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LET'S EXPLORE Our world

How is the environment being harmed?

A river in Madagascar choked by eroded soilA river in Madagascar choked by eroded soilPeople have made many changes to the world we live in, and some of these have had harmful effects. As the world population increases, there is need for bigger cities, new towns and farmland. Land has to be cleared of forests. This destroys the habitats of animals and plants. Loss of habitat, pollution and hunting have driven many to extinction. Industry can damage the environment. Harmful chemicals, plastics and waste pollute our oceans and kill ocean life. The burning of fossil fuels in power stations and vehicles releases carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to global warming. It also pollutes the air we breathe.


An Alaskan glacier in 1917 (upper) and 2005 (lower)An Alaskan glacier in 1917 (upper) and 2005 (lower)

Global warming

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. In the right amounts, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat from the Sun preventing the Earth becoming either too hot or too cold. But if greenhouse gases build up, too much heat is trapped and the Earth heats up.

Climate change will have disastrous effects if current trends continue. The ice in the polar regions will melt, raising sea levels and causing severe flooding in low-lying areas. Changes in the climatic pattern worldwide are already leading to more violent storms, flooding and extreme drought.

According to the United Nations, an area of fertile soil the size of Ukraine is eroded away every year because of drought, deforestation and climate change.

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