It is a generally accepted fact that human activity has caused the uptake in pollution, the roots of which can be traced back mainly to the industrial revolution.
The pollution of air, soil and water is particularly detrimental to the biosphere, as they are three of the most crucial aspects of maintaining ecosystems and thus of maintaining civilization.
The level of the biosphere most commonly associated with pollution is likely the air. According to All Things Nature, the greatest contributor of air pollution is burning fossil fuels, specifically oil, gas and coal.
The automobile industry is the worst offender when it comes to air pollution, as car exhaust is a major source of carbon dioxide. Closely following the automobile industry in contributing to air pollution are electricity generating stations, which burn copious amounts of fossil fuels to operate.
Along with carbon dioxide, coal-powered stations often produce large quantities of sulfur dioxide, a major factor in the production of acid rain and a prime example of the intersectionality of pollution connecting various facets of the biosphere.
The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) cites the main result of water pollution as the death of organisms that depend on said water supply — not just the organisms living within the water. Chemicals such as Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and heavy metals such as mercury, often abundant in industrial wastewater, can have negative effects that are seen throughout various levels of an ecosystem.
For example, a fish that ingests heavy metals or pesticides and is then consumed by an organism higher on the food chain carries said organic compounds up through the food chain, further contaminating other organisms. This is yet another example of the cyclicality of pollution within the biosphere.
The most all-encompassing aspect of pollution is the impacts of soil pollution, which affects virtually every facet of the environment as it has the potential to affect anything living on the land — humans, plants, wildlife and the soil itself. Green and Growing cites many causes for soil pollution but identifies the main problem as pesticides used in agricultural practices.
While pesticides, herbicides and insecticides encourage plant growth, they also harbor harmful chemicals that are released into the soil during use. These chemicals increase the salinity of the soil, negatively affecting the microorganisms that aid in the function of both soil and plants.
Removing pollutants from earth’s biosphere is no easy task. People still need transportation, energy still needs to be used and farmers still need to grow their crops, sustaining themselves and their communities. Regardless of this, the answer is not to simply continue exploiting natural resources as we have so carelessly been doing for centuries but to innovate and improve upon our practices. There is more technology available today to aid the environment than ever before, and plenty of great minds capable of working out the intricacies of innovation. All that is needed is the collective will of people, politicians and corporations to get it done.
Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.
Assistant Opinion Editor