How Pollution Affects Animals in Our World
All living things depend on Mother Earth for everything from food and water to shelter and so much more. Without the proper resources, the quality of life for humans and other living things will deplete. Therefore, it’s imperative that we do whatever we can to protect the earth and keep it healthy. The first step is knowing and understanding what negatively impacts the earth and its resources — pollution.
While going green has become more prevalent in today’s world, it may not be enough. Pollution continues to be one of the biggest issues the earth and its inhabitants face. These inhabitants include human beings, animals and other living things like aquatic life and plants, which are all subjected to the negative effects of pollution.
Air and water pollution have the most negative impact of all. Their effects are already linked to global warming, lung disease and contaminated seafood, but there are even more risks than those. Dangerous chemicals are released into the air and inhaled by living things, which damages their health without them even knowing it.
This same contaminated air settles into plants and water sources that animals depend on to survive. Once the poison has been ingested, it travels up the food chain to humans and continues in a vicious cycle that can become fatal.
Many people may not realize or understand the effects pollution has on the animals in our world, which also directly affects everyone else living in it. That’s why it’s important to know what pollution does so that you can help combat its consequences. Here’s how pollution affects animals in our world today.
The production of plastic is at a high, and more and more animals are at risk, especially seabirds. Around 10 percent of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. It happens in a variety of ways — from city streets to landfills to shipping containers filled with waste.
The sea is full of dangerous materials that have fatal effects on fish, birds and other marine mammals that mistake these materials for food. As a result, more than one million seabirds and mammals are killed by the ingestion of plastic alone.
Acidic Rain Kills
Water becomes acidic when acidic air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide combine with water droplets inside of clouds. When these acidic droplets fall to the ground, they kill trees and bring harm to animals like fish and other wildlife. Acidic rain destroys the leaves of plants and acidifies soil, making it unfit for other living things. If acidic rain combines with other bodies of water, it changes their chemistry, which harms the aquatic life living in them.
Air pollutants have also destroyed parts of the ozone layer that shields Earth from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun, which causes skin cancer.
Chemicals Lead to Dead Zones
The use of pesticides and fertilizers on farms has increased dramatically, and this chemical runoff hits nearby waterways, streams and other running water, killing thousands of insects and fish in the process.
When these toxins collide with water sources, they alter nutrient systems, which causes an overgrowth of algae. These algae produce harmful toxins that deplete oxygen in water. Marine life cannot exist in these conditions.
Because of this consistent contamination, there are more than 400 dead zones in the world, including in China, Australia, Japan and more.
Infected water supply can also impact farm animals, like cattle. Cows suffer from heat stress and naturally cool themselves by sweating and breathing rapidly. Because of this, you must supply cattle with adequate amounts of clean drinking water. If their water source is contaminated with chemicals, you’ll be worrying about more than heat stress.
Cruise Ships Dump Toxic Waste
Cruise ships legally dump untreated sewage and other waste into the sea because lenient laws let them operate with little to no environmental regulations. This toxic waste contains pathogens, bacteria, oil, heavy metals and several other harmful substances.
Aquatic life faces a major threat due to this frequent occurrence. A typical 3,000 passenger ship produces around 255,000 gallons of wastewater and another 30,000 gallons of sewage per day. As long as ships dispose of waste at least three miles away from the coast, they’ll be allowed to continue causing serious damage to sea life.
Noise May Cause Extinction
The sound waves that come from ships, oil rigs and sonar devices may affect marine animals by disrupting migration, hunting, reproduction patterns and communication.
Some of the more deafening noises that come from oil and gas exploration may affect marine animals and their ability to hunt for food. They may even lead to chronic stress. Extreme noise pollution has killed hundreds of dolphins and whales at a time, which could very well lead to their extinction.
High-intensity noises can even force species to abandon their habitats out of fear. In 2012, more than 3,000 dead dolphins washed ashore on the coastline of Peru in a short three months, and experts blame offshore oil exploration.
There are many types of pollution that directly and indirectly affect wildlife. Synthetic chemicals, toxic metals, acidic rain and toxic waste are just a few of the pollutants out there causing harm to the animals in our world. Do what you can to stop pollution by being aware of the chemicals and other waste you put out into the earth. Don’t litter, don’t throw things into the sea and love your planet. Animals and human beings alike depend on you for their survival.
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