Environmental Degradation - An Overview

The environment is the natural home for all living creatures. In today’s world, the growth of the population is leading to increased demand on environmental resources. Sadly, ecosystem conditions are deteriorating because of mankind’s boundless activities. Wildlife degradation is the depletion of the environment and its resources such as soil and air, as well as the extinction of species. Therefore, human beings’ infinite activities to support population growth are destroying mother earth at an alarming rate by causing air pollution and deforestation.

Mankind’s actions are ruining the planet faster than ever by creating air pollution.

The primary source of air pollution is atmospheric air pollution, or in other words, outdoor air pollution.

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Since the Industrial Revolution, the Earth started a new cycle defined by extreme human activity. Factories have been increasing the release of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere, in addition to the normally existing emissions. Most of this gas comes from the combustion of coal, a product of the energy industry; specifically, carbon-fired power plants (Beaudry, 2018).

Industries generate power from the coal, for purposes such as heating houses and electricity. The process is intensive. The transformation of energy occurs in the boiler where the charcoal is burned to generate steam. The steam created, under massive pressure, proceeds through a turbine, which rotates a generator to make electricity. A large amount of carbon in the coal and the oxygen in the atmosphere, merge to create carbon dioxide.

Moreover, transportation is another source of outdoor air pollution. Transportation including cars, boats, airplanes, and trucks are increasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the air. With the growth of population, there is more demand for resources, from transporting resources to building bridges, paving roads, building subways, and building airports. Transportation methods are known for burning fossil fuels, which lead to the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The incomplete combustion of fossil fuels from transportation and factories not only release carbon dioxide, but also a particle is known as black carbon, which occurs when there is a lack of oxygen. Carbon dioxide and black carbon are the most dangerous gases affecting the environment. The greenhouse effect is the warming of the Earth’s surface. It is caused by gases in the air that traps energy from the sun. These trapping heat gases are known as greenhouse gases. The most frequent greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane. The increase of these gases in the atmosphere result in increased temperature of the Earth, causing the melting of ice, acid rain, and loss of biodiversity. According to WHO (2019), “Black carbon, a component of particulate matter, is one of the larger contributors to global warming after CO2. Black carbon warms the earth’s atmosphere by absorbing sunlight, thereby accelerating the melting of snow and ice.”

Another source of air pollution is indoor air pollution. Household appliances such as cooking vapors, heating appliances, and cleaning products release greenhouse gases. For instance, heating appliances release carbon monoxide, and cleaning products contain gases such as methane, and others chemicals. The gases in indoor buildings and housing are named ‘short-living gases’. These gases stay in the air for short time, but their effect is devastating on human health, especially because these gases are odorless. Both outdoor and indoor air pollution have negative effects on human health. According to WHO (2019), “4.2 million deaths every year as a result of exposure to ambient air pollution. 3.8 million deaths every year as a result of household exposure to smoke from dirty cookstoves and fuels.” Humanity’s unlimited activities are not only causing air pollution, but also deforestation.

Deforestation is the constant eradication of forests for the purpose of using the land and wood. Generally, deforestation is cutting trees without the goal of replenishing for future growth. Humans are cutting trees for industrialization in order to accommodate growing regions. Because of the overpopulation, additional land is needed to build housing and adjustments. As well, numerous roads, highways, and bridges are being constructed for the purpose of accommodating the larger number of people driving. With the increase of population, more environmental resources are required, such as those to produce food, as well as cropland to raise livestock. In addition, logging industries, in particular paper and furniture, require a significant volume of wood. Wood and coal are frequent examples of trees being utilized as fuel. Cooking and heating worldwide use these resources, and most of the illegal deforestation is considered to be utilized for fuelwood. In addition to clearing land for industrialization, it is needed for agricultural expansion and raising livestock.

Another main factor causing deforestation is agricultural plantations. The increasing supply and demand for merchandise, such as soybean and palm oil, are pushing producers to clear forested areas at an alarming rate. Farmers clear lands by cutting trees in order to plant crops. In addition, farmers clear lands for livestock by burning trees to create space for livestock ranching. Farmers then use the land until it is completely degraded, then they start over the process on a new spot of the forest. As Naik (2018) quotes from UNFCC (n.d) “approximately 80 percent of deforestation in the world today is attributed to agriculture (i.e. 48 percent to subsistence agriculture and 32 percent to commercial agriculture). Of the remaining 20 percent, roughly around 14 percent is attributed to logging, 5 percent to the use of firewood, and the remaining is utilized for other purposes. All these human activities which are considered to be the causes of deforestation invariably rise with the rise in population.”

The effects of deforestation show the devastation of eco-systems’ biodiversity. According to Elwood (2016), “Since the dawn of the colonial era, our exploitation of the natural world has led to the obliteration of forests on a massive scale. The consequences have been dire—for plants and animals, and for communities that depend on forests for their livelihood. In the broadest sense, forests are key to maintaining comfortable living conditions on Earth by providing what economists call ‘environmental services’—storing carbon, filtering air and water, preventing floods, and helping to regulate climate.” This is a result of over-foresting to support the increasing number of people since the colonial era.

Some people might argue that nature alone is responsible for environmental deterioration instead of human activities. One might argue that greenhouse gas emission is a natural process. For instance, volcanic eruptions naturally produce carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, and another greenhouse gas. Livestock also produces methane and other greenhouse gases, which are released in the atmosphere, resulting in global warming. Livestock exists naturally, and so, it can be argued that these emissions would happen regardless of human activity. According to Marsden (2013), “Skeptics of climate change often point out that since a record high global temperature was reached in 1998, temperatures at first decreased, then did not rise as quickly over the next 15 years despite increased greenhouse gas emissions.”

Although some opponents believe that environmental deterioration and greenhouse gas emissions are a natural process; the fact remains that humanity’s unlimited activities are the main factor of environmental degradation and increasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. More population means higher demand for environmental resources. From transporting livestock and supplies (such as food) to cutting trees and transportations, these activities are because of humans. According to NASA (2019), “The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.” Furthermore, the large amount of greenhouse house gases released by humans’ activities are much higher than the release of greenhouse gases that would be naturally occurring. According to Nasa (2019), “Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.”

In conclusion, the effect of improper human activities such as air pollution and deforestation is causing a decline in the ecosystem at an accelerated rate. Considering the results, environmental degradation such as global warming, ice melting, acid rain, health issues, and extinction of species are the results of mankind’s growth and the resulting activities. Humans are a relevant part of the environment; they should take action against the deterioration of the ecosystem before it is too late. If everyone can take from the Earth’s generosity anything they require for sustenance; humans have commitments to save the planet and secure its richness for future generations.


  1. Air pollution. (2019, February 28). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/airpollution/en/Beaudry, F. (2018, May 14). Top Greenhouse Gas: Carbon Dioxide. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/carbon-dioxide-greenhouse-gas-4118337Climate change causes A blanket around the Earth. (2019, February 05). Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/Ellwood, W. (2016, 04). Last stand. New Internationalist, 12-15. Retrieved from https://login.gbcprx01.georgebrown.ca/login?
  2. url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1774753228?accountid=27351Marsden, W. (2013, Aug 06). Climate study finds more bad news for the planet. Postmedia News Retrieved from https://login.gbcprx01.georgebrown.ca/login?
  3. url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1418323169?accountid=27351Naik, A. (2018, March 05). How is Deforestation Related to Population Growth? Retrieved from https://helpsavenature.com/how-is-deforestation-related-to-population-growth


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Environmental Degradation - An Overview. (2020, Oct 31). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/environmental-degradation-an-overview-essay

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