What is the Real Human Impact on the Environment?
Who can forget the harrowing scenes of plastic bobbing in our oceans in Blue Planet II? The documentary prompted 88 percent of viewers to change their plastic usage.
While that's a great start, it's not enough. Other human activities that affect the environment also create problems for global ecosystems.
That's not to say all is lost. The technology already exists that could help solve some of these problems.
Read on to learn more about the human impact on the environment. And how we can reverse it.
Pollution and Overpopulation
With better medicine and lower mortality rates, more humans are living longer. So we're reaching the overpopulation point on our planet.
Those extra people need food and other resources. That means industry and farming cuts into wild habitats to take up more space. Deforestation causes a loss of 18 million acres of trees every year.
Trees filter our air, but cutting them down pushes up levels of CO2. More CO2 enters the air as we burn fossil fuels for energy.
That CO2 adds to climate change, making extreme weather events more common. It also warms up the planet, causing ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise.
It's not just air pollution that's a problem. We take access to clean water for granted. But 2.4 billion people can't.
Investing in renewable energy can cut our dependency on fossil fuels. That creates less CO2 and frees up space for other projects.
We can use green technology alongside natural environments instead of replacing them. Offshore wind farms are one example. And we can use solar panels pretty much anywhere humans have buildings.
We can also explore other forms of farming, like hydroponics. That frees up space given to traditional farming. Look at this example from London, where farmers use disused London Underground tunnels.
And changing the traditional industry would help cut toxic chemicals entering the water supply.
We lose 100 to 1000 animal species per million per year because of human activity. That can be habitat loss, hunting, and trafficking on the black market.
Other animals, like loggerhead sea turtles, die after eating plastic bags in the ocean.
Fertiliser gets into the ocean. The extra nitrogen causes extreme growth in forms of algae.
This algae is poisonous to whatever eats it. Which further impacts on the ecosystem.
Australia's bee population is thriving and is under surveillance to keep them safe. Elsewhere in the world, the picture isn't so rosy. Chemicals present in honey show they're suffering.
Re-introducing hedgerows onto farmland helps boost birds and small mammals. These rid the fields of pests, cutting the need for pesticides.
That helps cut problems faced by bees and improves the ecosystem for other species.
Returning to crop rotation also cuts the need for fertiliser, keeping it out of the oceans.
And returning to our earlier point? If we stop cutting down forests and plant new ones, we can preserve and create new wild habitats. It'll give animals the living space we take for granted.
Lets Cut the Human Impact on the Environment
We started this blog post looking at the use of plastics exposed by Blue Planet II. They offer the most visible human impact on the environment.
And cutting use of plastic is the easiest way you can help reduce that impact. Choose renewable materials over plastic wherever you can.
Reusable hot beverage cups and water bottles are a great investment. Swap shopping bags for canvas tote bags. Don't use single-use plastic straws.
Why not check out our bamboo and wheat straws instead?