CHAPTER 36: ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
36.1 Human Use of Resources
A resource is anything from the biotic or abiotic environment that helps meet certain basic human needs. Nonrenewable resources are limited in supply. Renewable resources are not limited in supply. A side effect of resource consumption can be pollution.
Land Use Change
People need a place to live.
Beaches and Human Habitation
At least 40% of the world population lives within 100 km of a coastline.
An estimated 70% of the world’s beaches are eroding. Humans carry on
activities that contribute to the rising of the seas and erosion of beaches.
The coast is particularly subject to pollution.
Semiarid Lands and Human Habitation
Desertification is the conversion of semiarid land to desertlike conditions.
Tropical Rain Forests and Human Habitation
Deforestation, the removal of trees, has long allowed humans to live in areas
where forests once covered the land. Tropical rain forests are subject to
desertification because soil in the tropics is thin and nutrient-poor.
Loss of Biodiversity
Development in tropical rain forests leads to loss of biodiversity.
In some areas of the world, people do not have ready access to drinking water, and if they
do, the water may be impure.
Increasing Water Supplies
Certain areas of the world do not have a renewable supply of water.
Dams catch precipitation runoff, provide water for land irrigation, and
generate electricity. They are not without drawbacks, however.
To meet their freshwater needs, people are pumping vast amounts of
water from underground aquifers.
Removal of water is causing land subsidence and saltwater intrusion into
Conservation of Water
Reusing water and adopting conservation measures could help the world’s
industries cut their water demands.
Food comes from three activities: growing crops, raising animals, and fishing. The
increase in the food supply has largely been possible because of modern farming
methods, which unfortunately include some harmful practices.
Soil Loss and Degradation
When topsoil is lost, farmland loses its productivity. Salinization is the
accumulation of mineral salts due to evaporation of excess irrigation water.
The green revolution helped the world food supply keep pace with the rapid
increase in world population but most of these plants required high levels of
fertilizer, water, and pesticides.
Genetic engineering can produce transgenic plants with new and
different traits. Genetically engineered crops could result in still another
In more-developed countries, many people tend to have more than enough
protein in their diet. Raising livestock uses up an excessive amount of fossil fuel,
fertilizer, water, herbicides, and pesticides.
The result of an increased number and efficiency of fishing boats was a severe
reduction in fish catch. Modern fishing practices negatively impact biodiversity.
Modern society runs on various sources of energy.
Most of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels and nuclear power, both
nonrenewable energy sources.
Fossil Fuels and Global Climate Change
The burning of fossil fuels results in an increase in greenhouse gases and
Renewable Energy Sources
Hydroelectric plants convert the energy of falling water into electricity.
The Earth has an internal source of heat that can be harnessed.
Wind power is expected to account for a significant percentage of our
energy needs in the future.
Energy and the Solar-Hydrogen Revolution
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