water pollution

How Humans Have Impacted the Environment

The other day, I wrote about a study that concluded that forces other than climate change are impacting the environment. I’d like to revisit it in light of another study by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Underestimating Land Use Impacts

The researchers reviewed about 700 life cycle assessment studies. These analyses considered the impact of land use on ecosystems. They concluded that these assessments have underestimated the effects humans have on the environment. Considering that these assessments help dictate public policy, there is a real danger that that authorities do not have the proper information to make decisions.

Underestimating a risk means that it may continue unabated. Moreover, it could lead to other problems and create a cascading effect. Natural processes like reforestation which could alleviate carbon emissions with carbon sequestration are hampered.

Immediate Problems versus the Future Issues

Climate change has become the poster child for the environmental movement. However, the planet faces grave dangers from land use that have nothing to do with global warming. Those are the risks that could cause greater harm in a more immediate way.

Because the dialogue about climate change focuses on the future, we may ignore the problem outside our window. We focus on carbon emissions at the expense of polluting our rivers. Just ask the EPA.

Somehow, we need to extract the politics from the environment. It is, after all, by far the greatest source of pollution. We need to act to protect the environment just for the sake of the environment.

Other factors that we can’t control influence climate change too. That is why we need to set boundaries around what is feasible for us to do. The immediate problems of water and air pollution are things we can fix now. The environment should not have to endure another Animas River disaster.

http://exploring.weborglodge.com/By Chris DR

photo credit: Plastic bottles and garbage on the bank of a river via photopin (license)

Posted in Environment and tagged , .