Matter cycles and pollution
Environmental problems caused by human interference in matter cycles
| In the past decades humans have been the cause of extensive environmental pollution. Pollution is not a one-sided term; all kinds of matter has been applied by humans, resulting in a disturbance in natural processes. Disturbances of natural processes are clearly shown, when you take a look at human interference in matter cycles. This has caused various environmental problems, which are important issues today. |
There are three ways in which humans cause environmental problems by interfering with the hydrological cycle. Firstly, we remove large quantities of freshwater from rivers, lakes and groundwater supplies. In areas where great amounts of people use the water from groundwater supplies, groundwater may be fully depleted. This effect is enhanced by vegetation removal to create new farmland or underground mines, or to build roads. Secondly, because of vegetation removal, rainwater washes away and it no longer infiltrates, so that the groundwater supplies are not restored. In many cases groundwater supplies will than be filled up with salt water from rivers and lakes. When groundwater is salinated the entire area is influenced. Other effects also occur because of vegetation removal; the risk of flooding is enhanced, and soil erosion and land sliding increase. Finally, people change the quality of water, by adding nutrients and contaminants. This causes the ecological processes that usually purify the water to be disturbed.
Humans cause environmental problems, by interfering with the nitrogen cycle in several ways.
Humans also cause environmental problems by interfering with the phosphorus cycle. We remove phosphates on certain locations, to apply it on farmland as fertilizers. On these locations the phosphate supply is moving, causing phosphate levels of surrounding land-soils and groundwater to become too high.
Today, humans are responsible for the consistence of 90% of the sulphur salts that are found on earth. These salts mainly are mainly formed during industrial processes, such as coal combustion processes, petroleum refining processes and melting processes. Sulphur compounds, such as sulphuric acid, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide can cause acid deposition on water and soil. This phenomenon causes the pH of water and soil to fall, which can influence life in the soil and water and disturb natural processes.
Humans cause environmental problems by influencing the carbon cycle in two ways.
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To the introduction of freshwater pollution