We know that our environment is being squeezed by the different pressures we give it. The natural ecosystem is being disturbed very wildly resulting in the degradation of the environment. Let us check what environmental degradation is, its causes and effects. Effects of environmental degradation focus on atmosphere, human health and nature.
What is Environmental Degradation?
Environmental degradation means reduction in the quality of the environment due to man made and natural factors. The resources get depleted and the quality of air, water and soil diminishes. The natural habitat, the forests, the water sources gets destroyed and polluted. It is caused directly or indirectly by anthropogenic activities. So therefore environmental degradation is wide term that is influenced by various factors like deforestation, desertification, global warming, animal extinction, formation of acid rain, pollution and drastic change in climate. Some of the natural causes of environment degradation are earthquakes, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, landslides, tornado, tsunami and cyclones.
CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENT DEGRADATION
- Intensive agricultural practices :
Due to the steep rise in the demand of agricultural products, intensive agricultural practices are followed to meet the demand. Massive deforestation is taking place and they are converted into agricultural lands. This has lead to the decline in the natural environment like forest and wildlife. Since the most modern techniques of farming are used to fulfill the growing demand, widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used. So a lot of toxins get accumulated in the soil owing to its degradation. This is one the major reasons for environmental degradation.
- Landfills :
Landfills are one of the major causes for environmental degradation. Various kinds of toxic chemicals are expelled from landfills which can prove to be hazardous to the environment as a whole. Land, air and water gets polluted in this process. The natural life cycle and food cycle gets affected due to landfills. The fouls smell that comes out of the landfills is terrible that can cause various diseases in plants, animals and humans. Landfills are the breeding grounds of diseases. This causes widespread environmental degradation.
- Overpopulation :
This is one of the striking reasons for environmental degradation. Overpopulation means, over use of land and resources. Large scale deforestation is taking place as more land is needed for building houses and industries. Land, air and water pollution is complementary to overpopulation. All these factors degradate the environment.
- Deforestation :
The cutting down of trees has a great impact on environment and the natural habitat. Drastic environmental changes like climate changes, global warming, soil erosion, depletion of ozone layer, water table depletion, species extinction and loss in biodiversity and all are attributes of deforestation. All these affect the environment and lead to its degradation.
- Environmental pollution :
The natural environment gets destroyed due to pollution. More than seventy percent of the pollution is manmade and irreversible. The toxins emitted from landfills, vehicles, industries and so on gets absorbed into the atmosphere and the ph level gets disrupted. This in turn causes acid rain which harms the biodiversity. This kills the natural fertility of the soil and different species of plants. The natural life cycle gets disrupted in this process. Land, air and water gets polluted owing to large scale environmental degradation.
- Natural causes :
Most of the above mentioned are manmade causes for environmental degradation. But there are certain natural causes that contribute to environmental degradation. Wildfires, landslides, tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and so on are some of the natural factors that attribute to degrading the environment. All these cannot be predicted in advance as they naturally occur during the course of time. All these factors add to environmental degradation.
- Unplanned development :
Improper land planning, urbanization and development has worsened the situation. Industrial sites, shopping malls, office spaces, parking grounds, road and rail networks, construction sites, mining projects, thermal plants, nuclear plants and all are the major factors that help in worsening environmental pollution. In most of the cases, land has not been used properly and a lot of natural habitat has been destroyed.
EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
- Atmospheric changes :
Environment degradation often leads to changes in atmosphere. The water cycle and the natural habitat of plants and animals also changes drastically. The natural biodiversity degradates. Air, water and land pollution adds up to promote these atmospheric changes. The climate and the weather changes owing to increased pollution. This in turn increases global warming that can prove harmful to the generations to come. The rate of depletion of ozone layer multiplies rapidly owing to environment degradation.
- Human health :
This environment degradation has a negative impact on health of humans. Since there is considerable reduction in the quality of air, water and land, the average life span of humans decreases. Lakhs die due to illness caused by pollution. As the quality of air diminishes, lots of people die due to chronic diseases like lung cancer and heart attack. Landfills on the other hand promote environmental degradation. Hazardous waste from these landfills can easily enter the food chain that can further cause biomagnifications. Apart from all these. Dumping of toxic waste by the industries adds to the pollution which dangerously affects the health of the humans.
- Biodiversity lost :
Due to continuous degradation of the environment, the natural habitat, the forests, and the ecosystem get disrupted. Most of the species are under the threat of extinction. The reproductive capacity, the ability to withstand the changes in temperature and all are disturbed. All these are mainly due to human activity which has caused exploitation of natural resources, acidifying water resources, soil erosion due to large scale deforestation and making the air impure even to breathe. Al these combined has hampered the natural biodiversity.
Environmental degradation is a global issue and can be devastating. The environment that we live in can be disturbed completely owing to severe changes. This can prove to be a threat to the upcoming generations. So the national and the international government should work together for a noble cause to save the environment. Awareness programs should be conducted among all levels in the society so that people will be aware of what environment degradation is and its negative impact. Awareness should be nurtured at school level so that the children are aware about their surroundings. Proper and strict measures should be adopted by the government globally to check and decrease pollution. The companies and the industries should be Ecofriendly. The waste secreted by these industries should be properly recycled. Waste dumping in landfills should be banned; every house should sort their waste accordingly and hand over to the respective recycling industries. Environmental friendly and biodegradable products should be promoted. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides should be minimized so as to reduce soil pollution. All these put together can reduce environment degradation to a great extent. Some of the common environmental programs setup to conserve the environment are climate application project (CLIMAP), global atmospheric watch (GAW), earth resource satellite (ERS), international global atmospheric chemistry program (IGAC), geophysical monitoring of climate change (GMCC), global energy and water cycle experiment (GEWEX), stratosphere aerosol and gas experiment (SAGE), joint global ocean flux study (JGOFS) and world climate research program (WCRP).