In 1848, German botanist Matthias Schleiden discussed the destructive manner in which humanity affected the planet’s resources, stating that, “Behind him, he [man] leaves the Desert, a deformed and ruined land and is guilty of the thoughtless squandering of vegetable treasures here again in selfish pursuit of profit…[man] begins anew the work of destruction.” Over the past 350 years, the growing industrialization has led to the anthropogenic era, leading to a dramatic change in land use and ecosystem conversion. With the exponentially growing demand for natural resources due to the rising population numbers, the world as we know it, is being transformed.
Unfortunately, as the world and people are only getting more and more advanced with the aim of higher income that leads to a greater choice, each year there is an even higher pressure on land resources. Enormous demand for food, fuel and raw materials makes it almost impossible to change the current status-quo. The attempt to stop this dangerous cycle by setting international goals to improve the management of land has failed. Economic growth has come at the expense of land, ecosystem and what’s most important – natural resources. One of the most threatened pieces of ecosystems are trees. The increasing population growth along with the demand for more food represent two of the main reasons for the terrestrial transformation nowadays where nearly half of the Earth’s surface is occupied by domestic animals, agricultural crops, and production forests. This land use change is the main reason for the abolishment of half of the world’s forests that has not just local and national, but also global impact. For 100 years from 1900 to 2000, human activity has decreased the number of natural forests, mountains and non-agricultural land with 23,6%.
Population growth and the increasing human activity on the planet appear to be the main factors for the depletion of the natural resources and land degradation. Due to the growing demand for food and fuel, and raw natural minerals there is a controversy between production-related goals and conservation. But what can we do to resolve this issue? In order to affect the problem on a global scale, it is crucial to embed actions that aim to tackle it within the political strategies. It is essential to underline the connection between all environmentally affected areas. Forests, for instance, are crucial for the absorbance of carbon dioxide. However, deforestation, whose levels remain high despite the aims to minimize the loss of trees, leads to increased emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Another link with the Earth’s atmospheric condition is exemplifies by the Arctic permafrost which functions as the largest storage of organic carbon. Global warming has led to the melting of ice and incremented carbon emissions due to the increase of the permafrost’s temperature with 2ºC for the past 3 decades. Such alarming facts demonstrate how our planet is a living organism and all its systems can be affected by a single change in the environment.
Globalization and urbanization affect our planet’s environment on a global scale. It is vital that we find a more sustainable way to treat our environment in order to preserve natural resources both for us and the future generations.