Why is our environment important? We hear and read so much about protecting and saving the planet Earth. Why should we be concerned when we are also facing economic crises, wars and unending social problems as a society?
Why Our Environment Matters So Much
The simplest explanation about why the environment matters is that, as humans, the environment-the Earth-is our home. It is where we live, breathe, eat, raise our children, etc. Our entire life support system is dependent on the well-being of all of the species living on earth. This is commonly referred to as the biosphere, a term created by Vladimir Vernadsky, a Russian scientist in the 1920s.The biosphere refers to one global ecological system in which all living things are interdependent.
The food chain is an example of this. The sun provides light and heat for plants. The plants are consumed by animals who are in turn consumed by other animals who may in turn, be consumed by humans. Or perhaps they are used for material, clothing, etc. Even insects like mosquitoes play a role and of course bees pollinate plants.
Within the overall biosphere, or ecosystem, there are smaller ecosystems like the rainforests, marine ecosystems, the desert and the tundra. When any of these systems are off kilter, it impacts the entire planet. All of the environmental problems that exist have far-reaching implications for the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
For example, global warming causes a rise in sea levels which effects marine life. The rising sea levels also cause land erosion which harms the habitats of animals living by the coast. Global warming also melts polar caps and leads to arctic shrinking. This endangers the polar bears and other arctic wildlife. Since the icecaps are made of fresh water, they will throw off the saline levels in the ocean which will affect ocean currents. Furthermore, the ice caps reflect light. As they disappear the Earth will get darker and absorb more heat increasing the Earth's temperature.
Threat of Environmental Degradation
The deterioration of the environment, often referred to as environmental degradation, threatens the earth's natural resources such as our clean water supply, fossil fuels for energy and food supply. Many of these resources are nonrenewable so when they run out we will be forced to find new alternatives.
Another reason why the environment is so important is because it is a source of natural beauty. According to Healthy nature healthy people: contact with nature as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations, a research paper written by Cecily Maller, Mardie Townsend, Anita Pryor, Peter Brown and Lawrence St Leger, nature plays a key role in human health and well-being. The paper even suggests that contact with nature might play a role in preventing mental illness.
Unfortunately the planet is in danger. Many species of animals and plants are nearing distinction. Our clean water supply is at risk and more and more of our beautiful, open spaces are disappearing as new buildings and factories are built.
Earth Is Our Only Home
Why is our environment important? It is the only home we have. Many experts believe that we can reverse some of the harm the planet has suffered. The challenge is getting enough people to take drastic enough action so that we can make a difference in our lifetime.