Human activities such as farming, fishing, and forestry have existed for thousands of years. Although these activities have benefitted the growing population and economy greatly, practices within these areas have damaged the Earth’s environment significantly and continue to have a negative impact today.
Farming, an activity that dates back 10,000 years, has transformed our lands into valuable sources of resources like fruits and vegetables. Grains including rice, corn, and wheat have also been farmed for centuries. In fact, 35 percent of the world’s population today consumes wheat daily. Modern equipment allows for easy harvesting and faster growth of crops.
Even though farming has helped society advance, it has also caused problems for the environment. The removal of tree and plant roots to create farmland has caused the soil to become loose and crumbly, which in turn causes it to be easily washed or blown away. Further, the usage of natural water sources to fuel the growth of crops has drained swamps and marshes. Due to farming, many swamps, marshes, and grasslands have disappeared altogether.
Like farming, fishing is another highly-commercialized human practice. Around 110 million tons of fish are caught annually. Within the fishing industry, methods involving sonar devices, lines, traps, and nets have increased the capture rate of a variety of species. Massive fleets sent out to coastal shores and seas drag nets through the waters to catch fish and crustaceans. The advancement in fishing methods has spurred the problem of overfishing. Removing thousands of fish from the ocean all at once has left few to breed, thus decreasing natural fish populations drastically. In addition, some fishing methods and industry practices pollute seas, therefore endangering various marine animals and killing the habitats in which they live. Oil spills from damaged ships and sewage waste dumped into the seas kill one million marine animals per year. As more fish disappear, fish farms become increasingly important to keep the economy running and to keep specific species alive.
Another dangerous yet popular human practice is forestry, which mainly consists of harvesting timber, fuelwood, and charcoal, in addition to other products like resin, rubber, pulp, and fruit. Timber is typically used for fuel and building furniture or tools. Rare hardwoods like mahogany or teak are valued for their structure and appearance, while more common softwoods are prized for their easy malleability that helps transform them into materials such as paper. Though forestry has provided resources to keep communities running, uncontrolled and mass deforestation has destroyed numerous forests, in turn leaving thousands of species without homes.
From farming businesses and power plants to major factories and industries, the creation of chemical waste and fumes has polluted Earth’s natural resources and increased its temperatures. Burning fossil fuels to power vehicles, factories, and households releases toxic gases capable of destroying the ozone layer or even causing acid rain. In big cities, pollution fumes are so dense that they create a choking smog. Some pollution can easily disappear from wind or water, but the majority of waste lasts for thousands of years and is buried under massive landfills. As these industry practices continue to release greenhouse gases to meet society’s needs, experts predict Earth’s temperatures will rise by 2.5 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit this century alone. Global warming will continue leading to the melting of polar ice caps, which in turn will increase the risks of floods, heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, and torrential rains.
The farming, fishing, and forestry industries have all contributed to the advancement of the human population. However, the benefits gained from these systems come with a cost: the destruction of the environment and its creatures. If humans want to ensure that Earth stays in a condition to support generations to come, it’s time to change how these industries run and to reconsider how our daily habits affect the planet.
[Source: Google Encyclopedia]