Damage to the environment can affect the physical environment, access to food and water, human health, and economics. When a community suffers from environmental degradation, hidden costs can follow. Some effects of environmental degradation are easy to see, but others are more subtle. Environmental degradation can negatively affect healthcare costs, agricultural industries, and tourism.
Minorities are more vulnerable to financial strain due to environmental injustice. Victims can file civil lawsuits to seek compensation for any injuries that result from environmental degradation. An environmental justice lawyer can help you seek the compensation and justice you deserve.
The Hidden Costs of Environmental Degradation Are Far-Reaching
Environmental degradation can affect the planet in numerous ways. Pollution, urbanization, deforestation, loss of plant and animal species, climate change, and extreme weather events can affect a community’s quality of life.
Effects of Pollution
Exhaust from vehicles and factories has caused air pollution around the world. Although many nations have taken steps to reduce emissions, some have fallen short of these goals. Poor air quality can contribute to a number of medical problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, some of which can lead to death.
According to National Geographic, the use of some chemicals has depleted the ozone layer. That has reduced the atmosphere’s ability to protect the Earth’s inhabitants from the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Fertilizers, pesticides, and leaks from factories and landfills can pollute both soil and water. Pollution can lead to land degradation, making it difficult or impossible to grow crops.
Trash discarded in oceans, particularly plastic, can pollute the water and injure or kill aquatic animals. Small pieces of plastic can make their way into the food chain and can affect animal and human health. This can also cause increased costs when it comes to waste management. Environmental degradation can also be a turnoff for tourists, which can affect local economies.
Polluted water can make it impossible to maintain good hygiene, which can allow diseases to spread. Those illnesses can contribute to high healthcare costs, lost productivity, and reduced agricultural and manufacturing output, which can affect GDP.
Effects of Urbanization and Deforestation
Urbanization has been another driver of environmental degradation. As human populations grow around the world, that has placed increasing burdens on space and on supplies of food and water. Humans have been forced to look for other places to live and have, in some cases, cut down or burned forests to make room for housing developments and roads.
According to Conserve Energy Future, the increased need for land for farming, animal grazing, and building of homes has led to deforestation. The destruction of forests to clear land for farming and development can have wide-ranging global effects.
Trees produce oxygen. Cutting them down reduces the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, which can affect living creatures around the world.
Trees also use carbon dioxide. With fewer trees, carbon dioxide can accumulate in the atmosphere. A reduction in the number of trees absorbing carbon dioxide can contribute to climate change.
Trees can protect landscapes and surrounding homes and businesses from the effects of erosion. With fewer trees, the risk of flooding can increase significantly, which can cause physical destruction, loss of life, and economic devastation.
When developers build, animals whose natural habitats are disturbed may be cut off from sources of food and water. Some plant species may become extinct, and other species may take over. That can disrupt the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem.
Loss of Biodiversity
Environmental degradation can cause a decline in biodiversity. The loss of plant and animal species can affect whole ecosystems. If plants become extinct, animals that rely on them for food may decline in numbers and may even become endangered. The loss of some animal species can cause a decline in the food supply for other species that prey on them.
Once the delicate balance of an ecosystem has been disrupted, the effects can spread. Humans who rely on animals and plants for consumption may not have access to enough nutritious food. Malnutrition can have a host of negative effects on human health. Lack of biodiversity can also affect the pharmaceutical industry, which often relies on naturally occurring compounds to create new life-saving drugs.
Effects of Extreme Weather
Due to climate change, extreme weather events have been on the rise around the world. People have been experiencing the effects of droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and floods at higher rates, and those events are often more extreme than others were in the past. Natural disasters and rising sea levels can have particularly devastating effects on islands and coastal communities.
These types of events have led to large-scale environmental devastation, loss of life, destruction of property, and lack of access to clean water and food. Those problems, in turn, affect human health and economies around the world. People have suffered illnesses caused by contaminated water, for example, and many who work in the tourism, agriculture, construction, and fishing industries have seen their livelihoods destroyed.
Environmental Degradation in the U.S.
One form of environmental degradation is contamination, which occurred in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. Marines and their families who lived there between 1953 and 1987 suffered exposure to toxic chemicals, including:
- 1,2-Dichloroethylene (DCE)
- Vinyl chloride
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides disability benefits to qualifying Marines and their family members who developed diseases and serious medical conditions due to their exposure.
Qualifications for a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case
If you meet the following criteria, our Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer can help you file for benefits or bring a lawsuit against a liable party:
- You served at Camp Lejeune or lived there between 1953 and 1987.
- You lived there for at least 30 consecutive or nonconsecutive days.
- Your exposure to the toxins in the water led to one or more qualifying medical conditions.
Qualifying Medical Conditions for a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case
Your injuries may warrant compensation if they include:
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Renal toxicity
- Cardiac birth defects
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
Other injuries or forms of cancer may also qualify you for compensation. Additionally, children who suffered exposure in the womb can seek benefits if they experience one or more of the following conditions:
- Choanal atresia (the narrowing in the back of the nasal cavity causing difficulty breathing)
- Neural tube defects (i.e., spina bifida and anencephaly)
- Major heart defects
- Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
- Eye defects
Work With an Environmental Justice Lawyer From Ben Crump Law, PLLC
If government policies and business practices do not change, these patterns will continue, and the destruction may become irreversible. Ben Crump Law, PLLC has represented clients who have suffered from the negligence or irresponsible and short-sighted decisions of others and helped them seek justice.
If you and others in your community have suffered from environmental degradation, we can help. Call our office today to speak with a member of our staff.