Enviromental Health - how humans can damage the environment

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Unit 38: Environmental Health

Tutor: Jane Gillard

Task1 P1,

Regina Omosoluyi


 P1: Explain how human beings can damage the environment.

In this assignment I am going to explain how human beings can damage the environment, I am going to include information on the negative effects of urbanisation, high population density, overcrowding, poverty, transport systems, energy systems, intensification of agriculture-increased use of fertilisers/pesticides, pollution of waterways, destruction of wildlife habitats, loss of biodiversity, air, water, land, and noise pollution and greenhouse gas emission.

Urbanisation and population density.

  1. Poverty:

 states that: “Poverty sometimes results in environmental degradation. Because poor families need natural resources to survive, destructive farming techniques, deforestation, and hunting may become prevalent in poor areas. On the other hand, poor cultures may be regarded as more environmentally aware because they live closer to the land and are more appreciative of its fragility. They have a vested interest in sustainable resource use.”

If we’re going to reduce poverty in the long term, we need to recognise how it’s linked to the environment.

We all depend on biodiversity and ecosystems, and the services nature provides – but we often take them for granted. Ecosystems provide:

  • Food
  • Timber
  • Fibres
  • Fuel
  • Medicines
  • Fresh water

They also provide essential services such as:

  • Water purification
  • Air and soil quality
  • Pollination
  • Pest control
  • Climate regulation
  • Protection against floods, landslides and other natural hazards

 states that: “Poorer communities are most affected by this decline since they are most directly reliant on ecosystem services for their well-being. The livelihoods of more than one billion people depend directly on natural resources.”
Damage to the environment, as well as a lack of clean water and land suitable for farming or growing food, leads to more hunger, illness, poverty and reduced opportunities to make a living. 
Poorer people are also less resilient to natural or manmade disasters, including climate change. Conflict over natural resources threatens their development – illegal logging, for example, robs governments of revenues and deprives local communities of forest resources.
Looking after natural resources makes poorer communities more resilient. Forests, for example, can protect agricultural land and villages from soil erosion and flooding. Mangrove swamps provide protection from storm surges and coastal erosion. Sustainable management of agricultural land provides food for people to eat and sell.

  1. Transport System.

The emissions from the exhaust of cars have gases that are harmful to people and the environment. Unburned hydrocarbons (gas), NOx which forms smog in the atmosphere, carbon monoxide (harmful to people), and carbon dioxide which is one of the gases that contributes to global warming. But a few things out of the tailpipe like water and oxygen aren't harmful to the environment.  

For electric transport systems (cars or railways) these pollutants are emitted not from the individual vehicle but from fossil fuel power stations generating the electricity. If that power station is nuclear add disposal of nuclear waste. If the electricity is wind power then the environment is impacted visually by the wind turbines and through land use to site them. Hydro power needs construction of dams across rivers and can destroy habitat by causing water shortages. 

  • Looking beyond that to the wider picture.
  • Depletion of natural resources to build and fuel the transport - oil, steel, aluminium and other metals.
  • Waste products produced during lifetime - used tyres, oil, brake fluid etc. to dispose of.
  • End of life disposal - metal, fluids, plastics.
  • Destruction of habitat to provide land for roads, railways, airports.
  • Nuisance to people and animals from noise 

Info taken from:  

  1. Energy System

 states that: All energy sources affect the environment. There is no such thing as a completely “clean” energy source.” So therefore getting the energy we need affects our environment in many different ways. Some energy sources have a greater impact than others. Energy is lost to the environment during any energy transformation, usually as heat. Notice the heat from your computer or car after it has been in use for a while. Nothing is completely energy efficient. Fortunately, the energy industry has become increasingly aware of the importance of environmental protection and is working to reduce its long-term impact.

  • Biofuels: Biomass, Ethanol and Biodiesel

On the surface, biofuels look like an ideal energy solution. Since plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, crops could counteract the carbon dioxide released by cars. They are also renewable, and can be planted to replenish supplies.

  • Coal

Coal mining has the potential to harm air, water and land quality if it is not done with proper care. Acidic water may drain from abandoned mines underground, and the burning of coal causes the emission of harmful materials including carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury. “Clean coal” technology is being developed to remove harmful materials before they can affect the environment, and to make it more energy-efficient so less coal is burned.

The coal industry also restores mined land to or prepares it for more productive uses once surface mining is done.

  • Geothermal

Geothermal power plants have relatively little environmental impact—they burn no fuel to create electricity. These plants do create small amounts of carbon dioxide and sulfur compounds, but geothermal emissions are far smaller than those created by fossil fuel power plants.

  • Solar

Solar energy produces no air or water pollution or greenhouse gases. However, it has some indirect impacts on the environment. For example, the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells (PV) produces some toxic materials and chemicals.

Ecosystems can also be affected by solar systems. Water from underground wells may be required to clean concentrators and receivers, and to cool the generator, which may harm the ecosystem in dry climates.

  • Wind

Wind is a clean energy source. It produces no air or water pollution because no fuel is burned to generate electricity. The most serious environmental impact from wind energy may be its effect on bird and bat mortality. Wind turbine design has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades to reduce this impact. Turbine blades are now solid, so there are no lattice structures that entice birds to perch. Also, the blades’ surface area is much larger, so they don’t have to spin as fast to generate power. Slower-moving blades mean fewer bird collisions.

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Info taken from:  

  1. Water Supply.

Water pollution is together with air pollution the most serious form of environmental pollution. Water pollution not only does huge damage to our environment but also to our health. Water is the most precious resource on our planet, and water pollution is the main reason why freshwater resources are constantly declining, and the worst part in the whole story is the fact that there are still many people in the world who do not take water pollution problem seriously.

The contamination of water bodies has tremendous negative impact ...

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