Most Dangerous Species

Most Dangerous Species

As long as humans have existed, we have posed a threat to our own environment. During Neolithic times, agriculture was born. This was just the beginning of the destruction of Earth. The Neolithic people would farm one area of land and then, once the soil was completely used up, they would move to a new area. Now we have evolved so much that we have the capability to destroy hundreds of miles of nature with one bomb. Who knows what might be next? One thing is for sure though… we are the most dangerous species.

In the beginning of the 1700’s a new revolution began. It was called the Industrial Revolution. Humans had dawned on the very start of a New World. During this revolution we went from using horse and carriage to jets and space shuttles. Technology had reached a new high. And yet, the most important creation of all may soon be able to do all human jobs: computers. However, they can’t fix the problems that we’ve created. That’s up to us.

The U.S. census shows that in 1993, 5,772 babies were born and 3,246 people died. That’s almost a 2:1 ratio…almost. So what’s going on? More people are being produced than there are dying. According to the “Overpopulation of Earth” website, the human population will double or even triple very rapidly if nothing is done. So why isn’t this really obvious to us? Actually, it is. If you’ve noticed there are housing developments being built in almost every suburban city there is. This is becoming a large threat to our environment; it can only handle so much.

In the housing developments being built, there are several problems arising. A few of the problems include: the run-off from all the pesticides being used on lawns has nowhere to go (people that live in suburban areas use three to six times more pesticides that farmers use one their land), the trees being cut down are not being replaced, the wildlife that once lived there now does not have any habitat to live in. Animals that were once plentiful are now rarely seen.

Farmland is also vastly being developed on. Since 1967, so much land has been paved over that it equals the area of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey combined.

With population growth, another thing grows and that’s pollution. The more people there are then the more use of cars and the more carbon dioxide there is being exhaled into the air and the more factories there are being built to give all these people jobs and…well, you get the point. Our little planet can only take so much. But what happens when all humans do is take and take from the environment and never gives anything back? Whatever we do to the planet is going to effect us.

According to Karen Malarkey, science teacher at Haverhill High School, large cities are one of the biggest problems. So many resources are wasted in our cities. For instance, a city with 9 million inhabitants uses 5.6 million tons of water, 18,000 tons of food and 85,500 tons of fuel… every day. That same city produces 4.5 million tons of wastewater, 18,000 tons of solid waste and 8,550 tons of air pollutants every day. U.S. citizens also produce more garbage than anyone in the world does.

Nothing consumes as much raw material as an automobile. The United States consists of only one fifth of the world’s population; however, we use 25 percent of the world’s fuel. Japan doesn’t use even half of what the U.S. uses… not a third…not a fourth… but one eleventh.

An urban heat island is another name for a large city that traps in heat. Large buildings and dark pavement absorb sunlight and transform it to rising, unbearable heat which can not be released from the city until late at night because of the gases released by things such as automobiles that keep it in. Dr. Jeff Luvall, the principal investigator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, believes that one of the ways to relieve large cities from this problem is to prevent the deforestation of forests surrounding them. For those cities that are no longer surrounded by forests, it is already too late.

Pollution doesn’t just add up to statistics either; it creates problems in the environment. Air pollution has created a problem for humans called global warming. In North America, cars release most of the gasses that are responsible for trapping heat in our atmosphere and creating the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect occurs when certain air pollutants (like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, methane, and chloroflourocarbons) allow the energy of the sun to pass into the atmosphere but trap most of the heat. In a way this protects us because without the greenhouse effect, the whole Earth would be like Antarctica.

The greenhouse effect is what kept the seasons in balance (along with the rotation of the earth, of course). Now, global warming may be shifting the balance too much one way or the other. The greenhouse gasses building up and holding in more heat and not releasing all of it causes global warming.

Acid precipitation is another one of the effects of pollution. Acid precipitation consists of acid rain, acid snow, and acid fog. Acid rain consists of nitric and sulfuric acids. The burning of fossil fuels puts deadly gasses into the air, which get absorbed into the clouds and come down as precipitation. Even in small amounts, the acid precipitation has done great harm. It is a mysterious killer because it can kill a forest of trees and leave everyone wondering why and how they died.

Soil pollution may not sound serious, but it is. When the soil gets polluted, it can not be easily cleaned. The chemicals we are putting in to our surrounding ground do not decompose easily. The plants growing in the soil then inherit the chemicals and are passed on to the animals that eat them and could eventually land on our dinner table.

Water pollution is one of our biggest problems in every city near a body of water. Most large cities that are located near a river tend to dump waste into the river. This becomes a hazardous problem for the people who live a hundred miles away and that river is their drinking water. Some cities in Latin America have such a large problem with water pollution that they have to depend on purified bottled water. However, the people that can’t afford the bottled water become very ill with diseases such as cholera or dysentery and can not afford hospitalization.

Even though some areas may be very cautious about their drinking water and are sure not to dump waste near it, nature has it’s own way to pollute. Every time it rains, whatever substances may be on the ground get carried away with the water and mixed in with the natural groundwater under the surface. Important aquifers then get polluted and can not be used.

Air is the most vital ingredient for life. Without it, not one person or animal on this earth would survive. In the early 1900’s, the only air pollution we had was from the factories of the industrial revolution burning coal for fuel. Since pre-industrial time, carbon dioxide has increased 65%. Some problems caused by air pollution consist of smog, acid rain, and global warming.

Many serious health problems are linked to pollution. Cancer is one of the biggest because there is no promise it can be cured. Smog in heavily populated cities causes many breathing problems. It smells bad, it makes your eyes itchy and watery, it becomes hard to breathe, it can give you a headache, and it can make you fatigued. All these effects make it very dangerous to drive, especially in a large, heavily populated city. In some areas, the smog can be so dangerous that children must remain inside.

So then why don’t we start realizing what we are doing to the air we breath? Well, in 1970 the Clean Air Act was passed. Ever since then, pollution has decreased tremendously. Lead, one of the most harmful pollutants, has had the greatest decrease. The use of lead is now banned in many objects and substances like paint, gasoline, and pencils.

Pollution in some areas may be very bad; however, it is better than it has been in past years. We can all help the environment we live in by recycling, reducing, and reusing.

Humans are the only species with the capability to wipe out all other species and our own. We must not take our little part of the universe for granted because it is the only one we have and after it’s gone, so are we. We also can not forget that we are the most dangerous species and not let that get out of hand because we have gone far enough as it is.


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