What is Environmental Degradation?
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction’ of wildlife. There are many forms of environmental degradation. When habitats are destroyed, biodiversity is lost, or natural resources are depleted, the environment is hurt. Environmental degradation can occur naturally, or through human, processes. The largest areas of concern at present are the loss Of rain forests, air pollution and smog, ozone depletion, and the destruction of the marine environment.
Following are the main threats to our environment :
Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation into the, future. An increase in global temperatures can in turn cause other changes, including arising sea level and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation.
These changes may increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and tornado’s. Other consequences include higher or lower agricultural fields, glacier retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease Vectors.
Warming is expected to affect the number and magnitude of these events however, it is difficult to connect particular events to global warming. Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming (and sea level rise due to thermal expansion) is expected to continue past then, since CO2 has a long average atmospheric lifetime.
Decreasing Ozone Layer:
The term ozone depletion is used to describe two distinct but related observations a slow, steady decline of about 3 percent per decade in the total amount of ozone in Earth’s stratosphere during the past twenty years and a much larger, but seasonal, decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth’s polar regions during the same period.
The latter phenomenon is commonly referred to as the ozone hole. The ozone layer served as a barrier which protected living things, and made the land a suitable environment for life. Since the ozone layer absorbs UVB ultraviolet light from the Sun, ozone layer depletion is expected to increase surface UVB levels. which could lead to damage, including increases in skin cancer.
This was the reason for the Montreal Protocol. Although decreases in stratospheric ozone are well-tied to CFCs, and there are good theoretical reasons to believe that decreases in ozone will lead to increases in surface UVB, there is no direct observational evidence linking ozone depletion to higher incidence of skin cancer in human beings.
This is partly due to the fact that UVA, which has also been implicated in some forms of skin cancer, is not absorbed by ozone. An increase of UV radiation would also affect crops. A number of economically important species of plants, such as rice, depend on cyanobacteria residing on their roots for the retention of nitrogen. Cyanabacteria are very sensitive to UV light and they would be affected by its increase.
Acid rain (or more accurately acid precipitation) occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen Oxides are emitted into the atmosphere undergo chemical transformations and are absorbed by water droplets in clouds. The droplets then fall to earth as rain snow, mist, dry dust, hail, or sleet. This can increase the acidity of the soil, and affect the chemical balance of lakes and streams.
Acid rain is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the US and Canada” Acid rain accelerates weathering in carbonate rocks and accelerates building weathering. It also contributes to acidification of rivers, streams, and forest damage at high elevations. When the acid builds up in rivers and streams it can kill fish. Acid rain can slow the growth of forests, cause leaves and needles to turn brown and fall off and die. In extreme cases trees, or whole areas of forest can die. Soil biology can be seriously damaged by acid.
Petrochemicals are chemical products made from raw materials of petroleum (hydrocarbon) origin. Although some of the chemical compounds which originate from petroleum may also be derived from other sources such as coal or natural gas, petroleum is a major source of many.
This is mainly intended to discuss organic compounds or materials which are not burned as fuel. also this industry is a never ending supply of highly toxic chemicals based on petroleum is one of the deadliest environmental The earth cannot breakdown a petrochemical product. Therefore, if they happen to be produced in excessive quantities, they must accumulate only in a big way.
Destruction of tropical rain forest:
Tropical rain forest are called The “Jewel of the earth”, and the “world’s largest pharmacy” because of the large amount of natural medicines discovered.there. Today, more than half of Earth’S original rain forests have all been destroyed, victims of unsustainable agriculture, ranching, logging, mining and other destructive practices. These stresses have increased enormously in the last 50 years alone.
The most severe threat to the Tropical Rain forest is Human intervention. Clearing and degradation of tropical rain forests for timber, grazing land and agriculture, continues to lead towards severe soil erosion of already nutrient poor soils. The rapid rate of clearing is destroying the homes and biodiversity in one of the most animal and plant prolific bio-mes on earth. Due to all of this,
Harmful Chemical Materials:
We live in a society which produces innumerable chemical materials such as plastic goods, paints, synthetic detergents, insecticides, drugs, toiletries and agricultural chemicals. It is said that there are more than 20 million types of synthetic chemical materials on the earth, and that a new type of the chemical material is synthesized every 27 seconds. When these chemical materials are produced, used, and become waste, various chemical materials, among them harmful ones, are discharged into the environment. For example, insecticides are chemicals used to kill insect pests. However, once pesticide is discharged into the environment, it will kill even the beneficial creatures.
Moreover, it is known that organ chlorine compounds such as PCBs are very harmful. These chemicals gradually accumulate in the food chain and are taken into our bodies. When such materials are assimilated and concentrated to a toxic level, they can damage the internal organs and the central nervous system.
It is easy to see that any One of these pursuits can cripple the global environment to the point that it cease to support and sustain us. But, taken together, all of these and many more of their kind could only bring about the reunion of the environment on a scale, much larger than any one of them could on its own.
The trouble, moreover, is that all these dangerous pursuits have build up so Much momentum that we can not hope to stop their’ all at once. They require social systems, which take the conservation of nature to be an absolute value. For, if the Earth to continue to sustain us a species, we must also continue to maintain its life-support systems. It is a reciprocal activity.
An ecological crisis Occurs when the environment of a species or a population changes in away that destabilizes its continued survival. There are many possible causes of such crises: It may be that the environment quality degrades compared to the species needs, after, a change of abiotic ecological factor (for example, an increase of temperature, less significant rainfalls).
It may be that the environment becomes unfavorable for the survival of a species (or a population) due to an increase pressure of predication (for example over fishing), Lastly, it may be that the situation becomes unfavorable to the quality Of life of the species (or the population). due to raise in the number of individual (overpopulation).