How do humans affect the environment?

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Tuesday, 08 May 2007

How do humans affect the environment?

        The condition of today’s environment has been affected by many factors, some of which are positive, which benefit the environment, while other effects on the environment are negative meaning they damage or cause harm to the environment. One factor, which affects the environment, is humans. The negative ways, which we affect the environment are, through building, farming, pollution, and quarrying. However, there are some positive effects on the environment caused by humans such as, the conservation of endangered species, protection of the o-zone layer, and the conservation of the earths resources.

This essay therefore will be set out into two main parts. The first of these two parts will discuss how humans have a negative effect on the environment; this will focus on the issue of pollution. Secondly, I will discuss the positive effects, which we have on the environment; this section of the essay will discuss conservation and the protection of the ozone layer. I will then conclude this essay by giving my personal view on how humans affect the environment and whether the overall effect is negative or positive.

        As, mentioned above there are many negative ways in which we as humans negatively affect the environment. One-way which we harm the environment is through our polluting. Polluting is a very important issue when discussing the environment and factors, which affect it. One form of pollution, which affects the environment, is air pollution.

        Air pollution involves the air being polluted by gases, dust and smoke from vehicles and industry. This type of pollution causes many problems such as a variety of lung diseases including cancer, bronchitis and emphysema, all of which can be lethal to both animals and humans alike. Some pollutants, which cause these diseases, are lead compounds, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are all released by vehicle engines. Nitrogen oxides are also a cause of lung disease; but also cause acid rain, which leads to soil erosion, and damages plant and tree roots causing many to die. The acid rain has a similar effect on the fish, which can also die because of the rain. Other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, one of the fatal gases, are released through the combustion of fuels, and from factories.

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        A major issue of air pollution is its affect on the ozone layer. CFC’s or Chlorofluorohydrocarbons released from aerosol spray cans and car engines, and nitrogen monoxide (NO), which comes from the exhausts of some flight craft such as Concorde’s. Both of these gases react with ozone (O3), and are oxidised as a result. The chemical equations for the reaction of CFC and Ozone is as follows:

Ozone + CFC  Oxygen + Oxidation products

The chemical equation for the reaction, which occurs between nitrogen monoxide and Ozone, is:

Ozone + Nitrogen monoxide  Oxygen + Nitrogen dioxide

 O3 (g) ...

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Overall this essay summarises some of the ways in which humans have negative and positive impacts on the environment, by focusing on a few of the many examples. Some of the big topics (like human contributions to global climate change) are not addressed. Some of the examples used could be improved by being more up to date. Higher level answers would also mention the different scales at which these effects are being felt.