the world look like in 100 years? Will it look better than it looks today? Or worse? The truth is that nobody can see the future, however with the ever increasing human population, there is one major problem that has been getting worse over time: land pollution. Most basically, land pollution is defined as the degradation of the ground and soils¹. It is human influenced, either directly or indirectly, and leads to the worsening of soil quality and the destruction of the earth’s surface¹. Land pollution is a major problem around the world and is caused by a variety of factors. Some of main causes of land pollution include deforestation/erosion, agriculture, industry, mining, landfills/waste, and urbanization/construction².
The first cause of land pollution is deforestation and erosion. When land is cleared of the trees, the land is stripped of its natural protection against erosion; this means that land that was previously lush and fertile is now being converted into dry, nutrient free land as a result of erosive processes like wind or water. Once the nutrients are removed from the land, they are very difficult to restore.
Furthermore, agriculture is another source of land pollution. There is prevalent use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals used when growing food, all contributing to soil contamination and land pollution. When these chemicals seep into the ground, they are very difficult to remove.
Next, industrialization is a major contributor to land pollution. There are numerous negative consequences of industrialization but whether it is a clothing factory or a power plant, industries produce a large amount of waste. This waste, although regulated in many countries, still leaches into the soil and leads to land pollution.
There are various mining tactics practiced throughout the world and each kind leads to its own version of land pollution. For example, strip mining essentially turns the land inside out and disrupts any natural process previously occurring there. Hydraulic mining washes away layers of soil leaving the area barren.
The fifth cause of land pollution are landfills and waste. A majority of the population live in urban centers. In the future, this is not expected to change, and as a result, since most of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, there will be an increase in the pollution and waste in these cities. There be an increase in the volume of trash produced and this directly relates to the health of the environment near the cities. Additionally, where to store all the garbage becomes a bigger issue and how to dispose of waste properly is also of concern. When waste is buried in landfills, if it is not done properly, chemicals can leach out and pollute the groundwater and soils. Additionally, sewage and sewage treatment leads to soil degradation and pollution of the land.
Finally, urbanization and construction lead to a variety of sources of land pollution. One environmental consequence of urbanization is the transportation needed for so many people. More cars and public transportation mean that there will be an increase in exhaust and an increase in air and land pollution. Oil, gasoline, and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere and settle on the soil leading to environmental destruction. Additionally, run off and construction effluent is also harmful.
Overall, there are many causes of land pollution and many cities and country sides have been converted into barren landscapes or brownfields³. However, there is hope. With the increase in environmental awareness, many people have cleaned up and converted these desolate areas into parks, solar plants, or urban gardens relying on hydroponics. These actions, with an increase in better land management practices can lead to a reduction in land pollution and a cleaner environment for generations to come.