Human Impact on Biogeochemical Cycles

The sustainability of the earth is highly dependent on the maintenance of the earth’s state of equilibrium. The functioning of the ecosystem is determined by the state of the equilibrium. This is basically restored through the nutrient cycle. Over the recent years, there has been an increasing concern that the ongoing human activities have created a very diverse impact on the sustainability of the earth in several ways. Human activities over the years have been considered to be environmentally unfriendly. These include activities such as use of artificial fertilizers, oil exploration, petroleum use and many more. These activities have both directly and indirectly changed the physical and biochemical processes of the earth’s climate. They affect the beneficial services that the ecosystem has to offer.

Your neighbor faithfully applies fertilizer to his lawn to ensure beautiful, healthy green grass.  Explain how your neighbor’s fertilizing habit affects at least one nutrient cycle.

The use of fertilizer is important to enable plant growth. However, fertilizer use can lead to a lot of other problems in the nutrient cycle which hence affects the general ecosystem.  The introduction of the use of fertilizers to enable boost of plant growth is actually the main contributor of the effect of humans on the nutrient cycle. For this case, the grass may not be able to make use of all the fertilizer that has been applied. Thus, the fertilizer may in turn be transferred through the water run-off to the water bodies in the nearby location. The excessive run-off may end up into lakes, streams and finally to the ground water through precipitation. This results to the changes in the habitats of other organisms as well as their equilibrium. When this fertilizers find their way to the sediments in the water bodies, it can be recycled and redissolved as a problem nutrient. These nutrients are thus consumed by the marine animals which alters their ways of functioning and may eventually lead to their death. This is because the type of nutrients in their ecosystem is not suitable.

Your friend commutes to work every day by driving a standard gasoline-powered car.  Explain how your friend’s commute affects one or more nutrient cycles.

Vehicle emissions are a very big contributor to pollution. This is because of the increase in the number of vehicles over the recent years. This has caused significant increase in emissions which have a negative impact to the environment and in this case, humans. The emissions include the release of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, mono nitrogen oxide as well as other many more hazardous air pollutants (Ye et al 2000). The extensive release of these substances in this case affect the amount of these elements in the atmosphere and thus results to changes in the nutrient cycle. This affects humans in that the human blood is responsible for the transportation of nutrients to every body organ. These includes the beneficial substances such as oxygen. Due to the pollution from the emissions, the harmful substances may find their way into the human bloodstream through the mouth, nose as well as the skin. These harmful substances can be of diverse effect to the human blood, spleen, bone marrow as well as the lymph nodes(Ye et al2000).

Urban areas typically have lots of pavement and compacted soils. Explain how these impermeable surfaces affect at least one aspect of the hydrologic cycle

Urbanization is increasing at a very high rate. Rural areas are rapidly turned into urban areas basically by the growth and sprout of urban areas. When more areas are paved, it then means that less water is set to infiltrate into the ground water table. Thus, the underground water will not be recharged easily. This thus lowers the water table. Some of the existing wells thus will not be deep enough to get the underground water and may end up running dry(Shuster et al2005).

On the other hand, the runoff that emanates from the increased pavements and compacted soils may end up into the storm sewers and finally go on to the streams. The runoff which in previous cases used to soak the ground will thus go to the streams and rivers and hence be the cause of floods. The increased number of buildings have as well led to the change of the stream channels which causes erosion along the river banks and flooding(Shuster et al 2005).

To sum it up, effect of human activities on the environment at large is turning out to be hazardous. Life is made easier by increased technology but this turns out to cause a diverse effect to us as well.

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