Waste management

As the human population increases, the volume of waste and pollution that is produced also increases. Polluting an ecosystem harms or kills the organisms that live within it.

Modern society is more consumable, which means humans manufacture more products and replace them more often. This consumption is not sustainable. Many natural materials, including fossil fuels, will soon run out and scientists argue that there is already too much waste.

Water pollution

In some parts of the world, open sewers can lead into water courses, such as streams and rivers, which can cause serious illness in humans that may drink the contaminated water.

Some farmers use too many fertilisers, which can run off fields during heavy rain. This can pollute nearby streams and rivers leading to eutrophication. Some water pollution even comes from toxic chemicals released illegally by factories.

An illustration showing eutrophication in water caused by an increase in nitrate and phosphate from fertilisers.The process of eutrophication

Air pollution

Combustion of fossil fuels and other fuels releases carbon dioxide. This contributes to the greenhouse effect and leads to global warming. It also releases sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which can cause acid rain. Air pollution can also be caused by tiny particulates from smoke which can cause smog. Some of the world's major cities like Delhi in India and Karachi in Pakistan have dangerously high levels of air pollution.

A power station with smoke
Power stations give out sulfur dioxide

Land pollution

The rubbish we throw out that is not recycled goes into a land fill. These are huge holes in the ground into which our rubbish is dumped. Some things like batteries cannot be put into landfill sites because of the toxic chemicals they contain. They must be recycled. Other land pollution comes when some people dump rubbish in public or other private places, often to avoid paying for it to be disposed of. This is caused fly tipping and is illegal.

Landfill with piles of rubbish.

Land use

The larger the human population gets, the more land we require. More houses must be built, more resources found, more food must be grown and more waste is produced. This often means less space and fewer resources for other animals and plants.

Often biodiversity is significantly reduced when land is cleared for human uses, such as building, quarrying, farming and waste disposal. Think about the reduction in biodiversity, which occurs when an area of rainforest is cut down to grow crops.