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Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the
environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...
through depletion of resources such as quality of
air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphere (0.04402961% at April 2019 concentration ). Number ...

air
,
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known li ...

water
and
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
; the destruction of
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
;
habitat destruction Habitat destruction (also termed habitat loss and habitat reduction) is the process by which a natural habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are pr ...
; the
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by ...

extinction
of
wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functi ...

wildlife
; and
pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminant Contamination is the presence of a constituent, impurity, or some other undesirable element that spoils, corrupts, infects, makes unfit, or makes inferior a material, physical body, natural en ...

pollution
. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the high-level PaneI on Threats, Challenges and Change of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
. The
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) was created in December 1999 to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (General Assembly (GA) resolution 54/219 ).natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded. Efforts to counteract this problem include
environmental protection Environmental protection is the practice of protecting the natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all and non-living things occurring , meaning in this case not . The term is most often applied to the or s ...
and
environmental resources management Environmental resource management is the management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-profit organization, or government body. Management includes the activities of se ...
.


Biodiversity loss

Scientists assert that human activity has pushed the earth into a
sixth mass extinction The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease i ...
event. The
loss of biodiversity Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity. The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on w ...
has been attributed in particular to
human overpopulation Human overpopulation (or human population overshoot) is the concept of a human population becoming too large to be sustainability, sustained by its environment or resources in the long term. The idea is usually discussed in the context of world ...
, continued human
population growth Population growth is the increase in the number of people in a population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size ...
and
overconsumption Overconsumption describes a situation where the use of a natural resource has exceeded the Sustainable yield, sustainable capacity of a system. A prolonged pattern of overconsumption leads to the eventual loss of resource bases. The term overconsu ...
of natural resources by the world's wealthy. A 2020 report by the
World Wildlife Fund In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the worl ...
found that human activity, specifically overconsumption, population growth and
intensive farming Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming Extensive farming or extensive agriculture (as opposed to intensive farming) is an agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultiv ...
, has destroyed 68% of
vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic ma ...
wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functi ...

wildlife
since 1970. The ''
Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services The ''Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services'' is a report by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, se ...
'', published by the United Nation's
IPBES The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an intergovernmental organization established to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity Biodiversity is the bi ...
in 2019, posits that roughly one million species of plants and animals face extinction from anthropogenic causes, such as expanding human land use for
industrial agriculture Industrial agriculture is a form of modern farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domest ...
and
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
rearing, along with
overfishing Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, an ...
. Since the establishment of agriculture over 11,000 years ago, humans have altered roughly 70% of the earth's land surface, with the global
biomass Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position ...
of vegetation being reduced by half, and terrestrial animal communities seeing a decline in biodiversity greater than 20% on average. A 2021 study says that just 3% of the planet's terrestrial surface is ecologically and intact, meaning areas with healthy populations of native animal species and little to no human footprint. Many of these intact ecosystems were in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. The implications of these losses for human livelihoods and wellbeing have raised serious concerns. With regard to the agriculture sector for example, ''The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture'', published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2019, states that “countries report that many species that contribute to vital ecosystem services, including pollinators, the natural enemies of pests, soil organisms and wild food species, are in decline as a consequence of the destruction and degradation of habitats, overexploitation, pollution and other threats” and that “key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining.”


Water degradation

One major component of environmental degradation is the depletion of the resource of fresh water on Earth. Approximately only 2.5% of all of the water on Earth is
fresh water Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...

fresh water
, with the rest being
salt water Saline water (more commonly known as salt water) is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the ...

salt water
. 69% of fresh water is frozen in
ice caps Image:Vatnajökull.jpeg, upright=1.35, Vatnajökull, Iceland In glaciology, an ice cap is a mass of ice that covers less than of land area (usually covering a highland area). Larger ice masses covering more than are termed ice sheets. Descript ...
located on
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
and
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...

Greenland
, so only 30% of the 2.5% of fresh water is available for consumption.”Water.”
Climate Institute. Web. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
Fresh water is an exceptionally important resource, since life on Earth is ultimately dependent on it. Water transports nutrients, minerals and chemicals within the
biosphere The biosphere (from βίος ''bíos'' "life" and σφαῖρα ''sphaira'' "sphere"), also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος ''oîkos'' "environment" and σφαῖρα), is the worldwide sum of all s. It can also be termed the zo ...
to all forms of life, sustains both plants and animals, and moulds the surface of the Earth with transportation and deposition of materials.Young, Gordon J., James Dooge, and John C. Rodda. Global Water Resource Issues. Cambridge UP, 2004. The current top three uses of fresh water account for 95% of its consumption; approximately 85% is used for
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
of farmland, golf courses, and parks, 6% is used for domestic purposes such as indoor bathing uses and outdoor garden and lawn use, and 4% is used for industrial purposes such as processing, washing, and cooling in manufacturing centres.Frederick, Kenneth D., and David C. Major. “Climate Change and Water Resources.” Climatic Change 37.1 (1997): p 7-23. It is estimated that one in three people over the entire globe are already facing water shortages, almost one-fifth of the
world population In demography, demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have exceeded 7.9 billion people . It took over 2 million years of prehistory, human prehistory and human history, history fo ...

world population
live in areas of
physical water scarcityPhysical water scarcity can often occur when and where there is not enough water to meet both human demands and those of ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components ...
, and almost one quarter of the world's population live in a
developing country A developing country is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perman ...
that lacks the necessary infrastructure to use water from available rivers and aquifers. Water scarcity is an increasing problem due to many foreseen issues in the future including population growth, increased
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
, higher
standards of living Standard of living is the level of income, comforts and services available, generally applied to a society or location, rather than to an individual. Standard of living is relevant because it is considered to contribute to an individual's quality ...
, and climate change.


Climate change and temperature

Climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
affects the Earth's water supply in a large number of ways. It is predicted that the mean global temperature will rise in the coming years due to a number of forces affecting the climate. The amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will rise, and both of these will influence water resources;
evaporation Evaporation is a type of that occurs on the of a as it changes into the gas phase. The surrounding gas must not be saturated with the evaporating substance. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other bas ...

evaporation
depends strongly on temperature and moisture availability which can ultimately affect the amount of water available to replenish
groundwater Groundwater is the water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known form ...

groundwater
supplies.
Transpiration in a tomato The tomato is the edible berry of the plant ''Solanum lycopersicum'', commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in western South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere ...

Transpiration
from plants can be affected by a rise in atmospheric CO2, which can decrease their use of water, but can also raise their use of water from possible increases of leaf area. Temperature rise can reduce the snow season in the winter and increase the intensity of the melting snow leading to peak runoff of this, affecting soil moisture, flood and drought risks, and storage capacities depending on the area.Ragab, Ragab, and Christel Prudhomme. "Soil and Water: Climate Change and Water Resources Management in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: Prospective Challenges for the 21st Century". Biosystems Engineering 81.1 (2002): p 3-34. Warmer winter temperatures cause a decrease in
snowpack Snowpack forms from layers of snow Snow comprises individual ice crystals that grow while suspended in the atmosphere—usually within clouds—and then fall, accumulating on the ground where they undergo further changes. It consists of f ...
, which can result in diminished water resources during summer. This is especially important at mid-latitudes and in mountain regions that depend on glacial runoff to replenish their river systems and groundwater supplies, making these areas increasingly vulnerable to water shortages over time; an increase in temperature will initially result in a rapid rise in water melting from
glaciers A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glaciers
in the summer, followed by a retreat in glaciers and a decrease in the melt and consequently the water supply every year as the size of these glaciers get smaller and smaller.
Thermal expansion Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change its shape A shape or figure is the form of an object or its external boundary, outline, or external surface File:Water droplet lying on a damask.jpg, Water droplet lying on a damask ...
of water and increased melting of oceanic glaciers from an increase in temperature gives way to a rise in sea level. This can affect the fresh water supply to coastal areas as well. As river mouths and deltas with higher
salinity Salinity () is the saltiness or amount of salt Salt is a mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific ...

salinity
get pushed further inland, an intrusion of saltwater results in an increase of salinity in reservoirs and aquifers. Sea-level rise may also consequently be caused by a depletion of groundwater,Konikow, Leonard F. "Contribution of Global Groundwater Depletion since 1990 to Sea-level Rise". ''Geophysical Research Letters'' 38.17 (2011). as climate change can affect the
hydrologic cycle The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle, describes the continuous movement of water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, ...

hydrologic cycle
in a number of ways. Uneven distributions of increased temperatures and increased precipitation around the globe results in water surpluses and deficits, but a global decrease in groundwater suggests a rise in sea level, even after
meltwater Meltwater is water released by the melting of snow or ice, including glaciers, glacial ice, tabular icebergs and ice shelf, ice shelves over oceans. Meltwater is often found in the ablation zone of glaciers, where the rate of snow cover is reduci ...
and thermal expansion were accounted for, which can provide a
positive feedback Positive feedback (exacerbating feedback, self-reinforcing feedback) is a process that occurs in a feedback loop Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain Image:Kettenvergleich.jpg, Roller c ...
to the problems sea-level rise causes to fresh-water supply. A rise in air temperature results in a rise in water temperature, which is also very significant in water degradation as the water would become more susceptible to
bacterial growth 250px, Growth is shown as ''L'' = log(numbers) where numbers is the number of colony forming units per ml, versus ''T'' (time.) Bacterial growth is proliferation of bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a typ ...

bacterial growth
. An increase in water temperature can also affect
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
greatly because of a species' sensitivity to temperature, and also by inducing changes in a body of water's self-purification system from decreased amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water due to rises in temperature.


Climate change and precipitation

A rise in global temperatures is also predicted to correlate with an increase in global precipitation but because of increased runoff, floods, increased rates of
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that togeth ...

soil erosion
, and mass movement of land, a decline in
water quality Water quality refers to the chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touche ...

water quality
is probable, because while water will carry more nutrients it will also carry more contaminants. While most of the attention about climate change is directed towards global warming and
greenhouse effect The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. Radiatively active gases (i.e., greenhouse gas A greenhou ...

greenhouse effect
, some of the most severe
effects of climate change The effects of climate change span the physical environment A biophysical environment is a biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is ...
are likely to be from changes in precipitation,
evapotranspiration Evapotranspiration (ET) is the sum of water evaporation and transpiration from a surface area to the Atmosphere of Earth, atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and ...

evapotranspiration
, runoff, and soil moisture. It is generally expected that, on average, global precipitation will increase, with some areas receiving increases and some decreases.
Climate model Numerical climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the important drivers of climate, including atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice. They are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the ...
s show that while some regions should expect an increase in precipitation, such as in the tropics and higher latitudes, other areas are expected to see a decrease, such as in the subtropics. This will ultimately cause a latitudinal variation in water distribution. The areas receiving more precipitation are also expected to receive this increase during their winter and actually become drier during their summer, creating even more of a variation of precipitation distribution. Naturally, the distribution of precipitation across the planet is very uneven, causing constant variations in water availability in respective locations. Changes in precipitation affect the timing and magnitude of floods and droughts, shift runoff processes, and alter
groundwater recharge Groundwater recharge or deep drainage or deep percolation is a process, where moves downward from to . Recharge is the primary method through which water enters an . This process usually occurs in the below plant s and, is often expressed as ...
rates. Vegetation patterns and growth rates will be directly affected by shifts in precipitation amount and distribution, which will in turn affect agriculture as well as natural ecosystems. Decreased precipitation will deprive areas of water causing water tables to fall and reservoirs of wetlands, rivers, and lakes to empty. In addition, a possible increase in evaporation and evapotranspiration will result, depending on the accompanied rise in temperature. Groundwater reserves will be depleted, and the remaining water has a greater chance of being of poor quality from saline or contaminants on the land surface.


Population growth

The human population on Earth is expanding rapidly, which together with even more rapid
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economics, economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of i ...
is the main cause of the degradation of the environment. Humanity's appetite for resources is disrupting the environment's natural equilibrium. Production industries are venting smoke into the atmosphere and discharging chemicals that are polluting water resources. The smoke includes detrimental gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. The high levels of pollution in the atmosphere form layers that are eventually absorbed into the atmosphere. Organic compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have generated an opening in the ozone layer, which admits higher levels of ultraviolet radiation, putting the globe at risk. The available fresh water being affected by the climate is also being stretched across an ever-increasing global population. It is estimated that almost a quarter of the global population is living in an area that is using more than 20% of their renewable water supply; water use will rise with population while the water supply is also being aggravated by decreases in streamflow and groundwater caused by climate change. Even though some areas may see an increase in freshwater supply from an uneven distribution of precipitation increase, an increased use of water supply is expected.Raleigh, Clionadh, and
Henrik Urdal Henrik Urdal (born 19 October 1972) is a Norwegian political scientist Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance Governance comprises all of the processes of governing ...

Henrik Urdal
. “Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Armed Conflict.” Political Geography 26.6 (2007): 674–94.
An increased population means increased withdrawals from the water supply for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses, the largest of these being agriculture,MacDonald, Glen M. "Water, Climate Change, and Sustainability in the Southwest". PNAS 107.50 (2010): p 56-62. believed to be the major non-climate driver of environmental change and water deterioration. The next 50 years will likely be the last period of rapid
agricultural expansion Agricultural expansion describes the growth of agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key develo ...
, but the larger and wealthier population over this time will demand more agriculture.Tilman, David, Joseph Fargione, Brian Wolff, Carla D'Antonio, Andrew Dobson, Robert Howarth, David Scindler, William Schlesinger, Danielle Simberloff, and Deborah Swackhamer. "Forecasting Agriculturally Driven Global Environmental Change". ''Science'' 292.5515 (2011): p 281-84. Population increase over the last two decades, at least in the United States, has also been accompanied by a shift to an increase in urban areas from rural areas,Wallach, Bret. ''Understanding the Cultural Landscape''. New York; Guilford, 2005. which concentrates the demand for water into certain areas, and puts stress on the fresh water supply from industrial and human contaminants.
Urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
causes overcrowding and increasingly unsanitary living conditions, especially in developing countries, which in turn exposes an increasingly number of people to disease. About 79% of the world's population is in developing countries, which lack access to sanitary water and sewer systems, giving rises to disease and deaths from contaminated water and increased numbers of disease-carrying insects.
. Powell, Fannetta. "Environmental Degradation and Human Disease". Lecture. SlideBoom. 2009. Web. Retrieved 2011-11-14.


Agriculture

Agriculture is dependent on available
soil moisture Soil moisture is the water content 300px, Soil composition by Volume and Mass, by phase: air, water, void (pores filled with water or air), soil, and total. Water content or moisture content is the quantity of water Water is an Inorganic ...
, which is directly affected by climate dynamics, with precipitation being the input in this system and various processes being the output, such as
evapotranspiration Evapotranspiration (ET) is the sum of water evaporation and transpiration from a surface area to the Atmosphere of Earth, atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and ...

evapotranspiration
,
surface runoff Surface runoff (also known as overland flow) is the flow of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it ac ...
, drainage, and percolation into groundwater. Changes in climate, especially the changes in precipitation and evapotranspiration predicted by climate models, will directly affect soil moisture, surface runoff, and
groundwater recharge Groundwater recharge or deep drainage or deep percolation is a process, where moves downward from to . Recharge is the primary method through which water enters an . This process usually occurs in the below plant s and, is often expressed as ...
. In areas with decreasing precipitation as predicted by the climate models, soil moisture may be substantially reduced. With this in mind, agriculture in most areas already needs irrigation, which depletes fresh water supplies both by the physical use of the water and the degradation agriculture causes to the water. Irrigation increases salt and nutrient content in areas that would not normally be affected, and damages streams and rivers from damming and removal of water. Fertilizer enters both human and livestock waste streams that eventually enter groundwater, while nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals from fertilizer can acidify both soils and water. Certain agricultural demands may increase more than others with an increasingly wealthier global population, and
meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiratio ...
is one commodity expected to double global food demand by 2050, which directly affects the global supply of fresh water. Cows need water to drink, more if the temperature is high and humidity is low, and more if the production system the cow is in is extensive, since finding food takes more effort. Water is needed in processing of the meat, and also in the production of feed for the livestock. Manure can contaminate bodies of freshwater, and slaughterhouses, depending on how well they are managed, contribute waste such as blood, fat, hair, and other bodily contents to supplies of fresh water."Environmental Implications of the Global Demand for Red Meat"
Web. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
The transfer of water from agricultural to urban and suburban use raises concerns about agricultural sustainability, rural socioeconomic decline, food security, an increased
carbon footprint A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases, including the carbon-containing gases carbon dio ...

carbon footprint
from imported food, and decreased foreign trade balance. The depletion of fresh water, as applied to more specific and populated areas, increases fresh water scarcity among the population and also makes populations susceptible to economic, social, and political conflict in a number of ways; rising sea levels forces
migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum len ...

migration
from coastal areas to other areas farther inland, pushing populations closer together breaching borders and other geographical patterns, and agricultural surpluses and deficits from the availability of water induce trade problems and economies of certain areas. Climate change is an important cause of involuntary migration and forced displacement According to the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
of the United Nations, global greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture exceeds that of transportation.


Water management

The issue of the depletion of fresh water has stimulated increased efforts in water management. While water management systems are often flexible, adaptation to new hydrologic conditions may be very costly. Preventative approaches are necessary to avoid high costs of inefficiency and the need for rehabilitation of water supplies, and innovations to decrease overall demand may be important in planning water sustainability. Water supply systems, as they exist now, were based on the assumptions of the current climate, and built to accommodate existing river flows and flood frequencies. Reservoirs are operated based on past hydrologic records, and
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
systems on historical temperature, water availability, and crop water requirements; these may not be a reliable guide to the future. Re-examining engineering designs, operations, optimizations, and planning, as well as re-evaluating legal, technical, and economic approaches to manage water resources are very important for the future of water management in response to water degradation. Another approach is
water privatization Water privatization is short for private sector participation in the provision of Water supply, water services and sanitation. Water privatization has a variable history in which its popularity and favorability has fluctuated in the market and po ...
; despite its economic and cultural effects, service quality and overall quality of the water can be more easily controlled and distributed. Rationality and
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

sustainability
is appropriate, and requires limits to
overexploitation Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global vegetation A renewable resource, also known as a flow resource, is a natural resource which will replenish to replace th ...

overexploitation
and pollution and efforts in conservation.


See also

*
Anthropocene The Anthropocene ( ) is a proposed geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene ...
*
Environmental issues Environmental issues are harmful Human impact on the environment, effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governme ...
*
Ecological collapse Ecological collapse refers to a situation where an ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together t ...
*
Ecologically sustainable developmentEcologically sustainable development is the environmental component of sustainable development. It can be achieved partially through the use of the precautionary principle; if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack o ...
*
Eco-socialism Eco-socialism, green socialism or socialist ecology is an ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In ep ...
*
Exploitation of natural resources The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be c ...
* I=PAT *
Restoration ecology Restoration ecology is the scientific study supporting the practice of ecological restoration, which is the practice of renewing and restoring environmental degradation, degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the Natural envi ...
* United Nations Decade on Biodiversity *
United Nations Development Programme The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)french: Programme des Nations unies pour le développement, PNUD is a United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace ...
(UNDP) *
United Nations Environment Programme The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong Maurice Frederick Strong, (April 29, 1929 – November 27, 20 ...
(UNEP) *
World Resources Institute The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organization established in 1982 with funding from the MacArthur Foundation The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private foundation A private foundation i ...
(WRI)


Sources


References


External links


Ecology of Increasing Disease ''Population growth and environmental degradation''

Environmental Change in the Kalahari: Integrated Land Degradation Studies for Nonequilibrium Dryland Environments in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Public Daily Brief Threat: Environmental Degradation


* ttp://www.tms.org/Meetings/Specialty/ED2005/home.html Environmental Degradation of Materials in Nuclear Systems-Water Reactorsbr>Herndon and Gibbon Lieutenants United States Navy
The First North American Explorers of the Amazon Valley, by Historian Normand E. Klare. Actual Reports from the explorers are compared with present Amazon Basin conditions.
Environmental Degradation Index by Jha & Murthy (for 174 countries)
{{Authority control Environmental issues