Ecology is basically the study of relations of various organisms inhabiting an ecosystem with each other as well as with the surrounding environment. Ecological balance is nothing but maintaining a state of equilibrium between all living components of a particular ecosystem so that all can co-exist together. So, balance in the ecosystem is of supreme importance for the survival, stability and existence of the environment. On the other hand, ecological disharmony is when a human-caused or natural disturbance ends up disrupting the ecosystem’s natural balance.
Devastating consequences of ecological imbalance
Acid rain, deforestation, greenhouse effect, radioactive fallout, urbanization, industrialization, marine and air pollution, changing hydrology, animal and plant breeding, usage of pesticides, overgrazing, mining activities and forest fires are the main causes of disharmony in the ecosystem. Because of such unevenness living organisms and the environment are bound to face disastrous consequences. Here are some deep impacts of imbalanced ecosystems and polluted environment:
1. Health problems in human beings
Polluted water, land and air generate multiple harmful biological and chemical agents that impact human health in negative ways. The plagues that killed thousands in the Middle Ages resulted from contaminated human waste spread by rats. No country can claim to be complete immunity against outbreaks of diseases that are transmitted environmentally. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in several countries in 2003 validates this statement.
2. Depletion of genetic resources
The genetic material present in the domesticated plants, livestock, trees, microorganisms and aquatic animals is important for the breeding programmes which achieve continued improvements in flavor, yield, durability, nutritional quality, disease and pest resistance and several other qualities. Due to intensive selection for uniformity and high performance, the genetic base of food product at present times has grown depressingly low.
3. Soil degradation
If we want the soil of particular area to remain fertile, we have to protect it from degradation. Soil degradation occurs due to acidification, water-logging, improper use of land, salinisation, chemical degradation, and soil erosion. Erosion takes place both because of human activities and natural conditions.
The word ‘desert’ is an umbrella term encompassing four types of environmental complexes:
Rainless deserts (places with almost no rainfall)
Rainfall deserts (places that receive rainfall, but not sufficient for production of crops)
Run-off deserts (regions where the yearly rainfall is variable and low)
Man-made deserts (semi-arid regions that have turned into deserts because of man’s
negligence and exploitation)
The two main causes of desertification are over-exploitation by humans of drylands and recurrent droughts.
5. Depletion of the Ozone Layer
Ozone layer is the protective layer of the earth that protects the earth from dangerous UV radiations. Depletion of the ozone layer is one of the severe consequences of ecological disharmony. It has direct impacts on human health and the environment.
6. Food contamination
Chemical contaminants often reach livestock and food from various sources. When we use pesticides to protect agricultural crops from pests, they contaminate the crops. Growth boosters given to animals and veterinary drugs contain chemicals that pass into dairy products and meat. Packaged food should be avoided as they contain food preservatives such as sodium nitrate and other chemicals. Even industrial effluents and industrial chemicals contaminate plants
7. Global warming
Carbon dioxide is responsible for warming the air in the atmosphere’s lower levels, a phenomenon called the “green house effect”. Ozone layer and water vapor present in air also help keeping the earth warm by absorbing the infrared radiation. This is the reason why temperature of the world has been increasing gradually, resulting in reduction of glaciers. Global warming is also responsible for changes in climate and if not stop will melt polar ice caps, submerging the low lying coastal cities under water.
We may conclude by saying that man plays a dominating role in maintaining ecological balance and creating ecological disharmony because of his thinking capacity as opposed to other living things inhabiting the planet. Therefore, we humans need to contribute positively for maintenance of ecological balance. It is our responsibility to make sure that all living things live in harmony with each other for the sake of ecological stability. We can do this by planting more trees, conserving the natural habitat of wild animals, reducing emission of harmful gases and checking air, water and land pollution.