Environmental Degradation – All You Need To Know

Do you know that environmental degradation is among the top ten threats countered by the United Nations[1]. Let’s find all the minute details like what is environmental degradation, types of environmental degradation, causes and effects of environmental degradation and more in this article. Spend your valuable ten minutes to this read and know about what is environmental degradation.

What is environmental degradation ?

Degradation means anything whose quality is lowered. Destruction of the environment due to depletion or decrease in the quality of natural resources is called environmental degradation. The degradation of the environment could be air, water and soil. Here is another definition of environmental degradation defined by United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction – “the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs”[1] Degradation of natural habitat as well as depletion of natural resources is considered to be an environment degradation. Next let’s move ahead to know about types of environmental degradation.

Types and causes of environmental degradation

Environmental degradation can be classified into land or soil degradation, water degradation, degradation of atmosphere and degradation due to pollution. Let’s have a short look on these one after the other.

Land or soil degradation

Land degradation can occur naturally as well as due to human activities , however it directly or indirectly affects the quality of soil. It generally occurs due to chemicals, soil erosion, etc. Now-a-days, in agriculture fields lots of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides are sprayed. When they are used in excess, these chemicals deposits onto the soil causing land degradation. During forest fires the remains of fires i.e the ashes degrades the quality of soil.
Learn more about Forest Fires here
Furthermore, considering deforestation, then due to deforestation, soil erosion takes place, which causes the nutritive upper layer of the soil to blow away through wind or flow away with water, thereby, causing the land to become barren in future. Another reason for land degradation is improper disposal of garbage. Many people dump the household garbage into the empty lands, this pollutes the land as well as decreases the soil quality. Moreover, contaminated soil can leads to wilting of leaves of plants.

Water degradation

When water gets contaminated due to various activities it is called water degradation, due to which the quality of water gets affected. Such water is unhealthy to drink and cannot be used for other purposes. Degradation of water mainly occurs due to reasons like – allowing industrial or household waste water into the water bodies, dumping waste into water bodies, letting harmful chemicals into water resources, oil spills, etc. These are not only harmful for humans but also adversely affects the aquatic living organisms. In severe cases, it leads to the death of aquatic animals. In humans, if such water is consumed, it can cause diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, etc.

Degradation of atmosphere

In near future, atmospheric degradation will have uncontrolled consequences. You must have heard about ozone depletion. Yes!!! The protective ozone layer in our Earth’s atmosphere is depleting. And the reason behind it is CFCs released from refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. CFCs do not harm humans directly, however, when it reaches the Earth’s atmosphere, they undergo chemical reaction thereby, causing ozone depletion. If this continues, one day, no one could save life on earth from harmful ultraviolet rays of sun.

Another major reason for degradation of the atmosphere is due to an increased percentage of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers say that, rate of carbon dioxide in 1960 was approximately 0.6 ± 0.1 ppm (parts per million). However in past decades it has been increased to 2.3 ppm [2]. Now the question must have arose in your mind, what will happen if carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere? Carbon dioxide is among the greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases have the ability to trap heat. Thus, more the quantity of carbon dioxide, more heat will get trapped, thereby increasing the temperature of the atmosphere. Which ultimately causes global warming. Yes!!! The news you have heard about melting of icebergs, glaciers is due to this reason. Watch complete video on global warming here-

Natural Causes of degradation

Landslides, forest fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes, etc are some of disaster which are also responsible for environmental degradation.

Effects of environmental degradation

Environmental degradation has been affecting life on Earth, since, many years. Find them below [3]

  • Change in atmosphere – Changes in atmosphere affects natural processes like water cycle, activities of plants and animals and many more. Deforestation destroys the land cover by nature. Excess of heat is leading to global warming, moreover, depletion of ozone layer is leading to harmful diseases like skin cancer, failure of crops, etc.
  • Effect on human health – Bad water quality affection millions of people each year all over the world. Affected water quality and soil degradation, indirectly affects the food quality, thereby decreasing the immunity. Similarly, reduction in air quality due to air pollution is also responsible for large number of deaths.
  • Effect on biodiversity – Studies say that, huge biodiversity is lost each year, due to environmental degradation. Moreover it is continuously destroying the wild forest and natural ecosystem. There are species which have gone extinct and there are some on the verge of extinction.

How to prevent environmental degradation ?

Now i’ll share some easy and effective ways to save the environment from degradation. Here are those[4]

  • Fix automobiles with blowby devices, these will control emission from vehicles to some extent.
  • Choose to ride bicycles, walk for short distances and take public transport for longer distances. Avoid using private vehicles.
  • Promote reforestation and say no to deforestation. Trees are always beneficial, plant more and more trees to reduce pollution and fill the environment with fresh air.
  • Make minimal use of paper and reuse paper as much as possible.
  • Drink filtered water. In case of travel avoid buying plastic bottle and carry water with you.
  • Avoid plastic and use cloth bags to carry things
  • Make minimal use of electricity at home, switch off lights and fans when not in use. Do not over charge electronic devices.
  • Make appropriate use of water. Do not take long showers. Water plants early in morning or late in evening. Find more methods of saving water here.
  • If you have a small piece of land then try to farm for yourself. Grow leafy vegetables, these will be chemical free, or you can shop vegetables from local farms.
  • Promote proper waste disposal and spread awareness about environmental degradation in your surrounding.
Facts About Environmental Degradation !!!
  1. World has lost 80% of forest. Moreover, we are continuously losing them at the rate of 375 km2.
  2. 5 – 10% of species of tropical forest become extinct every decade due to deforestation If deforestation continues like current rate then approximately in 80 to 90 years rain forest will extinct.
  3. We are using 50% more Earths natural resources, that normally Earth provide.
  4. Each year, 55 billion tons of fossil energy, minerals, metals and biomass is extracted from Earth.
  5. We need approximately 1.7 Earths, to acquire natural resources as per our current population and absorb and dispose our waste.[5]
  6. Each year 14 billion pounds of garbage, which mostly contains plastic are dumped in the oceans
  7. Due to water borne diseases around 15 million children die under the age of 5.
  8. River Ganga (also known as Ganges) is considered to be the one, among the most polluted rivers in the world
  9. One million ton of oil that affects marine life is from waste dumped into the seas and ocean from industries, household, etc [6].
  10. 20% of population on Earth is breathing contaminated air[7].

It is important to stop environmental degradation and each human should extend their hand in a small or larger ways to save mother Earth. To sum up, I would like to recall the deepest words by Eva Morales,

“Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. ” | Environmental Degradation

Reference links
[1] Environmental degradation: Source wikipedia.org
[2] Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Source climate.gov
[3] What is Environmental Degradation ?: Source eartheclipse.com
[4] 31+ Stunning Ways to Save the Environment from Destruction: Source conserveenergyforfuture.com
[5] Are we destroying our environment?: Source theworldcounts.com
[6] 40 Interesting Facts About Water Pollution You’ll Wish You’d Known: Source conserveenergyforfuture.com
[7] Atmosphere Facts: Source softschools.com

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