What is it?
Referring to the deterioration of the environmental quality that humans are surrounded by, environmental degradation has for long been the topic of debate and discussion worldwide. Implying that the environment that we live in has been destructed to a substantial level, scholars define environmental degradation as the beginning of the end of the world.
The reason behind this is that environmental degradation has triggered many other processes such as global warming, climate change, and water scarcity that are interlinked yet are impacting the world in different ways. The drastic reduction in natural resources, massive change in climate patterns, and worrisome levels of pollution are all characteristics of environmental degradation that humans have caused to themselves.
Let us now read about the disastrous effects that environmental degradation has caused and the reasons behind it in the subsequent segments.
How far has our environment
An umbrella phenomenon, environmental degradation covers a variety of aspects like deforestation, air pollution, global warming, animal endangerment and extinction, and more such concepts. As scholars suggest, the concept of environmental degradation has been in the process for the past 2 centuries.
In one way or the other, each and every element of the planet is affected by environmental degradation in the contemporary scenario. Some of the most major environmental ordeals that the world is suffering through are loss of biosphere, air pollution, water scarcity, global warming, natural resources deterioration, and deforestation.
Studies carried out on environmental degradation suggest that more than
75% of the terrestrial surface is degraded that directly or indirectly threatens
the survival of over 3.2 million people.
While more than 3/4th of Earth’s land is subject to deterioration, wetlands are no less safe. 87% of wetlands worldwide have been the hardest hit aquatic lands that have been affected in the past 3 centuries. Even though the major effects of environmental degradation have been exposed in the past 2 decades, the underlying causes have been harming the Earth’s environment for the past 2-3 centuries.
Considering the environmental changes that have taken place over the centuries, scientists suggest that the effects of environmental degradation will likely be observed in the coming century too. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that a rise in global temperature will happen, possibly 2.5-10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The harmful effects of greenhouse gases have also contributed to the concept that further leads to disastrous calamities like typhoons, cyclones, earthquakes, and landslides.
Air Pollution, being one of the topmost effects of environmental degradation,
is a far bigger problem than the global population perceives it to be. Sources suggest that most of the cities and towns in the South American continent have concentrations of particulate matter (PM) far above what the World Health Organization (WHO) prescribes it to be. “Monterrey in Mexico, for example, has measured concentrations of PM2.5 of 85.9, well above the WHO recommended limit of 20.” states the UN."
Causes of environmental degradation
The reasons behind such a disastrous degradation of the environment is more than what we think. Let us discover the causes of environmental degradation in this segment.
The primary factor of environmental degradation is human activity. Engaging in practices of industrialization and urbanization, humans have affected the environment they live in by harming it beyond its limits.
As NASA mentions,’ WE LIVE IN A GREENHOUSE’. The sun rays absorbed by the Earth’s land are radiated back to the surface by greenhouse gases.
This accounts for 90% of the emission of greenhouse gases that affect human life resulting in environmental degradation. Another very crucial cause of environmental degradation is deforestation. It accounts for around 10% of emissions caused by humans alone.
Water pollution, caused by industrial exposure and the addition of harmful elements in water, is another major cause of environmental degradation.
Unsafe and unplanned water management results in around 1.8 million
deaths due to water pollution.
Numerous causes have been enlisted that are responsible for causing environmental degradation. While the burden does not fall on one specific cause, a major contribution has been made by the release of CFCs. Refrigerators and air-conditioners are present in almost every single household today. The abundance of toxins in the Earth’s atmosphere has heavily led to the exploitation of the Earth’s environment.
Overpopulation is another cause of environmental degradation. The burden on the surface of Earth to bear the responsibility of over 7 billion humans is immense. The world has become overpopulated and has further caused deforestation, waste accumulation, urbanization, and industrialization.
While machines make our lives substantially easier, they have certainly been a factor of contribution to environmental deterioration.
A number of causes have caused what the world is facing today.
The future calls for a road to recovery. Even though the above-mentioned effects of environmental degradation will persist in the coming decades and centuries, a path of rectification is still possible.
The Road to Recovery
Vast spans of agricultural lands that were once used for cultivation have become dry and infertile. This has led to the alienation of such lands which have been returned back to the wild animals. The journey of such lands has come in full circle.
Approximately, 25% of Africa’s agricultural lands and feeding farms have been returned back to their ancient purpose - wildlife preservation.
While deforestation has harmed the world aggressively, afforestation combined with urban planning is the solution. The road to recovery calls for a path that will not only restore nature’s bounty back to where it was, but it will also sustain human survival in a more responsible mode.
Even though individual efforts will bring a massive change in such a scenario, this road will only reach its destination if governments from all around the world come together, cooperate, and coordinate on environmental concerns and bring out good policies for our Earth's health! Numerous international pacts like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been introduced in the past to facilitate environmental betterment.
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