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Human activities affect the environment in different ways, either positive or negative, and thus environmental conservation rests on humans. Ecosystems in the whole world have changed dramatically in an attempt to support the increasing number of living, non-living organisms, and humans. Human activities such as deforestation, industrialization, and urbanization have affected the environment negatively because the available resources are reducing at an alarming rate (Russo, 2008).
Due to these activities, the environment has been exposed to any damages such as pollution of water, air, and land, thus decreasing its productivity. Humans or nature causes environmental harm. The natural causes include landslides and hurricanes. Both the human and natural activities cause environmental degradation where natural resources are over-exploited, and since these resources are interlinked, they also affect other features that are dependent on them. This paper investigates the human impact on the environment and ways in which business actions lessen human impacts on the environment.
Impact of Human Activities on the Environment
Human beings are a factor of the natural environment because they carry out activities in extreme, which causes environmental degradation. One of these activities includes pollution of land, rivers, seas and air (Constanza, Graumlich, & Steffen, 2007). For instance, activities leading to industrialization have led to water contamination near their areas of operation, thus polluting clean water because of draining chemicals in the rivers. In addition, gases that emanate from the greenhouse, such as carbon dioxide when released in the atmosphere have a harmful effect on the environment. These gases accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat radiations, hence being unable to escape from the earth’s surface. The trapped waves are changed into heat, and this has led to climate change and global warming, which has caused extreme weather conditions.
Urbanization also has a negative effect on the environment. Most people believe that they can only get better employments in urban centres. This has led to the rural to an urban movement where poor families settle on slums near urban centres. Due to overpopulation or expanding of the slums, people are engaged in activities that harm the environment since the supply of amenities such as water, sewerage and energy becomes difficult.
The result is poor waste management, worsening of water quality and deterioration of air. An example of a city that has been destroyed by urbanization is Kabul. This has led to the destruction of the city’s physical infrastructure due to overpopulation since they are unable to maintain it, and the shortage of houses, which are meant for the low-income earners. Wastes from home greatly affect the environment when dumped in an incorrect way. The table below shows the percentage of solid waste produced by households.
Goudie (2006) affirms that deforestation also has a negative impact on the environment because people tend to cut trees without replacing them. For instance, in developing countries, those who live in rural areas have always used firewood for cooking. Some have cleared the forests due to the high demand for land for cultivation. Deforestation has caused many dangers such as destroying carbon sinks, for example, swamps and forests. The bare soil is also prone to erosion caused by wind and water where the top fertile soil is washed away, thus making the land unproductive due to loss of nutrients and microorganisms.
Furthermore, trees act as windbreakers and their absence has led to strong winds, which are destructive. One example of the effect of deforestation is the Tsunami, which occurred in Indonesia, taking the lives of many people. Other strong hurricane winds like Katrina have destroyed properties and caused deaths. For example, the hurricane that occurred in 1880 in Malaysia destroyed areas of Kelantan forest. South-East Asia forest, which is a rain forest, also faces deforestation.
Moreover, fishing has a range of negative impacts on the environment. Farmers dispose of fish wastes, which contain toxic chemicals that are used for killing lice. Use of drift nets meant for catching fish not only gets tons of fish but also harms and kills many birds, seals and other varieties of fish not intended and therefore, fish species affected may become extinct. Some of the tools used, such as bottom trawls may wipe out natural reefs.
For example, in Hawaii at a locality called Honaunau, the best aquarium fish species have been destroyed, and the number has decreased by half. Additionally, in Jamaica, many reefs are severely destroyed because of over-fishing and coastal runoff. The fisherman no longer gets enough fish to sell, and they have gone to the extent of even harvesting the fish larvae for soup.
In summary, below is a table of human actions and their effects on biodiversity.
Table 1: Human Impacts on the Environment
|Habitat alteration||Overharvesting||Pollution||Additions||Climate alteration|
Differences between Local and Global Environmental Impacts
Both local and global activities affect the environment. The difference between local and global impacts is that local activities affect the environment in a given locality or country, whereas global factors affect the environment due to activities carried out in the whole world. First, international trade agreements have led to global transportation of goods, especially through shipping. Ships have damaged natural systems through relocation of species into new areas, thus causing pollutants into marine ecosystems and changing coastal habitats. Introduction of many species in different areas occurs especially when the ships take in ballast water and release it at its destination.
The ballast water may contain exotic plants and animals, which might cause harm to the native living and non-living organisms. Constanza, Graumlich, and Steffen (2007) confirm that global pollution also happens when Freon from refrigerators, which are no longer used gets into the air and builds an ozone hole above the pole. Air pollutants caused by fossil fuels has caused global dimming where they make the clouds return the rays from the sun into space; thus, few heat and energy goes on to the earth. For example, Ethiopians were affected by global dimming in 1970 to 1980s, and millions of people died. It was believed that the oceans did not have enough heat for rain formation.
Alternatively, local environmental effects involve local activities such as waste disposal and dog nuisance. Local means nearby area – an example is when a neighbour throws garbage on the sidewalk, which later becomes a pile or when a local factory emits harmful smoke fumes into the air. This also occurs when a factory releases its wastes containing toxic chemicals into a river.
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How Business Actions Lessen Human Impact on the Environment
There are many ways to lessen human activities impact on the environment. For example, in the manufacturing industry, there are pesticides used in growing cotton that harms the environment. Human beings need to consider other eco-friendly clothing alternatives, for example, using natural options such as wool, silk and cashmere to make fabrics.
Atkinson, Dietz, and Neumayer (2007) suggest that states or governments should improve the infrastructure and create opportunities in rural areas to prevent people from moving to urban centres. This will reduce overcrowding, waste accumulation, air pollution, as well as unemployment. The government should educate people on environmental management as well as curtailing the activities or products that depend on woods, which have led to deforestation. Paper made from woods can be recycled by processing and converting them into new products. Moreover, governments all over the globe should implement a law that stops deforestation and strict actions taken against the violating parties.
In farming, fertilizers with nitrogen are harmful to the environment because they release nitrous oxide. To prevent this harm, farmers should be encouraged to use them wisely to prevent environmental degradation. Using conservation agriculture helps to reduce greenhouse gases. By use of this method, plants cover the soil all through and hence; they absorb the carbon dioxide released. It also reduces the use of nitrogen fertilizers as well as nitrous oxide contained in it (Schaltegger, Burritt, & Petersen, 2003).
People should also avoid using aeroplanes and only use them when necessary because they emit carbon, which has a greater effect when released in high altitudes than when near to the ground. Use of aeroplanes is increasing each year, and each individual should make sure that they are not the cause of the increase. Energy saving is also important in conserving the environment. More energy is saved when lights are turned off when they are not in use as well as unplugging all the appliances such as computers and televisions because they take in energy if they are not unplugged (Russo, 2008).
From this analysis, the major environmental impacts are; agriculture, fishing, industrialization, urban migration, forestry, noise as well as water, air and surface transport. The environmental problems pose a danger to the health and prosperity of many people, particularly due to food and water contamination with pesticides. All these activities have had a negative impact on the environment and the major one being the change in climate, which has led to global warming. Due to global warming, many measures have been undertaken by governments and people to lessen the impact of humans on the environment. However, governments need to put more efforts to lessen the consumption of resources and make the environment better so as to modify the dynamic climatic change and save some resources for upcoming generations.
Furthermore, it is clear that the rate of resource reduction needs immediate actions and quick transition to improved sustainability. Individuals should also put more efforts in lessening the impact on the environment by educating friends and family on how to create a cleaner environment while considering low or no cost acts. These actions include turning off the lights and use of fluorescent bulbs, Using renewable energy such as solar and wind, planting trees, use of compost manure instead of fertilizers, replacing air conditioners with ceiling fans and use of cycles or public transport instead of personal cars. Addressing these problems need commitments of every country to attain sustainable management of available resources.
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