Negative Effects of Humankind on the Environment
The definitive guide to understanding ways in which we, the human race, are negatively impacting our environment.
by Erik Johnsen
This is a dynamic writing that is always in progress and therefore subject to change at any time.
Last Update: February 2015

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Effects
3. Processes That Result In Negative Effects
4. What Does This Mean for Us?
5. Causality Flow Chart
6. Global Warming?
7. Psychology of the Human
8. Sustainability, Good or Bad?
9. Modernization
10. What Can I Do To Help?
11. References
12. Links
13. Revision History

1. Introduction

What is an effect of mankind on the environment? An effect of mankind on the environment is a change that man imposes on the world that he lives in, that would otherwise not have happened had he never existed. If an entity exists, then it will have interaction with the world in which it exists in, regardless of how much force it exerts in its world. This document will examine different ways in which man's existence results in detrimental effects to the environment.

Man likes to argue whether or not he is liable, or has any liability. He likes to argue whether or not he is really influencing the environment to a considerable enough degree to be of any concern.

Some things like chopping down a tree, are direct effects - man chops down a tree, now there is one less tree. Trees help take CO2 out of the atmosphere and put oxygen into the atmosphere for animals to breathe. One tree, what does it matter? Millions of trees? Hundreds of millions? Paving over plants and trees? Creating factories, vehicles, and machinery that pump out CO2? Would it not be logical to say that the oxygen / carbon dioxide balance may shift due to these actions? If you're thinking, "what's so bad about CO2?" and "who needs oxygen", well, you have some learning to do.

There are direct effects (chopping down a tree, dumping oil into the water, etc.), and indirect effects, or consequences (global warming). The indirect effects (or consequences) are debatable.

There are those who like to believe that man's impact upon the environment from beginning to present can be considered negligible.
But, man is part of the system of earth, and thus, man will have effects upon the environmental condition.
The degree to which mankind affects earth and its environment at any given time is debatable.
A lot of these effects are measured within a short time span with respect to the life of the earth thus far.

How can one enter into the world, live life in a modern society, and leave the world without having a negative impact upon it?

I myself am one of billions – there is now over 7 billion people on earth. But, more people means less natural beauty. Until we can start expanding into space and to other planets, or until we start implementing the ideas of sustainability more and more, this will be the case.

2. Effects

2.1 Pollution
Pollution means garbage and waste.

2.1.1 Converting fresh water into polluted and contaminated water
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

People use water. Households wash chemicals (cleaning products, cosmetics, motor oil, paints) and pharmaceuticals (antibiotics) down their sinks and it goes back into the water system (our rivers, streams, lakes, wells, etc). [Unused pharmaceuticals are a particularly serious threat because consumers often flush them down the toilet (or sink), sending the potent molecules into rivers and lakes. Discarded birth-control pills can trigger reproductive problems in fish, and surplus antibiotics can enhance the spread of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs.]1 Fecal waste from pets and people result in the closing of beaches and lakes. Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterial chemicals commonly added to consumer products. In laboratory studies, they have been shown to disrupt hormones and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or "superbugs." Animal studies have shown both of these chemicals can interfere with hormones critical for normal development and function of the brain and reproductive system. Triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone and testosterone, which could result in altered behavior, learning disabilities, or infertility. Triclocarban has been shown to artificially amplify the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, which could promote the growth of breast and prostate cancer. Most of these products get washed down the drain, where they enter our waterways and are then transported widely throughout the environment. Triclosan is one of the most frequently detected chemicals in streams across the U.S. and both triclosan and triclocarban are found in high concentrations in sediments and sewage sludge where they can persist for decades. In the environment, antibacterial compounds could disrupt aquatic ecosystems and pose a potential risk to wildlife. Traces of triclosan have been found in earthworms from agricultural fields and Atlantic dolphins. In the lab, triclosan has been shown to interfere with development of tadpoles into frogs, a process that is dependent on thyroid hormone. These antibacterials are used in a number of household and personal-care products, including cosmetics, liquid hand soap, deodorant bar soap, sponges, toothpaste and cutting boards, as well as shoes, towels and clothes. They often appear on the product's list of ingredients.

Nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, can be carried into water bodies as a result of many human activities, including agriculture, discharge of untreated sewage, and use of phosphorus-based fertilizers and detergents. This can encourage the growth of blue green algae. Blue green algae can result in the following problems: contact dermatitis and gastrointestinal illness, skin rash. Certain cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins including anatoxin-a, anatoxin-as, aplysiatoxin, cylindrospermopsin, domoic acid, microcystin LR, nodularin R (from Nodularia), or saxitoxin. Sometimes a mass-reproduction of cyanobacteria results in algal blooms. These toxins can be neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, cytotoxins, and endotoxins, and can be toxic and dangerous to humans and animals. Several cases of human poisoning have been documented but a lack of knowledge prevents an accurate assessment of the risks. Recent studies suggest that significant exposure to high levels of some species of cyanobacteria causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Nitrates are from fertilizer, heavily used in growing corn. There is higher risk for well contamination in those areas. Blue baby syndrome is where nitrogen substitutes in the blood stream for iron, and the ability for the blood to carry oxygen goes down.

Toothpaste contains fluoride. A lot of fluoride getting washed down the drain back into the water system. Do some research on long term effects of fluoride on your brain and body.

According to an article published July 14, 2014, there is a massive swirling plastic garbage patch in every ocean (See reference 13). There is at least 35,000 tons of plastic floating in the ocean. A conservative estimate suggests that at least 1 million tons of plastic has entered the ocean since the 1970s and is still not know where all of that ocean plastic went. The swirling patches account for less than 1 percent of the plastic thought to be in the oceans. No one knows where the other 99 percent went. There is only theories. One possibility is that fish and other ocean organisms are eating the rest of the plastic and it's somehow entering the food chain. The Great Pacific garbage patch is one of at least five floating garbage patches around the world.

Fracking is another way chemicals are being introduced into water. [Operators have hauled more than 2 billion gallons of chemicals to thousands of fracking sites around the country. In addition to other health threats, many of these chemicals have the potential to cause cancer. These toxics can enter drinking water supplies from leaks and spills, through well blowouts, and through the failure of disposal.] 18 Fracking also results in other potential negative effects such as air pollution and disruption of fault lines. From an article on January 22, 2015, [Kansas officials link fracking byproduct to earthquakes.] 19

2.1.2 Greater amounts of carbon dioxide and other Heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

From reference 7, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have ranged from 284 ppm to 275 ppm from the years 1000 to 1850. From the year 1850 to 2000 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen exponentially, to about a level of 370 ppm in the year 2000.

Greenhouse gases, like methane from animals and carbon dioxide (CO2) from both animals and from the machines created by humans, is being produced in much greater amounts today and for the last century. Its presence in our atmosphere allows for heat from the sun to remain trapped in our atmosphere and not escape into space the way it normally would. The result is global warming, which is debatable.

Coal power plants put a lot of carbon CO2 and CO into the atmosphere. This depletes the ozone layer by reacting with it.

2.1.3 More pollution in air, more ozone depletion
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

People want good transportation. That means motor vehicles. More people mean more pollution in the air. Pollution is eating away at the ozone. Ozone holes will develop as result of pollution. Pollution clouds from China blow across the Pacific into the United States. Chemicals released into the air can be carried into waterways during rainfalls. "Acid rain" refers to rain containing nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, emitted by power plants and other industries, which mix with water in the air to form sulfuric and nitric acids, damaging crops, vegetation, and the ecology of waterways.

2.1.4 Converting natural resources into garbage mountains
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

People buy things; garbage is a result of consuming. Garbage goes to landfills. Big piles of garbage. Natural resources, minerals, elements, rock, trees, etc. are extracted from the Earth. Materials are constructed which are not very recyclable. We are producing lots of chemicals. Chemicals go into the water, air, and soil.

2.1.5 Radiation, radioactive waste
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Nuclear power plants produce radioactive waste. The waste has to go somewhere. Radiation causes mutations which can lead to cancer and also cell death.

2.1.6 Chemicals
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Chemicals are killing off the honeybees, resulting in pollination problems for many types of plants. Chemicals in the oceans are damaging the brains of sea lions and disrupting their migration patterns.

[Estrogens are also present in the environment, both from natural sources like plants and fungi and as a by-product of synthetic chemicals. Environmental estrogens including DDT, some by-products of plastic manufacturing, and PCBs are often referred to as "endocrine disrupters" because of their ability to mimic, halt, or alter endocrine function in animals and humans exposed to them. There are at least 50 environmental chemicals that exhibit estrogenic activity. In wildlife, etrogenic chemicals have been shown to cause birth defects and reproductive abnormalities. Human hormone receptor systems are similar to those in animals so wildlife effects raise concern for human health. "It's well established that environmental estrogens can pose a health hazard."] 12

2.1.7 Oil disasters
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Deep water oil drilling increases the chances of oil disasters such as the Deep Horizon disaster.

2.2 Destruction of Nature

2.2.1 Less insects and bugs
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

It seems to be man's quest to kill all the insects and bugs. It seems that there are less and less bugs every year. If you are 30 or older (as of 2012), you should be able to recall the difference between today and yesterday in terms of the number of bugs. Do you remember when crickets used to chirp at night? Overall, mankind views bugs as a problem and seeks to eradicate them. Look into the issue with the bees. A large percentage of the United States is cropland, and herbicides are used on these crops. These herbicides will kill all the bugs in the whole cropland region.

[The Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that a popular class of insecticide used to treat soybean seeds provides little or no benefit to the farmers Ė the pesticide, however, is the prime suspect for the deaths of 30 million honeybees. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinator species and are considered a major factor in colony collapse. Neonicotinoid pesticides are also slow to break down, causing them to build up in environments where they are applied. They contaminate surface water, ground water, and soil, endangering not only pollinators, but also other beneficial species that inhabit these ecosystems. Out of 37 completed questionnaires, 74 percent of researchers said that soybean yields either stayed the same or decreased. When asked about the application of foliar pesticide applications, 100 percent of respondents said the sprays (both aerial and ground) either stayed the same or actually increased.] 17 [If the Environmental Protection Agency moves to restrict neonicotinoid pesticides because of fears that they are causing bee deaths, it will happen in spite of the mounting evidence rather than because of it.] 16 (Also see reference 20.)

2.2.2 Deforestation
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

We need land to grow food so we cut down trees. Looking at Google maps it can be seen how much of America is either city or farmland - developed. As we keep processing the planet it becomes less natural and more man-made. We also cut down trees to use the wood for construction. People need houses and furniture, which means trees. More people means more trees need to be cut down. Forests are being depleted. Most of the natural forest in Madagascar is gone. Poor people in Madagascar fell rosewood trees illegally and make $6 for each tree. With that money they can help support themselves and their family, to buy food or etc. Or the poor people who dig for diamonds or precious stones and get paid so little. Then at the other end you have the people exporting the diamonds to other nations, making big money for themselves in the process, so that they can live extravagantly.

Madagascar deforestation. Madagascar has 10,000 varieties of flowering plants, most found only in Madagascar. 400 species of reptiles and amphibians, 388 of which cannot be found anywhere else on the earth. Half of it's birds and nearly all of it's native mammals cannot be found elsewhere on earth. Madagascar has 1000 unique species of orchids. Plants such as Madagascar Periwinkles are used for medicine. The periwinkles are used in drugs that help with childhood leukemia. In the past 25 years Madagascar's population has doubled from 5.4 million to 10.3 million. 4/5 of Madagascar's woodlands are now barren, Burned over by sustenance farmers and herders. Madagascar's rain forests have shrunk 50% since 1950. Madagascar's forests are being cut down for farmland that supports crops for only 2-3 years. Because the people are poor and can't afford kerosene they cut the forests to get wood to make charcoal. Madagascar is the place where the greatest number of species is facing the greatest danger of extinction. The island of Madagascar can be likened to a laboratory with its varied plant and animal life. It's important that people in lands like Madagascar be educated to be stewards of the land rather than abusers of the land.

Haiti deforestation. When Christopher Columbus first saw the island of Hispaniola where Haiti is located he called it the most beautiful island in the world. In 1920, 65% of Haiti was covered by lush forest. Today less than 5% is covered by forest. Today in Haiti there are only 6 areas of forested region that are larger than 20 square miles. People cut the forest down to plant crops and for fuel (charcoal). Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with its neighbor the Dominican Republic. While the Dominican Republic has taken relative care of its portion of the island, Haiti, unfortunately has not. The result is that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and will likely remain so, because of their lack of natural resources.

2.2.3 Habitat Destruction
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Our planet is continually changing, causing habitats to be altered and modified. Natural changes tend to occur at a gradual pace, usually causing only a slight impact on individual species. However, when changes occur at a fast pace, there is little or no time for individual species to react and adjust to new circumstances. This can create disastrous results, and for this reason, rapid habitat loss is the primary cause of species endangerment. The strongest forces in rapid habitat loss are human beings. Nearly every region of the earth has been affected by human activity, particularly during this past century. The loss of microbes in soils that formerly supported tropical forests, the extinction of fish and various aquatic species in polluted habitats, and changes in global climate brought about by the release of greenhouse gases are all results of human activity. It can be difficult for an individual to recognize the effects that humans have had on specific species. It is hard to identify or predict human effects on individual species and habitats, especially during a human lifetime. But it is quite apparent that human activity has greatly contributed to species endangerment. For example, although tropical forests may look as though they are lush, they are actually highly susceptible to destruction. This is because the soils in which they grow are lacking in nutrients. It may take Centuries to re-grow a forest that was cut down by humans or destroyed by fire, and many of the world's severely threatened animals and plants live in these forests. If the current rate of forest loss continues, huge quantities of plant and animal species will disappear.

2.2.4 Dams
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

America went through a dam-building frenzy. Dams disrupt the breeding paths of fish and stop up water for irrigation for farmland. Usually, fish swim upstream for breeding. They canít do this if there is a big dam in the way.

2.2.5 Mining
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Mining operations shave down mountains and create large amounts of waste, such as in Kentucky. People argue that things such as mining and road construction projects create jobs.

2.2.6 Destruction of coral reefs
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Rising temperatures and more acidic waters are killing the oceans coral. [The brightly-coloured corals that make Australia's Great Barrier Reef one of the world's natural wonders will be largely dead by 2050 because of rising sea temperatures. Instead of the rich environment depicted in the recent movie Finding Nemo, the coral reef will be bleached out and replaced by ordinary seaweed. Warmer sea waters make corals suffer thermal stress, eventually making them bleach and die. The huge influx of carbon dioxide since 1800 is making oceans more acidic than they have been for millions of years. So far, the ocean's pH has become about 30 per cent more acidic over the past 200 years because humans have added so much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.] 5

Fishing industry uses big nets that scrape the seabed and shred up coral reefs.

2.2.7 Heat-islands, roads, pavement, blacktop
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Expanding populations of humans have created a greater demand for commercialization, industrialization and other development of the earth's surface. In this development, trees and vegetation are removed (deforestation) and this allows more heat from the sun to reach the earth's surface and be absorbed by the asphalt of roads and parking lots. In other words, it is noticeably hotter in cities and towns where there is a lot less vegetation as compared to forests, where the trees keep the heat from reaching the surface. A relatively new term, "heat islands" has been coined to describe the effect of greater trapped heat occurring in urban areas. Blacktop pavement absorbs heat energy, instead of it being reflected back into space.

2.2.8 Overexploitation
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

A species that faces overexploitation is one that may become severely endangered or even extinct due to the rate in which the species is being used. Unrestricted whaling during the 20th century is an example of overexploitation, and the whaling industry brought many species of whales to extremely low population sizes. When several whale species were nearly extinct, a number of nations (including the United States) agreed to abide by an international moratorium on whaling. Due to this moratorium, some whale species, such as the grey whale, have made remarkable comebacks, while others remain threatened or endangered. Due to the trade in animal parts, many species continue to suffer high rates of exploitation. Even today, there are demands for items such as rhino horns and tiger bones in several areas of Asia. It is here that there exists a strong market for traditional medicines made from these animal parts.

2.2.9 Less Wildlife
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Due to deforestation, political conflict, hunting, pollution, and contamination, there is less and less wildlife. Eventually there could be a time where the only wildlife that exists is in zoos.

2.3 Depletion of Natural Resources
Natural resources such as minerals, elements, rocks, and trees are being extracted from Earth.

2.3.1 Aral Sea gone
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Until the 1960's was a main source of fish/seafood for Russia. In 1960 there were 24 native fish species in the Aral Sea, today there are none. The water going into the Aral Sea has been used for irrigation since the 1930's (cotton). In 1956 construction of the world's largest canal was completed and began to divert water from the Aral Sea to irrigation purposes. The Aral Sea First showed signs of trouble (water depletion) in 1960. The Aral Sea was once the 4th largest lake in the world. It is now 6th. Muynak, an important fish processing center and port city in 1960 is now 25 miles from the shore of the Aral Sea. Since 1960 it has lost 40% of it's surface area. This area (11,000 square miles) has become a salt encrusted wasteland. Today salt and sand storms are a problem in the area. Wind-blown salt and grit from this region reaches parts of the Arctic. 43 million tons of salty grit is blown out annually. If your grandparents had visited the Aral Sea 40 years ago they would have looked out over the vast expanse of water and never imagined that it could be a wasteland in their lifetime. The earth is fragile - even seemingly healthy areas can change in only a matter of a few years. We need to treat the land with respect so it will be healthy for future generations to enjoy.

2.3.2 California sucked Owen's Lake dry
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Los Angeles aqueduct sucked Owen's Lake dry.

2.4 Weather and Climate

2.4.1 Melting glaciers
Definite result of mankind's influence? No.

Advance and retreat of glaciers. Ice thinning in Greenland.

New article released September 2, 2011 with headline: Second Giant Ice Island Set to Break Off Greenland Glacier. A section twice the size of Manhattan is breaking off. From 2009 to 2011 the ice had melted 16.5 feet. The ice shelf, which is 12 miles across, disappeared. It was a big part of the Petermann Glacier that broke off. The Petermann Glacier of Greenland is melting as a whole. 10

2.4.2 Rising sea levels
Definite result of mankind's influence? No.

sea level rise

2.4.3 El nino/la nina oscillations
Definite result of mankind's influence? No.

2.4.4 Length of growing season in Alaska increased from 1950 to 2000
Definite result of mankind's influence? No.

2.4.5 Decrease in arctic sea ice cover from 1970 to 2000
Definite result of mankind's influence? No.

2.4.6 Weather manipulation with particulate matter
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

there is speculation that there is experimentation with particulate substances to see their effects on weather patterns by dumping aluminum or other kinds of particles into the clouds from large aircraft

2.5 Genetic Engineering

2.5.1 Converting natural organisms into unnatural, man-modified organisms
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

We are genetically engineering organisms. The implications of these modifications are not understood to the extent at which they can be considered safe. Organisms are being genetically engineered without understanding the complete effects of these modifications. Scientists are experimenting in this way and there is not significant control and regulation. These species can get into the wild and start reproducing. StarLink corn was a crop that was full of issues. It was not controlled. Wind can blow etc... According to Wikipedia, under the article "Transgenic maize", 85% of the corn crop in the United States was genetically modified. Basically the genetically modified crops allow ever stronger herbicides to be used on crops for killing bugs.

[The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has approved herbicide-resistant seeds. The USDA on Jan. 15 backed the use of soybean and cotton seeds that have been genetically engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to certain herbicides. The new seeds are necessary, the company argues, to combat weeds that have developed a resistance to the widely used herbicide glyphosate. The seeds are also resistant to the herbicide dicamba, which is being used to wipe out weeds that have evolved to tolerate glyphosate. The USDA said on Jan. 15 that the EPA's concurrent review of a new herbicide formula using dicamba and glyphosate created to treat the modified seeds is also "nearing completion."] 15

2.6 Other

2.6.1 Introduction of Exotic Species
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Native species are those plants and animals that are part of a specific geographic area, and have ordinarily been a part of that particular biological landscape for a lengthy period of time. They are well adapted to their local environment and are accustomed to the presence of other native species within the same general habitat. Exotic species, however, are interlopers. These species are introduced into new environments by way of human activities, either intentionally or accidentally. These interlopers are viewed by the native species as foreign elements. They may cause no obvious problems and may eventual be considered as natural as any native species in the habitat. However, exotic species may also seriously disrupt delicate ecological balances and may produce a plethora of unintended yet harmful consequences. The worst of these unintended yet harmful consequences arise when introduced exotic species put native species in jeopardy by preying on them. This can alter the natural habitat and can cause a greater competition for food. Species have been biologically introduced to environments all over the world, and the most destructive effects have occurred on islands. Introduced insects, rats, pigs, cats, and other foreign species have actually caused the endangerment and extinction of hundreds of species during the past five centuries. Exotic species are certainly a factor leading to endangerment.

2.6.2 More animals for eating, less animals that are not for eating
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

We create farms of fish and livestock. The livestock are not healthy because they do not get exercise they are just supposed to produce. Animals are pumped full of chemicals like growth hormone or other, in order to produce more. Other animals like goats are being genetically altered to produce chemicals in their milk for the pharmaceutical industry. Eating more food means having to grow more food in order to keep up with population growth. We need to keep on breeding more animals for us to eat. The animals require food to eat so that they can grow. This means a lot more farmland is needed for people and the animals people eat, to grow crops. People are looking to grow crops more efficiently, so they use chemicals such as pesticides to kill bugs that like to eat the crops. We kill the animals/insects/wildlife that annoy us, we want to keep growing the animals/plants we want to eat, and we could really care otherwise about any other species we do not eat and that do not annoy us. Therefore, they might just get extinct in the process. For example, through deforestation and destruction of habitats and ecosystems. Over time, there will be less biodiversity. The number of endangered species increases.

[Buying Power. A sampling of McDonald's USA's 2010 Annual Purchases. Beef: 800 million lbs - 3% of all beef consumed in the U.S. in 2010. Lettuce and Greens: 102 million lbs - McDonald's uses 14 different kinds of lettuce in its salads. Cheese: 231 million lbs - About equal to Wisconsin's monthly cheese production. Chicken: 725 million lbs - McDonald's spends more on chicken than on beef. Apples: 60 million lbs - About equal to Idaho's 2010 apple production.] 11 Keep in mind this data is just for the United States of America. If 800 million lbs of beef is 3% of all beef consumed in the U.S. then the total lbs of beef consumed in the U.S. amounts to 800/.03 million lbs, or, 26.67 billion lbs of beef. From checking some sources, it is assumed that 550 lbs of meat is edible per cow. This means a total of 26670000000/550 or 48.5 million slaughtered cows in 2010. Assuming that a cow takes up an area of (5.5ft)*(3ft) or about 16 ft squared, this means that these cows would take up an area of 48500000*16 or 776 million feet squared. This amounts to 48500000/57600 = 842 football fields. But this only amounts to 0.000046% of the surface area of the U.S.

2.6.3 Fewer animals for eating
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

In contrary to above, some organisms are dying off due to overharvesting. [A survey of oyster habitats around the world has found that the succulent mollusks are disappearing fast and 85 percent of their reefs have been lost due to disease and over-harvesting. Most of the remaining wild oysters in the world, or about 75 percent, can be found in five locations in North America, said the study published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. They are functionally extinct -- in that they lack any significant ecosystem role and remain at less than one percent of prior abundances in many bays. Oysters are important to ecosystems because they filter impurities from water and provide food and employment for people living in coastal communities. The decline in oyster population often begins when trawling or dredging destroys the structure of parts of the reef, leaving surviving oysters vulnerable to stresses in the environment.] 3

2.6.4 Creating Unhealthy Variants of Dogs
Definite result of mankind's influence? Yes.

Please refer to the BBC One investigative documentary, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed". It is available on YouTube to watch. What happened is around the Victorian era there were many rich women with much free time on their hands. Then as a society they say, "we want pretty little dogs!" So they begin breeding healthy work dogs to exhibit only the physical or visual traits that they prefer. They do this by breeding two dogs. They kill, or cull, the little puppies that are undesirable and keep the ones they favor for further breeding. Eventually they are inbreeding these dogs in order to get them to look the way they want. They are breeding mother and son, father and daughter, father and granddaughter, brother and sister. This inbreeding creates very unhealthy deformations and mutations in the dogs and the result is pretty little dogs with very unhealthy systems. These dogs end up with many inherited disorders and diseases.

2.6.5 More Effects
Disease, pollution, and limited distribution are more factors that threaten various plant and animal species. If a species does not have the natural genetic protection against particular pathogens, an introduced disease can have severe effects on that specie. For example, rabies and canine distemper viruses are presently destroying carnivore populations in East Africa. Domestic animals often transmit the diseases that affect wild populations, demonstrating again how human activities lie at the root of most causes of endangerment. Pollution has seriously affected multiple terrestrial and aquatic species, and limited distributions are frequently a consequence of other threats; populations confined to few small areas due to of habitat loss, for example, may be disastrously affected by random factors.

[In Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, the marshes are washing away. A lot of it has to do with the oil and gas industry, and a lot has to do with shipping, flood control that starves the marshes, and pollution.] 9

Some new emerging solar plants are killing birds mid-air when they fly through a focused stream of heat energy. Wind turbine farms are killing bats. Insecticide fogger trucks spray indiscriminately. Animals like bats eat the mosquitos that ingest the fogger insecticides.

3. Processes That Result In Negative Effects

People consume. Consumption results in pollution. Pollution is waste and is overall a deteriorating product for Earth.
More people means more food which means more livestock which means more farmland for crops for people and livestock with means more chemicals and pesticides for crops and less natural predators and less trees and depletion of fresh water and deforestation and loss of ecosystems and species extinctions.

Consumption of goods, productswood, mineralsgarbageless natural resources, more garbage, pollution from factories
Consumption of waterclean waterdirty, contaminated water, urineless clean water, more dirty contaminated water
Genetically engineered organismsnatural organismsunnatural, man-modified organismsless natural organisms, more unnatural man-modified organisms
Consumption of meat foodslivestockwaste gases from livestockmore livestock, less animals that prey on livestock, more waste gases from animals like cows
Consumption of fruit and vegetable foodsmore chemicals dumped on fruits and vegetables, less insects, more genetically modified foods

4. What Does This Mean for Us?

I project that the number of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders and cancers as well as neurological disorders will be on the rise due to contaminated water, the chemicals that are being put in food, and genetically modified crops and animals that we are consuming. Our world will gradually become less natural and more artificial man-modified, and man-made. This includes organisms as well. There will be less biodiversity. Fewer trees, less insects, less wildlife, less natural beauty. Dirtier air, water, and soil. Un-natural genetically-modified food sources. More erratic and extreme weather. Governments and organizations will put more pressure on the masses to conserve. Fresh water will become a commodity that has to be paid for. Life will become less diverse as more and more plant and animal speicies become extinct. There will be much focus and concern on population growth, perhaps other countries taking up China's policy on regulating the number of children a couple can have. Exotic animals will be primarily found in zoos. These are all predictions of course. Look at all of the effects and make your own conclusions.

Obviously human population is directly proportional to the degree of human's impact upon the environment. If there were only 100,000 people on earth, there would be absolutely no problem. Even if there were 100 million people. What would earth be like if there were 10 billion people? 100 billion? 1 trillion?

5. Causality Flow Chart

Purpose of causality chart is to show how one event may influence other events. The flow chart uses the effects from the previous Section 2.

6. Global Warming?

Global warming is not really an effect, but a debatable result of a number of effects.

Whether global warming is a real issue or not, is it wise for one to argue that the human population poses no threat to the Earth's climate? One may compare the effects of pollution to due the human population to that of a volcanic eruption, and use that as reason for us to continue on as we are without concern. The idea of global warming should be taken into consideration whether or not one chooses to accept that the cause is due to man or not. Does man play no contribution to the effects on climate and weather patterns? The more people there are that exist on earth, the greater the magnitude of the effect mankind will have on earth. Furthermore, as nations become more developed and modernized, their people will have a greater impact upon the environment. Look at the industrialization of China and the resulting effects associated with pollution. It can be found how polluted the air in many regions in China has become.

Global warming is a debatable subject because what is the timeframe with which this judgment is being called? How much climate data is available from which to make the judgment that man is causing global warming, and in fact, that global temperatures are increasing? And even if the temperatures are increasing, what is this increase with respect to? Perhaps this global warming is due in part to larger scale temperature fluctuations. How much has the temperature and climate patterns changed over the history of earth? Can the earth's temperature not widely fluctuate without the involvement of man?

Global warming has been occurring naturally since the last ice age and it appears that mankind is not only contributing to global warming but is also accelerating this warming though industrial, commercial, technological and agricultural activity.

What about the heavier snowfalls? Al Gore answered a similar question by Bill O'Reilly by stating, ["scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow. A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species."] 2

[Methane is a global warming gas approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).] 4 There is much methane gas trapped at the ocean floor. This has accumulated over time from underwater volcanoes and dead organisms. If the world temperatures rise by a couple degrees, a great amount of methan gas can be released.

There are those who like to state that the mankind's contribution of carbon dioxide to the environment is insignificant and negligible to that released by volcanoes. Let's look at some sources. [The natural decay of organic material in forests and grasslands, such as dead trees, results in the release of about 220 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Modern volcanic activity releases only 130 to 230 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is less than 1% of the amount released by human activities. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum is the leading cause of increased anthropogenic CO2; deforestation is the second major cause. In 2008, 8.67 gigatonnes of carbon (31.8 gigatonnes of CO2) were released from fossil fuels worldwide, compared to 6.14 gigatonnes in 1990. In addition, land use change contributed 1.20 gigatonnes in 2008, compared to 1.64 gigatonnes in 1990. This addition, about 3% of annual natural emissions as of 1997, is sufficient to exceed the balancing effect of sinks. As a result, carbon dioxide has gradually accumulated in the atmosphere, and as of 2009, its concentration is 39% above pre-industrial levels.] 6 Also, from reference number six, a graph indicates that due to the burning of fossil fuels, about 0.5 gigatonnes was released in 1900, 1.5 gigatonnes in 1950, and just over 7 gigatonnes in 2000. At that rate, the release of carbon dioxide due to fossil fuels, in gigatonnes, could be in the low 20s by 2050. From another source it is stated that [volcanoes on land and under the sea release a total of about 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and the global fossil fuel CO2 emissions for 2003 tipped the scales at 26.8 billion tonnes.] 8

7. Psychology of the Human

Mankind, as a whole, is selfish. Mankind, as a whole, wants money and power. A small part of mankind is concerned about the environment. You go to work for the company you work for. What do they want from you? They want you to add value to the company. If you can't add value to the company you aren't worth them employing you. What is value? Value is money. If you can't help to add money to the company, what are you worth? And you work to earn money. You want money, and the company you work for wants money. People in developed nations spend so much of their time focused on earning money. Outside of that, mankind spends much time focused on propogating the family and growing the children. Spend time with the children provide food for them, education, so they can grow and have families of their own. The species can keep going on and propogating.

Our goals are to find pleasure, or adequacy, or contentedness in our lives.
We are either trying to enjoy the present or working so that we can find enjoyment in the future.
As a result of our individual quests to find enjoyment, peace of mind, adequacy, satisfaction, pleasure, etc., the following things happen to our environment.

We worry about trying to fit in, trying to adjust ourselves mentally, physically, personality-wise, socially, so that we can be better accepted by the groups we seek out. We seek food, shelter, sex. We want nice things, and nicer things. We want a faster car, a bigger house, a boat, a sexier woman or a better looking man. We want to look better physically. We want to care for our families, make sure they have everything they need. We want to care for others; that will make us feel better. Or, we want to get drunk or do drugs. Or we want to work hard and earn money for ourselves and/or our family. We want to watch sports, or play sports, or watch TV, or find recreational activities that will consume our time so that we do not become bored. We want to learn and become smarter, gain knowledge, and learn about things that are interesting to us. We have all of these desires, feelings, and emotions we are trying to satisfy all through our lives. Through these things and more, we try to find our purpose in life, try to find where we fit in. Or maybe you end up just living, without really thinking about where you are going, and then before you know it, many years have passed you by. We spend time feeling sorry for ourselves, feeling regret about things we did or should have done. So many people live and pass by. Millions of people are being born or are dying all the time. So many people are concerned about their own little bubble, without looking outside, and seeing a bigger picture. It doesn't matter if you're a lowly bum or a wealthy magnate, if what you only care about is what exists in your own little bubble.

Does the environment matter? Why does it matter? Who does it matter to? Who cares about the environment and who doesn't? Why not just keep processing the environment? What matters the most is what is best for us. What we want is what matters. What I want is what matters. It doesn't matter what others want. As long as I am satisfied, and fulfilled, then all is fine. Why does it matter if all the trees are chopped down? If all the skies are polluted? If it rains pollution? If all the waters are polluted? If all animals are killed off except the ones we like to eat? If all the plants die except the ones we like to eat? If all remaining plants and animals are genetically modified to result in unnatural, man-modified organisms? If the weather patterns change? If the ice caps melt? If the ozone layer gets depleted? If all the oil gets sucked dry, used up, and burnt up? If all natural minerals get processed? The mountains get blown away, hacked away, processed down? If barrels of radioactive waste are thrown into holes in the ground? If big mountains of human garbage are formed? If chemicals flood and contaminate the water supply? Why should any of this matter to anyone? Why should anything matter to us that happens outside of our safe, secure little bubbles?

Corporations and big business rule the world, and it is they who decide how the environment will be dealt with. With regard to big business, the dollar is more important than the environment, and as a result, the environment loses out.

As a whole, people live for money. Money is the driving force of mankind. That is what we live for. Considering society as a whole, all decisions are based on money. What is going to increase the bottom line? What is going to make me more powerful and wealthy? From the poorest of the poor, to the wealthiest of the wealthy, people are fighting to earn money. From a poor person's perspective, without money, you cannot support yourself or your family. From a rich person's perspective, without that extra $1 million, $2 million, etc. dollars, I can buy another yacht, or a diamond bracelet for my wife, or another house, or a Ferrari, etc. People seek power and money at all levels. Power and money go together.

The people in power usually have money. Usually, they are in power because that is what they live for, to get more and more power. Usually, people with a lot of money live for money - that is why they have a lot of it. These people in high positions care most about two things: money and power. The decisions they make are based on two things, "what will enable me to get even more money and power?" This is what drives an economy and why everything else comes in behind money and power. Money and power are the two most important things to mankind as an entity. The people at the top of the pyramid of mankind can be viewed as the mind of the system, they guide and direct where mankind goes. Maybe someone develops a novel idea that makes them a lot of money, but then maybe they want to develop that idea, develop a company from the idea, develop new product ideas and keep innovating to keep their company competitive. They are now building something which is going beyond their novel idea, and that is power and wealth.

What is the purpose of mankind? To keep reproducing? To keep learning? To keep becoming smarter? To keep fighting for power and control? To keep expanding? For us to simply live and try to enjoy living? Should we live as a whole without concern and not take into consideration these things, because religious or prophetic writings tell us what will happen, such as the second coming of Christ as it says in the Bible?

As individuals, we can argue that our impact on the world and its environment is so small that it can be considered negligible. But as a whole, a collective, a summation of individuals, mankindís impact upon the earth is becoming greater and greater with the passing of each year. One can make the argument that the earth and everything on it is for man and therefore whatever we want to do with it is our business. For example, there are religious writings that imply this sort of ideology. Right now Alaska is debating whether to build a gold mine that will create waste that will damage one of the finest natural salmon runs for a great many years. There are certain people, environmentalists, that believe in preservation of Earthís natural beauty, unscathed and untarnished by the presence of man. There are other types of people that believe it is right for earth to be processed and modified for the benefit of mankind, as long as it is done so within reason. And then there are other people who do not have much concern, or regard, for planet earth and donít care how much it is processed because they have their eyes on the money.

So who is right? And who is wrong? That is determined at many levels, from the level of a single individual to the level of a collective society. The people who have the money, have the power, and it is because they always have their eye on the money, that is a big part of their life, building and growing wealth. And these are the people that usually win. It is very seldom that you see environmentalists ultimately win in the end.

You might say someone like Bill Gates is smart, maybe a genius. But his logic is such that he thrives on competition and winning. He wants to win, that is his goal or motive. He has another goal which is to help people, but he does this by putting his money toward his foundation to help people in undeveloped nations better thrive, so that they can continue on reproducing because they will be better nourished. Maybe money from Bill Gates' foundation also goes to construct better educational opportunities for these people, and perhaps more educated people reproduce less, but this only slows the rate of reproduction for the target area.

So even intelligent people, when intelligence is based on success or IQ, may have good intentions, their focus may be in a direction that does not help the Earth become any healthier. A lot of the times, the rich may devote money for philanthropic purposes which are directed towards helping the less fortunate, and while this is caring and compassionate, it does not very much contribute towards a less developed and less processed Earth. These rich, wealthy, intelligent people are merely continuing to contribute towards the propagation of the human species, by catering to the needs of others, through the providing of food, shelter, supplies, goods, services, education. And again, this is good and compassionate but it does little to thwart the effects of mankind's processing of planet Earth.

Only when a situation seems to be approaching its limits, do people begin to show a gradually increasing interest or concern. For example, with the whole global warming, green, carbon footprint, etc. thing.

It can be assumed that these changes to the earth were only inevitable, as we came from this earth.
All things change with time, nothing stays the same.
It is inherent in the nature of man to alter his environment in his favor.

As more and more people continue to inhabit the Earth, it will become less natural and more artificial and man-made. The logic of the human mind represented as a world society, which is to strive for power and money, means that the Earth will never revert back to the ways that it ever was, and will continue to be processed, so long as humans continue with this logic.

The question to be asked is, "what matters to you?" What is worth fighting for? When is something worth fighting for? When is it worth doing something? To what extent or degree will an event go before someone will say, "now that has gone too far!" Oftentimes the case is that by the time a person feels that way, it is too late.

People like fighting with one another, killing one another, competing with one another; it is inherent in the nature of the human. Look at what is going on in Egypt right now (February 2011). People so angry about this and that. Fighting, getting angry, frustration, conflict, unrest. You are born, you live, and you die. So what do you choose to do with your life while you are living, how do you choose to spend your time while you are alive? Is it for something worthwhile, or is it for something that ultimately won't matter in the end, and will have essentially no effect? All throughout history man has struggled to achieve. We are so concerned about ourselves, and what is going on in our own little bubble, meanwhile, all of these things are happening to earth as a result of our selfish behaviors and actions. More oil, more food, more energy, more free time, more relaxing, more children, keep reproducing, more people, more goods, more houses, more furniture, more jewelry.

8. Sustainability, Good or Bad?

More people mean more demands of the Earth. Should we not be concerned about overpopulation? Is sustainability a bad thing, or is it the way in which the government uses sustainability as a means for control? Sustainability means having less freedoms or flexibility about the way in which we regard our environment. Things must be done in certain specific manners in order to reduce the negative impacts we are creating. Sustainability means better management. Some people may say sustainability means consuming less, or choosing products that are more environmentally friendly than others. Is it not a valid statement to say that the farther back in time you go, the less of a negative impact a person had on his/her environment? One can argue, "what's wrong with doing this or that?" What defines whether an effect is negative or not? Today we live in an age of many luxuries, most of which are taken for granted. Part of the problem of sustainability is that people argue that the government wants to confine the public to certain regions of living, wants to create barriers that separate livable and non-livable areas. I think Portland is one city which enforces limits around the city and expansion for purposes of residential housing must be negotiated. This can be viewed as both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, it restricts or places constraints on the freedom of one to choose where to live, but on the other hand, it ensures that there will be areas in which a natural habitat for animals and plants to thrive will be maintained. Basically it comes down to the question of people versus plants and animals. If there are more of us, there is less of them, and vice versa.

9. Modernization

What is modernization? Modernization is only a relative term. To become modern, means catching up to another culture that is already there, usually in terms of technology, of fashion or style. In the business world final decisions come down to the dollar, environmental impact is of minor importance in comparison to money. People who make financial or business decisions are trained that way, they develop that sort of mindset Ė to value the dollar first. How are we going to make the most money from this project? Well 1. Minimize costs, and 2. Maximize returns. Environmental concerns are considered if it will help save money. Wars push involved countries into advancing into world leaders. America developed a lot from WWII, to the 60s / 70s / 80s, industrializing, building tall skyscrapers, big cities, and a booming manufacturing industry. Now China, a country with a couple billion people, has taken that torch and is building the tall skyscrapers, as well as certain other Arab nations.

What does this have to do with the environemnt? Because over time, with modernization, the natural world dissapears. Our current and past approach to modernization has an overall negative effect on the environment. Modernization does not have to be that way, by taking the environment into consideration, we can still have modernization without negatively impacting the environment. By approaching renewable resources, replacing those that have been used. By incorporating recycling, reusing, reducing, and replenishing into our modernization approach.

10. What Can I do to Help?

      Recycle - recycle everything
      Reduce - use less of stuff
      Reuse - reuse everything
      Replenish - replenish that from which you take, and then some
      Spread the word - tell thick-headed people the significance
      Join organizations that support the environment.
      Undertake a profession where you can help develop systems that mitigate waste and focus on development of waste processing technologies, to extract natural resources from waste and properly dispose of waste.

Perhaps Pope Francis says it best, taken from a rally at a Manila university in January of 2015: [As stewards of Godís creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling. Respect for the environment means more than simply using cleaner products or recycling what we use. These are important aspects, but not enough. We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of Godís saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person.] 21

11. References

2. Gore, Al. (2011, Feb 1). An Answer for Bill. Al's Journal.
4. Leahy, Stephen. (2010, Sep 20). Arctic Ice in Death Spiral. Common Dreams.
7. (2011, Feb 13). Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. ZipcodeZoo.
8. (2007, Feb 15). Which produces more CO2, volcanic or human activity? U.S. Geological Survey.
10. Johnston, Ian. (2011, Sep 1). Second giant ice island set to break off Greenland glacier."

Destruction of Nature
5. (2011, Feb 13). The world's most important coral region is in danger of being wiped out. The WE.
16. Entine, Jon. (2014, Feb 5). Bee Deaths Reversal: As Evidence Points Away From Neonics As Driver, Pressure Builds To Rethink Ban. Forbes.
17. (2014, Oct 21). ĎBee killerí pesticide provides little benefit to farmers - EPA. RT.
20. (2014, Oct 17). EPA says controversial neonics do little to help soybean yields. The Globe and Mail.

Genetic Engineering
15. (2015, Jan 16). Monsanto gains approval to use herbicide-resistant soybean and cotton seeds. Circa.

1. Alpert, Mark. Fighting Toxins in the Home. Scientific American. Jan 2008: 46.
6. (2011, Feb 13). Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. Wikipedia.
12. Volume 105, Number 9, September 1997. Environmental Health Perspectives. page 910.
13. Plumer, Brad, (2014, Aug 10). Every single ocean has a massive swirling plastic garbage patch Vox.
14. Cozar, Andres, et. al. (2014). "Plastic debris in the open ocean." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
18. Environment America Research and Policy Center. (2013). Fracking by the Numbers, Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level. Ridlington, Elizabeth; Frontier Group.
19. (2015, Jan 22). Kansas officials link fracking byproduct to earthquakes. Circa.


3. (broken link) (2011, Feb 3). Oysters disappearing worldwide: study. Breitbart.
9. Raffel, Dawn. "Oil and Water." Reader's Digest. Apr 2011: 60.
11. Kowitt, Beth. "Why McDonald's Wins in Any Economy." Fortune. Sept. 2011: 76.
21. (2015, Jan 18). Papal text says man betrays God by destroying the environment. Reuters.

12. Links

•  SimpleSteps - For better health and sustainable living
•  Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere
•  Drop by Drop Protecting Indiana's Water Supply

13. Revision History

Revision: February 2015
Revision: August 2014
Revision: May 2012
Revision: October 2011
Revision: September 2011
Revision: July 2011
Revision: February 2011
Started: September 2010