Environmental degradation simply means overall lowering of environmental qualities because of adverse changes brought in by mostly human activities in the basic structure of the components of the environment to such an extent that these adverse changes adversely affect all biological communities in general and human society in particular.Environmental Degradation and Conservation is discussed in detail below.
The process of environmental degradation are both natural and anthropogenic. The natural events include terrestrial natural hazards (Vulcanism ,Earthquake etc) ,Atmospheric natural hazards(cyclone,lightning)and cumulative atmospheric hazards (floods,droughts).But anthropogenic processes are largely responsible for environmental hazards of higher magnitude and of global concern.
On an avearge ,the environmental degradation may be ascribed to
- exponential growth of human population
- accelerated pace of scientific and technological development
- fastly expanding industries ,urban growth etc
- philosophical and religious outlook of society
- ignorance and lack of environmental perception and lack of public awareness towards environmental problems
The Environmental Degradation and Conservation may be studied under the following heads
1.Religious and Philosophical factors:
The religious thoughts preached that man is superior to all creatures and everything is created for his use and enjoyment. However the religious but selfish faith led to excessive and rapid exploitation of resources.The economic deterministic view point based on mans mastery over environment also facilitated ecological problems.
The conservation strategy requires emphasis on ‘ecological view point’ which considers man as an integral part of the environment and emphasizes symbiotic relationship between man and environment.
2.Deforestation and environmental degradation:
3. Agricultural Development and environmental degradation:
- Through the application of chemicals ,fertilizers ,pesticides,insecticides
- Through increase in irrigation facilities
- By making changes in biological communities
- Continuous intensive cultivation has resulted in decrease in productivity of soils(eg: continuous cultivation of cotton in Piedmont region of Appalachians,Soil degradation in Punjab)
- The pollution of land and water due to accumulation of unused chemical fertilizers applied to the crops for increasing agricultural production
It is necessary to limit use of chemical fertilizers and to increase application of bio fertilizers as a conservation strategy
Uneven distribution of worlds population causes lowering of environmental quality and causes ecological imbalance.The increased concentration of population in urban centers causes slums and environmental degradation.
5.Industrial Development and environmental degradation:
Industrial development though may be economically significant but the after effects are certainly socially undesirable.Exploitation of natural resources to meet industrial demand has resulted into reduction in arable land ,lowering ground water table,excavation of land for mining etc.There are numerous undesired outputs from factories such as industrial waste,toxic gases which degrade the environment.Oil pollution,Carbon Dioxide emission and green house gas effect are consequences of this.The Chernobyl nuclear disaster and Bhopal gas tragedy are few examples of disastrous effects of modern industrialization.
6.Urbanization and environmental degradation:
Increasing urbanization means phenomenal increase in concentration of human population in limited space which results in increase in buildings ,vehicles,factories urban wastes etc causing serious environmental problems.
To conclude the utmost step to tackle the problem of environmental degradation is to check population growth.The other measures include
- Development of green technologies
- Rational exploitation of natural resources
- Afforestation and reforestation
- Increase in use of natural fertilizers
- Educate people about the environment.
It is important to ensure the involvement of society in production and consumption process to inject a sense of belonging to natural wealth.This helps in having a better understanding of problem of Environmental Degradation and Conservation measures.