What is environmental degradation?
Environmental degradation is essentially when the environment deteriorates due to pollution, wildlife extinction, and ecosystem devastation. The causes of environmental degradation are not always human-caused and can be due to natural disasters.
There are multiple types of environmental degradation with different causes, including soil, atmosphere and water degradation.
That being said, humans can be an indirect cause due to climate change and the warming of the planet causing more natural disasters in general.
Conserving our environment for the future is vital, let’s take a look at some of the top causes of environmental degradation and some possible solutions.
It’s no secret that there are a LOT of people on the planet. Feeding and providing for this amount of people is difficult, but a bigger problem than overpopulation is overconsumption.
Essentially, we are consuming more than the world can produce. Think about oil use. Single-use plastics are used daily by many people and most go to landfills. We have to create alternatives to plastic for multiple reasons, but the nice thing is hemp plastic is becoming more mainstream!
Overconsumption causes environmental degradation in multiple ways. Landfills can leak into the soil and degrade the soil. Oil spills are a prevalent issue also, which negatively impact water and wildlife.
We were just talking about landfills and oil spills, so let’s talk about how pollution causes environmental degradation.
Water and air pollution can affect the environment negatively, causing bad air quality and unsafe drinking water. Soil can get polluted by landfills as already said, but also agriculture can affect soil quality with the misuse of pesticides and fertilizers.
Dumping of trash and chemicals into waterways also can lead to unsafe drinking water.
Climate Change and Changes in Temperature
Climate change has been speeding up since the industrial era. Carbon emissions largely come from agriculture, industry and electricity and heat production.
The change in temperature causes icy areas to melt, degrading the environment for animals that live in those ecosystems. Eventually, sea levels will rise due to global temperature rising causing even more degradation on land.
Flooding and Natural Disasters
Flooding and natural disasters also degrade the environment. Hurricanes are becoming more and more common, as well as severe storms in general.
The increase in flooding causes the loss of biodiversity in an ecosystem, and can reduce food within it. The surviving wildlife have trouble adapting to the new environment.
Invasive species, usually brought to new areas by humans, can wreak havoc on an ecosystem and is a major cause for environmental degradation.
For example, in Hawaii humans introduced mongoose in 1883 to control rat populations for the sugar cane industry. As a result of introducing mongoose, the hawaiian islands lost 95 unique bird species out of 142 that exist nowhere else.
Invasive species are a big threat to biodiversity as we’ve seen them cause extinctions time and time again.
How can we mitigate the causes of environmental degradation?
Eat less meat
Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions due to cows. Eating less meat causes fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and if everyone did, we could mitigate the rapid rise in global temperatures.
Hold corporations accountable
Large energy companies and other corporations are another big cause for environmental degradation and climate change. We must hold them accountable via legislature in order to fix the environment.
Encourage the switch to hemp plastic
Hemp plastic is biodegradable and allows us to get rid of single use plastics. This is an eco friendly alternative that will likely start picking up steam in the coming years.
Cut down the use of single-use plastic
If possible, use refillable containers and metal straws to weaken the demand for plastics. The best solution is legislative action that will stop companies from using plastic so carelessly, but in the meantime, we can make a difference by doing it ourselves.
Final thoughts on the causes of environmental degradation
The majority of environmental degradation is caused by humans, either directly or indirectly. We have to hold large corporations accountable and reduce our reliance on meat to have the biggest impact. Additionally, the use of plastic is out of control and we need other alternatives now. We can also simply try to produce less trash and consume less in general.
If you liked this article, check out our other articles on sustainability, such as our article on causes of lake pollution.
If I missed something, feel free to comment below or shoot us a message via the contact us page!