Studies show that human development activities, which occur in different sectors including agriculture, scientific research, oil drilling and mining, building and construction projects, transportation, industrial manufacturing, fishing, and energy are the major causes of environmental degradation.
The activities have led to extreme weather conditions, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and water contamination, extinction of rare species, and land and resource degradation.
The “rapid growth of development has led to several global environmental issues because of the intensification of development activities” (Brandon & Lombardi, 2010), which have made it necessary for governments to develop policies for sustainable development to protect the environment.
Effects on the environment
The anthropogenic impact on the environment results from the human activities of development in both minor and major areas of development. Most of the effects are unavoidable because of the perceived benefits such as creating order and better lives, which according to the first and second laws of thermodynamics increases the entropy of the environment leading greater disorder on the environment.
The effects of development increase the emission of air pollutants, which include Ammonia (NH3) from agricultural processes, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which deplete the ozone layer, atmospheric particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, Volatile organic compounds, and carbon dioxide. In addition, the activities increase the level of chemical in the soil, leading to the contamination of agricultural soils and underground water.
The chemicals lead to adverse health effects, which include lung diseases, cancer, and poor air quality. The gases are the major causes of the increase in global temperatures, which result into the negative effects on the environment and the adverse effects on human health.
The cumulative effects of global warming on the environment are the leading causes of the high frequency of severe weather conditions, damages to infrastructure, and increase in the frequency of severe floods, which has resulted into huge economic losses.
Current mitigation strategies
Many suggestions have been made on the best approach to balance the environment with development. Because energy is the main driver of the activities, many suggestions point to the use of renewable energy as a measure to reduce the effects of burning fuel for energy.
Renewable and green sources of energy provide clean and reliable sources of energy from natural sources without using the chemical processes of burning raw materials to convert them into fuels.
In addition, renewable forms of energy are easily replenished by human beings in their lifetimes, which make the sources reliable and sustainable. Some of the examples of renewable green sources of energy include geothermal power, sea waves, rain, sunlight, and wind energy. Renewable sources are cheaper because they are distributed over large geographic areas and are suitable for rural and urban development.
Other approaches include better and higher quality product designs, resource optimisation, use of better process control mechanisms, use of government sponsored waste management systems, use of efficient production practices, practicing environmental responsibility, and use of better waste management systems for health facilities.
In conclusion, development activities in different areas are the major sources of the adverse effects on the environment.
To address the problems, some suggestions include using clean energy technology, renewable sources of energy, slowing population growth, using efficient production methods, implementing policies on environmental protection, changing the lifestyle of people, increasing the quality of products, investing in waste exchanges, and shipping products directly to the specific point of use.
Brandon, P., & Lombardi, P. (2010). Evaluating sustainable development in the built environment. New York: John Wiley & Sons.