All living beings including man and the environment are affecting each other in a number of ways and there is a dynamic equilibrium existing between them. What we do and what we experience can change our genes, and we can pass these changes along to future generations. The human development and activity have modified and altered the natural environment for centuries. From agriculture to industrialization, deforestation, global warming, pollution, overfishing, devastating animal habitats and killing organisms, human always produced environmental problems for generations. The primary effects include decreased water quality, increased pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources is all because of a series of actions taken by human.
How do humans affect the Environment?
The following human activities are responsible for the degradation of environment:
Overpopulation: The world population is become an epidemic due to decreased death rates, the introduction of approaches of industrial farming, increased birth rate and decreased infant mortality rate and better medical facilities which keep humans alive for much longer and increasing the entire population. It would not be wrong in saying that we reach the maximum carrying capacity that our earth can sustain. The most severe effect of overpopulation is the degradation of the environment. Humans necessitate tons of space, whether it is for their shelter, farmland or industries which ultimately results in cutting down the forests and in the end damage ecosystems as there are no enough trees to filter the air which leads to the increase in CO₂ level which carries the potential to harm every single organism on Earth.
Industrialization: The industrial revolution fulfils the elementary needs of the world and is vital for the financial growth and development of the society, at the same time releases a lot of pollutants to the environment which cause health hazards, damage crops, climate change and make the environment incompetent for living organisms. Industries require a lot of fossil fuels which ultimately diminished our natural resources.
Genetic Modification: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) give an advantage to the crop, but it causes the soil to dry faster and kills off good bacteria, making it non-fertile. To replenish the depleted soil, fertilizer is used, which is then give a lot of environmental problems.
Deforestation: The forests are cleared in order to provide the timber and agriculture land to increased population. An estimated 18 million acres of trees are clear-cut every year for making wood products and for new development and about 1.5 million hectare of forest cover is vanished every year in India alone. The process of deforestation results in decreasing rainfall, loss of top soil, increasing greenhouse gases and global temperature and modification of climatic conditions. The trees are the prime producers of oxygen, so clearly deforestation is not a good thing for humans and specifically for the animals and the millions of species that live in forests. Deforestation is a chief threat to their existence.
Pollution: The human activities increased fossil fuel combustion from motor vehicles, industrial factories and power plants, releasing CO, ozone and NOx into the atmosphere that causes greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, acid rain and smog formation which lead to serious health effects The disposal of sewage, agricultural and industrial wastes pollute waterbodies and soil that spreads so many diseases. The noise due to industries, trains, aeroplanes, social functions etc. causes noise pollution which affect both biotic and a biotic section of environment. The radiations generated by radioactive substances used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons impact the genetic materials of body (DMA, RHA etc.)
Impact on Climate and Atmosphere
The climate started changing a long time ago due to human activities but we started noticing the climatic change and its effect on human life in the last century. These climatic changes, due to due to emission of greenhouse gases, deforestation, uses of fertilizers and pesticides, pollution and solid waste, have a negative impact on the environment. The ocean level is mounting, glaciers are melting, CO2 in the air is increasing, many species of flora and fauna are diminishing and water life is getting disturbed due to climatic changes which is a heavy loss to the environment.
Earth’s weather patterns will drastically change with worldwide temperature growth, where some areas possess longer growing time of year, others become unfertile wastelands or deserts. The warming up of earth surface causes many ozone depletions, affect our agriculture, water supply, transportation, and several other problems. The volcanic eruptions, solar radiation, orbital variations made the areas harmful for natural life. By 2050, it is possible that the increase in global surface temperature ranges between 1.5 and 2o C.
With the burning of fossil fuels, SO2 and NOx are released into the atmosphere which mixed with the rain water and make it acidic which accumulates in water bodies and then diminish the aquatic life, acidify the earth surface and reduce essential nutrients of soil. Trees that absorb the acid accrue toxins that damage leaves and slowly kills large areas of forest. Ozone layer is also depleting.
Impact on Soil and Vegetation:
The Human activities are accountable for the physical changes in the soil. Uncontrolled and heavy grazing, fire or cutting for the clearance of forests for domestic purposes and timber caused disappearance of vegetation cover, soil erosion and desertification. Air pollutants, Photochemical smog and industrial fumes are toxic to plants, diminish the fertility of soil, enhance salinity and kill vegetation. The chemical fertilizers also altered the chemistry of soil.
Impact on the Water:
The humans have influenced both the quantity and quality of water. The construction of dams required deforestation and promote earthquake activating, the build-up of soil salinity, changes in ground water levels and water logging. Humans get water supplies by pumping ground water that reduces the ground water and coastal areas’ fresh water is substituted by salt water. Oceans are getting acidified that minimize the production of necessary nutrients, lessens the pH levels in water and reduces the calcium concentrations, which is harmful for aquatic flora and fauna. The rivers getting murky by pollutants.
What is the Solution?
Human mistakes caused great damage to the ecosystem but it can be controlled if every human start contributing by adopting few changes in their lifestyle including using renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro energy and using less energy in the home, using public transport instead of driving that will reduce CO2 emissions and ultimately diminish the amount of pollution. Also, the amount of fertilizer applied to grasslands can be reduced to lessen the water and soil pollution. The recycle and reuse policy should be adopted by everyone.
“The best time to act, was yesterday, the best we can do is today, but if we wait for tomorrow, it may just be too late.”