All life on Earth depends entirely on the planet for all resources including oxygen, food and water. Humans also use the available resources that the Earth provides as a source for materials, such as medicine, fuel, manufacturing, housing and more. These materials are used to manufacture and create the majority of the products we see today, including technology, infrastructure, medicine, clothing, etc. Even to the most casual observer, it is obvious that the need for an understanding of these impacts on the Earth are essential to sustain earth systems, therefore supporting our environment.
It is known that fossil fuels such as coal and oil are not renewable, and that they do not impact the Earth in a positive manner. To address this issue, alternative sources of energy are being sought. These include nuclear power, solar power and geothermal energy. Investigations into tidal energy, wind power and other forms are also being conducted.
With an increasing understanding of the earth’s systems, scientists have identified evidence of human impact on the environment, including depletion of the ozone layer, the possible acceleration of the greenhouse effect, acid rain, thermal inversions, and decreasing air and water quality standards are commonly found.
In addition to the impact humans have on the atmosphere and hydrosphere, there is also an impact on the physical environment. Examples include flooding due to altered run-off patterns in cities, increased seismic activity under large dams and altered rates of erosion. The placement of constructions can have an effect on the physical environment, as well as on the bio-sphere.
In all cases, planning for the various forms of impact that humans have on the environment is essential. This may involve changing the way that we use the earth’s resources, developing new methods of waste disposal, and an increase of investigations regarding the effects that humans have upon the lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere as a whole.