Environmental degradation has been widespread in most areas of the world, as demonstrated by the current pace of global warming, with emissions, overpopulation, erosion, natural causes, and instances of land disturbance becoming the leading causes of this deteriorating situation. Though attempts have been taken to monitor actions that lead to the degradation of the biosphere, Wilson (211) indicates that they are insufficient and that much must be achieved if the aim of saving the earth is to be accomplished at all. A decaying environment is unable to sustain any form of life, which calls for a proposal like that made by Edward Wilson that will assure sustainability of current and generations to come (Wilson 210). All sorts of mining, including petroleum mining, often cause adverse effects on the environment such as soil contamination, erosion, and pollution of the biosphere. Petroleum products are essential to the operation of various industries in the economy; however, mining and processing and usage of these products cause adverse effects on the environment.
Harmful Effects of Petroleum and Petroleum Mining
Environmental degradation has serious adverse effects on the social and economic well-being on of human beings and other species of nature. The facts discussed here are concerns the mining, processing, and usage of petroleum and petroleum products. The propositions made by Edward O Wilson have been used in support of the arguments made about the subject of discussion. It should be noted that petroleum mining results in climate change and it’s also lethal to all creatures in nature. The incomplete combustion resulting from burning petroleum products produces harmful gases such as methanol and carbon monoxide which become detrimental when mixed with air and water. Inhalation of these components affects the lungs of all animal species including human beings thereby causing cardiac problems.
The death and extinction of wildlife due to the infiltration of toxic petroleum compounds into the atmosphere affects specific industries in the economy like the tourism sector. According to Wilson (8), the extent to which extinction of species occurs varies across history. The effects are unemployment and high inflation rates which lead to poverty and crime. Additionally, the resultant health effects cause death in most cases which affect the majority of the working population thereby affecting the economic productivity of nations (Wilson 8). Oil refineries which manufacture extracted crude oil to separate the various components dispose of the wastes in an environmentally unfriendly manner which causes pollution. Some of these factories dispose of garbage in nearby water resources which not only kills water-based species but also makes the water unfit for human use.
The burning of petroleum products raises atmospheric temperatures causing Sulphur from the exhaust and nitrogen gas in the air around to oxidize. The combination of these gases with atmospheric water molecules results in acid rain which kills bird and animal species in water and on dry land, including vegetation. The pollution caused by petroleum extraction and products results in the disruption of the balance of the ecosystem. As Wilson (13) explains, humankind is depended on the existence of other organisms, which makes this balance crucial to the sustainability of life upon the universe. The climate change experienced globally is caused by the release of the toxic chemical substance into the atmosphere. Also, this depletes the ozone layer, increasing the level of ultraviolet violet rays which cause cancer.
Petroleum is extracted from the ground through drilling. Research indicates that the extraction of oil has polluted places that were once known to be biodiversity. The gulfs left after drilling pose harm to wild animals which might fall in and die. Also, these voids left in the ground retain rainwater which causes soil erosion in the area making the land unproductive and unsuitable for habitation. Another effect of drilling oil is the displacement of people which has far-reaching consequences. The displaced people are forced to find new homes which forces them to clear forest areas reducing the water catchment capability of the affected region.
Having established that the effects of petroleum on the environment are adverse, the focus shifts to what can be done to manage the production and use of petroleum products as a means of reducing the harmful effects. Attempts have been made to utilize technological advancements in diminishing the impact of mining and manufacturing crude oil and other petroleum products. There are numerous legislative regulations enacted to control the pollution resulting from extraction and using petroleum. Non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations have set up initiatives and programs aimed at conserving the environment to ensure sustainability of future generations. Edward O Wilson, in his book half-earth,’ proposes that the current challenge in our environment requires a solution equal to it in magnitude. This means that the ongoing disjointed efforts are not sufficient to mitigate environmental degradation. He also emphasizes the need to understand the problem at hand before embarking on an endeavor to save the environment.
Wilson, Edward O. Half-earth: our planet’s fight for life. WW Norton & Company, 2016.