Environmental Degradation


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Environmental Degradation and Human Diseases By Fannetta Powell

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What is Environmental Degradation? The deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources, such as air, water and soil. The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded.

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Factors of Environmental Degradation There are two factors that lead to environmental degradation: Natural factors includes droughts, storms on sea, land and deserts such as hurricanes, tornadoes, catrina and volcanic eruptions. These factors lead to land degradation caused by erosion. Human factors includes deforestation, industrialization and urbanization. These factors lead to water, air and land pollution.

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What are the positive and negative consequences of Environmental Degradation? Positive Urbanization– The physical growth of rural or natural land into urban areas as a result of population in-migration to an existing urban area. -Cities are places where money, services and wealth are centralized. -Social mobility and Diversity increases. - Greater Economic opportunities are created. Negative 1. Increases the cost of living, farmers become more mechanized putting labors out of work, reduces soil moisture, more resources are required to meet basic needs and air, water and soil pollution increases.

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Positive and Negative Consequences Continued… Positive 2. Industrialization-The setting up of industries in a specific area. Where it will be close to a source of raw material. -Creates new ideas, products and jobs. -Creates mass markets of investments -Creates commerce and revenue Soil and Land degradation-When fertile land is lost due to the increase of human population. -Construction of homes and highways for travel -farming of crops Negative Noise, air, water pollution occurs -Increase in health problems -Creates dangerous machinery - Creates overpopulation of urban areas that leads to shortage of resources 3. Creates land that is unsuitable for crops, pasture for animals and forests because the soil is too infertile or shallow to plan -Soil composition is greatly affected. -Lost of such minerals like nitrogen and phosphorus that are critical for plant growth -Increases food shortage

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Positive and Negative Consequences Continued… Positive Water Degradation-Water is the resource that defines all organisms life. “We can’t live without it” -Keeps the body hydrated -Essential for life -Helps maintain food supply Deforestation-The clearing of forest land (tropical forest). -Land cleared for paper, fuel and building materials to be used by humans - Land cleared and cut for logging and pulpwood -Land cleared for urban expansions Negative Food supply is threaten by polluted water. -Humans waste water by watering lawns and washing vehicles -Water polluted by chemical waste, pesticides, fertilizers and soil sediments that are being deposited into bodies of water After the tropical rain forest are cleared, little can grow on the land -Death and diseases can result from localized flooding caused by deforestation -Over-harvesting of fuel wood -Allows invasive species to enter into the forest. -Air pollution and acid rain occurs.

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Positive and Negative Consequences Continued… Positive Population growth-The rapid increase in the human population. -Provides laborers for jobs such has farming, manufactures and industries. Energy Usage- -Provides electricity for human usage Negative Rapid increase in disease and human deaths -Prosperity of life will decline -Puts enormous stress on the environment - limits the availability of natural resources for individuals survival. Generates pollution by burning coal and oil that contributes to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which has increased Global Warming.

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Examples of Environmental Degradation Water Degradation

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Examples of Environmental Degradation Urbanization-overpopulation of an urban area

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Example of Environmental Degradation Soil and Land Degradation Soil degradation through the burning of Organic rests.

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Example of Environmental Degradation Deforestation

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Example of Environmental Degradation Atmospheric pollution Smog from a chemical plant being released Pesticides being spread into the air and into the air. onto crops that are used for human consumption.

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Environmental Degradation affects on human health “In the United States and Worldwide, we have serious environmental resource problems of water, land and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition and the incidence of diseases.” Increases in diseases associated with diminishing quality of water, air and soil resources provide evidence of a declining standard of living. About 40 % of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and land pollution. Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases. Intestinal parasites introduced into humans through contaminated food, water, and soil, impact health by reducing intake of nutrients in various ways, including the rapid loss of nutrients through diarrhea or dysentery, alteration of appetite and blood loss. Hookworms for example can remove up to 30 cc of blood from a person in a single day, leaving the person weak and susceptible to other diseases.

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Diseases Associated with Environmental Degradation Air pollution Almost 4 million children worldwide die each year of acute respiratory infections that are linked to air pollution that is due to industrialization. Asthma is rising dramatically due to environmental allergies and overcrowding of homes. Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. Toxic chemicals are released into the environment—contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems. Water pollution 2.5 million children worldwide die each year of diarrhea diseases that are linked to contaminated water and soil. Agriculture degradation of water comes in the form of manure runoff from farming causing damage to local water quality by overloading it with nutrients, particularly phosphates. The manure contains pathogens to which humans are vulnerable. These pathogens can lead to acute short-term memory loss, asthma like symptoms, liver and kidney dysfunctions and blurred vision and vomitting.

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Diseases Associated with Environmental Degradation continued…. Water Pollution continued.. It is estimated that worldwide 1.2 billion people lack clean water. Therefore, waterborne infections account for 80 percent of all infectious diseases. Water pollution creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes and West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes. Urbanization has caused overcrowding of urban areas to create conditions that are unsanitary. Therefore, more people have been exposed to such diseases as measles and flu. Soil and land Soil is contaminated by many chemicals and pathogens which are passed on to humans through direct contact or via food and water. Pesticides are a type of pathogen that pass on their harmful toxic chemicals through food and water. The long- tem effects of pesticides include elevated cancer risks, and disruptions of the body’s reproductive, immune, endocrine and nervous system. Approximately 10,000 deaths occur each year due to pesticide poisonings. Studies have shown that pesticides have been linked to certain types of cancer.

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Diseases Associated with Environmental Degradation continued…. Atmospheric Pollution For over 150 years, the growth of our industrial society has been fueled by cheap energy, much of it is obtained by burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and gas) which release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide creates what has become known as the greenhouse effect where radiant energy from the sun is prevented from radiating into space. Therefore, the temperature of our atmosphere is rising. Global warming is predicted to have a major effect on rainfall patterns. Areas that have already been experiencing droughts are seeing water shortages. Climatic changes has caused catastrophic hurricanes and tornadoes. Global warming together with changes in biological diversity, influence parasite evolution and the ability of exotic species to invade new areas have resulted in diseases such as tuberculosis influenza re-emerging as major threats. New disease such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease have been linked to environmental degradation due to soil, water and air contamination. These diseases have developed and spread at a rapid rate. They are the new threats to human health due to environmental degradation.

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Economics of Environmental Degradation Monetary damages put environmental problems in terms that make policymakers and the public take notice. Water pollution Researchers have found that freshwater pollution by phosphorous and nitrogen costs government agencies, drinking water facilities and individual Americans as least 4.3 billion dollars annually. If your municipal water plant has to spend more money to treat the water coming through your tap, your water bills will increase. If you own a house on a lake that is becoming increasing polluted, your property values will more than likely drop. Productivity is affected by the costs of providing safe water, by constraints on economic activity caused by water shortages and by the adverse effects of water pollution and shortages of environmental resources such as, declining fisheries and aquifer depletion leading to irreversible compaction. Air pollution Restrictions on vehicles and industrial activity during critical periods of environmental degradation affects productivity, as does the affect of acid rain on forests and water bodies.

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Economics of Environmental Degradation continued… Soil degradation Depleted soil increase the risks of malnutrition for farmers. Productivity losses of topsoil that we use to produce our agricultural goods are being lost at an astounding rate due to our constantly tiling of the land. This tiling of the land allows rain water to wash away the nutrients from the rich topsoil. Loss of Biodiversity The extinction of plant and animal species will potentially affect the development of new drugs; it will reduce ecosystem adaptability and lead to the loss of genetic resources. Extinction is forever. This disastrous loss of biodiversity entails three costs: The direct economic value of products we might have obtained from species. The indirect economic value of benefits produced by species without our consuming them such as nutrient recycling in ecosystems. Their ethical and aesthetic value.

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Economics of Environmental Degradation continued… Atmospheric pollution Ozone depletion can cause an increase in climatic natural disasters. These natural disasters can lead to an increase in sea rise damage to coastal investments, regional changes in agricultural productivity and disruption of the marine food chain. In Conclusion: The impact of environmental degradation on the economics of a region can be devastating and critical to the survival of species including human beings. It is not difficult to see the value in protecting species, land and air that we use to obtain food, medicine, clothing, energy and shelter. However, when we put environmental problems in terms of dollars, we allow people to account for the actually cost of the environmental degradation. Degradation demands investment in environmental maintenance to ensure sustainability.

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Environmental Degradation in Develop and Developing Countries There are profound differences that exist between causes of death and diseases in developed and undeveloped countries. Developing countries account for 79% of the world’s population. These countries lack access to proper water and sewer systems. This lack of access has caused a great deal of water, soil and land degradation in developing countries such as Asia, India, Africa and Ghana. In Asia the number of households having access to water and toilets are as low as 20%. In India, only 23% have individual sanitation. In Africa, only 13% have proper access to sewage connections. Here in the United States, a developed country, 100% of the population has access to a proper sewage connection. In 1997, 27 developing countries reported cases cholera, which is disease that is often associated with inefficient sewage disposal. The insufficient sewer systems led to stagnate and polluted waters, which is a haven for mosquito's to proliferate. The tragic result is that this unclean water and poor sanitation kills 12 million people each year, due to mosquito-borne diseases and through water contaminated by human feces.

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Environmental Degradation in Develop and Developing Countries Most of the environmental degradation in developed countries is attributable to high consumption patterns. Each individual in a developed country exerts more pressure on the environment than perhaps 20 to 30 people in the less developed world. The United States, as 5% of the world’s population, uses an estimated 33 percent of the world’s resources, and causes an estimated 33 percent of the world’s pollution. In developing countries such as Asia, Africa and Latin America, 1 to 3 million children die due to acute respiratory infections, malaria and diarrhoeal diseases that are related to a lack of clean water and sanitation. Cholera is a disease that reappeared in 1997 in Latin American that claimed 11,000 lives and causing economic impacts worth an estimated $200 million in Peru alone. In developing countries there may be as many as 3.5 million to 5 million acute pesticide poisonings per year. In developed countries, the increasing international travel to developing countries and trade has provided new opportunities for the spread or re-emergence of infectious diseases. In the past two decades, some 30 new such diseases have appeared, including Lyme disease and rare haemorraghic fever such as Ebola.

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Environmental Laws In the United States are numerous environmental law. These laws are designed to protect the natural environment and our ecosystem by controlling pollution and protecting natural resources. Many of these laws are regulatory in nature. They are designed to change the private conduct in ways that will help preserve and protect human health and the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and with safeguarding the natural environment which includes air, water and land. Some of the laws governing our environment are as follows: The Endangered Species Act which seeks to protect various species of animals that are deemed to be threatened or endangered by human activity. The Clean Water and Clean Air Act regulate industrial, waste, disposal and other human activities that result in contamination of the air and water.

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Environmental Laws continued… The National Environmental Policy Act requires the federal government to consider environmental impact via an environmental impact assessment before taking any significant action, such as building a highway. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act allows EPA to register pesticides that will not cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” and requires EPA to cancel the registrations of pesticides later found to cause unreasonable adverse effects. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 adopted a pollution reduction goal for both and existing dischargers of water pollutants. The Amendments required new sources to install the “best available demonstrated control technology,” and that existing sources install the “best practicable control technology currently available” by 1977 and “best available technology economically achievable by 1983.

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What can we do to save our environment? Laws have been enacted to help conserve the Earth’s environment and ecosystem. However, citizens can help save our environment by doing the following things: Reduce pollution– we can wrap products in less paper and plastic. Scientist are working to make better biodegradable plastics. We can reuse plastic bags, rechargeable batteries. We can recycle items that are recyclable. Reduce pesticides- Some farmers are practicing organic farming. They do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Spray only pesticides that are targeted specifically for harmful insects. Protect habitats- Conserve wetlands. Reduce deforestation. Practice logging techniques that consider the environment. Use resources at a rate that allows them to be replenished. Enforce the Endangered Species Act by speeding up the process of getting endangered organisms listed. Develop alternative energy sources by increasing the use of solar power, wind power and other renewable energy sources.

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Resources Books Johnson B. George and Losos Jonathan (2008). Essentials of the Living World, second edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Holt Science Technology (2001). Life Science. Texas: Holt, Rinehart and Winston News Articles Freshwater Pollution Costs US At Least $4.3 Billion A Year. Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/08112124418.htm Pollution Causes 40 Percent of Deaths Worldwide, Study Finds. Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813162438.htm Abdullahi, UBA. Towards Environmental Sustainability. November 17, 2008, from http://www.triumpnewspapers.com/tow1382008.htm/

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Resources Continued… Internet Sources Developing Countries. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~scintech/toilets/developingcountries.htm/ Economic Growth: Sustainable Developments. Retrieved November 15, 2008 from http://www.cepr.org/pubs/bulletin/meets/2246.htm Das Sharma, Partha. Effects of Environmental Degradation. November 21, 2008, from http://knol.google.com/k/partha-das-sharma/environmental-degradation/om1631csgjs7/2? Environmental Degradation. Retrieved November 13, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmentaldegradation The Environment-A Global Challenge. Retrieved November 13, 2008 from http://library.thinkquest.org/26026/Science/environmentaldegradation.htm/ West, Larry. Malnutrition, Pollution and Population Growth Spur Increase of Deadly Diseases. Retrieved November 14,2008 from http://environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/a/malnutrition.htm McGarity, Thomas O., The Goals of Environmental Legislation. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://www.bc.edu/schools/law/lawreviews/meta-elements/journals/bcealr/31

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Resources Continued… Internet Sources United States Environmental Law. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wili/UnitedStatesEnvironmentalLaw United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved November 13, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UnitedStatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency Urbanization. Retrieved November 21, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization Pimental, D.; Bailey, O. ; Mullaney, K; Calabrese, J.; Walman, L; Nelson, F.; Yao, X (1999) Retrieved November 17, 2008 from Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences from http://dieoff.org/page174.htm

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