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A-level Writing - Environment - Essay Example

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Humans have been impacting the environment for the past 6,000 years. With the invention of writing and organized government, humans slowly but surely have become a more urbanized species. Living in cities with ever-growing populations has required constant innovation in order to maintain and ever-increasing standard of living for us all…
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Download file to see previous pages We are a long way from Mesopotamia at this point in our history, however. Many of our modern efforts to control or adapt the environment for the benefit of humans have created environmental degradation and damage. We are actually at a point where humans are no longer making the world a better place to live. We are damaging the planet due to excessive use and waste of our natural resources. This is most clearly visible through the global phenomena of climate change, desertification and water pollution. Global climate change is a very contentious topic. Many scientists believe that greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane that are being released into the atmosphere at historic levels by human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to heat up. Other scientists believe that the recent warming that has been measured is nothing more than a part of the earth’s natural cycle of warming and cooling (Press, 2004, p.55). Assuming that the science is correct, it is important to understand that much of these greenhouse gasses that are being emitted are a result of conveniences we demand as a part of our modern lifestyles. They are not vital for human existence. Having a car, electricity and high-speed air travel are vital parts of our global culture, but they are not necessary for the sustaining of human life. Our world would be radically different without these modern inventions and services, but there is a chance that our continued use will damage the planet deeply. Entire ecosystems may disappear simply because people are unwilling to pay more for alternative forms of transportation or because they refuse to acknowledge scientific data because of a certain religious or political belief (Letcher, 2009, p.133). This is indeed proof of the danger humans pose to the earth. Even when there is a chance our actions are detrimental to the environment; many of us still refuse to change our ways. Desertification is another way that humans are degrading the environment. Pasturing animals is an ancient occupation, but the modern demands of six billion inhabitants of earth to eat an animal rather than a plant-based diet is starting to stress many ecosystems. Grazing animals in areas of marginal rainfall can lead to a process known as desertification. The soil dries out and loses its fertility, leading to an encroachment of desert soils or a barren hardpan. Desertification claims many acres of land each year. The real problem with this phenomenon lies in the fact that once soils are degraded in an arid region, they are almost impossible to rehabilitate. A few seasons of over-grazing can result in ruined soils that took millennia to develop. Traditional grazing practices were much gentler on the environment, but modern methods of grazing have proven disastrous in many areas of Africa, Southwest Asia and even North America (Geist, 2006, p. 42). A final way that humans are causing irreparable harm to the environment is through water pollution, specifically through the runoff of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The green revolution of the 1960’s greatly increased the output of the world’s farms, but we are now reaping the negative consequences of the overuse of agrichemicals. Estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay have entire areas ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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