Environment and Sustainable Development: Environmental Problems (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Environmental Problems

Pollution

Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is an excessive and displeasing environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life.

Effects of Noise Pollution

Noise pollution in the form of unwanted sound can damage physiological and psychological health. Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects. Chronic exposure to noise may cause noise-induced hearing loss.

Sources of Noise Pollution

Major sources of noise pollution include:

  • Vehicular traffic, like cars, buses, airplanes, trains etc.
  • Industrial processes like stone crushing, making of steel plates, sawing, printing, etc.
  • Construction work on roads, bridges, buildings, etc.
  • Various noises from houses like stereos, televisions, etc.
  • Consumer products like air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.

Degradation

different kinds of degradation- soil and habitat degradation:

Soil degradation: Soil degradation refers to an undesirable or deleterious change or disturbance in the quality of the soil. It leads to a change in the species of plants and animals in an area, and often leads to a loss of quality and productivity of the soil in an area.

Causes of Soil Degradation

Major causes of soil degradation include:

  • Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which causes soil acidification, increases salinity and alkalinity of the soil, reduces organic matter, and increases levels of organic pollutants and toxins and heavy metals (like Cadmium, Lead, etc.) .
  • Waterlogging caused by excessive irrigation and failure to subsequently drain the water from the fields causes an increase in salt content of the soil, making it unfit for growing plants, as well as serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos.
  • Overgrazing by animals in fields, which reduces plant cover and leaves the soil prone to erosion.

Effects of Soil Degradation

Soil degradation also leads to desertification, that is, the land gradually gets converted into a desert which becomes unfit for cultivation or habitation. Soil degradation can significantly reduce the yield potential of soil for growing crops. The presence of pollutants in soil also leads to pollution of groundwater, which has increased levels of nutrients, organic toxins, and heavy metals.

Habitat Degradation

Habitat degradation refers to the process in which habitats lose their normal functioning or quality to support native life due to human activities. Habitat degradation leads to a reduced carrying capacity of that area, that is, the number of animals or plants of a particular species the area can support.

Causes of Habitat Degradation

Major causes of habitat degradation:

  • Deforestation and wood extraction for the timber industry.
  • Conversion of forest land into agricultural land
  • Urban expansion of natural habitats
  • Soil erosion and desertification, which can lead to whole forests degenerating into deserts.
  • Slashing or slash-and-burn agricultural methods, where forests are burnt, and crops grown using the ashes as a natural fertilizer.

Effects of Habitat Degradation

  • Habitat destruction vastly increases an area՚s vulnerability to natural disasters like flood and drought, crop failure, spread of disease, and water contamination. Agricultural land too suffers from the destruction of the surrounding landscape.
  • loss of biodiversity and species extinction, which upsets the natural balance and may alter the ecosystem. Aesthetic uses such as bird watching, recreational uses like hunting and fishing, and ecotourism are also affected adversely by habitat degradation, as most of them rely upon virtually undisturbed habitat.

Depletion of Resources

  • Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw materials in an area or region. Resource depletion is most commonly used in reference to farming, fishing and mining. Today՚s economy is largely based on fossil fuels, minerals and oil. The value of these resources has increased over time as demand for them has increased rapidly, while at the same time the supplies of these resources have decreased considerably due to over-exploitation.
  • To stop the harmful effects of resource depletion and other environmental problems, we need to carefully monitor resources usage and check the environmental effects of resource depletion. Many agencies around the world like UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) , EPA (Environment Protection Agency) , IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) , and in India the MEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) along with many NGOs worldwide actively advocate the protection of the environment throughout the world, and implement acts and laws to protect the environment and prevent the overexploitation of resources.

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