Societal, industrial, and agricultural practices by humans have led scientists to designate a separate “sphere” which encompasses all the changes in the enviroment brought about by human activity. Human beings as living organisms are included in the biosphere, but it is their creations, specifically utilities, facilities and systems, that make up the anthrosphere. Man has roamed the Earth for only about 3 million years, a mere speck compared to the age of the Earth at 4.6 billion years. old. But in this time humans have managed to physically change the land scape of the Earth more than any other living species.
Atmosphere - Industrial and agricultural processes have altered the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. For example, the combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and intensifies the Greenhouse Effect. This intensification may contribute to global warming.
Biosphere - In order to grow crops and create pastures for domestic animals, land is often cleared of all trees. This is known as deforestation. Deforestation causes great loss of habitat for many species, forcing some to the brink of extinction while countless others have already disappeared form the Earth.
Geosphere - Deforestation and the damming of rivers have contributed to increased erosion in the geosphere. Mineral extraction practices such as surface mining and mountaintop removal physically alte the landscape.
Hydrosphere - The natural water cycle has been modified by the damming o rivers, the creation of man-made lakes, and agricultural practices. Industrial waste pollutes bodies of water and infiltrates the soil down to the groundwater, making the water unsuitable for drinking in some areas.
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