Environmental degradation hit its peak in the 21st century; humans have dominated the planet more than any other species. With a surging population of over 7 billion people, humans have degraded the environment through powerful technologies supported by the economic and political structures that encourage pollution. With the ethnocentric attitudes, nature is in a dire situation. Many debates have been carried out to offer solutions for reducing environmental degradation. Still, they haven’t been fruitful because different countries deal with their carbon prints differently. Without a common ground to resolve the problem, nature suffers. Initially, humans were second in the food chain because they only participated in hunting and gathering. Still, as their population increased, they started to practice agriculture, which led to the emergence of technology and social structures like democracy and individualism (Martin-Schramm et al., 2015). With individuals competing for scarce resources, nature is on fire. This reflection will discuss how environmental degradation is caused by increased population, technology, and social structures and the various debates surrounding the subject.
Population increase among human beings has led to increased consumption of substantial resources. In most countries globally, the birth rates exceed the death rates. Many nations have cut down the forest to expand living spaces for those protecting their forests; they have overpopulated their cities, resulting in other forms of environmental pollution. In regions with poor people, there is a problem of small pieces of land for cultivation and many mouths to feed, leading to the use of chemicals that boost growth while harming the soil. With the increased consumption rate, the population is vulnerable to lack of adequate water, deforestation, and climate change. Many people living in substance levels have been confirmed to have more minor effects on environmental degradation than those with excessive lifestyles. For instance, many people living in Europe and North America have put enormous pressure on the ecological system because their consumption baseline is always creeping insidiously. After all, as their population increases, they build larger houses and drive numerous cars, and their fashion preferences often change. As a result, their carbon blueprint is higher. Despite many ethical recycling attempts to reduce technology of demand and consumption, these methods have been unsustainable in a finite world (McGrath, M. (2022). The increase in birth rates and population can not change. Training people to be aware of the environmental consequences is the only way to resolve this issue.
Human beings use technology to solve their many problems in the modern world. Technology holds a big part of their everyday lives, from agriculture to economic stability. Most people seem unconcerned with a traced record of its contribution to environmental degradation. With greater control of nature and the degradation of ecosystems, the promise of better life and mastery of technology has made environmental degradation get out of hand. The world competition for power in terms of nuclear energy has put the planet at a possibility of total degradation. Technology plants and equipment consume a lot of energy resulting in pollution. Most corporations selling technology devices often don’t consider the environmental consequences but the short-term economic gains. The impacts of technology on the ecosystem are immense. A chainsaw cuts down trees essential for our climate to build roads and buildings. The excavator and grenades are used in mining, leaving the unproductive land for desertification. Bombs and missiles are used at war to cause serious harm to the ecosystem. They wipe people and the environment. Although there have been a series of debates to contain using this weapon recklessly, the conflict of globalization has changed the way many people view the world and even restructured social patterns.
Through technology, social systems have achieved their production of goods and services to achieve capitalism and democracy. With decentralized markets, private property, and limited liability to corporations, self-interests creep in, and any organization can do whatever they want without being held liable for their contribution to the degradation of the ecosystem. Democracy grants power to many representatives who make decisions that have affected the ecosystem negatively (Martin-Schramm et al., 2015). Most organizations mind their profits and pleasing their stakeholders at the expense of waste removal to the public in terms of pollution. Most of these organizations have a narrow focus on the well-being of humans because their economic focus relies on increased production. Increased production and consumption in the economic growth puts pressure on the extraction of natural resources. The volume of waste produced during extraction overwhelms the earth to yield the resources that can absorb it. Capitalism has promoted the burning of fossil fuels, a leading cause of environmental degradation. With increased self-interests to gain profits, the rapid passing of toxic wastes and products has led to dire ecological consequences.
Democracy retains the capacity to restrain capitalism. Campaign contributions and the dominant ideology of economism keep elected politicians in their service, among other reasons. Individuals with private property rights have a lot of discretion regarding misusing the land (Martin-Schramm et al., 2015). Water rights legislation makes it difficult to conserve water supplies. Democracy isn’t the only cause of environmental degradation. Dictatorships are also known for wreaking havoc on the environment. With dominating attitudes since the first tool humans ever made, they have always wanted to modify nature. Religion teaches people that they were created to dominate nature. With such an attitude, people view nature as an enemy to be attacked. Today climate change is a global problem with changing climate patterns, the ozone layer depleted, and rivers polluted.
With people more concerned with the fate of the environment, reinterpretation of environmental conservation has been put to light. Ethical reflections have been used to reaffirm and better our moral views. Conservationists and climate activists have worked hard to achieve ecological, righteous justice. From the 20th century up to the21st, attitudes toward nature and society have been debated to save wildlife. Reports from organizations like the intergovernmental panel for climate change have confirmed that humanity is on its path to an environmental crisis. In response, four perspectives have been termed to help contain the problems, including the free market, preservation, conservation, and critical ecology. Alongside the perception, the roman catholic church has also advocated for conserving the environment to reduce degradation. The change of attitude in society can mitigate several environmental degradation causes.
The free-market perspective has fought to ensure that development and exploitations have in mind the environmental consequences caused by their actions—ecological destruction as an avenue for economic growth and natural resource exploitation as an external effect. New technological resources should replace the dwindling natural resources (Butkus & Kolmes, 2011 ). Governments need to put property rights to the various natural resources to curb encroachment and pollution from developers. Looking for other alternative ways to provide food and meet the consumption demand of the surging population should come first. Most countries have opted to use nitrogen fertilizers to produce their crops to reduce soil degradation.
On the other hand, conservationists argue that governments should use scientific management and control based on ecology. There should be utilitarianism when implementing regulations around the environment. Governments need to focus less on property rights for the good of the community. The future of a healthy ecosystem lies in less anthropocentric. Technology should be used to control the ecosystem. Places like forests and natural parks should be monitored, and people should be enlightened on better ways to conserve the areas. Programs like planting trees around the community and maintaining an eco-friendly site often work for the greater good of the environment.
Preservation of the ecosystems has created bodies that have pushed for some regions to be put aside and be protected. An excellent example of preserved areas is the Amazon Forest. In recent years, countries that border the forest have been pushed to protect the ecosystem around the forest. Offer education to the majority of the population on why it’s key to preserving the forest and creating new artificial forests; the preservationists have positively impacted the regeneration of the environment.
Critical ecology is a paradigm that criticizes the direction and attitudes of the people and societal structures. The measure advocates for eco-friendly decisions since humans are not that separate from the ecosystem. It is suitable for humans to coexist with other living organisms to create sustainability and productivity. Using renewable energy to boost technology is one of the measures critical to ecology advocates. Environmental justice is key to achieving sufficiency and frugality that guides consumption. Economies should be built on environmentally friendly grounds.
The church has also played a massive role in defending the environment. The Bible teaches Christians to be good stewards despite the teaching of dominion over the animals and land teachings. In the recent past, the roman catholic church has been at the forefront of fighting environmental degradation. For instance, a letter from Pope Francis (2020) expresses his concerns about the environment and how the outcomes of degradation are evident in the proceeds that people harvest and climate change. Taking care of gods creation was the first role given to human beings, and as good stewards, we should make our homes habitable for future generations.
In conclusion, environmental degradation is a problem that started in the 20th century and has worsened in the 21st century. The increase in Population, the emergence of technology, and anthropocentric attitudes towards the environment have been depressing. Every country in the world is fighting to provide for its citizen and be economically stable, and as a result, environmental degradation is the outcome. Despite environmental activists’ pleas, democracy and capitalism are still the most significant contributors to degradation. Property rights have granted various managers leeway to harm the environment at their expense. Governments should be more cautious about the environment because climate change has been experienced worldwide. The church should also put more effort into training its people on the importance of being good stewards. Although most multinational companies advocate for eco-friendly business means, most companies are yet to adhere to it. The planet is our home; environmental degradation harms the ecosystems and human beings. They are keeping a healthy environment translates to healthy human beings.
Butkus, R. A., & Kolmes, S. A. (2011). Environmental science and theology in dialogue. Orbis Books.
FRANCIS, H. F. (2020). Encyclical letter” Laudato Si”: on care for our typical home. 2015. Retrieved Apr, 26.
Martin-Schramm, J., Stivers, L., & Spencer, D. (2015). Earth Ethics: A Case Method Approach. Orbis Books.
McGrath, M. (2022). Population controls ‘will not solve environmental issues. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29788754.amp