Sunday, August 23, 2009

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: Land Clearing - The Problem With Land Clearing

By James Lahey

A big problem in today's modern society is the amount of land available to the world for growing crops and supporting animals for food (such as cattle and sheep). This amount of land is currently insufficient to support the food needs of the world's population. The main causes of this problem is urbanization and land clearing for economic development.

Clearing the land has a number of negative effects on the ecosystem. One problem that arises when you replace forests or wetlands with agriculture or development is soil erosion. In some instances clouds of dirt can be seen blowing into the wind over farmland and this causes the top soil to disappear. This leaves the land with fewer nutrients and less of an ability to soak up rain, which can cause flooding.

Another problem occurs when you strip the land it removes tracts of forests and other vegetation that would otherwise use and store carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This reduces the Earth's ability to deal with greenhouse gases.

Because people no longer produce their own food and clothing, food and other essential products have to be transported into towns and cities. This causes a big increase in energy consumption used for transportation.

In order to produce the food needed for growing populations, mass farming methods are required. This causes a breakdown in the family farm. These family farms are being replace by large corporate entities that can afford and use mass production.

Finally, the last problem that can occur with land clearing is the amount of waste that has to be disposed of in urban areas at the population increases. As people become separated from the land that supports them, their concern about reducing waste decreases.

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