The world has changed dramatically in the past fifty years. The industrial age and the technological age have clashed and have greatly influenced the present state of the environment. With the coming of the new age of bioscience and biotechnology, further changes are being made to the world’s environment. Issues such as pollution, deforestation and overpopulation have had devastating effects on the environment and most have been because of man’s activity rather than natural disasters.
Natural disasters are a key factor in the destruction of the environment. Floods and high winds have washed away good topsoil vital for agriculture and drowned wildlife and destroyed their homes. Hurricanes such as Ivan have ravaged Caribbean countries, leaving them to rebuild and replant everything. Volcanic eruptions are the main pollutants as the ash and dust that are emitted may be poisonous. Natural disasters cause mass devastation in a few hours unlike human activity and can be seen as overwhelming in comparison to the effects man has on the environment.
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Secondly, natural disasters are unpredictable and unlike human activity, it cannot be stopped. Though technology has allowed for weather systems to be predicted and volcanic eruptions to be timed this has not assisted in preventing damage to the environment. When they occur, there is no telling how fierce they will be or how much havoc will be reeked on the environment. With human activity, the destruction of wildlife can be stopped by passing laws and assigning persons to see that these laws are obeyed. No one can tell the rain to stop falling or tornadoes to form. It is clear that natural disasters have more of a damaging effect on the environment than human activity since it cannot be stopped or predicted.
Though natural disasters seem to be more harmful to the environment than human activity, this is not always the case. Human activity affects the environment slowly and has a lasting effect.
The introduction of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere has led to the depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone layer filters the harmful rays of the sun and prevents them from entering the earth’s atmosphere. Due to the increased amounts of CFCs, there has been thinning and the development of a hole in the earth’s ozone. This has increased the incidences of skin cancer in both humans and animals. Another type of emission that is slowly destroying the environment is that of greenhouse gases.
These are produced from car exhaust and have led to the excessive heating of the earth and the phenomena known as global warming. Global warming has altered climatic patterns and caused more devastating natural disasters than at any time in previous history. It can therefore be concluded that the slow effect of these gases on the environment caused by human activity is not only destructive but makes natural disasters even more vicious than ever.
Secondly, there has been an increase in deforestation in Asia namely in the Philippines, Borneo, Burma, Siberia and Indonesia by Chinese and Japanese loggers. There is no more blatant way in which the environment is being destroyed than this. The demand for wood to build cities, make paper and as a source of fuel is incredible but what should be of greater concern is the destruction of these rainforests which act as the lungs of the earth.
Man’s lust for technological advances is destroying the earth and now there is not enough room for the steadily growing population. We have resorted to trampling on the environment in order to meet the needs of the human race. This devastation of forests and hillsides not only affect wildlife but also destroys habitats and may result in the extinction of many species of plant and animals. Natural disasters do not have such a lasting effect on the environment as the activities of man.
Lastly, with the increasing population comes an increase in food demand and production. Ongoing research is done to find new and improved ways of producing crops that are resistant to disease and insecticides. In the 1960’s the production of DDT to combat insects was developed. This however had a trying effect on the environment as the chemicals remained in the plants that were sprayed. When eaten by birds and other herbivores, the chemical entered their bodies and building up to toxic levels resulting in the death of both plants and a variety of animals.
There is also the race to make foods more nutritional and disease resistant. This is done by altering the genes of the food a process termed genetic engineering the results of which are genetically modified foods. These foods though helpful in poverty-stricken countries can lead to mutations in plants and so cause the plants to become toxic or even extinct. Natural disasters are no match to these devastating effects that human activity has on the environment.
Natural disasters are mass destructors and leave nationwide damage. When compared to man’s activities, which depletes the environment and causes worldwide damage, natural disasters are welcomed. Man’s activities such as pollution and deforestation increase the effect natural disasters have by affecting climatic systems. It can therefore be concluded that human activity harms the environment much more than natural disasters ever will.
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