Earth and Moon

The human impact on the environment

The human impact on the environment

All organisms alter, to some extent, the environment in which they live, modeling the landscape. The human being is no exception, on the contrary. It has a high capacity for alteration thanks to its progressive technical advances.

The landscapes created by human influence occupy a growing extension of the planet's surface. Basically, human erosion can be classified into two types: exploitation (agricultural land, forest, mines ...) and construction (cities, roads, ...). In recent years, in addition, industrial activities not only alter the surface of the Earth, but are endangering the survival of the planet.

Without human intervention, soil losses due to erosion would probably be offset by the formation of new soils in most of the Earth.

In unaltered terrain, the soils are protected by plant cover. When the rain falls on a surface covered by grass or leaves, some of the moisture evaporates before the water gets into the earth. The trees and grass make windbreaks and the fabric of the roots helps keep the soil in place, against the action of rain and wind.

Agriculture and logging, urbanization, the installation of industries and the construction of roads partially or totally destroy the protective canopy of vegetation, accelerating the erosion of certain types of soils. This is less intense in areas with crops such as wheat, which cover the land evenly, than in areas with crops such as corn or tobacco, which grow in furrows.

Excessive grazing, which can eventually transform the meadow into a desert, and poor agricultural practices, have had disastrous effects in certain regions of the world.

Some historians think that soil erosion has been a determining factor in the set of causes that have caused some population displacements, due to drought, and the decline of some civilizations. The ruins of towns and cities found in arid regions, such as the deserts of Mesopotamia, indicate that there was a time when agriculture was a widespread activity throughout the area.

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Biological erosion