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After the industrial revolution, although people’s technology and living standards have been significantly improved, a series of problems have brought about. There are a great deal of negative effects on the environment that are caused by human activities. This essay will focus on some of the negative impacts of human beings such as climate change, contamination and loss of biodiversity, and what institutions and individuals can do to protect the environment.
Global warming is a significant problem caused by human beings, which is based on the consumption of natural resources such as oils, and also can bring various environment challenges. It is widely agreed that ‘the limited ability of the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb greenhouse gas emissions without producing deleterious changes in climate may prove the most significant ecological limit of all, making prevention of global warming a critical challenge.’( Jorgenson & Dunlap ,2012:3) As people burn fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, or cut done forests and burn them, a large amount of greenhouse gas, namely carbon dioxide, are produced, and it is the most important substance that causes global warming. The above cause of global warming can result in several negative results. Firstly, can cause sea levels to rise, because global temperatures are rising, causing glaciers to melt, which can lead to some low-lying areas to be submerged. Then, as global temperatures rise, cold seasons will shorten then warm and hot seasons will lengthen. Although higher temperatures can speed up some crop growth, it also hurts crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans because of its inadaptability. It is clear that human activities like burning of fossil fuels cause global warming which lead to several negative results in our homelands.
Additionally, contamination also has become a notablely environmental issue in the world, which can reflect in water, air and soil. Water pollution is a more and more serious phenomenon that is caused by harmful chemicals, with many pollutants and complex components. Not only these hazardous substances is difficult to purify, but it spread easily in ocean and rivers. It is easy for living creature to drink polluted water, which can increase their cancer rate (Vartiainen & Pukkala, 1993). Meanwhile, gas emission by transportation, factory production and the mining of heavy metal all can result in air pollution. Brunekreek and Holgate said that ‘exposure to pollutants such as airborne participate matter and ozone has even associated with increases in mortality and hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease’(2002:1233-1244). Similarly, soil pollution occurs when it contains more harmful substances than the soil self-purification ability, which pollutants always include plastics, nuclear, chemical and industrial waste. Its decomposition products accumulate gradually in the soil through plants, and then are absorbed indirectly by the human body, causing harm to people’s health, such as chronic poisoning and intestinal infection. A great deal of contamination caused by human beings can be seen everywhere around us, affecting people’s health.
Ehrlich and Wilson state that human activities has caused massive extinction rate now, and it result in the loss of vital ecosystem services to a large extent(1991). Human beings need more space and foods to alive and develop, because of the growth of global population. Therefore, it appears to show some phenomena of exploitation by human: over farming, hunting without limit and deforestation, which can lead to a great deal of animals have lost their homelands, foods even life. Besides, reduction of biodiversity also cut food cycle in all creatures and even threatens ecosystem services. ‘Biodiversity has key role at all levels of the ecosystem service hierarchy: as a regulator of underpinning ecosystem processes, as a final ecosystem service and as a good that is subject to valuation, whether economic or otherwise’(Georgina,2012). For example, loss of biodiversity affects the cultural values of ecosystem service which contains the appreciation of wildlife species and landscapes, spiritual pleasure, educational, religious, and recreational values. As a result, over exploitation leads to loss of biodiversity which deeply affects the normal biosphere.
What is more, due to the above environmental problems, it is important that individuals try to find methods to protect our living space. Firstly, citizens should take more public transportation to replace private cars with high-cost fossil fuel, or use clean energy, such as electric vehicles, can also reduce greenhouse gases to limit global warming by individuals. Secondly, garbage classification is the key to reducing pollution which every citizen could do. They can sort hazardous materials like batteries to its relevant trash can, because professional treatment can avoid the spread of harmful substances. Thirdly, individuals forest planning could protect biodiversity, and it is already happening in some developed countries. Finally, advocation of a green and low carbon lifestyle is another available method, in other words, they can reduce their carbon footprints as well. For example, individuals can eliminate waste on foods, clothes, beauty products and other products that are not necessary. Conceivably, individuals can through their own ways make contributions for our homelands sustainable development.
Institutions have some solutions to reduce the impact of human activities on the earth’s environment. Firstly, institutions should control carbon emission and develop new energy. It may be necessary that governments can increase tax of fossil fuel to encourage people use clean energy, like solar energy, or taking more public transportation, which can reduce greenhouse gas and alleviate global warming. Secondly, governments could pay more attention on refuse disposal, which can reduce contamination in water and soil. They can make laws about punishing factories or individuals for excessive emission of pollutants, which could supervise institutions and citizens radical reducing pollution. Thirdly, to control the loss of biodiversity, institutions can make natural reserve and restrict deforestation to protect rare animals’ homelands. Explosion of environment resources is mainly due to the significantly increasing global population, so controlling the population, such as family control, is a foundational way to protect our natural environment. Besides, technology gives people access to many technical facilities, vehicles and equipment with great potential for material efficiency, energy conservation, waste reduction and environmental noise levels (Von Weizs¨acker, Lovins, & Lovins, 1997). Development of technology can be adopted by institutions and companies, which can bring not only benefits of environment, but also the economic profits. Lastly, there is no doubt that education is other necessary way to remind people to protect environment and teach them how to do it, such as putting public service advertising. As a result ,there are a large amount of methods that institutions could do to deal with environment issues.
In conclusion, human activities indeed bring negative influences to our homelands’ environment, and a great deal of these could be alleviated by individuals’ and institutions’ different ways. The burning of fossil fuels is the of the main reasons for global warming, which could be combatted through taxation from the government and more use of public transport by individuals.
Contamination in water, air and soil are caused by the discharge of harmful substances in people’s life, to reducing the environmental pollution, the government could makes laws to supervise the sorting of rubbish by citizens.
To mitigate the loss of biodiversity caused by human’s exploitation, individuals can plant trees and institutions can build wild life reserve. However, it is still a difficult and long-term way to offset the harm that human beings did to environment.
- Jorgenson, A & Dunlap, R (2012), ‘Environment Problems’. ResearchGate.
- Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269409535
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- Vartiainen, T & Pukkala, E (1993), ‘Population exposure to tri- and tetrachloroethene and cancer risk: Two cases of drinking water pollution’. Sciencedirect, volume 27, issue7, pages 1117-1181. Available from:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0045653593901652 [Accessed on 26 October 2019]
- Brunekree, B & Holgate ST , (2002,) ‘Air pollution and health’ ,The Lancet, volume 360, is issue 9341, pages 1233-1242 [online] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673602112748 [Accessed on 26 October 2019]
- Ehrlich, P & Wilson, E (1991) ‘biodiversity studies: science and policy’,Science, vol.253, issue 5021, pp. 768-762
- Mace, G (2012 January) ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship’.Trends in Ecology& Evolution, volume 27, issue 1, pages 19-26 [online] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534711002424
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- Von Weizs¨acker, E. U., Lovins, A. B., & Lovins, L. H. (1997). ‘Doubling wealth, halving resource us’. The new report to the Club of Rome. London: Earthscan.
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