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The environmental impact of humans

The environmental impact of humans

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True or false? Eating fish has less impact on the environment than eating plants.

The environmental impact of humans

Hi Lina! - Hi Maria! How come you cycled here, I thought you lived a long way away? - I like to cycle, and it’s better for the environment than going by car. - What do you mean: better for the environment? Maria is right, the energy needed to drive a car, comes from burning oil. This creates gas emissions that pollute the air. They are bad for the environment, and for our health. - Does everything we do have such an impact?

If there was only Maria and Lina on this planet, they could probably do a lot of things, without much impact. But there are 8 billion people! We use a lot of energy and resources, and this has a great impact on the environment in four ways: transport, food, water use, and waste. Everything we buy must be transported to the shop in some way, and the customers will probably drive there too! The impact of transport comes from how we choose to move people and goods, such as food and clothes, from one place to another.

When we’re in the shop, choosing the food to cook for dinner, we are also choosing what impact we will have on the environment. A diet full of fish will, for example, mean that more and more fish need to be caught. This may lead to them disappearing from their natural environment, and will make it hard for animals that rely on fish. While eating plants might have less impact, farming them might be harmful too. Sometimes farmers use a lot of chemicals to help the plants grow.

Besides harming those who eat the plants, when rain washes these chemicals away, this pollutes rivers and lakes. Water is also used - and polluted - in the process of making clothes. Do you know how much water is needed to produce one pair of jeans? [...] It would fill about 74 bathtubs! And there are a lot of people in the world who wear jeans. This seems like a lot of wasted water, doesn’t it?

But there are other types of waste that also have a bad impact on the environment. Although many of us recycle glass, metal, and some plastics, a lot of waste gets thrown into bins and taken to the tip. There it might be burned, or just sit there forever. If waste is burned, this pollutes the air. If it sits there forever, it pollutes the soil, and takes up space that could be used for forests or farming.

Everything we do has an impact - and often a negative one. But the situation is not hopeless. We have caused the problems, so we should be able to fix them! New technology allows us to get energy from renewable sources. We can also reduce our waste to contribute to a healthier environment.

The great thing is, everyone can do something to help! - Oh, I see! Maybe I could cycle together with you then? That would be fun, and healthier for me and the environment. - Great idea, Lina!