Indiscriminate Destruction of Vegetation
Vegetation refers to plants in general or to plants that are found in a particular environment. Vegetation can be destroyed through bad or improper farming practices and indiscriminate felling of trees for charcoal production. The indiscriminate destruction of vegetation leads to the drying up water bodies and low crop yield.
Desertification is a process of land degradation. It starts with the loss of vegetation, followed by the destruction of soil fertility, and ends with the transformation of the soil into barren desert. Desertification destroys the physical environment and, consequently the social life of the people who live in the affected areas.
Bad farming practices such as inefficient irrigation, over grazing , heavy dependence on woodland resources, or frequent forest clearance, may lead to soil erosion and eventual desertification, a near permanent damage to the physical environment.. Excessive grazing by animals on land for a very long time prevents the growth of trees and shrubs on the land.
In the northern parts of Ghana, this activity of over grazing involves alien herdsmen called the “Fulani” herdsmen from Burkina Faso, who invade the farmlands with their animals and do a great deal of damage to the environment. Their activity can eventually lead to desertification and environmental degradation.
Other kinds of land destruction
Sand and stone winning is an activity that also degrades the environment.
Pollution is contaminating the natural environment with harmful or unpleasant substances that make it impure or dirty. These are two main areas of the environment that are often polluted through human activities. These are the air we breathe and the water we drink.
Air pollution occurs when poisonous or harmful grass are released into the atmosphere. Harmful gases such as carbon dioxide from exhaust pipes of vehicles, nitrogen and sulfur oxides omitted mainly by power stations and industry, smoke from factory chimneys, bad odor from decomposed objects, sewage and garbage, burning refuse in the open, unpleasant smells from open gutters, all these pollute the air we breathe and pose serious health hazards.
Water pollution is caused by the discharge of harmful materials, such as industrial waste, chemical fertilizers or pesticides into water bodies. In towns and villages, as also in urban areas, due to the lack of adequate and effective means of waste management such as public toilets and refuse dumps, people discharge all kinds of waste – including human waste into rivers, lakes and streams. In this way, the water becomes polluted. But not only that: the waterways get silted, causing floods when it rains heavily for a long period of time, and sending out smells. The sea is polluted through sewage disposal, oil spills, or the dumping of highly poisonous materials.
The effects of environmental degradation on the lives of human beings are terrible and unpleasant.
Land degradation destroys vegetation and the Eco system in general. This in turn leads to the drying up of water bodies and low crop yields, resulting in low food production, food insecurity or shortage and famine. When the land is degraded, it loses its fertility,with serious consequences on food production.
Soil erosion renders the land less suitable for cultivation and farming activities and badly affects human settlement. In Ghana, we are all familiar with the displacement of many people in Keta and its environs as a result of the erosion of the land by the sea. Thus, land erosion affects the social life of the people.
Desertification affects the fertility of the soil and makes the land become barren as it becomes arid and covered with sand. Large tracts of land lose their ability to produce food. Desert conditions affects wildlife, resulting in the death of thousands of animals that cannot survive in such conditions. These conditions also affect the human population. Desertification leads to the mass migration of people from the affected areas, this can be a major social disaster. Thus desertification affects both the economy and the social life of a people.
Air pollution affects the human life by causing all kinds of airborne diseases, such as the inability of the lungs to resist disease, coughing, painful breathing (asthma) and eye irritation. Due to the lack of public places of convenience, some people unashamedly ease themselves into gutters, lanes and other places in the open. Urban as well as rural environment is known to lack environmental hygiene and efficient health management system. The result is squalor and unpleasant smells. Some coastal communities use the beaches as places of convenience and as grounds for dumping refuse. Such actions degrade the physical environment and cause various kinds of ill health.
The release of excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is a form of air pollution. It is known that the excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the cause of global warming – that is, the rise of the temperature of the earth. Global warming means that the atmosphere becomes intensely hot – a situation that makes life uncomfortable.
Water pollution results in the contamination of the water we drink. When contaminated water is consumed by humans, it causes all kinds of diseases. The pollution of the sea can result in the death of a lot of fishes as well as birds that go and feed on the dead (poisoned) fishes. Fish from contaminated water bodies is not good for human consumption. Contaminated water and lack of fish clearly affects the lives of humans.