ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: IMPACTS AND MITIGATION
By Jonathan Tijani
The environment we live in is very old and it is known to consist of both living and non-living organisms. In one way or the other, the living and non-living occupants of the environment interact with one and other for the continuation of lives and other activities. For a better understanding of the terms of discussion, a concise definition of environmental degradation is given as “the decline of the environmental system due to human activity and intervention.”Environmental degradation, however, has always occurred. Humans have increased our reliance on the environment since the beginning of the human race and as technology expanded. With improvements and advancements in the advent use of technologies and an increase in population, an increase in environmental degradation over time occurs. Industrial wastes and carbons generated from new industries causes this environmental degradation, making the environment less habitable and increases health hazards over time.Therefore, it is necessary to discuss the impacts of environmental degradation and how it can be mitigated with time. In as much as it is important to discuss the impacts and how environmental degradation could be mitigated, it is also necessary to look into the causes of degradation. Some examples are as follows: environmental pollution, overpopulation, deforestation, consumption behavior, lack of education to mention a few.Environmental pollution has been one of the sole contributors to environmental degradation since the time of the industrial revolution, the invention of heat engines in vehicles and so on. According to The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution in the U.K. in its third report gave the following definition to pollution: “The introduction by man into the environment of substances or energy liable to cause hazards to human health, harm to living resources and ecological systems, damage to structure or amenity or interference with legitimate uses of the environment”.
Environmental degradation can be categorized into natural and man-made. Natural environmental degradation occurs in the form of earthquakes, floods, drought, fire, and other natural systems. Man-made environmental degradation comes from all human activities. Other forms include air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, radioactive pollution, etc. By nature, pollution leads to environmental crises because of our perspective and reliance upon these systems. Every bit of pollution we release into the environment makes the environment less habitable for humans.
Similarly, overpopulation has also played a crucial impact on the degradation of the environment. An increase in population increases consumption rate and demand for materials goods which in turn leads to the release of harmful substances from the industries into the environment. This contributes to global climate change and major alterations to the environment that are difficult to analyze. Also, the population size directly or indirectly contributes to noise pollution and air pollution from the use of cars, and other technology reliant upon fossil fuels. These contribute crisis to the ecological system of the environment. However, mankind is blessed by the environment as well. For every tree that grows, carbon sequestration occurs. Sequestration is the process by which carbon dioxide is broken down into oxygen and carbon. Trees are masters at sequestration using photosynthesis and therefore provide more oxygen to the environment and remove potentially harmful gases (carbon dioxide) from the environment. This sequestration process is necessary to balance the natural ecosystem. Deforestation (cutting down trees either for space creation or for consumption) has distorted the natural flow of the system and allows those harmful gases escape into the environment, resulting in global warming.
Many people are not aware of how their behavior, daily intervention, and actions influence the health of our environment. People are too busy to have a thought of the environment where they reside and have not taken time and energy to take care of it. Ignorance is harming our environment. For our environment to be habitable and to make sure it is never going to pose harm to health, it is very important to mitigate environmental degradation. There are several ways in which environmental degradation could be reduced or mitigated, these include: setting out regulating bodies that control and coordinate the affairs of industries and its production system processes, the location of the industries and the proper disposal of industrial wastes especially the harmful and non-reusable ones. It is very important to provide adequate awareness to teach people the danger of environmental degradation and the importance of paying adequate attention and time to various intervention with the environment. Also, deforestation should be regulated and more trees should be planted in place of a single tree cut, this will help reverse the effect of environmental degradation resulting from the global warming of the environment. For the sake of better health, a hazard-free environment, and the prosperity of the human race, it is important to be aware of the actions that cause degradation of the environment. As such, necessary “mitigation” measures are needed in order to counter the impacts we have on our environment on a world-wide scale. How do we do that? Through education, and awareness of the environment, the process of restoring our world to a natural balance begins with you!
Thank you for reading,