A Literature Review of the impacts of Human Industrial Activities on Land Sustainability
George Mason University
Human beings always think themselves master of nature. Human use relief resources recklessly, with little regard for the consequences. However, the truth is that human activities brings so broad and far-reaching effects on environment. It varies according to land use, from agricultural waste such as the loss of sewage and fertilizers from farm animals, to commercial and industrial waste of every conceivable type and size. The list of toxic pollutants has also grown over the years, so it includes not only heavy metals, radionuclides and organic compounds of human origin, but also drugs, explosives and previously unknown biological pathogens. Of all these activities, industrial activities have caused the most serious damage (Reis et. al, 2008).
Since the ages of industrial and technological revolutions, economic growth has been regarded as the major fundamental of the world’s growth. Industrial growth has started to affect the entire environment with its severe downside problems. Damages to the environment as a result of industrial processes decrease in raw materials, land deterioration, extinction of species, damage to human health and climate change make it clear that industrial development as it is practiced today is not sustainable. Future development and the ability of future generations to supply their own needs are being undermined by the misuse or contamination of land, water, air, marine and natural resources. The formation of massive pollution making industries are the result of the constant need and greed of the human being. In the past few decades, the field of land cover remediation has also seen tremendous development. Exploring how human activity impacts land use/ land cover change (LULC) is a hot research topic in the field of geography and sustainability management. Since the Industrial Revolution in 1760s, human activity has brought significant changes to Earth’s natural environment with the improvement of engineering tools. An apparent phenomenon among these is the change of land cover (Pan, 1990). According to some estimates (Ramankutty, 2008), the majority of the terrestrial biosphere was transformed to agricultural and settled anthromes by 2000.
The central concept behind sustainability is to enable the biosphere to supply “environmental services” to the population by means of renewable processes, without investment in non-renewable materials. In the natural environment, nutrients are transferred from organism to organism and materials and energy are circulated and transferred. Industrial ecology seeks to replicate this state by minimizing waste and maximizing the cycling of materials and energy. Reuse and recycling are become more prevalent both within the framework of industrial processes and as industries in their own right.
This literature review will further explore the impact of industrial human activities on land cover pollution, also bring some solutions to solve current problems and increase the ability of land sustainability. The goal of the paper is to point out the current situation of relationship between human industrial activities and land sustainability and to call on the government personnel to take effective measures to solve the existing problems.
The destructive hazards of industry activities (compared to other activities)
According to the different articles written by different scholars, in different states and areas, the effects of industrial activities on land cover were explained from different angles. An example is an article written by Iman posted in Environment Earth Science. He did a study to evaluate human activity, and the trace elements in different land use on urban surface soil accumulation effect. He determined zinc, lead, copper and chromium in 95 topsoil samples from different parts of Isfahan by atomic absorption spectrometry and calculated the contamination index (PI) of each trace element to determine the accumulation rate of trace elements relative to the background value. The spatial distribution of pollution index and trace element concentration was evaluated by using land use and geochemical map. The highest pollution index values and concentrations of trace elements are located in central cities and on highways where vehicle traffic loads and nearby factories increase potential health hazards for local communities (Iman et. al, 2014). Thus, transportation and industry do the most damage to soil and land surfaces. Using remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to provide more accurate results, Reis obtained LULC changes in the Rize region of northeastern Turkey. He used real ground data from aerial images taken in 1973 and 2002 to classify the six reflection bands of two Landsat images using maximum likelihood method and studied land use and land cover changes by means of change detection and comparison (pixel by pixel). The results were consistent with Iman’s conclusions. From 1976 to 2000, the land cover of agriculture (especially tea plantations), industry (117%), animal husbandry (-72.8%) and forestry (-12.8%) in the region underwent serious changes, mainly in coastal areas and low-slope areas (Reis et. al, 2008).
Heavy Metal Pollution
In the article “A critical evaluation of single extractions from the SMT program to determine trace element mobility in sediments,” Cappuyns uses two commonly applied single extraction procedures, ammonium-EDTA and acetic acid, for evaluating heavy metal contamination in soil and land. He compared surface soil cover in industrial and non-industrial zones, determined the basic soil properties of each sample, such as grain size distribution, pH value, organic carbon, carbonate, NPK, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and multispectral characteristics, and analyzed the content of heavy metals, including As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Sb, and Zn. (Soil parameter analysis was performed according to standard procedures.) The element was analyzed by inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometry. He concluded industry produced wastewater and gases containing heavy metals (cadmium, nickel, mercury, zinc, etc.) that damage the soil and land surface (Cappuyns, 2012). To solve this problem, Bucala proposed to use the method of heavy metal stabilization and solidification, so that the heavy metal elements in the soil are fixed by the soil heavy metal stabilizer, become the trace components in the mineral, and then expel them. It usually takes three to five days. The soil is then examined with special metal detectors (Bucala, 2014).
Chindaprasirt (2015) analyzed the residues from energy, metallurgy, mining, ceramics, construction, blasting, chemical, petrochemical and other industrial activities. Some of the residue contains sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and sodium hydroxide, which are strong alkaline. The industry that produces these residues is often called the chlor-alkali industry. The chlor-alkali industry is economically important. Most of the chlorine produced in the United States (about 70 percent) is used to make organic chemicals (e.g., vinyl chloride monomers, dichloroethane, glycerin, chlorinated solvents, ethylene glycol). Nearly 40 percent is used in the production of vinyl chloride, an important component of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and many petrochemical products. But Nikita (2019) showed industrial alkalinity can lead to land surface alkalinity and make land productivity lower. Because of the excessive accumulation of salt, the concentration of soil solution becomes very high. This reduces the plant’s absorption of nutrients, leading to the separation of the cytoplasm of the plant wall, which impedes plant growth. The salt in the soil makes the leaves smaller, the roots shallower, the bark on the stems brownish or black, and the green tissue degenerate. If over-absorbed by plants, it can show toxic effects. The basic element chlorine can cause the death of trees. BaCO3 and BaCl are toxic to all plants.
To solve this problem, Zhou (2019) put forward an effective method, called alkali neutralization recovery method. She used calcium oxide and/or magnesium oxide as additives to systematically study the recovery of bayer red mud alkali. The results showed that when the temperature was greater than 200◦C, CaO and MgO mixtures had a better ability to replace red mud alkali. The highest Na2O recovery was 89.3% under 200◦C conditions and 50% MgO conditions. In this way, the effect of industrial alkali on the land can be alleviated.
Sustainability is defined as the exploration of diversity and ecological balance through the study of the workings of natural systems. Human civilization needs resources to sustain our modern way of life, but we cannot use the resources of the next generation in advance. The United Nations defines sustainable land management (SLM) as “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions”(Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, 2020). The sustainability of land use systems depends on climate, land resources and human activities. Especially in the case of climate change and variability, selecting suitable biological, physical and economic conditions for specific land and implementing SLM can reduce land degradation and restore degraded land, so as to maximize the sustainable utilization capacity of land resources.
Matson (2005) also realized the nature of the land varies, so does its capacity to recover. He emphasized the concept of land vulnerability, which is the opposite of sustainability. Rapid urbanization and consequent industrialization are responsible for the increased vulnerability of land systems and the loss of many important ecosystem services. Today, due to drastic changes in the external environment (human activities including industry), the ability of the land system to self-renew and recover is limited, the land is degrading. According to experiment statistics, Alemu (2016) estimated that due to land degradation, about 75 billion tons of soil materials are lost every year in the world, and about 2 billion hectares of land are severely degraded. In some cases, the local ecological environment is seriously damaged in an irreversible way, and the climate and biological survival are seriously affected.
The above academic articles and analyses indicate that the multiple impacts of human industrial activities on land use/land cover changes provide more accurate planning and guidance for ecological management. Heavy metal stabilization and solidification are accepted and used to solve the problem of metal contamination in metals. In order to solve industrial Alkali pollution, Alkali neutralization recovery method was proposed. At the same time, due to the increased vulnerability of the land, the same level of human industrial activities will bring more damage to the land.
Further work is needed to make this work more comprehensive. First, there are some problems when the proposed solutions are applied to different countries and regions. Whether these schemes are universally applicable and how to update the methods if the situation deteriorates. It is also important to study the impact of human activity intensity over time on land use/land cover change while accumulating GPS trajectory data over time.
Alemu, M. (2016). Sustainable Land Management. Journal of Environmental Protection. 502-
Bucala, A. (2014). The impact of human activities on land use and land cover changes and
environmental processes in the Gorce Mountains (Western Polish Carpathians) in the
past 50 years. Journal of Environment Management. 4-12.
Cappuyns, V. (2012). A critical evaluation of single extractions from the SMT program to
determine trace element mobility in sediments. Applied and Environmental Soil
Chindaprasirt, J. (2015). Reuse of recycled aggregate in the production of alkali-activated
concrete. ScienceDirect. 519-538.
Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations. (2020). Sustainable Land Management.
Iman, T. (2014). The effects of human activities and different land-use on trace element
pollution in urban topsoil of Isfahan (Iran). Environ Earth Sci 71(4):1551–1560.
Matson, P. (2005). People, land in the Yaqui Use, and Environment Valley, Sonora, Mexico
Board, on environmental change and society. 238-264.
Nikita, M. (2019). Alkali Soils: Factors, Effects and Reclamation. Biology Discussion.
Pan, Y. (1990). Human activities and geographical conditions.
Ramankutty, N.; Evan, A.T.; Monfreda, C.; Foley, J.A. (2008). Farming the planet: Geographic
distribution of global agricultural lands in the year 2000.
Reis, S. (2008). Analyzing land use/land cover changes using remote sensing and GIS in Rize,
North-East Turkey. Sensors 8(10): 6188–6202.
Zhou, B. (2019). Recovery of Alkali from Bayer Red Mud Using CaO and/or MgO.