How Our Actions Affect the Earth

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The manner in which we affect our Earth can be both positive as well as negative. We will discuss the impacts of population, poverty, affluence and technology on the environment and natural resources. We have come through a lot by disturbing the nature and surpassing other species to become the most dominant species of the world. But in this process, we forgot that we are destroying our own home Earth. If we get all the riches in our life but don’t really have a place to enjoy it, then what is the meaning of such development? We have to ask these type of questions to ourselves and look into our own deeds before blaming anyone else. Human must be ambitious. This makes us achieve more and keeps us motivated. But we must not let it get converted to over ambitiousness. This over ambitiousness makes us go against the nature and do harm to it for our own greed. We must get over this and look towards the whole world as our own family. We have to realise that we are destroying our own habitat. We have some international programs like United Nations Environment Programme which are intended to work forward to protect our Earth. But these kinds of International programs won’t work till we as individual realise our own duty to protect the Earth. We can protect the Earth even by doing some things each day. We can turn off the tap to save water, do car polling, throw garbage in dustbin, regularly get our vehicle emission checked, etc.

We must be aware of our daily deeds and what are its effect on nature. These small works can longer the life of our own Earth. We must use the 4R’s in our everyday life. We must reduce our uses of natural resources, reuse the things which can be reused, recycle our garbage and refuse those things which will cause harm to nature. We must realise the power we have as a consumer. We can refuse any product harming the nature. It’s up to us how effectively we use these powers. The power to refuse can close any firm of the world in an blink of an eye. But the problem that we have is that we are not that much self-conscious. We think that it’s OK. It’s not harming me directly. But we must realise that if it’s harming the nature we are getting harmed indirectly.

When we talk about I=P X A X T(environmental impact = population X affluence X technology), we are oversimplifying things. Actually our impact on nature is not limited to population, affluence and technology. Many factors come into play. But these are very basic things that we need to look first if we want to save our Earth. Moreover, different people have different impact on nature. A person living in a remote village of India will have a lower ecological footprint(measure of demand of resources required to support life) than a man living in USA. This is because the man in USA must be using more of technology and natural resources than the man in Indian village. This shows the affluence of a person on nature.


Population has always been a major threat to nature but the rate at which it has increased in the past 100 years has made the condition worst than ever. More population means more demand of natural resources, water, food, land, technology, more garbage production and lower standard of life. In 1900, the world population was less than 2 billion. Now, it has gone up to 7 billion in a 100 years. This is alarming rate. This makes us question ourselves that will there be enough resources left on Earth to sustain life?

China has the highest population after which India and United States comes second and third respectively. Mortality rate has hit a new low while infant mortality rate is going up. The main reason behind it is our advances in medical sciences. Average life expectancy of human has increased from 23.6 in 1950 to 26.4 in 2000 and all the credit goes to medical sciences. We have a large dependant population depending on the earners. Overpopulation leads to problems like educated unemployment. This term is new to the world and overpopulation is the reason behind it. Population is also directly proportional to waste production.

Negative Impacts:

The negative impacts of growing population are many. It affects our nature directly. More population use more natural resources leading to their faster depletion. We produce more exhaust and unwanted wastes and let them go into river or air. This leads to pollution. We can also learn from our own history that how high population can lead to destruction. Basically, over population led to world war II as Hitler wanted more land for his country population. So he went on to attack the neighbouring countries and everyone knows the amount of destruction done to mankind and nature by world war. More population leads to air and water pollution. It also leads to deforestation. Deforestation is done for two purposes. First to clear land for making house to accommodate larger population and second to use wood as a fuel in different industries. Earlier, nomads did not cut down the whole trees because the barks and other shrubs and herbs were enough for them to sustain their life. But now, they are forced to do deforestation to sustain their life. Some government have specific rules to reduce population growth. But India, being a democratic country, can’t have these kinds of laws. Basically, overpopulation has many negative impacts on the nature.

Positive Impacts:

We can’t say that population growth is very good for our nature. But it does have some benefits. Due to high population, the country have a larger working force. More the youth in a country, more is its growth. It leads to economic boost. In the last three decades of the 20th century, the Harvard Initiative for Global Health reported that per capita incomes went up by two-thirds with doubling of the world’s overall population. Countries with high population like China have all their people working as well as innovating new ideas. “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Less resources makes people innovate. More population shows that the country is good in medical sciences. Japan has the highest number of centenarians in the world and the youth population is low there. So, the future of Japan is in danger. So, we must look in the age group in which we have the most population. Every country wants to have high youth population. India does have high youth population, but if the youth is not utilised well by the country, then what is its use? A country having high population can have a high GDP and it can use the money on saving the nature. Many intellectuals can also come up with some innovative ideas to save our Earth.

So, we can say that high population can have some positive impact but its negative impacts overshadows them.


Poverty is the only factor in I=P X A X T which don’t have even a single positive impact on nature. How can a man starving for food think about environment conservation? Poor people have to hunt for food every day. They tend to live in slums near big cities and search for food and other items in the garbage.

And this problem of poverty is not at all new to the world. We have history of famines that killed a large population. People were left starving. In this picture, a young boy is searching for potatoes that were left over months after harvesting.

Negative Impacts:

Poverty leads to deforestation. Impoverished communities, unaware of their action’s impact, overuse the forest resources. Air pollution is another way in which poor people contribute towards environmental degradation. Poor people use cow dung as fuel for cooking purpose which cause air pollution. They also use water resources in a manner that it leads to water pollution. Poverty also leads to overpopulation. They lack education and don’t know about birth control. Moreover, some poor parents also wants more kids so that they can indulge them in child labour and earn more. They lack the fact that the more child they have, the more they have to spend on them on their upbringing. All of this happens due to lack of education. Poor countries like Mongolia also become dump yard of nuclear wastes for countries like USA. They do this for the huge amount of money given by USA. They are so poor that they can’t think about nature. One out of every three child less than 5years old in poor African countries suffer from severe malnutrition. According to World Health Organisation, each day 13,700 children younger than 5 years old die prematurely from malnutrition. Poor don’t have access to food, clean drinking water, housing, electricity, sanitation.

Positive Impacts:

Poverty can’t have any positive impact on anything. It is a curse to mankind.


Affluence represents average consumption of each person in the population. Affluence is the state of being rich. We know that half of the world’s net wealth belongs to the top 1%. This unevenness is getting more by each passing day. Rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. Rich people utilize more natural resources and more technology while poor don’t even have access to them. An American consumes thirty times more than an average Indian and hundred times more than citizen of world’s poorest country in a single day. We can measure affluence easily by GDP per capita. Gross Domestic Product is the measure of total economic output of the country divided by the population of the country.

We can see that only some countries have very high GDP per capita. This employs that these countries’ citizens must be using more natural resources than the other countries. Here comes the role of affluence.

Negative Impacts:

The richer a man gets, the more greedy he becomes. He never stops. He tries to achieve more and more at any cost. He is more than willing to destroy nature for this. That’s how affluence have impact on nature. Different industries destroys nature for their own profit. That don’t look into the negative impact that it is going to have on mother Earth. Rich people utilise technology more and more causing more damage to nature. Rich people look into their profit even if it is harming the nature.

Positive Impacts:

Affluence can lead to progress as the middle class people can aspire to become rich. Moreover, the more affluent people can help in environment conservation. They can invest in projects on environment conservation. Wealthier country have cleaner air and water. They even have better food rules. They don’t use harmful pesticides which harm the soil.


Technology can be both bane as well as boon. It all depends on the way we use it. Technology can increase the output of products of nature. On the other hand, it can destroy the whole world in a matter of seconds. We can use our natural resources more and more and be sure that the upcoming generations will have better technology and will be able to sustain life even in low amount of natural resources. But this approach of technology is totally wrong. We should go for sustainable development. We know that natural resources are limited in quantity. So, we should use it in a way that it is left over for the future generations while it is also able to meet our present needs.

Negative Impacts:

Technology can destroy towers, cities, countries and even the whole world in a blink of an eye. Moreover, it can make people blind and even take their life. We have been able to make fertilizers that can destroy the whole soil. All thanks to technology. We are able to do mining and destroy nature. Global warming is also a result of our technological advances. We are also innovating newer techniques to acquire more and more resources. This all happens due to human greed. We don’t stop at a point. We just go on and on. We produce non-biodegradable wastes and dispose it improperly anywhere. We travel more due to advanced technology and hence cause more air pollution. We have excess power consumption than ever before. We have seen the misuse of technology when US attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear attacks. Everyone knows what were it’s effect on nature as well as mankind. Therefore, we must keep technology in safe hands, else it can easily be misused.

Positive Impacts:

Technology innovates new ideas that can save our Earth. We deduce newer methods of waste disposal. It provides opportunities for jobs and trade and thus reduce poverty. This indirectly helps in environmental conservation. We now have electric cars and bikes. We are reducing the exhaust that we send into the air. We do have technologies that can destroy the Earth. But we must use technology in a right way.

This picture is just to remind us that our future should not look like this. Going by the present rate, that day is not far when everyone has to wear a gas mask 24 X 7. No water was sold in packaged bottles earlier. But it is very common now. Similarly, a time can come when air would be sold and we would have to buy it to sustain our lives.

Ecosystem and biosphere are sustained through two of the principles of sustainability :

  • Combination of one-way energy flow from the sun though these system.
  • Nutrient cycling of key materials with them.

All process are interconnected. For example, plants receive energy from sun. They are called producers. This energy is supplied to consumers like herbivores, carnivores. This energy retain again in the form of decomposer by fungal, and bacteria. The energy flow continue to abiotic chemicals like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis. Plants make the nutrients they need from compounds and energy obtained from their environment.

Carbon dioxide +water +solar energy →glucose +oxygen

The leaves capture ~1% of the solar energy and use it to combine carbon dioxide and water to form organic molecules, including energy-rich carbohydrates such as glucose. Freshwater and marine ecosystems -algae and aquatic plants are producers. In open water, the dominant producers are phytoplankton —mostly microscopic organisms that float or drift in the water Some organism produce the nutrients they need others get the nutrients they need by consuming others organisms and some recycle nutrients back to producers by decomposing the wastes and remains of organisms. All the rest of organisms, which cannot produces the nutrients they need on their own via photosynthesis or through other processes are called consumers.

Energy flow through ecosystem in food chains and food web. Usable energy decreases with each link in a food chain or web. Some ecosystems produce plant matter faster than others do.

Nutrient cycle- Elements and compounds that make up nutrients move continually through air, water, soil, rock and living organisms within ecosystems in cycles called biogeochemical cycles. These cycles are driven directly by, sun, gravity, water, carbon, nitrogen, Sulphur. Nutrients move through biogeochemical cycles and tends to accumulate in one portion of the cycle and remain for a different periods of time . These temporary storage sites such as atmospheres, ocean or underground deposits are called reservoirs.

Carbon cycle- Linkage between photosynthesis in producers and aerobic respiration in producers, consumers, and decomposers circulates carbon in the biosphere. Oxygen and hydrogen, the other elements in carbohydrates, cycle almost in step with carbon. Decomposers release the carbon stored in the bodies of dead organisms on land back into the air as CO2. In water, decomposers release carbon that can be stored as insoluble carbonates in bottom sediment. Marine sediments are the earth’s largest store of carbon -buried deposits of dead plant matter and bacteria are compressed between layers of sediment, where high pressure and heat convert them to carbon-containing fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas –not released to the atmosphere as CO2 for recycling until these fuels are extracted and burned, or until long-term geological processes expose these deposits to air.

Water cycle- When it rains, the water runs along the ground and flows into rivers or falls directly into the sea. A part of the rainwater that falls on land percolates into the ground. This is stored underground and can be used throughout the rest of the year. Water is drawn up from the ground by plants along with the nutrients from the soil. The leaves excrete as water vapors and returned to the atmosphere. As it is lighter than air, water vapour rises and forms clouds. Winds blow the clouds for long distances and when the clouds rise higher, the vapour condenses and changes into droplets, which fall on the land as rain. Though this is an endless cycle on which life depends, man’s activities are making drastic changes in the atmosphere through pollution which is altering rainfall patterns. This is leading to prolonged drought periods extending over years in countries such as Africa, while causing floods in countries such as the US.

Nitrogen cycle- Carnivorous animals feed on herbivorous animals that live on plants. When animals defecate, this waste material is broken down by worms and insects mostly beetles and ants. These small ‘soil animals’ break the waste material into smaller bits on which microscopic bacteria and fungi can act. This material is thus broken down further into nutrients that plants can absorb and use for their growth. Thus nutrients are recycled back from animals to plants. Similarly the bodies of dead animals are also broken down into nutrients that are used by the plants for their growth. Thus the nitrogen cycle on which life is dependent is completed. Nitrogen fixing bacteria and fungi in soil gives this important element to plants, which absorb it as nitrates. The nitrates are a part of the plant’s metabolism, which help in forming new plant proteins. This is used by animals that feed on the plants. The nitrogen is then transferred to carnivorous animals when they feed on the herbivores.


We see that all nutrient cycles, nitrogen cycle, water cycle, carbon cycle are connected to each other. Plants receive energy from sun and minerals from earth. This energy is circulated from plats to animals herbivores. They get only 10% of its energy. Rest 90% energy is used by these plant. This energy is circulated to food web. So the main source of energy is the sun and the energy is consumed by autotrophs and then it is circulated amongst heterotrophs and the energy is lost to environment during various cycles. Thus energy and nutrient cycles are inter-connected and the flow of energy and nutrients go hand in hand and are unidirectional. Energy is lost to environment during nitrate conversion in nitrogen cycle. And the rest of energy is used up by organism itself in the form of life processes. Nutrients provide energy required by the animals to continue their life-processes.


Cite this paper

How Our Actions Affect the Earth. (2020, Sep 05). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-our-actions-affect-the-earth/

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