One of the worst threats facing the planet today is environmental degradation. It is sad that each new day indicates that the level of degradation that the planet is exposed is on the increase. Degradation of the environment is bound to make life intolerable for all forms of living things man included now and in the days to come. Studies carried out by major eminent organizations indicate a very alarming rate at which the environment is deteriorating. It is due to this reason that the High Level Panel of the United Nations has noted environmental degradation to be among the top ten threats facing man. Environmental degradation is enlisted and it shares space with threats such as poverty, civil war and terrorism. This clearly shows that we are heading into certain calamity. As noted by Clark (2009), environmental degradation is the process by which the natural environment undergoes degeneration to a point that the health and biodiversity of the earth is exposed to drastic deterioration. Environmental degradation is nothing but disgracing organic and natural assortments and the quality of all living things present on earth. Two distinct perspectives can be used to conclude the current process of degradation.
Firstly, it is a blatant fact that environmental degradation is getting worse every single day. Large numbers of extinctions and uncontrolled discharge of gases into the atmosphere are among the two core and obvious cases of the increase in environment degradation. This is the deleterious impact that man has had on the environment (Clark 2009). In addition, one in every four mammals is threatened with extinction. This is a 25 % representation of all mammals. This impact is considered to bring detrimental effects on the ecological system if it ever comes to fruition. It is a fact that mankind has devised mechanisms that enable him utilize all resources such as soil, trees, forests, ocean fishes and range grasses at rates that exceed their natural abilities to regenerate and renew themselves. Similarly, humans are introducing toxic gases into the atmosphere. This is not only in gaseous form but also in liquid and solid states. These wastes are introduced into the environment at levels that are undoubting beyond the rates of decomposing or dissipating. The building up of carbon dioxide gases in the atmosphere has led to global warming (DeSombre 2009). Our modern lives which include cars, factories, big livestock farms and power plants have led to high volumes of Green House Gases being released into the atmosphere. Average temperatures are feared to increase by more than twelve degrees Fahrenheit before the end of this century due to the increase of these gases into the atmosphere. This increase will make the world inhabitable especially for man especially because a simple increase in temperature such as seven point two degrees Fahrenheit can cause a catastrophic domino impact leading to extreme weather conditions that may lead to water and food shortages and fatal floods (Zuckerman and Jefferson 2010).
Secondly, mankind is encroaching into the remnants of world nature all over the planet. Suitable land for the practice of agriculture and fresh water sources is becoming scarce each day. Indeed, instances of arrogation of fresh water sources, land and various natural resources are on an increase as man pauses competition for these essential resources with wild animals (Markandya and Dale 2008). Late in the 1850s, the biomass of man and livestock was aggregated at 5% that of the total terrestrial animals. This seems like a finite figure. A century later, the value rose to 10% and currently, this figure is asserted to be over 25%. Scholars state that the figure will rise to over 30% by the end of this century. In addition, this implies that the rate at which man and livestock is replacing terrestrial wildlife animals is very high. As already noted by Zuckerman and Jefferson (2010), the two indicators showing an increase in environmental degradation levels started to significantly bypass biosphere sustainability forty to fifty years ago. This degradation can in addition be attributed to the explosion in human population. The increase in man’s population leads to an increase in demand for needs, technological knowhow and desires. The reluctance by man to deal with the problems that faced him back then led the growth and increase in disparities between the South and North (DeSombre 2009). In addition, this led to an increase in the number of people being replaced.
On the other hand, it is uncouth to state that environmental degradation seems to be getting out of hand and getting worse every day. It is sad that man has often been on the receiving end of environment degradation and nobody seems to care or notice the efforts he has put in protecting the environment. Increase in human population has for a long time been considered as a core reason for the increase in environmental degradation. However this is not true. The fact that an increase in population leads to overpopulation does not justify that people will die due to lack of food and starvation. As noted by DeSombre (2009), agricultural production in developing economies has improved drastically to around 58% per person. In addition to this, the daily intake of calories in these economies has increased from 1,932 calories evidenced in 1961 to 2,650 in 1999.
This clearly depicts that the issue of people dying due to starvation is false. Otherwise if it is true, then these people would not be consuming more than they did back in the 1960s when the population was low. Seemingly, it is anticipated that the consumption level will increase to about 3,020 calories by 2030 (Clark 2009). Malthus predicted that an increase in population leads to exhaustion of limited essential resources. However, this theory stands to be corrected as already noted above. An increase in population has led to more food production thus an increase in the number of calories a single person feeds on per day. Looking at the issue of population from another perspective, population does not grow and increase exponentially always. As the status of the people changes from poor to rich and healthier, their families. In fact, Markandya and Dale (2008) states that human population reached its peak in the 1960s and since then, the population has been decreasing significantly. Population growth rate is currently estimated to stand at 1.26% and this is expected to decrease to 0.46% by the year 2050. Singh (2010) explains that growth in human population will come to a standstill by the year 2100 with a population of about 10 to 11 billion people.
In relation to the above, land is considered a major bone of contention between man and nature. Man is believed to exploit natural resources due to the urge of wanting to satisfy his needs and desires. The total area of land that supports the all world population is about 10% of the total land. Similarly, the requirement for more land to feed people is significantly reducing and not increasing. This implies that more land will be left to go back to its natural state. From another angle, there were a lot of rumors in the 70s speculating the depletion of oil in the 90s. The popular book “Limits to Growth” asserted that in relation to the known number of reserves present at the time, oil would get depleted before the new millennium (DeSombre 2009). Surprisingly, almost twenty one years from then, more reserves have been found extending the oil peak timeline. Of similar magnitude, pollution is the other factor believed to have played a major role in environmental depletion. However, as average per capita income increases, the conditions of the environment are expected to improve because people have the capabilities to switch to greener and cleaner technologies. Many years ago, man relied on wood for heating and cooking, this meant that a lot of trees had to be cut down. However, as the economic levels improved, man shifted from wood to animal dung and later to coal. Currently, man relies on gas and electricity for his cooking and heating activities. Singh (2010) notes that, consumers are on the upper hand of asking or forcing the people who pollute the environment to clean it up. This opposes claims arguing that environment degradation is getting worse every day. In addition, a number of countries in the world are now practicing afforestation instead of deforestation (Clark 2009). This action raises hope that all is not lost and the world is receiving a different turn. More trees are being planted and thus making the world even much better than before.
In conclusion, a number of essential trends have been noted. Everything that has been noted should be treated with the seriousness that it deserves so as to avoid major repercussions (Clark 2009). Despite the various stands taken by different people, it is a fact that environmental degradation is getting worse every passing day. Major areas of concern are air pollution, rain forests, smog, marine pollution and the depletion of the ozone layer. Pollution is taking place everywhere and this is poisoning the environment. In some regions, the environment is exposed to hazardous wastes which have ended leaving the local environment in a mess. In addition to man’s errors, nature is playing its part by playing the spoilsport and contributing to environmental degradation such as tsunamis and earthquakes. It is important to remember that most of the problems will not solve themselves but serious measures need to be taken. Though most of these measures need to have been taken years ago, we should be concerned with the present and step up efforts if the environment is to be kept a healthy place for man to live in and for the future generation. We should buckle down and do all that we can to reverse any damage that might have been done.