250 Years of Industrial Consumption and Transformation of Nature: Impacts on Global Ecosystems and Life

250 Years of Industrial Consumption and Transformation of Nature: Impacts on Global Ecosystems and Life

Anthropogenic changes in the environment, caused by 250 years of economic growth and utilization of fuel and mineral resources, have considerably impacted the natural environment. The resulting ...
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Soil and Land Surface

Pp. 59-85 (27)

Hubert Engelbrecht

Abstract

The impacts imply direct and indirect, physical, chemical and biochemical alterations of land surface, soil and rock. The impairments include: pollution by atmospheric immissions; degradation; compaction; tillage of monocultures; overuse by abandonment of the three field system; erosion; more frequent wildfires; unconfined landfills; biocide application and excess fertilisation in agricultural activity; degradation by deforestation and land use change; soil sealing by land take; drainage of peat land and mires; impairment of land surfaces by open cast and underground mining, by underground constructions, as well as extractive methods (in situ leaching); numerous nuclear underground tests; creation of pollution hot spots (brownfields) by industry, military, and in urban areas; contamination due to large scale disposal of waste from settlements, industry, and agriculture in landfills; toxic waste spread from dam failures of tailings and other deposit confinements; climate change induced heat and drought; and altered soil carbon uptake caused by the introduction of xenospecies plants. Soil impairment by industry disasters (e.g. Bhopal, Chernobyl) and by tailings and waste heaps created by the mining industry is emphasised. Contaminations persist over long periods, because of the stability of soil, its sorptive properties and predomiant immobility of its components.

Keywords:

Agriculture, Brownfields, Compaction, Desertification, Drainage, Erosion, Fertilisation, Immissions, Land take, Mining, Pollution, Quarrying, Salinisation, Sealing, Soil degradation, Soil impairment, Waste disposal, Warming.

Affiliation:

Environmental Geology, Munich, Germany.