Human Impacts on Cold Environments

As populations increase, our environments face increasing stress in handling the greater quantity of people. For this reason, we have to become ever more conscientious about our environment.

Unfortunately, our responsibility to our environment has been forgotten by the majority of us. This is especially a problem in colder environments that experience the greatest impact. These are the following key points that we will be discussing in this module:

  • The consequences that cold environments face due to human acts against the environment.
  • The negative results of our actions that affect our environment.
  • The different programs designed to reverse and prevent the bad effects of human actions on cold environments.

By now, we all know that cold environments play an important role in our planet’s systems and processes. That is why human action is very crucial, especially in maintaining the state of these environments.

Here are some of the activities of humans that clearly affect cold environments:

  • Illegal fishing – this is very common all over the world but the most sensitive cold environment that is largely affected by this is Antarctica. Because of extremely cold climates in that area, there are only a few species of fish that can live there. Illegal fishing can severely damage the food chain, which will result in unimaginable destruction of that continent and surrounding regions.

    Illegal fishing
  • Tourism – there is high demand for tourism in cold environment areas.

    Tourism
  • Oil modernization – the building of infrastructures and the resulting oil spills puts the area at big risk of destruction.
  • Global Warming – the significant increase in temperature because of climate change which is mostly due to continuous misuse of the environment.

    Global Warming
  • Exploitation of mineral resources – this activity is a leading risk of destruction for the environment because searching for mineral resources involves damaging the ground surface.

    Mineral resources
  • Waste disposal – the improper disposal of waste in cold environments is very damaging.

    Waste disposal
  • Alteration of flora and fauna – this is caused by human activities in sectors of construction and transportation.
Flowers
  • Mistreatment of wildlife – human activities cause overexploitation of resources such as penguins, seals, whales, etc., which is leading to the destruction of these resources.

    Mistreatment of wildlife

Fortunately, there are various initiatives to preserve our cold environments. People realized that they must be conscientious of the environment because the effects of our activities are having a significant and visible impact, like the abnormal melting of glaciers.

Because of this, government and different environmental advocates from all over the world, particularly those in cold environments, were alarmed. Some of the initiatives that they implemented include:

  • Monitoring plans for the different important factors that are affecting cold environments, such as chemical waste management, flora, and fauna.
    In Antarctica, there are several methodologies that have been formulated to evaluate the effects of humans on cold environments, especially for human error in the oil and gas industry. It includes the analysis of risks through management, actions, and infrastructure problems. By analyzing those factors, there is a higher chance that problems that arise in cold environments, specifically environmental concerns, can be prevented.
  • Minimize or reverse the effects of contamination with the use of universally accepted methods. These include reduction of the effects of improper waste management of humans and chemicals in our environment. These are a big reason our cold environments are in danger, so by eliminating these culprits we can save the environment from complete destruction.

To give you an insight into the consequences of human irresponsibility, here are some of the problems humans cause in cold environments:

  • Due to the use of harmful chemicals with very harmful content such as CFCs (frequently used in cooling systems like refrigerators, air conditioners, and insect sprays), our ozone layer is diminishing gradually which will eventually cause higher temperatures because of less protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • The increase of acid in the oceans is occurring because of excessive carbon dioxide content in our atmosphere. Most of the carbon dioxide content of the world is released into our oceans which raises their acidity levels and directly affects the living creatures in those bodies of water.
  • Extinction or the reduction of numbers of certain cold environment animal species because of the continuous increase in temperatures. These species have a hard time coping with the environment and their health is being compromised.

These are the worst problems that are currently happening in cold environments all over the world. These problems require concrete solutions that must be disseminated and must be taken seriously to avoid the further destruction of our cold environments.

There are still a lot of virgin natural resources that can be found in Antarctica. The gradual entrance of human activity in that area (for example, scientists and experts building their bases in Antarctica) is a concern. Even regions which are far from Antarctica still contribute to the gradual destruction of that environment. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects not only that particular region where the activity occurs, but all of the planet because the gas enters the atmosphere.

To conclude, with the help of governments in the jurisdiction of cold environments as well as environmental advocates, negative effects can be controlled. Through proper implementation of programs and support from ordinary citizens, reversing the effects of climate change and preventing the worsening of problems in our cold environments is possible.

image sources:
  1. Illegal fishing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blast_fishing
  2. Tourism: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tourism_in_Antarctica_(Cuverville_island).jpg
  3. Global warming: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diagram_showing_ten_indicators_of_global_warming.png
  4. Mineral resources: https://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/threats_mining_oil.php
  5. Waste management: https://ethw.org/Category:Waste_management
  6. Wildlife: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Endangered_arctic_-_starving_polar_bear.jpg
  7. Flowers: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flora_and_fauna_of_North_Andaman_01.jpg