What is Environmental Effect?
Environmental effect is the beneficial or adverse impact of human products, services, or activities on the environment. For example, the release of volatile organic compounds negatively affects the environment and causes smog formation. On the other hand, collecting litter and putting it in bins positively affects the environment.
What is the negative impact of environmental effects?
In an energy-dependent civilization, the environment is primarily affected by mass-scale energy use. The burning of hydrocarbons such as oil and coal gives useful energy, emitting carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Other activities such as spilling chemicals and dumping wastes in the soil and water bodies also damage the environment. The environmental impacts of these problems are forest fires, global warming, acid rain, depletion of resources, water, and food.
Global warming and microbes
Carbon is mostly present in organic reservoirs. In the atmosphere, it is present in carbon dioxide, methane, and other related gases (from industrial emissions). Photosynthetic organisms fix inorganic or atmospheric carbon into the organic form. The dependent organisms acquire food from photosynthetic organisms. Carbon is returned to the atmosphere by respiration and decomposition of dead and decaying matter.
The environmental impact of anthropogenic activities disturbs the flow of elements between the fluxes. The nitrogen flux transfers from the atmosphere to the Earth's surface. And the carbon flux transfers from the Earth's surface to the atmosphere. Plants and other photosynthetic organisms are reducing in number because of human activities. A reduction in carbon fixation has increased its concentration in the atmosphere. The increased emission of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere contribute to global warming. It results in climate change and the destruction of living organisms.
Certain microbes work contrary to the global warming mechanism. The members of the genus Methylobacillus are the bacteria that can recycle methane and related compounds. Microbes that can convert carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate are the possible solution to global warming.
Destruction of coral reefs by anthropogenic factors
Coral reefs are diversified ecosystems where several organisms reside. They are delicate because they cannot adapt to the changes that occur in their habitat. The destruction of coral reefs can result in the depletion of their ecosystem. Mostly, animals are the cause of the depletion of the ecosystem.
Pollution increases the mineral level in the water and promotes the growth of algal species. The growth of algae can destroy the coral reefs by smoothening them. The chemicals that accumulate in marine waters after being washed off from various sources on land have proven to be toxic to marine plant life. It increases the levels of minerals, which is not suitable for coral reefs.
An increase in global temperature has resulted in the bleaching of coral reefs. Algal species do not reside in coral reefs because of unfavorable conditions. The rise in the temperature of the sea habitat makes the living conditions harsh. Coral reefs lose their nutrient level and get bleached.
Human activities have detrimental effects on coral reefs. Humans collect fish in large numbers for different purposes. In the absence of fishes, algal growth increases as there are fewer fishes to eat algae and keep them in check. Divers and snorkelers also damage the coral reefs intentionally or accidentally.
The depletion of the coral reefs affects the whole ecosystem in both direct and indirect ways. Some fish-trading companies tend to misguide the government by fishing illegally. This adversely affects the coral reef population.
Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer
The compounds formed by substituting the hydrogen in hydrocarbons with halogens are called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Excess emission of CFCs and their accumulation causes the depletion of the stratospheric ozone, which is harmful to the life forms on the Earth.
CFCs are used in air conditioners and aerosol propellants. These compounds are safe to use because they do not easily react with other chemicals. Excessive emission of these gases causes them to accumulate and reach the stratosphere.
The ultraviolet radiation breaks down CFCs and releases chlorine atoms that react with ozone to form chlorine monoxide and oxygen gas. When these steps repeat, the ozone layer starts to diminish. The thinning of the ozone layer has been observed over Antarctica that has a negative environmental impact. The direct entry of ultraviolet radiation kills the phytoplankton that is the main producer in the marine ecosystem. It also causes neurogenic and respiratory issues as well as cancer in humans.
In the year 1987, international policymakers and scientists signed the Montreal Protocol. This protocol was the first agreement made for the protection of the Earth’s atmosphere. It banned the CFC-containing compounds and shut down factories that emitted them.
The precipitation of low pH (high concentration of hydrogen ions), especially as rain, is called acid rain. Acid rain occurs when primary pollutants react with the water present in the atmosphere.
The pollutants directly formed or released into the atmosphere as industrial emissions are called primary pollutants. They are formed due to the burning of fossil fuels. The primary pollutants formed in the air travel up to hundreds of kilometers and react with water and other oxidative compounds forming acids such as nitric acid and sulfuric acid. The pH of waterbodies gets decreased due to the addition of acids. Acid rain occurs far from the site of the formation of pollutants.
Acid rain draws minerals and nutrients from the topmost layer of the soil. It disturbs the richness of nutrients in the soil. The chemical compounds convert into soluble compounds, which escape from the plants. The pH of the water bodies decreases, affecting the aquatic life forms. The death of phytoplankton disturbs the food chains.
Environmental impacts of deforestation
Forests are cut to extract resources and create clear land for developing roads, infrastructure, and space for mining activities. Lesser rainfall promotes forest fires that can destroy the plants and their inhabitants in a span of a few hours or days.
The illegal supply of fuel, wood, and medicinal plants leads to the exploitation of forests. The increasing world population demands more resources, which are made available by cutting down forests. It has resulted in widespread deforestation.
Landslides occur in hilly regions due to deforestation. Forests act as carbon dioxide sinks. Hence, deforestation increases the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to global warming. Forests regulate the underground water level since plants can hold a sufficient amount of water in their roots. The absence of trees increases the chances of flooding. The loss of biodiversity is another problem associated with logging.
The logging of trees without the government's permission is illegal, and it can result in adverse environmental impacts. Various government and non-government agencies trying to prevent the logging of damaged forests to restore them. Forest conversation plans and sustainable management methods are used to reduce logging.
Three management schemes are implemented for the conservation and the proper utilization of forest resources. They are maximum sustainable yield, ecosystem-based management, and adaptive management.
- The maximum sustainable yield method involves utilizing only half of the resources while leaving the remaining resources untouched. It helps to obtain a maximum yield of resources.
- The ecosystem-based management includes different tree-planting methods that helps in sustaining different ecosystems and maintains the equilibrium. One such method is forming sustainable forests. These forests are carefully managed and felled trees are replaced with new plant species which eventually convert into mature trees. It is a specialised managed system. The destructive effects of plant cutting are minimized by sustainable forests. It can be used because resources extraction involves minimum damage to the environment.
- Adaptive management is a method that includes testing different approaches, selecting the most effective one, and applying it. Adaptive management gives highly effective results.
Old forests should not be logged because they are rich in biodiversity. They make about ten percent of the total forest area. Trees regrow properly when they are logged at their middle age. Since old forests have not been disturbed for hundreds of years, they should not be logged at all. Secondary forests can be logged because they have regenerated and have the minimum impact of deforestation. They contribute to 90% of the total forest area. Also, as their trees regrow faster, they help sustain the ecosystem.
National forests should not be logged for the extraction of wood. Private forests or lands can be used in their place because they are not as rich in biodiversity. Specific plantations help obtain the required resources while maintaining the ecological dynamics.
Forests fires should be controlled to minimize the harmful effects of the burning of organic material. The fire management implementation comprises of controlling fire in areas with maximum possible destruction. Also, it can be allowed in forest patches to help in the growth of new seedlings.
Salvage logging of the forests involves the logging of unproductive trees. It can be used to restore the economic value of trees. Salvage logging should be done while following the government guidelines.
It is incorrect to assume that all gases are greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are those that release heat in high concentrations, which increases the temperature of the Earth.
Context and Applications
This topic is significant for the professional exams of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate courses, especially:
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science
- Master of Science in Environmental Science
- Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science
- Master of Philosophy in Environmental Science
- Air Pollution
- Land Pollution
- Climate Change
- Gas Emission
Q1: Which one of the following is not a greenhouse gas?
(b) Carbon dioxide
Correct choice: (a)
Q2: What happens to the pH value of water bodies when acid rain mixes with them?
(c) Remains the same
(d) Waterbodies dry up
Correct choice: (b)
Q3: Which of the following is not an approach for the conservation and utilization of forest resources?
(a) Maximum sustainable yield
(b) Ecosystem-based management
(c) Adaptive management
(d) Destructive yield
Correct choice: (d)
Q4: What occurs due to the reaction of primary pollutants with the water present in the atmosphere?
(b) Acid rain
(c) Forest fire
(d) Algal bloom
Correct choice: (b)
Q5: What are the compounds formed by using halogens in the place of hydrogen in hydrocarbons?
(c) Nitrous compounds
(d) Silicon compounds
Correct choice: (a)
Want more help with your biology homework?
*Response times may vary by subject and question complexity. Median response time is 34 minutes for paid subscribers and may be longer for promotional offers.
Environmental effects Homework Questions from Fellow Students
Browse our recently answered Environmental effects homework questions.