In this article, You will read Environmental degradation and its Effects – for UPSC IAS (Environmental Geography).
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.
Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change of the United Nations. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as “The reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs”. Environmental degradation is of many types. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded.
Causes of Environmental Degradation
Some environmental life species require substantial areas to help provide food, living space, and other different assets. These creatures are called area specific. At the point when the biome is divided, the vast patches of living space don‘t exist anymore. It gets to be more troublesome for the wildlife to get the assets they need in order to survive. The environment goes on, even though the animals and plant life are not there to help sustain it properly.
- Land Disturbance: A more basic cause of environmental degradation is land damage. Numerous weedy plant species, for example, garlic mustard, are both foreign and obtrusive. A rupture in the environmental surroundings provides for them a chance to start growing and spreading. These plants can assume control over nature, eliminating the local greenery. The result is a territory with a solitary predominant plant that doesn‘t give satisfactory food assets to all the environmental life. Whole environments can be destroyed because of these invasive species.
- Pollution: Pollution, in whatever form, whether it is air, water, land or noise is harmful to the environment. Air pollution pollutes the air that we breathe which causes health issues. Water pollution degrades the quality of water that we use for drinking purposes. Land pollution results in the degradation of the earth‘s surface as a result of human activities. Noise pollution can cause irreparable damage to our ears when exposed to continuous large sounds like the honking of vehicles on a busy road or machines producing large noise in a factory or a mill.
- Overpopulation: Rapid population growth puts a strain on natural resources which results in the degradation of our environment. The mortality rate has gone down due to better medical facilities which have resulted in increased lifespan. More population simply means more demand for food, clothes, and shelter. You need more space to grow food and provide homes to millions of people. This results in deforestation which is another factor of environmental degradation.
- Landfills: Landfills pollute the environment and destroy the beauty of the city. Landfills come within the city due to the large amount of waste that gets generated by households, industries, factories, and hospitals. Landfills pose a great risk to the health of the environment and the people who live there. Landfills produce a foul smell when burned and cause huge environmental degradation.
- Deforestation: Deforestation is the cutting down of trees to make way for more homes and industries. Rapid growth in population and urban sprawl are two of the major causes of deforestation. Apart from that, the use of forest land for agriculture, animal grazing, harvest for fuelwood, and logging are some of the other causes of deforestation. Deforestation contributes to global warming as decreased forest size puts carbon back into the environment.
- Natural Causes: Things like avalanches, quakes, tidal waves, storms, and wildfires can totally crush nearby animal and plant groups to the point where they can no longer survive in those areas. This can either come to fruition through physical demolition as the result of a specific disaster or by the long term degradation of assets by the presentation of an obtrusive foreign species to the environment. The latter frequently happens after tidal waves, when reptiles and bugs are washed ashore.
Of course, humans aren‘t totally to blame for this whole thing. Earth itself causes ecological issues, as well. While environmental degradation is most normally connected with the things that people do, the truth of the matter is that the environment is always changing. With or without the effect of human exercises, a few biological systems degrade to the point where they can‘t help the life that is supposed to live there.
Effects of Environmental Degradation
- Impact on Human Health: Human health might be at the receiving end as a result of environmental degradation. Areas exposed to toxic air pollutants can cause respiratory problems like pneumonia and asthma. Millions of people are known to have died due to the indirect effects of air pollution.
- Loss of Biodiversity: Biodiversity is important for maintaining the balance of the ecosystem in the form of combating pollution, restoring nutrients, protecting water sources, and stabilizing climate. Deforestation, global warming, overpopulation, and pollution are a few of the major causes for the loss of biodiversity.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: The ozone layer is responsible for protecting the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. The presence of chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is causing the ozone layer to deplete. As it will deplete, it will emit harmful radiations back to the earth.
- Loss for Tourism Industry: The deterioration of the environment can be a huge setback for the tourism industry that relies on tourists for their daily livelihood. Environmental damage in the form of loss of green cover, loss of biodiversity, huge landfills, increased air, and water pollution can be a big turn-off for most of the tourists.
- Economic Impact: The huge cost that a country may have to borne due to environmental degradation can have a big economic impact in terms of restoration of green cover, cleaning up of landfills, and protection of endangered species. The economic impact can also be in terms of the loss of the tourism industry.
As you can see, there are a lot of things that can have an effect on the environment. If we are not careful, we can contribute to the environmental degradation that is occurring all around the world.
We can, however, take action to stop it and take care of the world that we live in by providing environmental education to the people which will help them pick familiarity with their surroundings that will enable them to take care of environmental concerns thus making it more useful and protected for our children and other future generations.