Research Indicates Growing Need to Go Green
Human Population and Industry Pose Threats to the Earth
by Ashley Luse, age 13
always impacted the environment. Since the 1800s, however, global
industrialization, urbanization, and increases in population have had unforeseen consequences for the Earth.
visible of these consequences include air and water pollution,
deforestation, the extinction of many plant and animal species, and
the destruction of large amounts of land. Industrialization, for one,
requires extensive energy production and the use of natural
materials. This has significantly increased air and water pollution.
An example of this occurs when sulfur and nitrogen emissions—produced
by human industries—fall to Earth as acid rain, thus harming
vegetation and trees and even leading to the extinction of certain
adding to industrial demands, population growth creates other
problems. The world population reached six billion people in 1999.
This figure is estimated to grow by approximately 77 million people
each year. Overcrowding increases pollution and habitat destruction
and diminishes natural resources.
research indicates that the greatest environmental challenge humans
currently face is global warming. Caused when layers of gas in the
Earth’s atmosphere trap heat from the sun’s rays—a process
called the ‘greenhouse effect’—global warming could be
catastrophic for life on Earth. One gas involved in this process,
carbon dioxide, is released by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal,
and gasoline. If humans continue to burn fossil fuels, Earth’s
temperature could continue to rise. Researchers suggest that this may
lead to arctic ice melting, sea levels rising, and low-land flooding.
environmental problems seem grim, efforts have been made to confront
them since the 1960’s. For example, the United Nations Environment
Programme, founded in 1972, encourages ‘sustainable development,’
or practices that increase standards of living without harming the
environment. Similar organizations and movements, including
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have also taken action to reduce
human impact on the Earth.
scientists believe that these efforts are too little, too late. They
suggest that minimizing global warming and stabilizing the world’s
climate will require at least a 60% reduction in emissions.
Environmentalists will continue strategizing creative and innovative
ways to preserve Earth’s natural environment.
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