Melanie Fernandez, Brett Dalve, Alex Mcwilliam, Melissa Morgan
Overproduction is a serious issue that everyone needs to pay attention to. Between pollution and deforestation, we are doing a lot of harm to our planet without even realizing it. Overproduction is causing more waste and that waste is filling our air and water. This is causing pollution that can easily be stopped. Deforestation is causing us to cut down trees to make more homes for people, leaving our animals without homes. Animals have been suffering pollution and deforestation and we are only starting to notice because we are in danger to overproduction next. How can we as a community stop this? Are we really in serious danger?
Overproduction is production of more of a product, commodity, or substance than is wanted or needed. An example of this would be: when working at a restaurant you often make more food than you need, which then causes you to throw away the extra food. That extra food could go to someone else who really needs it, instead of in the trash. Or another idea would be to only make what is needed.
When considering overproduction and pollution, we have to think about what causes us to overproduce/pollute so much and where we get our resources from. Deforestation is perhaps the main cause of overproduction and is driven by the demands of human consumption. Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees from land, which is then converted to a non-forest use. Humans have been using trees for building material, paper products, tools, and many other uses throughout history, but all these things come at a cost, and that is the effect deforestation and overproduction have on the environment.
When it comes to deforestation, there are many reasons it happens and various techniques used in the process. The main reasons include land for agriculture, settlements, roads, and infrastructure. Overproduction due to the constantly growing population is one of the main contributors to deforestation.The growing population leaves us with no other option but to build more houses which leads to more infrastructure, etc. According to National Geographic, if the current rate of deforestation continues the world’s rainforests may completely vanish in as little as 100 years. Overproduction and the earth’s population has caused us to lose millions of acres of forests per year. Deforestation throughout the past and currently will also have a noticeable effect on the climate in the near future.
Deforestation first became a serious concern in the 1950s and 1960s, especially in Brazil. However, deforestation has been occurring for hundreds of thousands of years since humans first began using fire. As civilization and urbanization increased, the demand for more land and resources resulted in more and more clearing of the forests. Slash and burn is one of the techniques used in the deforestation process. This is when existing vegetation is cut down and burned off before new crops are planted. Prior to the 1960s, restrictions kept deforestation in the Amazon to a minimum, until farmers began colonizing this tropical area using slash-and-burn techniques. This greatly diminishes the soil’s nutrients and lessens the possibility for future growth in that area. Techniques such as slash-and-burn have a huge impact on the environment and the overall health of our ecosystems, but deforestation and these techniques lead to other problems like the earth’s water cycles.
Another major concern we are seeing with deforestation, is the effect it has on weather, especially water cycles. The elimination of trees decreases the amount of transpiration, which means that the amount of rainfall in that area will decrease. Water cycles are connected to clouds, precipitation patterns, runoff and stream flow patterns which effects all of nature and us as humans. We have seen the effects these changes are having throughout the world and according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 38.4% of the U.S. is in a drought. Greenhouse gases produced by deforestation influence and create drought and changes in water cycles. This has an ongoing effect on the earth’s ecosystem which affects crops, wildlife, people, etc. The effects deforestation has on the climate is evident and if we continue on this path, eventually their won’t be anything left.
The last aspect of deforestation, is logging, which is one of the primary drivers of deforestation. Logging is the cutting down of trees to harvest timber, products, fuel, etc. There are many reasons for logging including materials, infrastructure like roads, and many other uses but it leads to many negative consequences for wildlife, and the overall integrity of the forest. Plants store carbon dioxide and the deforestation because of logging is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases because trees store carbon dioxide which is all released into the environment when they are cut down. This is one of the main contributors to global warming which is one of the major problems we are seeing around the world today. Deforestation is a product of overproduction and we are seeing the tole this takes on the environment. Something has to change in the near future to preserve the forests we have left as well as beginning to rebuild everything we have destroyed.
Effects on Animals
Overproduction has proven to have a detrimental effect on wildlife. According to statistics, humans have wiped out nearly 60% of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles since the 1970s. The World Wildlife Foundation equates this massive decline in animal populations to the continually growing number of food and resource consumption. This increase in consumption is a direct result of the ever growing human population. According to scientists, the world has already begun the process of its sixth mass extinction, the first to ever be caused by an animal species. That species is the human race. Extinction is always occurring, with a natural rate of about one to five species disappearing each year. At present time, however, extinction is occurring at nearly 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate per year. This number averages out to dozens of extinctions daily. At present moment, humans have eliminated almost half of the plant life in the world and nearly 83% of all mammals. The destruction caused by overproduction has already gone too far, with scientists predicting that, at present moment, it could take the natural world 5 to 7 million years to recover from this annihilation of plants and wildlife.
One factor that is the direct result of overproduction, as well as a direct cause of this animal species destruction, is air pollution. The existence of air pollution has been present since Roman Times and has only continued to worsen up until present day. The effects of air pollution have proven detrimental on all animal habitats. One of these negative results is acid rain, which is rainfall made acidic due to environmental strain and harm. It ultimately causes a change in both the chemistry and quality of soil and water. Acid rain produces aluminum and, in turn, increases the pH balance of lakes, streams, and ponds, among other bodies of water. Higher pH levels can result in the inability for fish eggs to hatch, while lower pH levels can cause the death of some adult fish. Acid rain also negatively affects plant life, as it can over produce aluminum and strip away important nutrients from the soil. Without these essential nutrients, both plants and trees are unable to grow.
Heavy metals are another result of air pollution, ultimately entering into animal food chains and having a damaging effect on food quality and supply. Mercury is a heavy metal that, at high levels of exposure, can produce many repercussions. Fish populations are especially affected by high mercury concentrations, as researchers have observed a reduction in loon chick egg production in ponds where high levels of mercury are present. Smog is another consequence of air pollution. While not perfectly understood by scientists, it is thought that it has the same effect on wildlife as it does humans. Smog is thought to cause harm to the lungs and cardiovascular systems of animal species.
It is not just animal species that are affected by air pollution, however. The human population, specifically children, experience certain detriments caused by unhealthy air quality. These detriments can even begin in the womb, with children being more likely to experience preterm birth when born into communities with higher particle pollution levels. Children are also more susceptible to a lack of lung growth in their early years when exposed to poor air quality. Eighty percent of the alveoli, a tiny air sac found in the lungs that is essential to the intake of oxygen, does not become fully developed until adulthood. Exposure to air pollution can potentially stunt the growth of the alveoli, resulting in future respiratory problems. This lack of lung growth can also make individuals more susceptible to infection and disease.
According to Google, the food industry is defined as “a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world’s population.” When it comes to overproduction, the food industry plays a big role. Much research has found that humans are wasteful when it comes to food. Seeing as though more food is being produced than what the population needs, majority of the time, the extra food goes to waste. Reports from the nonprofit organization, ReFED, have demonstrated that 25 billion dollars worth of food is produced as waste each year from U.S. restaurants alone. Becoming aware of such a fact can come as a shock to many people as none of us are truly conscience about the waste we produce daily. It has been many years coming for this global issue to expand into what it is today, but surely we can all play a role in bettering the situation.
Although our world is currently being greatly affected by overproduction of food, it has not always been so bad. Back in time when the food industry was not yet as industrialized as it is today, sustainable living prevented the effects we are seeing today. Seeing as though humans were forced to hunt and grow their food, they were not as wasteful as we are today. Generally, the only food they were consuming was the amount they needed in order to survive. As a matter of fact, even today, those who survive off of what they grow or hunt are considered to be outside of the scope of what is considered to be the food industry today. With the growth of population and the development of lifestyle that has occured over time, these results have all changed.
Studies have found that the U.S. spends over 220 billion dollars a year growing, transporting, and processing almost 70 millions tons of food that goes to waste. Scientists have estimated that growing food that ends up waste uses up to 21% of our fresh water, 19% of our fertilizer, 18% of our cropland, and 21% of our landfill volume. These facts have proven that when we waste food, it is not the only resource that we are being wasteful of. Not only is this hurting our planet, but it is also paving the way for the future of our people, our Earth and our animals. Research has also found that the growing food system is one of the biggest contributors to climate change due to the fact that it is responsible for approximately one-third of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions. How can this be some may ask? Well according to research, when food is disposed of in a landfill, as it rots it becomes a source of methane, a greenhouse gas that carries 21 times the potential for global warming than carbon dioxide. Overall, studies have determined that in the U.S. we waste 40% of our food.
Possible solutions to food waste:
- Plan appropriately
- Becoming aware of food portions
- Save leftovers
- Store food correctly to prevent expiration
- Keep track of waste
- Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
In the 1960s environmental movements began because of the pollution that was coming into our planet. It all started with an oil spill that caused many Americans to panic. They soon realized that there was an increase in demand and limited resources to fill that demand. In the 1970’s, cars filled up roads all across America. This caused carbon monoxide to fill the air. Automobiles and factory industries began to pollute our air. This “environmental crisis” was known as the Smog in Los Angeles and New York City. “In the Great Smog of 1952, pollutants from factories and home fireplaces mixed with air condensations killed at least 4,000 people in London over the course of several days.” Events such as Earth Day and Acts such as the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Clean Water Act (1972) were put into place to help keep the Earth cleaner. Water pollution happens when things such as chemicals or microorganisms get into our water and create a toxic environment for humans. Water pollution is caused by “toxic substances from farms, towns, and factories readily dissolve into and mix with it causing water pollution.”
Imagine how different our world would be without any pollution. The sky at night and the ocean during the day would not even look real. They would be so clear and beautiful. Water pollution is when chemicals or microorganisms infect our water. This is caused by “universal solvent” which is when water cannot break down any substances other than a liquid that enters water. “According to the most recent surveys on national water quality from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of our rivers and streams and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, and drinking.” If we keep polluting our waters, it will only get worse.
Below are pictures of how the sky used to look before air pollution and what it looks like now. This is the air that we are breathing in and someday our children will be breathing it in if we do not put a stop to this. Air pollution is just as dangerous as water pollution. From cars to factory buildings, they are making the air we breathe worse.
How can overproduction be stopped?
- Eliminate Waste
- Plant more trees
- Be less wasteful
- Conserve energy
With proper awareness of this issue we as a society can help minimize the effects we are causing to our planet. All of these things on this list seem pretty easy and simple, right? So why are we not doing them? If we recycle, there is a smaller chance that our waste pollutes our oceans. This includes saving our animals as well. Carpooling will provide less toxic pollution from coming into our air. If we simply plant more trees, we would not have to worry about deforestation.