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Land Pollution: On Slippery Grounds

Unreal Estate

Land pollution is the degradation of the quality and productivity of the earth’s surface and soil due to human activities. This is a lesser visible facet of pollution than the contamination of air and water because its effects are not immediately and directly noticeable.

Increasing populations create greater demand for residential land and food. The result is haphazard urbanisation and unplanned conversion of forests and pastures to farmland. Resource intensive agriculture pollutes nature and cities are dotted with toxin spitting industries, automobiles, garbage dumps, and sewage discharges.

High consumption lifestyles create massive amounts of wastes that are disposed into landfills or garbage dumps that further erode the environment. Random urbanisation that gobbles up hills, pastures, forests, water bodies, river channels, and agricultural land is itself anti nature.

 

Genesis of Land Pollution

  • Deforestation means tree roots can no longer hold soil together causing soil erosion. Fertile top soil is lost forever and the productivity of land is irreversibly eroded
  • Resource-Intensive Agriculture uses large doses of chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, and water. Natural fertility of soil in lowered as it hardens and its salinity rises   
  • Unscientific Grazing removes grasses that hold soil together
  • Mining and Quarrying create voids below the surface causing collapse of land above. Sand quarried from river beds destroys the water holding capacity of river channels
  • Industrialisation releases venomous gases and effluents
  • Disposal of Wastes such as garbage, sewage, and nuclear wastes

 

Calamitous Repercussions

Degradation of land adversely affects the air and water that comes in touch with it. Creatures living under the ground and playing a vital role in the maintenance of ecosystems are also threatened. With ecosystems destroyed, species extinction and environmental imbalance is never far away. Ill-effects of land pollution include:

  • Soil Destruction through loss of fertility and increased salinity
  • Collateral Pollution of air, surface water, and groundwater as land is connected with these. Water percolating below landfills dissolves septic elements from garbage and poisons subsurface water

Water running from landfills infects surface water bodies. Wet garbage under sunlight stinks as gases are released while dry garbage fills the air with infectious particles

  • Toxin Mobility as they move up the food chain when food grown on contaminated land is consumed by humans and other animals
  • Flash Floods result from eroded soil filling up river channels and indiscriminate quarrying
  • Climate Changes as the moderating effect of plants on climate is lost
  • Acid Rains result from trees no longer absorbing harmful gases that mix with atmospheric moisture and come down as acid rains
  • Promotion of Disorders through adulteration and animals like rodents that thrive at landfills

 

Proactive and Reactive Defence

Tall and fine superstructures require robust foundations. Land is the very base of the environment. If we lose it, we will be refugees on our own planet. All measures for conservation of environment seek to reduce consumption and waste generation. Preventing land pollution will require us to:

  • Control Population and Consumption
  • Recycle and pressurise elected representatives to mainstream recycling
  • Install Biogas Plants and Sewage Treatment Machinery
  • Use Biodegradable Products
  • Support Sustainable Farming through purchase of organic food even if it means shelling out extra money
  • Not litter around especially regarding plastics and food packages

 

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