With the boost of the human population (now 7.2 billion), more land is needed for humans’ endless needs: housing, industries, recreation, urbanization, rearing animals and farming.
Even though urban cities seem to always appear as the main culprit, studies have shown that the majority of lands exploited by humans are used for agriculture and farming in order to produce food.
The pressure of producing more food to feed more mouths, (or merely to meet the demands for food which may be unequally distributed), lead to the usage of chemical and organic fertilizers.
Farmers have no choice but to produce as much as possible, even at the expense of the soil and environment.
As a result, nitrogen and phosphorus within the fertilizer contaminate the soil and water, often get washed into the river when it rains and accumulates mainly in estuaries. Sudden loading of these nutrients into the water causes algal bloom which eventually destroys various animal species directly and indirectly.
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The Planet’s Freshwater
Theoretically, the amount of fresh water on earth is said to be able to cater to the needs of 7-8 billion people. However, such a situation happens only under the very ideal condition assuming that water stays free from contamination and wastage.
Human activities, unfortunately, have resulted in a vast amount of pollution of freshwater sources. There has also been the overuse of fresh water worldwide (of course with a great degree of imbalance between countries), where men consume water at a faster rate than its natural replenishment.
Seventy percent of fresh water is used for irrigation, while twenty percent is consumed by industries and ten percent by domestic activities. With the projected further rise of population, the water crisis is likely to occur in the near future (already happening in some parts of the world).
More and more land is being explored to provide for men’s numerous necessities and meet their never-ending demands. Forests are being cleared for a number of reasons: logging (legal and illegal), farming and agriculture, housing, urban planning and so forth.
Bear in mind that the human population has increased roughly ten times since the industrial revolution era, and is expected to reach nine billion by 2040 or 2050. There is no sign of an end to all destructive activities which are already by now, out of control.
More animals are dying than before and humans are killing exotic plants before they could even come to know these plants’ existence and possible value.
The list is much longer than what has been mentioned. Other environmental problems that are also man-made include ozone depletion, air pollution, chemical pollution and loss of biodiversity.
Humans are ruthlessly transgressing planetary boundaries without any sense of responsibility and regret. Until they stop and undo the damages they have done, men eventually will self-destruct just the way they drive other species away.
God says in the Holy Quran: “Corruption (damage) has appeared throughout the land and sea because of what men have done with their hands….” (Surat Ar-Rum 30:41).
This verse implies that when men are not careful enough, or when they manage the earth mainly based on greed and economic profits destruction will ensue.
This ruin is both a form of divine punishment and a reminder to humans that they hold the obligation and accountability to appreciate the resources offered on Earth, preserve the environment while chasing after economic development, managing the earth efficiently, and upholding social justice.
Despite the verse confirming the damage humans have done (and perhaps will continue to do in the future), there is another verse where God expresses His pride and pleasure after creating men.
God says in Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 30: ‘And when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (representative).” They (angels) said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”
The angels certainly had strong reasons to doubt the creation of men as humans have only proven their suspicion true; men have corrupted the earth and shed blood.
God on the other hand, with His infinite knowledge and wisdom, has deep faith in humanity. He replies back to the angels, ‘I know what you know not.’
These beautiful divine words clearly show that as much as humans destroy and kill, they have an equal capability (if not more) to reverse, repent, learn, build, prosper, cherish, show compassion and spread justice.