Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. As indicated by the I=PAT equation, environmental impact (I) or degradation is caused by the combination of an already very large and increasing human population (P), continually increasing economic growth or per capita affluence (A), and the application of resource-depleting and polluting technology (T).
Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change of the United Nations. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as "the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs". Environmental degradation comes in many types. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded. Efforts to counteract this problem include environmental protection and environmental resources management.
One major component of environmental degradation is the depletion of the resource of fresh water on Earth. Approximately only 2.5g% of all of the water on Earth is fresh water, with the rest being salt water. 69% of fresh water is frozen in ice caps located on Antarctica and Greenland, so only 30% of the 2.5% of fresh water is available for consumption. Fresh water is an exceptionally important resource, since life on Earth is ultimately dependent on it. Water transports nutrients, minerals and chemicals within the biosphere to all forms of life, sustains both plants and animals, and moulds the surface of the Earth with transportation and deposition of materials.
The current top three uses of fresh water account for 95% of its consumption; approximately 85% is used for irrigation of farmland, golf courses, and parks, 6% is used for domestic purposes such as indoor bathing uses and outdoor garden and lawn use, and 4% is used for industrial purposes such as processing, washing, and cooling in manufacturing centres. It is estimated that one in three people over the entire globe are already facing water shortages, almost one-fifth of the world population live in areas of physical water scarcity, and almost one quarter of the world's population live in a developing country that lacks the necessary infrastructure to use water from available rivers and aquifers. Water scarcity is an increasing problem due to many foreseen issues in the future including population growth, increased urbanization, higher standards of living, and climate change.
Climate change affects the Earth's water supply in a large number of ways. It is predicted that the mean global temperature will rise in the coming years due to a number of forces affecting the climate. The amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will rise, and both of these will influence water resources; evaporation depends strongly on temperature and moisture availability which can ultimately affect the amount of water available to replenish groundwater supplies.
Transpiration from plants can be affected by a rise in atmospheric CO2, which can decrease their use of water, but can also raise their use of water from possible increases of leaf area. Temperature rise can reduce the snow season in the winter and increase the intensity of the melting snow leading to peak runoff of this, affecting soil moisture, flood and drought risks, and storage capacities depending on the area.
Warmer winter temperatures cause a decrease in snowpack, which can result in diminished water resources during summer. This is especially important at mid-latitudes and in mountain regions that depend on glacial runoff to replenish their river systems and groundwater supplies, making these areas increasingly vulnerable to water shortages over time; an increase in temperature will initially result in a rapid rise in water melting from glaciers in the summer, followed by a retreat in glaciers and a decrease in the melt and consequently the water supply every year as the size of these glaciers get smaller and smaller.
Thermal expansion of water and increased melting of oceanic glaciers from an increase in temperature gives way to a rise in sea level. This can affect the fresh water supply to coastal areas as well. As river mouths and deltas with higher salinity get pushed further inland, an intrusion of saltwater results in an increase of salinity in reservoirs and aquifers. Sea-level rise may also consequently be caused by a depletion of groundwater, as climate change can affect the hydrologic cycle in a number of ways. Uneven distributions of increased temperatures and increased precipitation around the globe results in water surpluses and deficits, but a global decrease in groundwater suggests a rise in sea level, even after meltwater and thermal expansion were accounted for, which can provide a positive feedback to the problems sea-level rise causes to fresh-water supply.
A rise in air temperature results in a rise in water temperature, which is also very significant in water degradation as the water would become more susceptible to bacterial growth. An increase in water temperature can also affect ecosystems greatly because of a species' sensitivity to temperature, and also by inducing changes in a body of water's self-purification system from decreased amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water due to rises in temperature.
A rise in global temperatures is also predicted to correlate with an increase in global precipitation but because of increased runoff, floods, increased rates of soil erosion, and mass movement of land, a decline in water quality is probable, because while water will carry more nutrients it will also carry more contaminants. While most of the attention about climate change is directed towards global warming and greenhouse effect, some of the most severe effects of climate change are likely to be from changes in precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, and soil moisture. It is generally expected that, on average, global precipitation will increase, with some areas receiving increases and some decreases.
Climate models show that while some regions should expect an increase in precipitation, such as in the tropics and higher latitudes, other areas are expected to see a decrease, such as in the subtropics. This will ultimately cause a latitudinal variation in water distribution. The areas receiving more precipitation are also expected to receive this increase during their winter and actually become drier during their summer, creating even more of a variation of precipitation distribution. Naturally, the distribution of precipitation across the planet is very uneven, causing constant variations in water availability in respective locations.
Changes in precipitation affect the timing and magnitude of floods and droughts, shift runoff processes, and alter groundwater recharge rates. Vegetation patterns and growth rates will be directly affected by shifts in precipitation amount and distribution, which will in turn affect agriculture as well as natural ecosystems. Decreased precipitation will deprive areas of water causing water tables to fall and reservoirs of wetlands, rivers, and lakes to empty. In addition, a possible increase in evaporation and evapotranspiration will result, depending on the accompanied rise in temperature. Groundwater reserves will be depleted, and the remaining water has a greater chance of being of poor quality from saline or contaminants on the land surface.
The human population on Earth is expanding rapidly which goes hand in hand with the degradation of the environment at large measures. Humanity's appetite for needs is disarranging the environment's natural equilibrium. Production industries are venting smoke and discharging chemicals that are polluting water resources. The smoke that is emitted into the atmosphere holds detrimental gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. The high levels of pollution in the atmosphere form layers that are eventually absorbed into the atmosphere. Organic compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) have generated an unwanted opening in the ozone layer, which emits higher levels of ultraviolet radiation putting the globe at large threat.
The available fresh water being affected by the climate is also being stretched across an ever-increasing global population. It is estimated that almost a quarter of the global population is living in an area that is using more than 20% of their renewable water supply; water use will rise with population while the water supply is also being aggravated by decreases in streamflow and groundwater caused by climate change. Even though some areas may see an increase in freshwater supply from an uneven distribution of precipitation increase, an increased use of water supply is expected.
An increased population means increased withdrawals from the water supply for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses, the largest of these being agriculture, believed to be the major non-climate driver of environmental change and water deterioration. The next 50 years will likely be the last period of rapid agricultural expansion, but the larger and wealthier population over this time will demand more agriculture.
Population increase over the last two decades, at least in the United States, has also been accompanied by a shift to an increase in urban areas from rural areas, which concentrates the demand for water into certain areas, and puts stress on the fresh water supply from industrial and human contaminants. Urbanization causes overcrowding and increasingly unsanitary living conditions, especially in developing countries, which in turn exposes an increasingly number of people to disease. About 79% of the world's population is in developing countries, which lack access to sanitary water and sewer systems, giving rises to disease and deaths from contaminated water and increased numbers of disease-carrying insects.
Agriculture is dependent on available soil moisture, which is directly affected by climate dynamics, with precipitation being the input in this system and various processes being the output, such as evapotranspiration, surface runoff, drainage, and percolation into groundwater. Changes in climate, especially the changes in precipitation and evapotranspiration predicted by climate models, will directly affect soil moisture, surface runoff, and groundwater recharge.
In areas with decreasing precipitation as predicted by the climate models, soil moisture may be substantially reduced. With this in mind, agriculture in most areas already needs irrigation, which depletes fresh water supplies both by the physical use of the water and the degradation agriculture causes to the water. Irrigation increases salt and nutrient content in areas that would not normally be affected, and damages streams and rivers from damming and removal of water. Fertilizer enters both human and livestock waste streams that eventually enter groundwater, while nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals from fertilizer can acidify both soils and water. Certain agricultural demands may increase more than others with an increasingly wealthier global population, and meat is one commodity expected to double global food demand by 2050, which directly affects the global supply of fresh water. Cows need water to drink, more if the temperature is high and humidity is low, and more if the production system the cow is in is extensive, since finding food takes more effort. Water is needed in processing of the meat, and also in the production of feed for the livestock. Manure can contaminate bodies of freshwater, and slaughterhouses, depending on how well they are managed, contribute waste such as blood, fat, hair, and other bodily contents to supplies of fresh water.
The transfer of water from agricultural to urban and suburban use raises concerns about agricultural sustainability, rural socioeconomic decline, food security, an increased carbon footprint from imported food, and decreased foreign trade balance. The depletion of fresh water, as applied to more specific and populated areas, increases fresh water scarcity among the population and also makes populations susceptible to economic, social, and political conflict in a number of ways; rising sea levels forces migration from coastal areas to other areas farther inland, pushing populations closer together breaching borders and other geographical patterns, and agricultural surpluses and deficits from the availability of water induce trade problems and economies of certain areas. Climate change is an important cause of involuntary migration and forced displacement According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture exceeds that of transportation.
The issue of the depletion of fresh water can be met by increased efforts in water management. While water management systems are often flexible, adaptation to new hydrologic conditions may be very costly. Preventative approaches are necessary to avoid high costs of inefficiency and the need for rehabilitation of water supplies, and innovations to decrease overall demand may be important in planning water sustainability.
Water supply systems, as they exist now, were based on the assumptions of the current climate, and built to accommodate existing river flows and flood frequencies. Reservoirs are operated based on past hydrologic records, and irrigation systems on historical temperature, water availability, and crop water requirements; these may not be a reliable guide to the future. Re-examining engineering designs, operations, optimizations, and planning, as well as re-evaluating legal, technical, and economic approaches to manage water resources are very important for the future of water management in response to water degradation. Another approach is water privatization; despite its economic and cultural effects, service quality and overall quality of the water can be more easily controlled and distributed. Rationality and sustainability is appropriate, and requires limits to overexploitation and pollution and efforts in conservation.
In Nepal, the economy is dominated by agriculture. In the late 1980s, it was the livelihood for more than 90 percent of the population, although only approximately 20 percent of the total land area was cultivable, it accounted for, on average, about 60 percent of the GDP and approximately 75 percent of exports. Since the formulation of the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1975–80), agriculture has been the highest priority because economic growth was dependent on both increasing the productivity of existing crops and diversifying the agricultural base for use as industrial inputs.According to the World Bank, agriculture is the main source of food, income, and employment for the majority. It provides about 33% of the gross domestic product (GDP). In trying to increase agricultural production and diversify the agricultural base, the government focused on irrigation, the use of fertilizers and insecticides, the introduction of new implements and new seeds of high-yield varieties, and the provision of credit. The lack of distribution of these inputs, as well as problems in obtaining supplies, however, inhibited progress. Although land reclamation and settlement were occurring in the Terai Region, environmental degradation and ecological imbalance resulting from deforestation also prevented progress.
Although new agricultural technologies helped increase food production, there still was room for further growth. Past experience indicated bottlenecks, however, in using modern technology to achieve a healthy growth. The conflicting goals of producing cash crops both for food and for industrial inputs also were problematic.Customary land
Customary land is land which is owned by indigenous communities and administered in accordance with their customs, as opposed to statutory tenure usually introduced during the colonial periods. Common ownership is one form of customary land ownership.
Since the late 20th century, statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge. The gap between formally recognized and customarily held and managed land is a significant source of underdevelopment, conflict, and environmental degradation.In the Malawi Land Act of 1965, "Customary Land" is defined as "all land which is held, occupied or used under customary law, but does not include any public land". In most countries of the Pacific islands, customary land remains the dominant land tenure form. Distinct customary systems of tenure have evolved on different islands and areas within the Pacific region. In any country there may be many different types of customary tenure.The amount of customary land ownership out of the total land area of Pacific island nations is the following: 97% in Papua New Guinea, 90% in Vanuatu, 88% in Fiji, 87% in the Solomon Islands, and 81% in Samoa.Daşoguz Region
Daşoguz Region (Turkmen: Daşoguz welaýaty, formerly Daşhowuz) is one of the regions of Turkmenistan. It is in the north of the country, bordering Uzbekistan. The area of the province is 73,430 square kilometers, and the total population is 1,370,400 (2005 est.). The capital is Daşoguz (Дашогуз).
The region is mostly desert, and is experiencing severe environmental degradation as a result of the Aral Sea ecological catastrophe. Increased soil salinity has ruined thousands of square kilometers of farmland.
The region contains the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Köneürgenç.Deforestation in India
Deforestation in India is the widespread destruction of major forests in India. It is mainly caused by environmental degradation by stakeholders such as farmers, ranches, loggers and plantation corporations. In 2009, India ranked 10th worldwide in the amount of forest loss, where world annual deforestation is estimated as 13.7 million hectares (34×10^6 acres) a year.Ecology Building Society
Ecology Building Society is a building society in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1981, is based in West Yorkshire, and has over 10,000 open accounts. The Ecology is a member of the Building Societies Association.
The purpose of the Society is to achieve the greatest degree of environmental sustainability. It lends money to create and maintain sustainable housing stock, preferably with sustainable communities and green enterprise. Its funding is secured with the least degree of environmental degradation possible, and with the greatest degree of stakeholder endorsement obtainable.Environmental geology
Environmental geology, like hydrogeology, is an applied science concerned with the practical application of the principles of geology in the solving of environmental problems. It is a multidisciplinary field that is closely related to engineering geology and, to a lesser extent, to environmental geography. Each of these fields involves the study of the interaction of humans with the geologic environment, including the biosphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and to some extent the atmosphere. In other words, environmental geology is the application of geological information to solve conflicts, minimizing possible adverse environmental degradation or maximizing possible advantageous condition resulting from the use of natural and modified environment.
Environmental geology includes:
managing geological and hydrogeological resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, water (surface and ground water), and land use.
studying the earth's surface through the disciplines of geomorphology, and edaphology;
defining and mitigating exposure of natural hazards on humans
managing industrial and domestic waste disposal and minimizing or eliminating effects of pollution, and
performing associated activities, often involving litigation.A peer-reviewed journal in the field is Environmental Earth Sciences (ISSN 1866-6280), formerly Environmental Geology (ISSN 0943-0105).Environmental issues in India
There are many environmental issues in India. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage and pollution of the natural environment are all challenges for India. Nature is also causing some drastic effects on India. The situation was worse between 1947 through 1995. According to data collection and environment assessment studies of World Bank experts, between 1995 through 2010, India has made some of the fastest progress in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality in the world. Still, India has a long way to go to reach environmental quality similar to those enjoyed in developed economies. Pollution remains a major challenge and opportunity for India.
Environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for India.Environmental issues in Pakistan
Environmental issues in Pakistan include deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, climate change, pesticide misuse, soil erosion, natural disasters and desertification. These are serious environmental problems that Pakistan is facing, and they are getting worse as the country's economy expands and the population grows. Little is being done to tackle these issues, because the goals of economic growth and tackling terrorism within the country supersede the goals of environmental preservation. Although NGOs and government departments have taken initiatives to stop environmental degradation, Pakistan's environmental issues still remain.Environmental philosophy
Environmental philosophy is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the natural environment and humans' place within it. It asks crucial questions about human environmental relations such as "What do we mean when we talk about nature?" "What is the value of the natural, that is non-human environment to us, or in itself?" "How should we respond to environmental challenges such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change?" "How can we best understand the relationship between the natural world and human technology and development?" and "What is our place in the natural world?" As such, it uniquely positions itself as a field set to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century. Environmental philosophy includes environmental ethics, environmental aesthetics, ecofeminism, environmental hermeneutics, and environmental theology. Some of the main areas of interest for environmental philosophers are:
Defining environment and nature
How to value the environment
Moral status of animals and plants
Environmentalism and Deep Ecology
Aesthetic value of nature
Restoration of nature
Consideration of future generations
Environmental sociology is the study of interactions between societies and their natural environments. The field emphasizes the social factors that influence environmental resource management and cause environmental issues, the processes by which these environmental problems are socially constructed and defined as social issues, and societal responses to these problems.
Environmental sociology emerged as a subfield of sociology in the late 1970s in response to the emergence of the environmental movement in the 1960s.Exploitation of natural resources
The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resources for economic growth, sometimes with a negative connotation of accompanying environmental degradation. It started to emerge on an industrial scale in the 19th century as the extraction and processing of raw materials (such as in mining, steam power, and machinery) developed much further than it had in preindustrial areas. During the 20th century, energy consumption rapidly increased. Today, about 80% of the world’s energy consumption is sustained by the extraction of fossil fuels, which consists of oil, coal and gas. Another non-renewable resource that is exploited by humans is subsoil minerals such as precious metals that are mainly used in the production of industrial commodities. Intensive agriculture is an example of a mode of production that hinders many aspects of the natural environment, for example the degradation of forests in a terrestrial ecosystem and water pollution in an aquatic ecosystem. As the world population rises and economic growth occurs, the depletion of natural resources influenced by the unsustainable extraction of raw materials becomes an increasing concern.Feminist political ecology
Feminist political ecology is a feminist perspective on political ecology, drawing on theories from post-structuralism, feminist geography, and cultural ecology. Feminist political ecology examines the place of gender in the political ecological landscape, exploring gender as a factor in ecological and political relations. Specific areas in which feminist political ecology is focused are development, landscape, resource use, agrarian reconstruction and rural-urban transformation (Hovorka 2006: 209). Feminist political ecologists suggest gender is a crucial variable – in relation to class, race and other relevant dimensions of political ecological life – in constituting access to, control over, and knowledge of natural resources.Lake Manchar
Lake Manchar (Sindhi: منڇر ڍنڍ ) is the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of Asia's largest. It is located west of the Indus River, in Jamshoro District, Sindh. It is located at a distance of 18 km from Sehwan Sharif on west side of the River Indus, in district Jamshoro. before creation of Jamshoro District it was in Dadu District. Jamshoro district was split from Dadu District in December 2004. Manchar is a beautiful shallow lake located in district Jamshoro, Sindh. The area of the lake fluctuates with the seasons from as little as 350 km² to as much as 520 km². The lake collects water from numerous small streams in the Kirthar Mountains and empties into the Indus River.Mithi River
The Mithi River also known as "'Mahim River"' is a river on Salsette Island, the island of the city of Mumbai, India. It is a confluence of tail-water discharges of the Powai and Vihar lakes. The river is seasonal and rises during the monsoons. The overflowing lakes also contribute to the river flow, which is stopped by a dam at other times. During this season, the river is a favourite with anglers, who can catch large fish that have escaped from the lakes. Fishing is banned there. The international airport is located right next to the section of river at Andheri.Normative science
In the applied sciences, normative science is a type of information that is developed, presented, or interpreted based on an assumed, usually unstated, preference for a particular policy or class of policies. Regular or traditional science does not presuppose a policy preference, but normative science, by definition, does. Common examples of such policy preferences are arguments that pristine ecosystems are preferable to human altered ones, that native species are preferable to nonnative species, and that higher biodiversity is preferable to lower biodiversity.In more general philosophical terms, normative science is a form of inquiry, typically involving a community of inquiry and its accumulated body of provisional knowledge, that seeks to discover good ways of achieving recognized aims, ends, goals, objectives, or purposes. Many political debates revolve around arguments over which of the many "good ways" shall be selected. For example, when presented as scientific information, words such as ecosystem health, biological integrity, and environmental degradation are typically examples of normative science because they each presuppose a policy preference and are therefore a type of policy advocacy.Pavana River
The Pavana River is a notable river crossing the cities of Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The river originates south of Lonavala from the Western Ghats, and flows a total of nearly 60 kilometres (37 mi) to meet the Mula river in Pune.Resource consumption
Resource consumption is about the consumption of non-renewable, or less often, renewable resources. Specifically, it may refer to:
electric energy consumption
world energy consumption
natural gas consumption/gas depletion
oil consumption/oil depletion
land use/land loss or
resource depletion and
general exploitation and associated environmental degradationMeasures of resource consumption are resource intensity and resource efficiency. Industrialization and globalized markets have increased the tendency for overconsumption of resources. The resource consumption rate of a nation does not usually correspond with the primary resource availability, this is called resource curse.
Unsustainable consumption by the steadily growing human population may lead to resource depletion and a shrinking of the earth's carrying capacity.Traditional ecological knowledge
Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) describes indigenous and other forms of traditional knowledge regarding the sustainability of local resources. As a field of study in anthropology, TEK refers to "a cumulative body of knowledge, belief, and practice, evolving by accumulation of TEK and handed down through generations through traditional songs, stories and beliefs. It is concerned with the relationship of living beings (including human) with their traditional groups and with their environment." Such knowledge is commonly used in natural resource management as a substitute for baseline environmental data to measure changes over time in remote regions that have little recorded scientific data.The use of traditional knowledge in this field in management and science is controversial since methods of acquiring and accumulating the knowledge, although often including forms of empirical research and experimentation, differ from those used to create and validate scientific ecological knowledge . Non-tribal government agencies, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency have established integration programs with some tribal governments in order to utilize TEK in environmental plans and climate change tracking.
There is a debate whether Indigenous populations retain an intellectual property right over traditional knowledge and whether use of this knowledge requires prior permission and license. This is especially complicated because TEK is most frequently preserved as oral tradition and as such may lack objectively confirmed documentation. Ironically, those same methods that might resolve the issue of documentation compromise the very nature of traditional knowledge.
Traditional knowledge is often used to sustain local populations and maintain resources necessary for survival. However, it can be weakened or invalidated in the context of rapid climate change, environmental impact, or other situations in which significant alterations of ecosystems render it weak or obsolete.
TEK can also be referred to as traditional environmental knowledge which emphasizes the different components and interactions of the environment. More specifically it contains the knowledge of species of both animals and plants, and biophysical characteristics of the environment through space and time.
An example of traditional ecological or environmental knowledge is told of an eskimo hunter tracking a polar bear from afar. The hunter imitates a seal to lure the polar bear closer to be able to catch the polar bear, which will bring many pounds of meat to many families in his community. It is through the beliefs and customs that these traditional teachings are shared from generation to generation. This is known amongst the Indigenous people throughout the world as oral history, which is shared in various ways. "The Indigenous people of the world possess an immense knowledge of their environments, based on centuries of living close to nature." A straightforward definition from the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization that gives a small but profound insightfulness into the interconnectedness of the Indigenous peoples throughout the world of their stewardship of planet earth.Tyranny of small decisions
The tyranny of small decisions is a phenomenon explored in an essay of the same name, published in 1966 by the American economist Alfred E. Kahn. The article describes a situation in which a number of decisions, individually small and insignificant in size and time perspective, cumulatively result in an larger and significant outcome which is neither optimal nor desired. It is a situation where a series of small, individually rational decisions can negatively change the context of subsequent choices, even to the point where desired alternatives are irreversibly destroyed. Kahn described the problem as a common issue in market economics which can lead to market failure. The concept has since been extended to areas other than economic ones, such as environmental degradation, political elections and health outcomes.A classic example of the tyranny of small decisions is the tragedy of the commons, described by Garrett Hardin in 1968 as a situation where a number of herders graze cows on a commons. The herders each act independently in what they perceive to be their own rational self-interest, ultimately depleting their shared limited resource, even though it is clear that it is not in any herder's long-term interest for this to happen.