Human Impact on the Environment Section 23-1 Pages 441-446 Human activity damages the biosphere.
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Human Impact on the Environment
Over-Population, destruction of habitats for agriculture and mining, pollution from industry and transportation, and many other activities all contribute to the damage of the environment. Some of the destructive consequences of human activity are:
The burning of fossil fuels and forests increases CO2in the atmosphere.
Increases in CO2 cause more heat to be trapped in the earth's atmosphere.
As a result, global temperatures are rising.
Warmer temperatures raise sea levels (by melting more ice) and decrease agriculture output (by affecting weather patterns).
These images of the ozone hole were taken by NASA between September 1981 and September 1999.
Suspended Particles – made up of soot, smoke, dust and liquid droplets.
Associated health hazard: particles and soot exposure over a long period of time is related to a wide range of chronic respiratory illness such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases as well as worsening heart conditions and other conditions.
Nitrogen Dioxide – caused by fuel combustion, aerobic decomposition and nitrogenous fertilizers.
Sulfur Dioxide – produce by the combustion of fossil fuels, with motor vehicles and small and varied sources (such as boilers and stoves) contributing the most.
Associated health hazard: causes acid rain and can be extremely detrimental to the health of the young and elderly.
Two types of water pollutants exist; point source and nonpoint source.
Point sources occur when harmful substances are emitted directly into a body of water. The Exxon Valdez oil spill best illustrates a point source water pollution.
A nonpoint source delivers pollutants indirectly through environmental changes. An example of this type of water pollution is when fertilizer from a field is carried into a stream by rain, in the form of run-off which in turn effects aquatic life.
The technology exists for point sources of pollution to be monitored and regulated, although political factors may complicate matters.
Nonpoint sources are much more difficult to control. Pollution arising from nonpoint sources accounts for a majority of the contaminants in streams and lakes.
Soil pollution is mainly due to chemicals in herbicides (weed killers) and pesticides (poisons which kill insects and other invertebrate pests).
Litter is waste material dumped in public places such as streets, parks, picnic areas, at bus stops and near shops.
Waste Disposal: the accumulation of waste threatens the health of people in residential areas.
Waste decays, encourages household pests and turns urban areas into unsightly, dirty and unhealthy places to live in.
U.S. Oil Field
As a result of human activities, especially the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, plants and animals are becoming extinct at a faster rate than the planet has ever previously experienced.
If they were to survive, scientists believe many of the disappearing plants could become useful to humans as medicines, foods, and industrial products.
Coal production, 2002—by region.
The top ten coal producing countries in 2002.