Research Indicates Growing Need to Go Green

Human Population and Industry Pose Threats to the Earth

by Ashley Luse, age 13

Humans have always impacted the environment. Since the 1800s, however, global industrialization, urbanization, and increases in population have had unforeseen consequences for the Earth.

The most 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 species.

Beyond 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.

Some 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.

While these 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.

But, some 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.

[Source: A Short History of the World ]

Well-written article; much better than most of the college essays I had to read last semester. Great job, sis! – Tori , Iowa City (2015-06-15 19:56)