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ANTHROPOGENIC IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Human


Impact on the Environment
Joselyn S. Elnar
MT 502 Environmental Technology

If your town has rerouted water from the river


for drinking water, that is
an anthropogenic activity.

Whenever you see the word root anthro, you


can bet there’s a person involved,
and anthropogenic is a particularly good
example.

From the Greek anthropogenes, meaning "born


of man,” anthropogenic can refer to any changes
in nature that are caused by people — like the
existence of roads or cities where once there
were forests. Most often, you will hear anthropogenic as an adjective describing pollution — such as the
anthropogenic causes of the hole in the ozone layer.

Since human is the main issue here relating to


environment, world population as of February 2,
2018 at 10:30pm is 7, 599,222,568. Population
growth is almost 7.4 million.

The chart illustrates how world population has


changed throughout history.

At the dawn of agriculture, about 8000 B.C., the


population of the world was approximately 5
million.

Over the 8,000-year period up to 1 A.D. it grew


to 200 million (some estimate 300 million or
even 600, suggesting how imprecise population
estimates of early historical periods can be),
with a growth rate of under 0.05% per year.

A tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history
until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130
years (1930), the third billion in 30 years (1960), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion
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in only 13 years (1987). During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65
billion to 6 billion.

In 1970, there were roughly half as many


people in the world as there are now.
Because of declining growth rates, it will now
take over 200 years to double again.
Population in the world is currently (2018)
growing at a rate of around 1.09% per year
(down from 1.12% in 2017 and 1.14% in
2016). The current average population
increase is estimated at 83 million people
per year. Annual growth rate reached its
peak in the late 1960s, when it was at
around 2%. The rate of increase has nearly
halved since then, and will continue to
decline in the coming years. It is estimated to reach 1% by 2023, less than 0.5% by 2052, and 0.25% in
2076 (a yearly addition of 27 million people to a population of 10.7 billion). In 2100, it should be only
0.09%, or an addition of only 10
million people to a total population of
11.2 billion. World population will
therefore continue to grow in the 21st
century, but at a much slower rate
compared to the recent past. World
population has doubled (100%
increase) in 40 years from 1959 (3
billion) to 1999 (6 billion). It is now
estimated that it will take another
nearly 40 years to increase by another
50% to become 9 billion by 2037. The
latest world population
projections indicate that world
population will reach 10 billion
persons in the year 2055 and 11 billion in the year 2088.

Since when I was a child I always see that slogan. “Save our Planet” why? Does earth really need
a saving? Is that slogan still relevant today? Yes it is. Because we are starting to exceed the Planetary
Boundaries.

Four of nine planetary boundaries have


now been crossed as a result of human activity,
says an international team of 18 researchers in
the journal Science (16 January 2015).

The four are: climate change, loss of


biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered
biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and
nitrogen). Two of these, climate change and
biosphere integrity, are what the scientists call
"core boundaries". Significantly altering either of
these "core boundaries" would "drive the Earth
System into a new state".
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"Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the
Earth System into a much less hospitable state, damaging efforts to reduce poverty and leading to a
deterioration of human wellbeing in many parts of the world, including wealthy countries," says Lead
author, Professor Will Steffen, researcher at the Centre and the Australian National University,
Canberra.

Our body is filled with over 65 percent


water. And this does not seem like a big deal
because the earth is covered with over 70
percent water. The problem with that is that
most of that is sea water that we cannot use.

And the freshwater that remains, most


of it is going to be frozen in ice caps and
glaciers. And so the percent that is really fresh
water on the surface is a small percent of the
water on our planet and it is finite.

Spheres showing: (1) All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter) (2) Fresh liquid
water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter),
and (3) Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter).

The amount of water we have on our planet has never changed. Now as the sun provides energy
to the earth the water will move around
through the hydrologic or the water cycle but
we have a finite amount of water. And most of
it is going to be sea water. We have a little bit
of fresh water. The sea water moves around
through ocean currents. The fresh water could
be divided into ground water, water
underneath the surface and then surface water
which are on the surface.

Now we need that water. We need it


domestically in the home to take a shower or
to drink. But we also need it in industry to
make our goods. And most of it actually goes to agriculture to make the food that we eat. The problem
with water on our planet is that it is unevenly distributed. In some areas there is lots of water. In some
areas however there is going to be scarcity. And so humans have had to learn how to store water, move
it around and in the future we may have to desalinate some of that sea water so that we can use it as
fresh water. Now where is that ground water stored? It is
underneath the ground in aquifers that we can deplete. What
about the surface water? Well it can be stored in reservoirs that
occur naturally or ones that are created as we produce dams.
And then we can move it around through aqueducts and even
to the planet itself through irrigation. But we have a finite
amount and so conservation is incredibly important. And
economics have contributed to water loss and could help us to
actually solve this water conservation problem.
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And what are we using all of


this fresh water for? Well if we break
it out using a pie chart most of it is
actually for agriculture. The growing
of our food. We use some of it for
industry. And then some of it
domestically in the house. The
problem again is that it is unevenly
distributed on our planet. Brazil is
going to have plenty of water. But if
we look in the desert southwest of the US or in the Sahara there is not going to be any water right there.
And so what have humans done?

So reservoirs are an example of that.


A big example would be the Three
Gorges Dam that was built in China.

It was finished in 2006.

And so this is what that river, the


Yangtze River looked like before they
built the dam. And then they built the
dam, finished in 2006.

You can see what it looks like then.

So we are storing the water behind the dam. What is the impact of water storage? Well there is going to
be destruction wherever that water went. So we are decreasing 20 percent of the forest in this Yangtze

River. We are displacing over 1,000,000 people that used live there. We also have evaporation of the
water off the surface. And then we are going to have nutrients that start to deposit there that would
have normally moved their way down the river. And that is
going to disrupt wildlife.

And so fish obviously cannot spawn, move up and


down in the stream. But it is also going to change the
temperature of the water. As an example, there is a
freshwater dolphin that went extinct in the Yangtze River
and the Three Gorges Dam may have contributed to that.
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We can also store it underground. That


is naturally stored in what are called aquifers.
One of the largest ones on the planet is the
Oglala Aquifer. It is going to be found in the
midwest. And so here it is in Nebraska. But it
goes all the way down to Texas and up into
South Dakota. It is a huge aquifer. So if we look
at the amount of water stored underground it is
over 1000 feet of infiltrated saturated water
underneath the ground that we can use. And
you can see right here that there is tons of
irrigation going on. This is in Kansas. They are
using center pivot irrigation so they can grow their crops. It seems great but what happens again is that
we can deplete that.

So if we look at, this is during a 15 year period of time, there is an increase in the aquifer in
certain areas but most of the time we are seeing depletion. And sometimes that aquifer has kind of
disappeared. And a lot of scientists think in the next 100 years the Oglala Aquifer is just going to
disappear. Why is that a problem? It could take another 6000 years to fill it up again through natural
recharge.

Now we also have to move water around. So looking to California is a great example of that.

So if we look in California they need a lot of water in the central valley and then in the south, Los
Angeles and San Diego. So they built this huge system where they can move water where it is, in the
mountains, and they can move it through these aqueducts to where it is needed.

Now you can see that is controversial. So people in this area are saying you are depleting our
rivers. In this area we are saying we have more population. We are growing your food so we need more
of that water. And this conversation becomes more heightened when we move into drought. And
California is in an awful drought right now. Drought occurs when you receive way less than the normal
amount of water. And so as we use that for agriculture, irrigation movement is super important. So how
do we move the water actually to the plant? Other human impact relating to water will be discussing
more in hydrology and ground water.
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Now we also have to move water around. So looking to California is a great example of that. So
if we look in California they need a lot of water in the central valley and then in the south,

Los Angeles and San Diego. So they built this huge system where they can move water where it
is, in the mountains, and they can move it through these aqueducts to where it is needed. Now you can
see that is controversial. So people in this area are saying you are depleting our rivers. In this area we
are saying we have more population. We are growing your food so we need more of that water. And this
conversation becomes more heightened when we move into drought. And California is in an awful
drought right now. Drought occurs when you receive way less than the normal amount of water. And so
as we use that for agriculture, irrigation movement is super important. So how do we move the water
actually to the plant? Other human impact relating to water will be discussing more in hydrology and
ground water.

Clear Cutting

Selective Cutting

Forests provide lumber for us. And we have this quaint view of a logger with an ax cutting down
a tree. Like everything it has been highly industrialized. This is a sawmill. It is feeding the wood through
and we are using lasers to get the optimum amount of lumber out. Techniques they use are clear-
cutting; where we can remove all of the trees, replant it with a tree plantation. And then we can do
selective cutting. And so when we are removing just specific pines that is going to cost more money but
maybe healthier for the forest. But not only do forest
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Well if we harvest old growth trees, so these are


things like redwood trees of America , big
spruces in British Columbia, that have taken
hundreds of years to grow, once you remove
them then they are gone forever. They are not
going to have time to grow back.

In late March–April 2016, due to the extreme effects of El Niño, massive patches of forest fires
and bushfires appeared on the slopes of the mountain, causing hikers on the mountain to halt their
ascent. Tourism in the region was threatened due to a massive haze engulfing the slopes of the
mountain. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use.
The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests. Desertification is the process by
which environments become more like desert. Over a period of years, the amount of natural vegetation
decreases and the soil is exposed to the hot sun. When it rains, the rainwater runs over the surface of
the soil, rather than soaking down into it, and the soil can be washed away. The soil becomes degraded
or worn out. It's harder to grow crops and food shortages and water shortages may both become more
common. Desertification is a serious issue that affects over 1 billion people around the world. It affects
large parts of North America, Africa, Central Asia and Australia, so it affects people in countries at
different levels of economic development. However, its most serious effects are on those people who
already live in poverty, because desertification makes it even harder for them to make a living from the
land.It is estimated that 90% of the people who are affected by desertification live in the world's poorer
countries and that US $42 billion worth of income is lost due to desertification every year.
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MARSSE Tropical Timber is a


family-owned and operated mature
tree farm in Pangasinan, Philippines.

Registered at the Department of


Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR-Region) as a tree plantation
and a sustainable timber source in the
Philippines, it provides tropical
hardwood trees, mainly Honduras
Mahogany to local timber markets.

It promotes sustainable management


of forest plantations as well as
promotion of modern forest
technologies. Now tree plantations and you know it is a tree plantation because you see all these trees
planted in straight rows, are a great way to harvest lumber but are not great of the biodiversity of the
forest.
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It is a phenomenon that can be seen


both in the nature but also on livestock
farms. It commonly happens when a farmer
or an owner of the livestock keeps too many
animals in one secluded area.
Unfortunately, overgrazing comes with many
negative effects for native species, including
soil erosion, land degradation and loss of
valuable species.

OPEN ACCESS FISHERIES

A main problem of overfishing is the “open


access” nature of fisheries.

Because there are no or few property


rights there is a lack of incentive for
fishermen to leave fish in the water.

POOR FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

A lack of management oversight,


government regulations, and traceability of
fishing activities has long been a problem in the fishing industry.
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ILLEGAL FISHING. One key dimension of the overfishing crisis is illegal, unregulated, and unreported
fishing. It occurs across all types of fisheries, within national and international waters, and small scale to
large industrialized operations. Illegal fishing accounts for an estimated 20% of the world’s catch and as
much as 50% in some fisheries. The costs of illegal fishing are significant, with the value of pirate fish
products estimated at between $10-23.5 billion annually.

MARINE LIFE IMBALANCE. Targeted fishing of top predators (such as billfish, sharks and tuna) eventually
disrupts marine communities, causing increased abundance of smaller marine animals at the bottom of
the food chain. This in turn has impacts on the rest of the marine ecosystem, such as the increased
growth of algae and threats to coral reef health. Overfishing is also closely tied to bycatch, another
serious marine threat that causes the needless loss of billions of fish, along with marine turtles and
cetaceans.

DECREASED FOOD SECURITY. Coastal


communities around the world depend on fish
as their primary source of protein. Overfishing
threatens their long-term food security,
particularly in developing countries.

Now what happened with


industrialization is as we had exponential
growth in the population we had to feed that
population.

And therefore we had the green


revolution where we have industrial agriculture
today.

There are five characteristics of Industrial Agriculture. The first one is mono cropping, when you
plant just one crop type. We also have irrigation. The use of pesticides that target different things. The
major ones are herbicides and insecticides. We use fertilizers. Some of those are going to be organic, like
manure. But a lot of those are going to be synthetic. And now we have the arrival of genetically
modified organisms. All of these together have allowed us to create more food than we ever have. But
each of them has drawbacks or effect. Mono cropping for example, when you harvest all of those plants,
it can lead to soil erosion and a lack of biodiversity. Irrigation depletes aquifers and can lead to
salinization (the process of increasing the salt content). Pesticides have a double problem. Pests are
going to become resistant to the pesticides and also those chemicals are going to bio-accumulate
(become concentrated inside the bodies of living things) within the food web. Fertilizers require a lot of
energy. They require fossil fuels to make and also they will run off the fields and enter into the food web
causing things like eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients). Genetically modified organisms,
most of the studies are saying are not harmful to humans to eat, but they can lead to a decrease in
biodiversity.
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Now there are impacts of mining of course. We have contamination of the air, the soil, the
water. It is a decrease in biodiversity and also it can also be dangerous to humans who are doing the
mining. A hundred years ago being a coal miner was incredibly dangerous. You could develop what is
called black lung.
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The environmentalist and biologist Barry


Commoner argued that advances in technology
since World War II had been the most significant.

The entomologist Paul Ehrlich, author of the


famous 1968 book The Population Bomb, and the
physicist John Holdren, now director of the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy,
maintained that humans’ environmental impact
was also a function of population and
consumption levels.

The debate led to the creation of what is now


known as the IPAT formula. This states that humans’ impact on the environment (I) is the product of
population (P), affluence (A) and the impact of technology (T): or I = PAT.
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And so we have learned so far that with industrialization you see exponential growth in a
population. And so the population increases in that is impacting the environment. But it is not only the
number of people; it is the affluence of those people. It is how much they are consuming and it is also
their technology. Now some technology can actually help the environment. And so I am talking about
destructive technology. It is impacting the environment. One way to measure that is using the IPAT
equation. You do not actually have to calculate it, but it is combining these three things. The population,
the affluence and the destructive technology. And an analogist’s model is the ecological footprint. It
measures how much of the earth do we need to support that industry. Now these are feedback loops,
and so all of these are going to put impacts on the population itself. Another big one, aside from
population is the economy. If the economy grows too much that is going to consume resources and
destroy habitat. But if the economy is not big enough in certain countries it can lead to disease and
hunger. And so the IPAT equation looks like this. It is pretty easy. On the left side we have the impact.
We then have the population. So in other words the bigger the population is, the larger the impact.
If we are looking at affluence that is going to be consumption per person. So if you have a house and
several tvs and many cars, you are probably going to have more affluence than somebody who lives in a
village in Africa. And then is that consumption actually harming the environment or impacting it? Well
it depends on what technology that is. And so
let’s give you an example. So let’s look at a
country, so this is Burundi. It is in the Rift
Valley of Africa. And so if we look at their
population there are about 9 million people
that live there. So there is going to be a certain
impact. If we look at how much money they
make, the average person makes 910 dollars
per year. What does that mean? They do not
get much money so there cannot be much
consumption. If we were to look at the major industry it is going to be agriculture, meat is rare because
it is going to be highly expensive. If we look at transportation, bicycles are really common. And so is
there a huge impact in Burundi? On the environment, no. It is going to be relatively low. Their
Ecological footprint is equal to 0.9 global hectare/person. The ecological footprint measures human
demand on nature, i.e., the quantity of nature it takes to support people or an economy. It tracks this
demand through an ecological accounting system.
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But if we look at another county, so this is


the UAE or the United Arab Emirates. Their
population is 9 million as well. If we start to look at
their consumption however, the average person
there make 50 times what somebody in Burundi
makes. What does that mean? A lot more
consumption per person. If we look at their
technology, this is Dubai, you can see there is way
more technology. Way more burning of fossil fuels.
There is going to be a greater impact on the
environment.

Ecological Footprint Therefore:

Based on data gathered, Population is not the sole contributor for environmental impact. Any
Increase in affluence and technology will directly increase the environmental impact.