HUMAN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT 

To save the Earth we must change. The human impact on the environment threatens the future of our planet. We have structured this site around the planetary boundaries model developed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. These boundaries were defined because they represent lines in the sand which humanity crosses at its peril. And the peril of the planet. If we wish to save Earth, we need to address these areas urgently.

CAN THE HUMAN IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, DRIVEN BY GREED AND CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, BE REPURPOSED AND PUT ON A SUSTAINABLE PATH? 

Ecological pressures

Aerosol pollution               

Aerosols are defined as microscopic solid or liquid particles that enter the Earth's atmosphere through man-made and natural processes.

 

Natural processes contribute to 90% of aerosol pollution in the atmosphere, humans being responsible for 10%. Aerosols can have significant impact on the environment and human health - just what can be done about the problem?

Air pollution                 

Like aerosols, air pollution has man-made and natural causes. Air pollution has serious consequences for human health and the environment.

 

During the last 200 years - since the industrial revolution - mankind has increasingly altered the composition of the atmosphere. What is the impact on the planet?

Biodiversity loss               

We are, by all credible accounts, currently in the sixth great extinction in Earth's history. Humans are undoubtably driving this loss of biodiversity.

 

The current rate of species extinction is between 1,000 - 10,000 times higher than the background rate of extinction.

 

Since 1970, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have plummetd by just under 60%.

Deforestation             

Deforestation statistics are sobering.

 

70% of the world's plant and animal biodiversity hails from forested areas.

 

Despite this, recent estimates suggest that an area of forest equivalent to 48 football pitches is cleared every minute. 7.3 million hectares a year.

Groundwater Depletion

Within the next decade, the number of people living in water-stressed countries is estimated to rise from 800 million to 3 billion.

 

Over a billion people lack access to reliable sources of clean water and 2.6 billion lack proper sanitation. Groundwater depletion impacts on billions of people.

Global Warming               

Global warming is having a much more pronounced impact on the planet than even recent projections predicted.

 

According to NASA data, global temperatures are now rising at their fastest rate in recent history. 16 of the 17 hottest years on NASA's 135 year climate record arose since 2000.

 

Human Overpopulation

Human activity is the driving force behind much of the planet's woes. Human overpopulation fuels this driving force. Can mankind change its ways? Is it already too late?

 

The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7 billion in 2012. By mid-2050, the population is expected to reach 9 billion. Can the planet sustain us?

Land Degradation                     

Rapidly expanding human populations will unquestionably put more demand on an already stretched resource.

 

25 billion tons of fertile soil is lost every year through land degradation and up to 40% of the world's agricultural land is thought to be badly degraded.

 

7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest land is currently estimated to be lost every year.

Nitrogen Runoff           

Man's mass production of synthetic fertiliser to help boost crop yields reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century. 

 

Unfortunately nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous are constantly leeching into the water system.

 

Nitrogen runoff's impact on aquatic ecosystems has been devastating.

Ocean Acidification 

Fossil fuel emissions impact on carbon dioxide levels in the world's aquatic systems. This causes the water to become more acidic and hence the term ocean acidification.

 

This has a devastating impact on species and ecosystems in terms of growth, reproduction and survival. From the smallest plankton to the Great Barrier Reef.

Ozone Layer Depletion

The ozone layer depletion story actually offers some hope for humanity.

 

Man's invention of chlouroflourocarbons (CFC's) back in the 1920's wreaked havoc in the atmosphere but global action triggered in the 1980's has had a positive effect offering hope for the future.

Plastic Pollution          

Plastic takes a long time to degrade and plastic pollution is a serious issue on land, sea and in the air.

 

Living organisms, particularly marine animals, are affected through entanglement, direct ingestion of plastic waste, or through exposure to chemicals within plastics that cause interruptions in biological functions.

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