Definition of environmental degradation
Environmental degradation describes the erosion of the natural environment through the depletion of resources, the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of plant and animal species. It is caused by direct or indirect human activity, and has increased significantly since the Industrial Revolution. The United Nations has listed environmental degradation in its top ten list of high level threats faced by the planet to date. Environmental degradation is caused in a variety of ways, predominantly by human actions, however natural events can also result in the deterioration of an environment. Earthquakes, volcanoes and intense rainfall events can all affect the environment in negative ways. Although these events can cause environmental degradation they are a natural occurrence, and therefore many ecosystems have adapted to their effects. The scale of these disturbances is also minuscule when compared to the amount of damage the environment has sustained as a result of human actions. The extraction of natural resources and the production of waste and other pollutants have severely degraded many of the planet’s ecosystems. Mining, deforestation, fossil fuel burning and pollution are just some of the human activities that have lead to the environmental degradation. In an effort to reduce this problem, many of the aforementioned issues have been identified by governments across the globe and action plan designed to minimize their impact on the environment. This will require action from all members of society from businesses to households. Western nations are the largest consumers of goods and services in the world and they are also the largest contributors of environmental degradation. Developed countries are also in the best position to minimize the causes of environmental deterioration and set examples for developing nations to emulate. By acknowledging the causes and effects of environmental degradation, humankind can make...
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