Numerous effects of human activity on the physical environment include soil erosion, poor air quality, climate change, and undrinkable water. These detrimental effects have the potential to influence human behavior and spark conflicts over clean water or mass migrations.
We’ll examine the top five environmental hazards that pose serious worldwide concerns. If the world is to continue supporting humans and other creatures, these issues must be resolved.
Table of Contents
5 Things That Harm the Environment the Most
- Air Pollution
- Species Extinction
- Water Pollution
- Natural Resource Depletion
1. Air Pollution
Fossil fuel combustion, agricultural deforestation, and industrial processes have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 280 parts per million (ppm) two centuries ago to approximately 400 ppm now. That rise is unparalleled in terms of both magnitude and velocity. Climate disruption is the outcome.
Burning coal, oil, gas, and wood all contribute to air pollution, one of which is carbon overloading. According to a recent estimate from the World Health Organization, illnesses brought on by toxins and carcinogens in contaminated air were responsible for one in nine fatalities in 2012.
Inadequate urban planning is one of the main causes of poor air quality. When people are grouped in a disorganized manner, it is challenging to get to work, go grocery shopping, or drop off kids at school.
Suddenly, all those errands need a personal vehicle, which equals more fuel consumption, pollution, and time spent away from home. As a result, there is an abundance of diseases and illnesses in the population, including bronchitis, asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions.
Poor air quality is also a result of grid-based electricity. In the United States, the majority of the power used in homes and businesses is produced by burning coal and other fossil fuels.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 19.3% of the country’s electricity in 2020 originated from coal combustion. In 2020, 40.3 percent of the electricity generated by fossil fuels came from the combustion of natural gas.
Use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. tree planting. Cut back on agricultural emissions. Modify industrial procedures.
The good news is that there is an abundance of clean energy waiting to be captured. Many claim that current technology makes a future powered entirely by renewable energy sources possible.
The bad news is that experts claim we’re not implementing renewable energy infrastructure—such as solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage, and distribution systems—quickly enough to avert catastrophic climate disruption, even though it’s already widely used and becoming more affordable and efficient every day. There are still financial and policy barriers to be solved.
Particularly in the tropics, species-rich natural forests are being destroyed, frequently to create room for cattle ranching, plantations that produce soybean or palm oil, or other types of agricultural monocultures.
Approximately half of the total surface area on Earth is covered by forests today, down from approximately 30% 11,000 years ago, when agriculture first began. Every year, some 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest are lost, primarily in tropical regions.
Tropical forests once covered about fifteen percent of the planet’s surface; today, they only make up six or seven percent. Logging and burning have ruined a large portion of the remaining area. The “edge effect” emphasizes how uncounted carbon loss exacerbates the deforestation crisis.
According to a recent study, the edge effect—which occurs when small portions of a forest disappear—also significantly reduces carbon emissions. The technique that policymakers employ to manage carbon loss and the carbon cycle does not address the loss of carbon or the edge impact.
Which countries are losing their forests at the fastest rate? Honduras has the highest rate of deforestation in the world, followed by Nigeria and the Philippines in that order, according to dgb.Earth. The majority of the remaining ten countries on the list are developing nations on the verge of becoming developed nations.
In addition to serving as reserves for biodiversity, natural forests also operate as carbon sinks, removing carbon from the atmosphere and oceans. Preserve the remaining portions of natural forests and repair damaged regions by planting native tree species.
A strong government is necessary for this, but a lot of tropical nations are still in the process of developing, with growing populations, unequal application of the law, and a lot of cronyism and bribery in the allocation of land use.
3. Species Extinction
For bushmeat, ivory, or “medicinal” items, wild animals are being hunted to extinction on land. Rainfall patterns are changing, there are more extreme weather events, and ecosystems are becoming more combustible.
Droughts, storms, flooding, sea level rise, and other related phenomena are severely harming biodiversity and our capacity to depend on it. Huge commercial fishing vessels at sea that are outfitted with purse-seine or bottom-trawling nets wipe off entire fish populations.
Heat waves and acidification exacerbate the stresses already placed on ecosystems and species by other human activities like habitat fragmentation and overfishing. The issue of invasive species is another one we face.
One of the main causes of this extraordinary wave of extinction is the loss and destruction of habitat, which is primarily the result of human activity. The number of threatened and endangered species on the IUCN Red List keeps rising.
To accommodate the expanding population of our globe, we construct new towns, roads, and residences, all of which necessitate the consumption of natural resources. Regretfully, the biggest danger to biodiversity is the change in environments caused by humans.
Natural environments are severely harmed by farming, development, deforestation, mining, and environmental pollution. Road construction frequently disregards the needs of animals, and as a result, larger, connected ecosystems are broken up or fragmented into smaller, more isolated ones.
In addition to having a natural right to exist, species offer goods and “services” that are necessary for human survival. Consider bees and their ability to pollinate, which is essential for producing food.
It will take coordinated action to stop biodiversity from continuing to disappear. One aspect of this is preserving and repairing habitats; another is guarding against poaching and the trade in animals. To protect wildlife and serve the social and economic interests of the local population, this should be done in collaboration with them.
4. Water Pollution
Seventy-one percent of the Earth is covered with water. However, barely three percent of the water on Earth is fresh.
We have been gradually contaminating the water in our lakes, rivers, wells, streams, and rain with chemicals, poisons, and biota that could be harmful to the planet’s health as well as to human health.
The National Resources Defense Council estimates that 80 percent of produced wastewater is redirected into the environment untreated.
Farm runoff contaminates groundwater as agricultural production rises to support a burgeoning population. A third of US lakes and half of all rivers and streams are so filthy that swimming is dangerous, according to the EPA.
Water contamination is a global health issue. Every year, water contamination causes more deaths than any other cause. By 2050, there will likely be more water pollution than there is now, and demand for clean water will have increased by around 33% from what it is today.
5. Natural Resource Depletion
Natural resources are the global engine of economic progress. Large swathes of the natural world have been destroyed by humanity’s insatiable demand for the planet’s resources, which includes everything from hunting, fishing, and forestry to the exploitation of oil, gas, coal, and water.
Depletion of natural resources happens frequently. Deforestation and pollution that contaminate freshwater are examples of the loss of natural resources.
The generation of energy, manufacturing, construction, and other industries are the main drivers of the utilization of natural resources. A few are constituents of other widely utilized materials. Bauxite, for instance, is one of the components used to make aluminum.
Experts have cautioned that unsustainable groundwater extraction may be the root cause of a secret crisis beneath our feet, one that might wipe out freshwater biodiversity, jeopardize global food security, and dry up rivers.
Ecologists and hydrologists claim that large subterranean water reserves are being pumped by farmers and mining firms at an unsustainable rate. 40% of agricultural irrigation systems are supported by groundwater, which is used by about half of the world’s population for drinking water.
Nations are gradually realizing that resource peaking is a typical occurrence in today’s world. How long will the supply of crude oil last? What is the lifespan of rare earth minerals? In addition to outer space objects like comets, we also intend to harvest meteorites and nearer solar objects like the moon and Mars.
The effects of human activity on the environment, both beneficial and harmful, have become apparent given the status of the Earth today. Human habitat modification is the single biggest threat to Earth’s biodiversity.
Overharvesting, the burning of fossil fuels that raise global temperatures, deforestation, agriculture, the building of cities and dams, pollution, and other human activities have all resulted in the modification of habitats.
These still happen daily. To prevent the coming end of the planet, we would need to increase our level of performance.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.