Environmental Issues Caused by Human Consumption

Human actions such as deforestation, pollution, urban sprawl and development, have an adverse effect on living organisms. These actions lead to the destruction and degradation of the natural habitat of the organisms. This could in turn lead to the extinction of the native species that are found in that given ecosystem. Pollution has destroyed the terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The destruction of the ecosystems affects the living organisms including humans in various ways. The ecosystems provide fresh air for breathing and filtering drinking water. They are also the source of food, medicine, and shelter. Thus, the destruction of the ecosystems has a direct effect on the human health and the economy of a nation.

Human beings have invented new production methods like clearing of forests and natural environment to create room for development and expansion. The phenomenon by which the urban areas extend into the undeveloped land is called urban sprawl. The human population has increased tremendously hence the need to make room for more housing, buildings, parking lots and expansion of agricultural land. They cut down trees so as to acquire timber for construction of the houses and also for fuel. They also use the timber for building of roads and buildings in the urban areas. The cutting down of trees by human beings is called deforestation. This production habit has caused an adverse impact on the surrounding environment (Slattery, 2007).

Another production method is the careless industrial practices that lead to pollution. The untreated effluents from the industries flow into the water bodies causing water pollution. The emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere has resulted in acid rains. The gases cause acidification in the atmosphere and the acid rain results which cause destruction to crops and the biodiversity. The release of the chlorofluorocarbons from the industries has also led to the destruction of the ozone layer. This causes the passage of harmful rays to the earth’s atmosphere causing skin cancer and other problems in humans (Slattery, 2007).

A consumption habit that humans have developed is the consumption of gas, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Due to urban sprawling, there is increased consumption of energy by automobiles leading to the release of carbon dioxide gas which causes air pollution. Carbon also accumulates in the atmosphere contributing to the greenhouse effect which in turn causes global warming. Another consumption habit related to material resources is the interference of the porous ground by clearing the forests for building of houses and shopping malls, and creating of parking lots. When it rains, the rain water runs off the non-porous ground, and it collects pollutants such as spilled oils and drains them into the nearby rivers and streams. This leads to water pollution in the nearby water bodies and the pollution could also kill the aquatic animals and plants. The surface runoff also facilitates flooding and lowers the ground water levels. This is because, instead of the water percolating into the ground, it runs off the non-porous surface into the nearby water bodies (Slattery, 2007).

Discuss efforts that must be considered about these production and consumption habits in order to sustain the global population?
The rate of emission should be minimized as much as possible. The building of more compact neighborhoods can help reduce traffic considerably. The need for transportation will decrease, and the rate of pollution that results from emission from automobiles will also decrease. The reduction in emission of gases into the atmosphere will help reduce the falling of acid rain and climate change that is brought about by global warming. Extinction of the endangered species could be prevented by avoiding destruction of the habitats. Reducing the encroachment into the undeveloped land and the exploitation of plants and animals could help save the destruction of biodiversity. Alternative ways of dealing with the urban sprawl should be implemented.

This can be enhanced by advocating for the government to liaise with the private sectors on implementing the alternative ways. As much as the sprawl has environmental problems, it also has some environmental benefits due to increased innovations in development, planning, architecture and infrastructure expansion. The industries should treat their waste materials and effluents before releasing them to the nearby water bodies so as to minimize water pollution. Pollution caused by surface run off water can be minimized by building of more compact buildings so as not to interfere with the porous ground that allow percolation of water into the ground. This will increase the levels of the underground water and minimize flooding. Human beings should also look for alternative ways of obtaining fuel and timber rather than clearing forests. Deforestation causes the degradation of biodiversity and extinction of endangered species (Harper, 2004).

Slattery M.C., (2007) Contemporary Environmental Issues: Land Use Change and Biodiversity Loss. Texas Christian University. Chapter 4, pp. 113-142
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Frederick H. Buttel and Craig H. Humphrey (2002) “Sociological Theory and the Natural Environmentpp. 3369