Human beings form an integral part of society and have the greatest impact on our environment. They have resourcefully influenced every facet of life on earth. It helped shape the evolution of humans, right from the very first human ancestors to our modern-day selves. And we have indeed come a long way – almost 2 million years of evolution. From advancements in the social behaviour of man to achieving new feats every day in the fields of science, technology, and medicine, we have tremendously explored and still paving a way to find better ways to deal with real-time problems to provide the society with a better standard of living.
Human Activities That Destroy The Environment
While we would have greatly contributed to the well being of our society, we have overlooked or neglected the fact that eventually, we have been playing up with the environment in which we stay. This has been showing up in recent times in the form of global warming, floods, cyclones, tsunamis etc which are a few consequences of various activities of man. Few are:
- Deforestation: Trees take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen to nature, which is used by us for survival. Cutting down of trees for land availability due to a rise in population and to bring up new industries has got an imbalance in the ecological system, resulting in a decrease in the oxygen levels in the air.
- Water Pollution: Contaminated water from large scale industries, lack of proper sewage systems, various human activities near water bodies have caused water pollution to large extents. Also, sometimes seas and oceans face oil spillages, which has long term effects on water, leaving it unavailable for consumption.
- Air pollution: Overpopulation has immensely caused air pollution in many ways, one of which is the use of vehicles for transportation. Harmful gases from industries are left into the air, causing us to breathe air that has poisonous chemicals leading to new medical ailments.
- Exploitation of Marine life: Due to extensive fishing activities, our marine life is becoming extinct. Water pollution causes a disturbance in aquatic life and makes survival questionable. When these fish are consumed by humans, it leads to illness and death too in certain cases.
- Global warming: Is seen as a result of an increase in the temperature of the earth as a result of the greenhouse effect and related human activities. It results in the melting of ice caps and hence rises in sea levels causing tsunamis, cyclones, and other natural disasters.
- Habitat destruction: Survival of wildlife is becoming difficult as their natural habitat is being cut down. Deforestation may result in the availability of land but leaves animals homeless.
- Extinction: Animals are becoming endangered because of – non-availability of natural habitat, threats from the environment, predators, hunting, pollution, destruction.
- Harmful chemicals and fertilizers: With a rise in population, there is an increase in the demand for food. To meet this availability, plants are being grown with the use of harmful fertilizers which have very low nutritious values.
- Urbanization: Has brought about a significant change and imbalance in our ecological system.
Let us understand two of these environmental issues in detail.
Ozone Layer And Its Depletion
Three atoms of oxygen make up a molecule of Ozone(). While , oxygen gives life to organisms, ozone is a poisonous gas. It may be hazardous on earth, but up in the different atmospheric levels, Ozone plays a vital role. UV rays are given out by the sun and cause damage to organisms, skin cancer in human beings to be precise, hence are dangerous. Ozone blocks these UV radiations from reaching the earth.
How is Ozone formed?
At the atmospheric levels, Ozone is a product of UV rays acting on a molecule of oxygen (O2), these rays cause oxygen molecules to split up into free atoms of oxygen (O). Free oxygen atoms then combine with molecules of oxygen to form ozone (O3), look at the equation below to understand better-
Over the years, this protective layer around the earth has been depleting. A sharp depletion was discovered way back in the 1980s which are caused due to CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) used in refrigerators and fire extinguishers. This is why it is now mandated on manufacturing companies to make CFC-free appliances throughout the world.
Managing Garbage We Produce
The process of treating solid wastes by gathering, transporting and disposing of garbage is called waste management. Wastes can either be biodegradable or nonbiodegradable.
Biodegradable wastes are acted upon by biological processes which help in their break down but non-biodegradable substances are not broken down by these biological activities. They exist in nature for a long time and prove to be hazardous in the long run, hence treating them is very necessary.
How To Protect Our Environment
The activities of human beings are so impactful on the environment that suitable measures need to be taken. Few are:
- Do not throw waste on the roads, dump garbage in bins.
- Do not throw garbage in water bodies
- Recycle and reuse materials wherever possible
- Avoid use of plastic, as they are non-biodegradable.
- Proper sewage for contaminated water to flow through them
- Promote afforestation
- Adopt the use of public transport wherever possible
- Animal hunting needs to stop
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