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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Human Beings: Adverse Effects of Transformations

Pp. 215-246 (32)

Hubert Engelbrecht

Abstract

World population growth, concentration in megacities, development of the technosphere and numerous novel chemical substances, industry, and agriculture have exposed humans to new kinds of health threats. Insufficient sewerage systems in megacities resulted in cholera epidemics. London smog caused impairment of the respiratory tract and rickets. Los Angeles smog brought about the presence of ground level toxic ozone in urban aerosol plumes. Mortality increased significantly in cities during summer heat waves. Permanent availability of artificial light has entailed unhealthy night and shift work. Rapid increase in global traffic resulted in annual losses of more than 1 million lives. Excess artificial noise causes 61,000 disability adjusted life years annually. Global annual fatalities due to air pollution run up to 5.5 millions. Clean-up of industrial brownfields impose financial burdens on public budgets. Health costs of Hg released into the environment are estimated at a minimum of 23,000 euros/kg. A positive correlation exists between health impairment and CO2 emissions. Financial pressure is rising to organise constructions to shelter coastal cities against sea level rise. Growth of cropland has not kept pace with population growth since 1960. Ailments arise because of mass-consumption of cheap foodstuffs, luxury food, and stimulants. Globally, 1.8 billion persons lack access to good quality drinking water. Detected detrimental effects of certified chemicals and pharmaceuticals resulted in numerous health impairments. Global distillation has deteriorated the health status of the Arctic population. Health burdens arise due to industrial and nuclear havaries, and above ground nuclear tests. Intentional application of industrially produced warfare has caused ca. 145 million fatalities since 1800.

Keywords:

Accidents, Adaptation, Civilised ailments, Concentration, Contamination, Food security, Global distillation, Health costs, Heat islands, Industrial havaries, Medicament side-effects, Noise, Overkill, Pollution, Population growth, Population resettlement, Social acceleration, Water scarcity, Waste, Weapons.

Affiliation:

Environmental Geology, Munich, Germany.