Controlling & Preventing Land Pollution

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, you'll be learning about ways that we can prevent land pollution and control current cases. We'll go over using reforestation, alternative energy, and sustainable forest grazing as ways people can improve land pollution.

What Is Land Pollution?

How much trash do you throw away each day? Think about all the tissues, wrappers, and food waste that go into the bin from dawn till dusk. Even if you're an avid recycler, most people contribute their fair share of trash to landfills. Now, multiply that by all the people in the world and you wind up with a pretty serious trash problem. In 2012, the United States alone generated over 250 million tons of trash.

Trash is one type of land pollution
landfill

Trash isn't just unsightly. It's one type of land pollution, or pollution that destroys the Earth's surface. Trash not properly disposed of can leak into the soil, contaminating water sources and land ecosystems. Other types of land pollution include deforestation, toxic waste produced from mining and drilling, radioactive waste from nuclear power, and pesticide and antibiotic runoff from agricultural practices.

Land pollution can have a serious affect on our health and the health of our ecosystem, which we depend on for food, water, and oxygen. Luckily, there are ways we can slow down land pollution. Today, we're going to look at three: reforestation, alternative energy, and managed forest grazing.

Reforestation

What do trees do for us? Your first thought might be that they make oxygen, and you're totally correct! But trees have many other important jobs as well, especially in protecting our land. Trees have complex root systems which prevent soil runoff when it rains. In areas that have undergone deforestation, top soil runs off, flooding nearby areas and destroying the habitat for other important plant and animal species.

Trees also take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a main contributor to global warming, an increase in global temperatures that is driving major changes in climate including flooding, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters. Without trees, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase.

Reforestation is one way to control the effects of deforestation. 'Re' means again, so reforestation is planting new trees to replace those removed by deforestation. Sometimes reforestation can be accomplished naturally, if the area is protected from further pollution. Existing trees produce seeds that under the right conditions can regenerate the forest. However, some areas are so heavily damaged by deforestation that scientists must come in and plant seeds by hand, or bring in young trees native to the area to plant.

Reforestation can combat land pollution caused by cutting down trees
reforestation

Alternative Energy

All day we use electricity. Charging our phones, using our computers and turning on the lights all use electricity. Where does that electricity come from? For most of us, the answer is from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and gas, are major sources of land pollution. Mines and drilling operations to collect these sources of fuel ruin the land around them, stripping valuable nutrients, destroying topsoil, and disrupting local ecosystems. But clearly electricity is a major part of our modern world, so what are we supposed to do?

One answer is alternative energy. Alternative energy sources don't rely on fossil fuels, and are renewable, meaning they can be regenerated, unlike fossil fuels which get used up. Examples of alternative energy include solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.

Solar panels collect light energy from the Sun and convert it into electrical energy. Solar energy is plentiful, and free to collect. There is no transportation of fuels needed and no waste generated, thus creating far less land pollution than fossil fuels. However, solar panels do take up space, particularly for the large solar farms needed to provide substantial amounts of energy. This can disrupt local wildlife in forested areas, so solar panels are well suited for sunny areas with little plant life, such as arid regions.

Wind power harnesses the mechanical energy of wind and converts it into electrical energy we can use in our homes. Wind turbines produce no pollution and have an unlimited supply of power from wind currents, making them an excellent choice to reduce land pollution.

Wind power produces little land pollution
wind power

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