Environmental degradation: definition, causes and consequences

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Currently, environmental degradation is one of the greatest threats to our planet. Environmental deterioration occurs due to various damages to the environment. The different factors that produce environmental deterioration are very varied and it is important to correctly identify them, to correct them and find solutions.

In this Green Ecologist article, we analyze the environmental deterioration: definition, causes and consequences.

What is environmental deterioration or deterioration of the environment

The environment is an ecological unit that houses both living and non-living components, that is, biotic and abiotic, that inhabit it. Among the living components are plants and animals and among the non-living, we find soils, lakes, rivers, streams or air.

Environmental degradation is the loss of the environment's ability to meet needs social, biodiversity and environmental aspects of the earth. Environmental degradation occurs when the earth's natural resources are depleted or damaged and the environment is compromised.

The consequences of this deterioration are varied and can be the extinction of species, loss of biodiversity, loss of air quality, water pollution, soil erosion or increased greenhouse effect. While many of these effects are not visible in the short term, they are noticeable in the long term. It is for this reason that current actions may have an impact on environmental deterioration future.

Causes of environmental degradation

The causes influencing environmental degradation they are very varied. Among them are:

Pollution deteriorates the environment

We call pollution disturbance caused in the environment by the introduction of different substances to the environment and that exert a negative effect on it. There are different types of contamination, which are usually divided according to the affected environment. The most well-known and studied types of pollution are soil, atmospheric, water and noise pollution, but there are also other less known ones such as light, visual, thermal, electromagnetic, radioactive or genetic pollution.

Another method of classifying contamination is according to the degree of dispersion of the contaminants. Thus we have:

  • Point contamination: contaminants are located at a single point, such as a drain.
  • Diffuse contamination: pollutants are diffused through the environment, such as acid rain by the action of the wind.

Environmental deterioration by the industrial sector

Much of the environmental deterioration is due to industrial activities, which produce goods for society at the cost of damaging the environment, generating pollutants or giving the population the necessary elements to continue deteriorating the environment.

Habitat deterioration

The deterioration of the habitat is produced in large part by activities carried out by humans, such as the construction of dams or tourism on the coast, which worsen the conditions of the habitat, affecting the animal and plant species that inhabit it.

Another cause of environmental deterioration is the introduction of invasive species, since not being natural inhabitants of that habitat, they alter its conditions.

Consequences of environmental degradation for humans

Environmental degradation can have effects on humans or your health. Some of them are:

  • Poverty, especially in underdeveloped countries.
  • Lack of access to basic resources such as drinking water.
  • Spread of pathogenic insects or disease vectors.
  • Contamination of water with pathogenic microorganisms or polluting chemical substances, damaging the health of human beings.
  • Possible diseases or complications in humans due to pollutants such as respiratory conditions, increased incidence of some types of cancers, electromagnetic sensitivity or deafness problems.
  • Diffusion of substances harmful to human health in food, mainly due to contamination of water with heavy metals.

Consequences of environmental degradation for biodiversity

Both plant and animal species suffer the consequences of environmental deterioration. Some are:

  • Increase in the stranding of marine mammals on the beaches, due to stress and disorientation due to noise pollution.
  • Death of fish by the accumulation of heavy metals in the waters and by other pollutants such as plastic.
  • Species migration due to light pollution or climate change.
  • Extinction of animal and plant species due to climate change or pollutants derived from the use of pesticides or herbicides.
  • Migration of species to places that are not their natural habitats, becoming invasive species.
  • Damages to plant species due to factors such as acid rain, soil contamination by chemical substances or spills or water contamination.
  • Salinization of coastal areas as a consequence of rising sea levels.

Consequences for the planet

In summary, the consequences of environmental deterioration for the planet are as follows:

  • Global warming and desertification, due to increased levels of CO2 and other atmospheric pollutants.
  • Increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes or droughts.
  • Eutrophication of fresh waters, due to contamination of the waters.
  • Increase in soil erosion due to massive water logging.
  • Increase in landfills with toxic waste, which are then washed away by the rains or infiltrated into the subsoil.

If you want to read more articles similar to Environmental degradation: definition, causes and consequences, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.

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