Causes of Land Pollution
1. Degenerative Actions
Degenerative Actions encompass a lot of human actions, including – deforestation, overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, desertification, mining, inefficient and / or inadequate waste treatment, landfill, litter, etc.
2. Misuse of Land
Misuse of Land mainly refers to felling of trees to clear land for agriculture, as well as processes like desertification and land conversion. Desertification is when anthropogenic effects of human development or other actions convert a piece of (essentially) fertile land into desert-land or dry land. Land once converted to desert-land can never be reclaimed by any amount of corrective measures. This is also a serious issue because t does not only affect the land, but also the overall biodiversity of a place, especially when land is cleared for agriculture. A lot of indigenous flora and fauna is lost in the process.
3. Soil Pollution
Soil Pollution is when the top-most ‘soil’ layer of land is destroyed or polluted. Soil pollution is again another cause of land pollution that affects not only the land, but also a lot of other things such as forest cover of a region, productivity of land in terms of agriculture, grazing etc. Soil pollution is also caused by wrong agricultural practices, such as overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This causes non-biodegradable chemicals to enter and accumulate in the food-chain – a process often referred to as biomagnification of a pollutant.
4. Land Conversion
Land Conversion is the process whereby a piece of land is converted from its indigenous form to a form used for either agriculture or infrastructure. Land conversion is especially a growing problem that we possibly do not have a good – or a good enough – solution for. The best way to avoid land conversion is to make efficient use of the available land. Using a piece of land to its maximum potential is the key to eliminate many of the causes of land pollution.
Effects of Land Pollution
1. Effects on Climate
Land pollution can affect the general environment of the Earth. Land pollutions leads to loss in the forest cover of Earth. This is in turn going to affect the amount of rain. Less rains mean lesser vegetation. The effect of all different kinds of pollution will eventually lead to problems like acid rains, greenhouse effect, global warming. All of these problems have already initiated and need to be curbed before the situation runs out of control.
2. Extinction of Species
One of the major causes of concern is the extinction of species. Species are pushed towards endangerment and extinction primarily by two processes. Habitat fragmentation is the fragmentation of the natural habitat of an organism; cause primarily by urban sprawl. Habitat destruction, on the other hand, is when land clearing adversely affects animals special such that their natural habitat is lost. Both the actions can cause some species to go extinct and others to become invasive.
Biomagnification is the process in which certain non-biodegradable substances go on accumulating in the food-chain (in one or more species). The most common example is of methylmercury in fish and mercury in eagles. Not only does biomagnification put the particular species at risk, it puts all the species above and below it at risk, and ultimately affects the food pyramid.
4. Effects on Biodiversity
Species extinction and biomagnification is going to overthrow the balance of nature very significantly. The main reason for this is disturbance created in the food chain. To give you a very simple example – on account of biomagnification of mercury in eagles, they might go extinct in the subsequent years. However, we know eagles prey on snakes. Less (or no) eagles will then result in more number of snakes!
Ways to Reduce Land Pollution
1. Reduce toxic materials. Waste materials that are disposed of should have minimal toxic materials. This can be done by treating the waste materials with various chemicals to make them less toxic. Once the waste is treated, it can be disposed of using responsible methods. Harmful chemicals can also be replaced with less toxic, biodegradable materials.
2. Recycle waste materials. As explained by the Stanford Recycling Center, each American throws away 7 1/2 lbs. of garbage. Garbage requires landfills, which takes up large amounts of land. 3. Buy organics products, especially organic cleaners, pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers. The advantage of using organic products is that they are biodegradable and friendly to the environment.
4. Avoid littering. Excessive littering is one of most common reasons for land pollution. 5. Take initiative to inform others about the harmful effects of littering. Organic wastes must be disposed off in areas that are far from human or animal habitation. Waste like plastic, metals, glass and paper must be recycled and reused. 6. Improve fertility of the land by reforesting. Soils in forested lands are far more fertile than soil without trees, suggesting that trees have the ability to fertilize land.