The Real Causes and Consequences of Environmental Degradation

While the definition of environmental degradation refers to the deterioration of the environment, there is a lot to understand about this issue which is threatening the basic existence of life on our planet.
One of the major threats the planet is facing today, environmental degradation is bound to make life difficult for all lifeforms, including us humans, sooner or later. Studies reveal that the deterioration of environment is occurring at an alarming rate. In fact, the High Level Threat Panel of the United Nations has enlisted it as one of the ten threats for humans. This issue shares space with problems like poverty, terrorism, and civil war, which, in itself, highlights the fact that we are heading for a certain disaster.
What is Environmental Degradation?
It is a process wherein the natural environment of the planet is degenerated to an extent that the biodiversity and general health of the planet is subjected to drastic reduction. In other words, it can be defined as deterioration of the Earth's natural surroundings as a result of excessive exploitation of the available resources, like water, air, flora, fauna, soil, etc. The life on the planet is interwoven to such an extent that a decrease in a particular attribute triggers a domino effect on all the other attributes dependent on it.
How is it Caused?
Environmental degradation can be attributed to various human activities and some natural processes, with the latter having an insignificant share in the same. Most of the resources on the planet are vulnerable to depletion, and the rate at which we are exploiting them, has already brought some of them to the brink of exhaustion. Exploitation of fossil fuels is the best example of this phenomenon. Large-scale exploitation has depleted the fossil fuel reserves across the world, thus leaving us with no option, but to find an alternate source of energy. Other human activities which have been contributing to this environmental issue include urbanization, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, hunting, etc.
What Does it Affect Us?
Its effects are becoming more and more obvious in the form of various environmental issues affecting the planet. The hazardous waste produced by industries contaminates the water bodies in the vicinity, thus leaving the water unfit for drinking. Similarly, greenhouse gases that are released in the atmosphere, such as CFCs and carbon dioxide, have a devastating effect on the environment, thus making the planet vulnerable to a range of problems, including global warming and climate change. While incessant agricultural activities have resulted in degradation of soil, excessive deforestation to accumulate growing population has resulted in degradation of air and water. Humans have seldom sacrificed their necessities, but of late, the exploitation of resources to fulfill these necessities itself is taking a toll on the environment.
How Can we Deal With it?
After a point of time, the damage caused to the environment reaches a stage wherein it can't attain the required balance on its own. In such a situation, we humans need to step in and ensure that the damage is curbed and balance is attained. Simple measures, such as conservation of electricity, use of alternative energy sources, avoiding the use of things that pollute the environment, soil conservation, etc., can help in saving the environment from the threat of degradation. Environmentalists, the world over, are trying their best to save the environment. On our part, we need to do our bit to make sure that they succeed. The need of the hour is to identify the causes of environmental degradation and eliminate them one by one.
We need to understand the fact that we are a part of the interwoven life system on the planet, such that problems like environmental degradation and environmental pollution, are bound to affect us directly or indirectly. Though the disaster is not expected to happen tomorrow or a hundred years from now, that doesn't mean it will never happen at all. So the onus is on us―the most intelligent species on the planet―to make sure that such problems are kept at bay.