Humans play an extensive role when it comes to the sustainability of the environment, our actions now can have repercussions in the future. Learning how humans leave their footprint on the environment will help us to become more conscious of our actions and how they manipulate the world around us. Humans sway the precarious balance of the environment; the ramifications of tipping the scales will be felt by generations to come. Discovering what your ecological footprint is and how your actions effect the environment is a good place to start if you are concerned about ecological sustainability.
An Ecological footprint is the measure of human demand on Earth’s ecosystem. “Think of a terrarium: How big would the glass need to be so the city underneath could sustain its self exclusively on the ecosystem contained (Wackernagel, 2006)?” Humans have a continuous material dependence on nature. We rely on the ecosystem to feed us, give us the air we need to breathe, absorb our wastes and maintain general life support. “If everybody lived like North Americans it would take at least two additional planet Earths to provide for our needs (Wackernagel, 2006).”
Humans have adapted and changed their surroundings to survive and to make life more comfortable and convenient. There are many ways in which humans have adapted their surroundings. “Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s, human activities, such as the burning of oil, coal and gas, and deforestation, has increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. In 2005, global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were 35% higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution” (Carbon Dioxide, 2011).
How Agriculture Plays a Part
Believe it or not, but agriculture is another aspect of our ecological footprint. Many crops being planted throughout the United States and the rest of the world consist of legumes. These types of plants serve as a home and food source for the bacteria that processes and releases nitrogen into the soil. Since many crops in the United States are legumes this is actually raising the nitrate levels in the soil. Even crops that are not legumes like corn, wheat and potatoes are fertilized with nitrogen. Nitric acids have destroyed many lakes and ponds, resulting in deforestation and global climate changes.
Many fertilizers used on agricultural crops contain phosphates and when used it can raise the level of phosphates in the soil to heights that can actually kill plants. Phosphates are a limiting factor. It can be a matter of the plant not having enough or when it comes to fertilization, having too much. Fertilizers are actually the most prominent form of human interference in the phosphorus cycle. Phosphates like iron, calcium and potassium are mined in many locations and then used in fertilizers, animal feeds and detergents.
What Counts as Pollution?
Phosphate levels in the ocean are three times what they used to be. ...