevents the harmful ultraviolet radiations from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. But, due to its depletion, we are exposed to harmful ultraviolet radiation that is one of the leading causes of skin cancer all around the globe. These harmful UV rays also harm the nature and wildlife.
The purple patch on the right-hand side image depicts the ozone hole.
Recent studies have shown that the “hole” in the ozone layer has somewhat repaired itself, but it remains a delicate and crucial environmental concern.
The saying, “what you sow is what you reap” is completely apt over here. It is because of our doings that we are where we are today and our actions today will decide our future. The condition is severe but can be handled if we take the necessary steps today. One thing we should always remember is that, ever step counts – small or big!