Man has been engaged in agriculture since the beginning of time. Still, almost 2/3rd of the world population is linked to this occupation. As the human population is expanding, we are getting more and more dependent on this occupation. And this, folks, is what is hurting our earth. Some of those practices will be discussed in this article.
As the demand for food worldwide increases, more and more land is cleared by humans to use for agricultural processes. The lands that are cleared are forests or grasslands, which were once supporting a ton of species, and this is what those species have adapted to through millions of years of evolution. Now, as these habitats are cleared, some species adapt to new surroundings, and some just don’t. The species which fail to do so gets wiped out into extinction. This loss of species is very alarming.
Plastic pollution is widely known as the accumulation of those waste products whose major component is plastic. The range of this plastic can be categorized as microplastic if its size is less than 5mm, or it can be categorized as macro plastics. This problem has been on the main headlines of major newspapers for several decades. Moreover, there has been extensive literature that has been cited on the issues of pollution caused by plastic.
Still, there exists a major gap between scientific research and the knowledge scale of the general audience. We should do everything in our power to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge from our labs to the rooms of common people. There can never be a proper application of scientific discoveries if we fail to deliver them properly to our public. This is the same case in the current matter.
COVID-19 is something that has been faced by us all at one level or another. With over 185 Million cases reported worldwide and about 4M deaths in 188 countries, the COVID-19 outbreak has been declared as a fast-spreading pandemic by the United Nations’ World Health Organization. We might differ from one another based on intensity, but the after-effects of this global pandemic have left the whole world in jitters.
The effects of nighttime lighting on animals have been known for hundreds of years when hunters and fishers would use the light of the flame, lamps, or gas-lit lighthouses to attract their prey to them. But in the past century alone, with artificial light increasing by two percent per year worldwide, the problem of light pollution has become too prevalent.
All species (plants and animals, including humans) are genetically adapted to definitive biological clocks or circadian rhythms. These rhythms are regulated by cues from unchanging days, nights, and seasons, which dictate important life functions and natural behaviors of animals such as sleep-wake cycles, breeding, reproduction, hunting, predation, migration, etc. But, these cycles have been long disturbed by humans lighting up the night.
Plastic, previously lauded for its longevity, has become a serious threat to the planet. From our kitchens to roadsides, hanging with the branches of the trees to floating in our water channels, from deep oceanic trenches to far north at the highest of the peaks--it is found everywhere! Our life is incomplete without single-use plastics like plastic bags, bottles, coffee cups, straws, grocery and trash bags, food packaging and storage containers, utensils and cutlery, just to name a few.
All of these single-use plastics are responsible for a major chunk (about 40%) of plastic pollution, particularly in the marine environment.
Being a fossil product, it takes up to 1,000 years to naturally degrade, meaning that every bit of plastic ever produced still exists, either in landfills or oceans. But this hasn’t affected its production, which has been soaring since the 1950s and became popular in the 1970s, then replaced paper by the end of the 1980s. According to a 2017 study, about 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic has been produced so far, and the number is bound to double by 2050.
Long before the landfill and environmental regulations, anything and everything was simply dumped directly or buried under the ground at an abandoned site, typically known as dumpsites. A landfill serves the same function as a dumping site, except that the former is well-engineered and regulated by the government.
According to the U.S. EPA, 4.4 pounds of trash are produced per capita per day in the U.S., amounting to over 250 million tonnes of garbage per year. We’re generating trash more than we can deal with sustainably. Only a tiny fraction of this trash is recycled, rest (or a part of it) ends in incinerators, landfills, or oceans-where it’d be sitting centuries from now. Only 9% of the plastic ever produced is recycled!
When we think about the cacophony of noise in the environment, we rarely consider military noise pollution and often overlook its toll on humans and animals. Throughout the military service, noisy equipment and processes expose all military personnel and servicemen to hazardous noise levels that pose the risk of ear damage or permanent hearing loss. The constant noises not only wreak havoc on our auditory systems, but it also affects wildlife in their natural environment, from disrupting their communication and hunting abilities to mating.
Ocean acidification is frequently interpreted as the evil twin of climate change. For about three centuries, there has been an unnatural spike in carbon dioxide concentrations in our oceans. There’s more of it in the atmosphere than there was in the last 20 million years. This comes from human-based sources mostly. Fossil fuel refineries, fossil-based power plants, industries, land-use changes, and transportation are the main outlets of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide gas. These unbridled carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for ocean acidification.
Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface and absorb about one-quarter of the carbon dioxide. Oceans help sustain life on earth. They are the home to oxygen-generating phytoplankton, kelp, and algae. They also provide nutrients and maintain food webs as well as support the fish and tourism industry, absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, and regulate the climate.
Mining sites have considerably increased in number worldwide with the high demand for valuable minerals and geological materials. The non-renewable products are mined on large-scale that cannot be fabricated artificially. These naturally exhaustible resources are now an everyday commodity. We interact with minerals, including the calcite from our toothpaste, phosphate in fertilizer, gold and diamonds in our jewels, copper in wires, and plastics from fossil fuels.
The mine project, Pebble Mine, is aimed at the extraction of precious metals like gold and toxic metals like copper. Copper is of real concern, since it is widely used in wiring, electric appliances, medical instruments, solar panels, wind turbines, and various other infrastructure developments. However, it is not the only mineral that is extracted in the United States.
Where the world is witnessing the record lows of Arctic Minimum Ice Extent, Global Methane Emissions strike the record high!
Global atmospheric concentrations of various greenhouse gases, i.e., carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other halogenated greenhouse gases, have constantly amplified over the past few hundred years. Each of these gases hangs around in the atmosphere long enough to ensure uniform mixing. It means that the amount of the gas measured in the atmosphere is roughly the same all over the world, regardless of the source of the emissions.