“The Effects of Negative Human Interaction on the Environment” This essay will discuss the two prevailing theories regarding the effects that humans have on their environment. One of these theories describes negative human interaction as harmless. The other views them as the main reason for the degradation of our planet. I will define both points of view and lay out the arguments of each. I will finally argue that there is enough evidence to prove that humans are indeed responsible for the decay of our environment. The first group of experts believes that human interaction with the planet is in no way harmful.
They stand on the grounds that the planet will be able to recover from any exploitation man performs on it. Earth has an automatic system to correct itself from factors that might threaten it. This homeostatic process guarantees its existence regardless of how drastic, harmful, or negative human actions might come to be. It can correct itself through balancing any harmful changes. Earth has “automatic processes to preserve itself from changes” (Moore 45). The evidence that supports this point of view is not very concrete. It is based on the fact that earth has experience many epochs with very bad conditions.
Earth has been through periods of heat and cold. There has been global warming and ice ages. Every time, the earth “has been able to recuperate” and has emerged healthy (Moore 13). Therefore, these scientists are assuming that earth’s resilience will last forever, regardless of how extreme the conditions get. If humans continue at the rate they are going, the conditions will become extreme. The opposite theory states that humans are causing unwanted changes in the environment through their actions. This theory has a great deal of support behind it.
Through irresponsible actions such as uncontrolled pollution, extensive burning of fossil fuels, and increased development, not to mention countless others, our planet’s defensive mechanisms are being eliminated. Many scientists believe that these actions are directly affecting the earth’s ability to sustain life. This theory is unfortunately the one that is most widely supported. This means that most of the scientists out there believe mankind is endangering their very survival. Humans have made advances in technology that have been helpful for us, but harmful to the planet in the long run.
Our “innovations are likely to harm us in the long run” (Spence 23). Discoveries such as the automobile, fossil fuels, electricity, and expansion of cities have had a tremendous impact on the degradation of our environment. I support the side that blames human behavior for the conditions of the environment. There is some evidence that might suggest human interaction does not affect the planet. However, it is not nearly as strong as the evidence that supports harmful human impact. There are numerous reasons that can be proven that lead to the conclusion of human influence.
They include the expansion of cities, urban development, deforestation, innovations in technology and the era of energy use. These things lead to major changes in climate such as the increase in temperature of the oceans, the higher frequency of weather systems like hurricanes. Our planet has “destabilized through human actions” (Emanuel 4). It also leads to major changes in ecosystems and the distribution of species and energy in habitats. All of these aspects will be covered in detail in the following paragraphs. The afore-mentioned causes and effects happen only because of changes that have occurred in the environment.
These changes have not been natural. They have been generated by us. Our carefree behavior has made our planet struggle and affected many of its vital systems. For example, our atmosphere is currently at its worst in the past 650,000 years. It is not surprising that “1998 was the hottest year” in 130 years (Gupta 16). The levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are astounding. This has been caused by men. The concentration on greenhouse gases has been on the rise for the past century. After the industrial revolution, manufacturing firms began emerging. They started burning fossil fuels to convert to energy.
They used this energy to make products such as plastics and paper. The production of these products causes gases and waste that end up in the environment. That, combined with the exhaust of fossil fuels, sums up to a lot of harmful substances. Those substances in the atmosphere absorb energy from the sun, causing temperatures to increase. Changes in temperature, even if by the smallest degree, can have a tremendously catastrophic effect on the surrounding environment. Earth is “expected to experience higher temperatures in the future,” which will result in negative effects (Ehrlich 160).
The rise in greenhouse gases is a cause of our overproduction of goods to satisfy our wants and needs. Therefore, our creation of products such as plastic and paper has a negative effect on the planet. The invention of cars has also dramatically increased the amount of greenhouse gases. Automobiles emit a lot of exhaust from the combustion of gasoline. Every time cars accelerate, they burn gas and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere. The increased carbon dioxide concentration in the air directly increases global temperatures.
Automobiles are inefficient machines because they sometimes don’t completely combust gasoline. This adds another harmful and deadly gas into the atmosphere: carbon monoxide. Known as the silent killer, it can kill humans while they sleep. The production of cars has only increased in the last decades. It will only keep increasing. That means that the levels of carbon dioxide and other gases that it releases will only continue to grow as time passes. Other “sources of movement must be found fast,” otherwise, we are facing a serious problem (Gupta 76). Humans invented this machine which harms the environment.
This is evidence that humans are indeed responsible for the downhill direction that our precious and unique environment is heading. The expansion of cities has also contributed to global warming. After the influx of people from rural to urban areas, cities boomed. This caused construction and development to occur. These factors caused a lot of pollution. Many new buildings and homes were constructed (read more here). This generated a lot of fossil fuel burning. In addition, when people began “congregating together in big centers of civilization”, they began demanding goods that would make their lives a little easier (Spence 121).
This was the birth of the mass production of items that perform the duty of making life easier. Thanks to that, countless industries began emerging and emitting pollution into the environment. A perfect example of this is what is happening in China. There are so many industries producing that the gases can literally be seen in the air. It was evident in the 2008 Olympic Games. That is generating global warming. Global warming is a negative effect of human interaction on Earth. Since the “greenhouse effect plays a critical role in the earth’s climate,” the increased air contamination is damaging the climate (Emanuel 14).
Perhaps one of the worst of human actions has been deforestation. The strongest defense mechanism of the planet to cleanse and provide us with oxygen is being diminished by us. Trees and plants are responsible for a process called photosynthesis. This process turns carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy. Besides creating energy, or food, for many organisms including us, plants reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and inject oxygen into it. The decrease in the volume of trees and plants has reduced the biosphere’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This means that the less plant organisms that are available, the higher the carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will only cause an increase in global temperatures, which as discussed before will have negative effects on the planet’s biosphere. The concepts of deforestation urban development can be closely associated. In order to increase development for living dwellings, forests had to be removed to make space. Millions of trees have been and will be cut down for the purpose of building new homes and buildings.
Those homes are made for us to live in at the expense of the planet’s defense mechanism against the atmospheric condition of too much carbon dioxide. We are “reducing the biosphere’s way of dealing with carbon dioxide” (Emanuel 13). Those trees that make our necessary oxygen are cut down at an increasing rate every day to fit the growing population of the world. We are taking too much from our planet and if we keep doing so, there might not be anything to take one day. Our dependency on this planet cannot be whole because the planet depends on our responsible decisions too.
Perhaps the most important aspect is the use of energy. Energy use constitutes the highest fossil fuel burning. It can be blamed for the majority of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today. Everyone in the planet likes luxuries and commodities. We use television sets and lighting in our homes. Sometimes, we misuse them and leave them turned on for extended periods of time. If people were “responsible with electricity usage, they would amount to a tremendous fossil fuel saving” (Spence 34). Such commodities use energy whenever they are on, even if we are not present.
Therefore, if we were to be irresponsible in energy consumption, then we would only be increasing the levels of toxic gases in our atmosphere. This would only contribute to the worsening of our planet and induce more global warming. In the ocean, there are also countless ways in which we are polluting and harming the organisms. Production of products entails wastes of production. Those wastes are hardly ever recycled and end up being disposed of. Sometimes, careless industries dump their wastes on the ocean waters which toxify the water and kill many fish.
Things like plastic and other floating debris can get birds tangled or end up in the stomach of many marine organisms. This causes them to stop eating because they feel full, leading to their death. In addition, big cargo ships sometimes transport oil and other strong substances that can spill into the water. All these things harm the marine environment. We are the ones causing it. Due to all the pollution and gases in the atmosphere, another problem that is resulting is acid rain. Acid rain is precipitation with a very low pH. It is caused by “the excess concentration of greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere (Nordhaus 83).
It causes the acidity of lakes, streams and rivers because the rain water accumulates there. Acid rain has a very negative effect on river ecosystems. After certain acidity, organisms cannot tolerate the area and die or are forced to move to another location. This causes biological pollution because native fish from one area become exotic species in another, disturbing the original design of the environment. Acid rain kills off plant organisms too, which also “reduces the biosphere’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide levels”, even if by very little. (Spence 39).
It also pollutes the soil and prevents plants from growing again for a very long period of time. Fish are the most vulnerable to this problem because they spend their lives in water. As stated above, problems such as acid rain and pollution in the oceans and land are very common. Their results are very treacherous for the biodiversity of nature. Due to these changes, many organisms die out and become extinct or are forced to relocate. This is bad for us because we are forced to change our diet when certain species become endangered because of our irresponsibility.
There is a “high possibility of extremely adverse outcomes” (Emmanuel 72). We are to blame. Another set of effects that are perhaps the most dangerous to us is the altering of the climate structure. Generally, weather systems occur at a constant rate over a certain period of time. However, with greenhouse gases and the warming of the planet, they are beginning to occur at an alarming faster rate. They are also happening with intensifying conditions. The cause of the weather changes is the rise of oceanic temperatures. Ocean temperature increase feeds weather systems that already depend on warm ocean water.
When the water is warmer, it only makes them become stronger and able to cause more damage. Therefore, since the oceans are becoming warmer due to global warming, which has been caused by us, we are indirectly making those weather systems stronger. Over the last few decades, hurricane seasons have been very active with uncommon amount of named systems and with an “unprecedented number of higher category hurricanes” (Gupta 45). Hurricane Katrina devastated the state of Louisiana with strong winds and severe flooding. In addition, events that are seen in periods of thousands of years are also occurring faster.
An example is the tsunami that occurred in India that claimed hundreds of thousands of life. It flooded parts of India and surrounding nations and also claimed lives there. Tsunamis are a rarely seen occurrence and it happened just like that. It has to be a cause of warmer oceans brought upon us by us. It is very clear that our interactions on this planet have caused negative changes. Apocalyptic conditions have resulted from them. The theory that humans have no impact on the environment with their actions must be left behind. Humans have a tremendous influence in what occurs in nature.
We have the power to keep doing it or to stop it. Yet, we choose to keep producing goods, burning fuel and releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere. The changes that humans have caused do not seem to have an end. Humans are greedy and will continue to exploit earth as long as they can. There are too many interests for some groups like oil companies to change the way things are. They became used to earning large sums of money selling oil. If we change to alternative fuels, then they would be losing out on more billions of dollars and they would not want that. We will always drive cars that will depend of gasoline.
We will keep burning it to take us places, while contaminating the atmosphere more and more. We will never turn off our TVs or our lights. We want commodities and luxuries to keep us happy. We will keep demanding products that make our lives easier. We will do so even if those products will end up harming the planet’s environment; even if we know they will do so. The problem is that “the rich have more to lose” (Gupta 24). Summing everything up, humans make decisions which contribute to the decay of our environment. Humans are much too interested in the material gains of exploiting our planet.
They do not realize that they are causing its destruction. Perhaps one day they will understand this, but chances are that when that time arrives it might be too late. For now, all that can be done is waiting and encouraging every person that has the ability to help out, to do so. The smallest effort counts. Many small efforts put together become a large effort strong enough to balance some negative effects on the environment. There are two ideas regarding the cause of the decay of the environment. Some think it is absolutely normal. They say a problem does not exist. The other stand takes the more scientific approach.
It states that human actions cause the harmful changes the environment has experienced over the last centuries. Both arguments are supported by many people from their respective groups. Regardless of which argument is correct, the planet must still be cared for. Responsible decision must be made to keep everyone’s ecological footprint at a relatively low level. By doing that, we can assure that no theory needs to exist because the environment will be balanced. Sadly, a lot of damage has already been done. Countless species have been made extinct. Several areas have been made infertile.
Certain waters have been made undrinkable. Hopefully, actions can be taken to slow that process. Global warming can be stopped. The production of goods can be made more efficient through more involved recycling. Pollution can be controlled and eventually reduced. All this will require a great amount of time and dedication, but it will ensure a clear and sustainable future for the generations to come. It will allow them to enjoy everything this planet provides and hopefully learn from our mistakes. Works Cited Moore, Thomas Gale. Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry about Global Warming.
Washington, D. C: Cato Institute, 1998. Nordhaus, William D. and Joseph Boyer. Warming the World: Economic Models of Global Warming. Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2000. Spence, Christopher. Global Warming: Personal Solutions for a Healthy Planet. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Ehrlich, Robert. Eight Preposterous Propositions. New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2003. Emmanuel, Kerry. What We Know About Climate Change. Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2007. Gupta, Joyeeta. Our Simmering Planet: What to do about global warming? Bangladesh: The University Press Ltd, 2001.