Development demands the use and transformation of resources into objects of social and or financial value. It has impacted the resources globally. The rapid growth in population and demand for resources has seriously decimated the resource base of the world. In many countries, industrial expansion and urbanization has ensured that what can be called natural landscapes are in very short supply.
Basic resources such as water, land and air are now recognized as having a finite use capacity (which is was not the case two centuries ago), and as such require some form of management in order to ensure their continuous availability.
We have traditionally depended on opening up new lands and using new resources to meet our demands. The expansion of agricultural land through clearing of forest and taking agriculture into arid lands has succeeded in accelerating erosion and aridity of desert and semi-desert areas. The introduction of high yielding varieties of agricultural crops encourages the use of herbicides and fertilizers. This could increase yield at a time but impair the quality of the soil nutrients in the future, and render it infertile and unproductive.
The increase in demand for energy resources has led to so many technological developments to make these resources available, but has also generated problems of air pollution and global warming because of the emission of poisonous gases like carbon monoxide.
In the attempt to harness water resources and make them available at all time, the natural state and course of rivers are altered by damming, and aquatic pollution is introduced. This has led to the extinction of marine species and alteration of the ecosystem.
Over utilization of forest resources has led to massive destruction of the forest, which in turn is modifying our climate and aiding the problem of global warming. Soil forming processes and nutrient cycling have been altered, and many wildlife species e.g. mustang are gone extinct. Frequent run-offs are now on the increase silting up rivers with eroded materials.
Coal washes dumped into rivers and sometimes seas has been a source of pollution. The case of the Solomon Sea off Papua New Guinea where over 78,000 tonnes of tailings were dumped daily is a handy case. Such actions cause water pollution and damage to marine ecology.
Percolation of precipitation through spoils heaps, landfills, run-offs from tailing ponds and groundwater seepages can lead to groundwater pollution.
Gaseous wastes and particulates from mines and industries are potential air pollutants. When dissolved in precipitation, they can cause acid rain. This can affect communities far from the point of release.
It would be wise that while we crave for massive development of the world, we also give serious consideration to the environmental consequences of our intended and desired development. Otherwise, we might not have an environment in which to execute our developmental plans. Think environment first. Let us reduces human impact on the environment.