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Human impact on the environment

Introduction

There is no doubt that our environment is constantly changing. However, as the environment changes, so does the need to become increasingly aware of the challenges that we face (DeSombre, 2017).  To begin with, climate change is a reality in our current society. The Earth is warming up, and we are the contributors to the problem. Climate change is attributed to rising temperatures causing the melting of polar ice caps. Additional environmental problems that people face are floods, heatwaves, water pollution, and public health issues, among others. Therefore, all across the globe, people are facing a wealth of new and challenging environmental problems like climate change contributing to various health issues.

Climate change

Climate change is a major environmental problem that has become a reality for many people across the globe. It is caused by the rise in temperature of the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels as well as release of gases by industries. The industrial revolution brought with it various environmental impacts (Asadieh & Krakauer, 2017). The burning of fossil fuel to supply industries with energy has contributed to the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere causing global warming. It is worth noting that climate change is happening today across the globe. Countries across the globe are experiences climate change issues such as melting of polar ice, shifts in seasons, frequent occurrences of floods,  heatwaves, drought, and change in overall weather scenarios.

One of the impacts of climate change being felt across the globe is heat waves. Heatwaves are happening more regularly than they used to in major cities across the US. By definition, a heatwave is unusual hot weather resulting from slowly moving air masses of relatively high temperature. As shown in the map, most of the states in the US have experienced a heatwave. Most of the states in the US have been hit with instances of heat waves disrupting their normal operations. However, the most severe impact of heatwaves is often linked with high temperatures at night that is when the daily minimum often happens. During hit waves, people are unable to carry out their day-to-day operations. Therefore, the prevalence of heatwaves in the US indicates the impact it has on people, especially the affected areas.

The other impact of climate change is frequent floods. Floods are one of the most common natural disasters in the US. Their damage is so dire that they are responsible for 90% of all US natural disasters. In addition, flooding results in damage to properties and loss of life in the areas affected. The US is one of the countries that have experienced regular floods. For example, the heaviest flooding happened along the Mississippi basin in North Dakota, Minnesota, Lowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. Most of these states’ leaves system could not withstand crest levels. A relatively high number of floods reports were seen from the Northwest into Mideast. One of the regions where floods stood out was along the border between Northwest Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota.

Drought is one of the climate change effects that people are experiencing across the world. Drought is defined as a lack of precipitation over a season. For centuries, people living in west America have experienced drought. It is worth noting that at any time, a drought of about moderate intensity covers 10% of the US. The proportion increases during an extended drought. For instance, about 45% of the US, by area, is gripped by drought of at least moderate intensity. California is among the states in the US that have experienced some instances of drought. The economy suffers a lot because of drought because of the increase in the cost of producing crops and livestock. Power costs could also rise along the coast because of extreme cases of drought. For example, about 15% of power is generated by a hydropower plant, which needs water as a source of energy.

Effects of pollution

Pollution is among the aspects that people are contributing to health issues. The main type of pollution is air pollution and water pollution. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, about 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based sources (Gerlach, 2013). However, the issue is largely influenced by pollution that emanates from industries and emissions from vehicles, among others. Similar to water pollution, air pollution is caused by land-based sources like industries. Currently, almost all nations across the globe are experiencing water and air pollution. This means that the air that we breathe is contaminated. This is an indication that we are going in the wrong direction.

Air pollution is one of the environmental problems that we are experiencing across the globe. Industries and motor vehicle exhaust are the main pollutants (Silva et al. 2017).  Air pollution is becoming a major problem across the globe because of the increases in the number of pollutants and pollution rates. This pollution is among the world’s leading risk factors for death. In 2017, air pollution was responsible for about 5 million deaths across the globe. It means that it is attributed to about 9% or one in every ten deaths across the world (Aydın & İlkılıc, 2017). As shown in the map, deaths attributed to air pollution is high among low-income countries compared to high-income countries. In addition, the burden of air pollution is high in developing countries because of their over-dependence on solid fuels for cooking.

Water pollution also results in the absence of clean water for consumption. Human activities are the main contributor to pollution. From large pieces of waste materials to invisible materials, a vast pollutant ends up into the lakes, rivers, groundwater, as well as to the oceans. Water pollution alongside drought and high population have led to a crisis on fresh-water, threatening various source that we depend on for drinking and other important needs (Cairns, 2017). However, it is worth noting that the effects are detrimental to people and the whole ecosystem. The global issue of water pollution is affecting our health. Heavy metal exposure can lead to kidney, nervous system, and cardiovascular problems. This explains the increase in the number of people with chronic diseases such as cancer, among others. Therefore, when we pollute the environment, we risk our lives and other people’s lives altogether.

Many people across the globe are exposed to unsafe water because of the increasing rate of pollution. Unclean water leads to many deaths annually compared to war and all other forms of violence put together. Moreover, our safe water sources are scarce because less than 1% of the earths clean water is accessible to people. In the absence of proper action, this problem will only increase in the coming decades, when the world’s demand for clean water is expected to be about 40% than it is currently (Nazif, Tavakolifar & Eslamian, 2017). As shown in the map, the burden of death from unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene is more in low-income countries compared to high-income countries. This means that people living in undeveloped countries, especially in Africa, consume unsafe water, which affects contributes to health complications they experience. However, people living in developed countries often purify their water before consumption hence lowering the risk of death or diseases related to the use of dirty water.

Effects of Acid rain

Acid rain is precipitation, which contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids (Shukla et al. 2013). This type of rain can also occur in the form of snow, and fog that land on the planet. The normal rain is slightly acidic because it has a pH of 5.6, whereas acid rain has a pH that ranges between 4.2 and 4.4 (Shukla et al. 2013). As shown on the map, most of the acid rain falls on Europe and part of North America, especially on the Eastern part. Moreover, it is slightly experienced in South America and some parts of Asia. Acid rain has a lot of impact on the ecosystem, especially on plants and animals. Acid rain has various negative impacts, particularly on lakes and other water bodies. Acid rain makes these waters bodies acidic to the point that it affects the ecosystem. This makes waters toxic to aquatic animals such as fish and coral reefs, among others.  

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Conclusion

Almost all the countries across the globe have experienced some environmental challenges. The main environmental challenge felt across the globe is climate change. Climate change has different harmful impacts but not limited to the melting of ice in the Polar Regions, changes in seasons, drought, heatwaves, regular floods, and change in overall weather. The US is one of the countries that have experienced environmental challenges like heat waves and constant flooding, amongst others, which are related to climate change. The other environmental challenges we experience are the impacts of water and air pollution and acid rain. Therefore, if we go on with the current trend towards the future, then there will be no future to consider.

References

Asadieh, B., & Krakauer, N. Y. (2017). Global change in streamflow extremes under climate change over the 21st century. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 21(11), 5863.

Aydın, H., & İlkılıç, C. (2017). Air pollution, pollutant emissions, and harmful effects. Journal of Engineering and Technology, 1(1), 8-15.

Cairns, J. E. (2017). Biological monitoring in water pollution. Elsevier.

DeSombre, E. R. (2017). Global environmental institutions. Taylor & Francis.

Gerlach, S. A. (2013). Marine pollution: diagnosis and therapy. Springer Science & Business Media.

Nazif, S., Tavakolifar, H., & Eslamian, S. (2017). Climate change impact on urban water deficit. In Handbook of Drought and Water Scarcity (pp. 81-106). CRC Press.

Silva, R. A., West, J. J., Lamarque, J. F., Shindell, D. T., Collins, W. J., Faluvegi, G., … & Rumbold, S. T. (2017). Future global mortality from changes in air pollution attributable to climate change. Nature climate change, 7(9), 647-651.

Shukla, J. B., Sundar, S., –, S. H. I. V. A. N. G. I. & Naresh, R. (2013). Modeling and analysis of the acid rain formation due to precipitation and its effect on plant species. Natural Resource Modeling, 26(1), 53-65.

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