Posted by: PARTHA DAS SHARMA | August 14, 2008

Concept of Environmental Degradation:

Since the beginning of the Nineteenth century, the explosive growth, expansion and needs of the world’s population accompanied by new technological advances have modified our Mother Earth’s landscape. Man has exploited the natural resources in such a way that it leads to over-exploitation and losing the balance in natural eco-system. Environmental degradation to a large extent occurred.


We know that, a living organism cannot live by itself. Organisms interact among themselves. Hence, all organisms, such as plants, animals and human beings, as well as the physical surroundings with whom we interact, form a part of our environment. All these constituents of the environment are dependent upon each other. Thus, they maintain a balance in nature. As we are the only organisms try to modify the environment to fulfill our needs; it is our responsibility to take necessary steps to control the environmental imbalances.


Environmental Degradation is the process by which our environment i.e., air, water and land, progressively contaminated, over-exploited and destroyed. Degradation can be mainly grouped into (a) eco-system imbalance, (b) forest deterioration, (c) freshwater degradation (d) soil degradation (e) air pollution and (f) Global warming.


In other words, when the environment becomes less valuable or damaged, environmental degradation is said to occur. There are many forms of environmental degradation.  When habitats are destroyed, biodiversity is lost, or natural resources are depleted, the environment is hurt. Environmental degradation can occur naturally, or through human processes.  The largest areas of concern at present are the loss of rain forests, air pollution and smog, ozone depletion, and the destruction of the marine environment. Pollution is occurring all over the world and poisoning the planet’s oceans.  Even in remote areas, the effects of marine degradation are obvious.


In order to combat environmental degradation environmental studies are necessary. Environmental studies are the systematic study of human interaction with their environment. It is a broad field of study that includes the natural environment, social environments, organizational environments, and the relationships between them. Current environmental problems have evolved into a complex set of interdisciplinary issues involving ecological, political, economic, social, as well as physical and biological considerations.


Necessary steps are to be planned after environmental studies and proper implementation of those suggested steps is essential. The environmental imbalance gives rise to various environmental problems. It is our duty to remove the environmental imbalances by proper implementation of the necessary rectifications to make our environment safer, cleaner and greener.


  1. I work with an NGO in Ghana and I usually use your website to clarify my facts. But I think I will need your advise now. I am due to address an educational forum in the Western Region of Ghana on January 17 2008 on environmental degradation. This region is known for small scale mining activities (which involve the use of mercury) and farming.The predominant problems here are deforestation and mercury pollution in rivers.These activities are the main sources of livelihood for the people.What do you suggest we can do to eliminate or minimize these problems.

    • Dear Mr. Dari Iddisah,

      As requested, issues on deforestation and mercury pollution are discussed below:

      Deforestation –

      Framing strategies for sustainable agricultural development on and forest management on national and regional level are the prime importance and need-of-the-hour.

      Focus on the awareness of environmental issues, particularly at the regional and national levels should be addressed.

      Although increased awareness alone will not solve the environmental and social problems facing the region, the open debate about the causes of change and appropriate responses is healthy and will help clarify issues.

      Deforestation aggravate global warming and climate change – whose effects are really dangerous.
      Efforts to tackle mercury contamination –
      The health threats from mercury emissions are far worse than previously thought.
      Mercury pollution from gold mining is probably one of the hardest ecological problems to tackle in any region. With probably hundreds of thousands of fortune-seekers operating over a vast region, any effort to minimize the use of mercury would be extremely difficult.
      Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is mainly used in mining to separate precious metals from ore. Technically, efforts should be made to improve the recovery rate of mercury, using simple field techniques. For the time being, the price of gold will largely determine how much mercury finds its way into the food chains.

      The main way to reduce mercury poisoning is to curb pollution from power stations and waste incinerators, particularly in developing countries.

      As per some reports, coal-fired power plants and waste incinerators account for some 70 percent, of the annual mercury emissions into the atmosphere, in developing countries. Gold and silver mining is the second-largest source of mercury pollution.

      In fact, US, Canada and Europe already have low levels of mercury emissions. US gold mining companies do not use mercury to extract gold domestically or internationally.

      There has to be national commitment to achieve reduced emissions of mercury as part of the controlled ‘Mercury Programme’ — and its more toxic compounds such as, methylmercury etc. There is a concern that mercury is quite dangerous, and things should be started right now, specially in developing countries, like Ghana.

      Apart, there is a possibility global warming may trigger by the release of more mercury from contaminated sediments and soils into lakes, rivers and other freshwater. With increase in temperature, for example, also with regard to climate change, the process of turning mercury into methyl mercury may be possible – which has more intensive correlation with the problems on human health.


      Partha Das Sharma

  2. Thanks for your advise the other time. it really worked for me. I would like you to educate me on the conventional method of gold retorting in small scale mining.I would be happy if you could attach visual representation of a typical retort system.

  3. i am an undergraduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University in final year project is the appraisal of the environmental degradation in Sango Otta Ogun state. i would be very grateful if you could enlighten me on the forms of environmental degradation,causes and consequences on the environment, and ways of conserving the environment

    • Dear Mr. Victor Gbogidi,

      I think if go through my other posts on Environmental Degradation you would be able to collect substantial inputs for your project. Some of the relevant posts would be:

      Effects of Environmental Degradation

      Population growth and Environmental degradation

      Explosive population growth affects world food supplies and environment

      Environmental Degradation – Combating the menace of hunger and poverty

      Concept of Environmental Degradation

      Deforestation for food and fuel

      Rainforest conservation – Challenges of addressing deforestation issues

      All the best,

      Partha Das Sharma

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. i appreciate the way you enlighten people am only here for the concept of environment degredation as a product of human activities.

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