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Human Impact on the Environment

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Human Impact on the Environment About three hundred years ago there was a definite spurt in the population of the human race. This was brought about with advancements in sanitation and technology, as well as a dramatic fall in the death rate. By around 1850 the world's population had grown to about 1 billion and by 1930 it had risen to 2 billion. The current figure is around 6 billion and at this rate the United Nations estimates the population will be at about 9 billion by 2054. This would be a 900% increase in just 200 years. This increase in population has meant that the world's resources have been put under a great strain in order to sustain the human race. But it has only been in recent years that man has looked to address the problems he has caused and many of them are irreversible. Ever since man learnt to hunt with weapons, species have been hunted to extinction, and as the brain capacity of man increased so did his expectation of living standards. This has meant an even greater effect on the planet and has resulted in urbanisation, growth in agriculture, and the inevitable rise in deforestation. ...read more.


Fortunately, its use has been stopped in the UK and Europe, but it is still being used in less developed countries as without it too many people would die of malaria or starve. Acid rain is also having an increasingly large effect on the environment. Acid rain is formed when oxides of sulphur and nitrogen combine with atmospheric moisture to yield sulphuric and nitric acids, which are then carried variable distances before being dropped as acid rain. The pollution may also be deposited in the form of snow or fog or even as dry precipitation. The problem originated from the advent of the industrial revolution and has been growing ever since. The severity of its effects has long been recognised in local settings, as exemplified by the periods of acid smog in heavily industrialised areas. But, unfortunately, the widespread effects that acid rain has has only been recognised in recent years. One large area that has been studied extensively is northern Europe, where acid rain has eroded structures, injured crops and forests, and threatened or depleted life in freshwater lakes. In 1984, for example, environmental reports indicated that almost half of the trees in Germany's Black Forest had been damaged by acid rain. ...read more.


Concentrations this great at ground level are dangerous to human health; but because the ozone layer protects life on earth from the full force of the sun's cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation, it is critically important. Therefore, scientists were concerned when they discovered, in the 1970s, that certain chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs (compounds of fluorine) - long used as refrigerants and in aerosol spray cans-posed a possible threat to the ozone layer. Released into the atmosphere, the chlorine-containing chemicals rise and are broken down by sunlight, resulting in the chlorine reacting with and destroying ozone molecules. For this reason, the use of CFCs in aerosols has been banned in many countries. Other chemicals, such as bromine halocarbons, and nitrous oxides from fertilisers, may also attack the ozone layer. Scientists discovered that the largest problem lay in Antarctica, where a periodic loss of ozone was located. A similar problem was found in the Arctic and as a result the "Montreal Protocol" was signed by 49 countries. Within it the countries declared that they would phase out the use of CFCs by the end of the century. In addition to this NASA launched the 7-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. This measures ozone variations at different altitudes, and is providing the first complete picture of upper atmosphere chemistry. ...read more.

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