For more than a century air pollution has affected agriculture. Burning coal and petroleum produces poisonous sulfur oxides.
Fluorides result from mining, smelting and glass and ceramic manufacture.
Rising levels of ammonia, chlorine, ethylene, mercaptans, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides are poisoning the air we breathe and systemically contaminate the global soil and water.
Motor vehicles and growing population increasing at more than 80 million every year, after deduction of all deaths, produce photochemical air pollution affecting not only the urban city concentrations but also the contiguous rural areas.
The mixture of pollutants from all sources, including agriculture, has released a host of contaminants into the air, such as aldehydes, hydrocarbons, organic acids, ozone at ground level while simultaneously depleting the protective pencil thin ozone layer in the stratosphere, peroxyacetal nitrates, pesticides, and radionuclides.
The damaging effect of these pollutants on food, fibre, forage, and forest crops is reflected in the global increase in cancer, asthmatic, bronchial and respiratory diseases which affect ever more humans.
The effects of air pollution on plants and animals and consequentially humans may be measured by the following factors:
- interference with enzyme systems
- change in cellular chemical constituents and physical structure
- retardation of growth and reduced production because of metabolic changes
- acute, immediate tissue degeneration.
These effects are counteracted and thereby aggravated by ever larger inputs of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers that are now producing negative returns while increasing systemic pollution of the foodchain. The increasing demand for food due to the increasing global populations of humans and feedlot animals for meat has led to genetic engineering that spread harmful systemic pollution worldwide simultaneously causing extinction of valuable indigenous crops.
Harmful pollutants that enter the air from sources other than agriculture and that damage plants and crops are classified as:
- acid gases
- products of combustion
- products of reactions in the air
- miscellaneous effluents
Acid gases include fluorides, sulfur dioxide, and chlorine. Hydrogen fluoride is extremely toxic to plants; some plants are injured by contact with concentrations of less than one part per billion. Sulfur dioxide given off in combustion of oil and coal commonly causes necrosis (cell death).
Products of Combustion
The primary products of combustion are ethylene, acetylene, propylene and carbon monoxide. Ethylene which is the most damaging to plants is derived mostly from motor vehicle exhausts and chemical industries such as polyethylene factories. Ethylene, ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate are produced as reaction products in the air and are clearly implicated in plant injury. Ozone is a major toxic air pollutant affecting agriculture. This is not to be confused with the pencil thin ozone layer in the stratosphere that protects all life from the harmful effects of solar radiation.
Pollution by Agriculture
Agriculture pollutes the soil, air and water through pesticides, odours, methane, smoke, dust, allergenic pollens, and waste. The systemic damage to the global air, water and soil through genetically engineered crops cannot as yet be quantified. It could lead to globally changed conditions for all life - the consequences of which could be irreversible and fatal.
Reduced levels of dissolved oxygen in water due to increased mineral and organic nutrient deposits produces algae and other water plants that choke other forms of life in the oxygen competition. Soil erosion, phosphorous and direct runoff from feedlot operations and intensive agriculture are the main cause.
Through evapotranspiration, salts in irrigation water become more concentrated in the drainage affluent; the soil accumulates the residual salt which is added to what the arid soils already have in excess. It is further aggravated by the attempted removal of excessive salts through leaching causing further soil erosion.
Agricultural processing wastes
The wastes from agricultural products are a major pollution hazard. They include runoff or effluent from sawmills, pulp manufacture, fruit and vegetable canning, cleaning of dairies, slaughtering of meat animals, tanning, manufacturing of cornstarch and soya protein, sugar refining, distilling, wool processing etc. Plant diseases move from agriculture to lawns, gardens, parks and golf courses.
Pollutants Damaging to Agriculture
Soil and water pollutants that adversely affect agriculture include sediment, out of place plant nutrients, inorganic salts and minerals, organic wastes, infectious agents, industrial and agricultural chemicals, and heat.
Sediment is an out of place resource or contaminant whose dual effect is to deplete the land from which it came and impair the quality of the water it enters.
Sedimentation causes blockage of irrigation canals, dams, farm ponds and impairs the oxygen balance in water.
Plant nutrients become serious pollutants when out of place in ground and surface water. Unwanted aquatic plants are nourished by plant nutrients derived from agricultural runoff, feedlots and barnyards, municipal and rural sewage, and industrial wastes. Aquatic plants clog irrigation and drainage structures and increase nitrates and nitrites in groundwater, which can poison humans and livestock.
Inorganic salts and minerals
Inorganic salts and minerals including boron impair the quality of soil and water. Even a trace of boron is highly toxic.
Organic wastes emanate from municipal sewage, garbage, food processing industries, pulp mills, and the feedlot industries. In water the oxygen level is depleted or reduced to zero producing septic conditions that make water unfit for crop irrigation or farmstead use.
Carried by wind, water and soil, bacteria and virus diseases of crops are spread by machines that move contaminated soil, insects, weed seeds and irrigation water. Animal diseases transmitted by soil and water include leptospirosis, salmonellosis, hog cholera, mastitis, foot and mouth disease, tuberculosis, brucellosis, histoplasmosis, Newcastle disease, anthrax, cocciddiosis, and many others. The indestructible BSE virus may be systemically lodged in soil and water.
Organic chemicals in soil and water such as detergents, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematocides, rodenticides, growth regulators, and defoliants adversely affect agriculture in many ways.
Introduced into water by industrial processes and global warming, heat can have a detrimental effect on fish and other life in the water.
To survive humans need food. Healthy food needs a healthy eco-system balance within an unpolluted air, water and soil system.
The exponential increase in humans from about 650 million in 1750 to 1250 million in 1850 to 2500 million in 1950 to today’s 6500 million increasing at more than 80 million every year has led to intensified chemicalised agri-farming spanning the globe leaving less than 5% of global landspace for natural habitat and wildlife.
Despite genetic engineering and intensified chemical crop production the overall global harvests are showing negative returns.
More than 50,000 humans die every day from the effects of malnutrition – up from 12,000 a day in 1970. This is considered an acceptable socio-economic reality bearing in mind that every day more than 400,000 humans are born and less than 200,000 die.
The hormone/genetic/chemical meat based mass-production agriculture – more than 36 million animals are slaughtered every day for meat consumption - is the cause of the major spread of diseases amongst humans including cancer of the stomach and colon and a variety of infectious diseases.
Today less than 10% of humans die from old age. This too is considered an acceptable state of affairs as it is considered a beneficial factor for global economic growth and the recycling industries.
In effect humans have now been turned into an expendable global economic input factor like hogs, fertiliser, or any other renewable resource that can be reproduced at will.
The problem is that all vital resources like top soil, potable water, clean and unpolluted air and the eco-system balance that has maintainted the vital resources for all life for milleniums are now declining commensurate with the increase in the number of humans and their respective consumption and quantum impact.
The paradox is that currently all resources are converted into money – even pollution is traded like a commodity via the Chicago Environment Exchange – so that those who make money from depleting resources and systemically polluting the global life support system live under the delusion that with the money made they can buy clean air and food from those that still have such resources without any consideration about the imbalance and injustice this causes.
They will not understand a shortage or consequence of pollutants until it hits them personally.
They also ignore the plight of the 2,5million fellow species with whom humans share the planet which have been edged out of their habitat to such an extent that most are either extinct or are facing extinction.
Yet every species has its specific place and function in the global eco-system balance that enables humans to survive as a fellow species.
It is therefore self-destructive for humans to believe that they can exclusively occupy the entire planet by eliminating all other life other than the mass-produced resources to feed, house, clothe, transport, entertain and defend the humans against themselves.
Thus it is imperative that humans reduce their numbers through abstention, contraception and/or abortion as appropriate so that they will need less agriculture, less resource depletion and thus cause less pollution, less waste and less contamination.
By this action humans will be able to restitute the excessive habitat they have illegally invaded and exploited to Nature and Fellow Species to re-create a globally balanced bio-diversity within a globally balanced eco-system that will permit all life to exist in peace and equilibrium.
By valuing bio-diversity as equal fellow species; humans will at long last come to realise the value of life which so far they have only applied to their own narrow egocentric sectarian belief modules to the extent that they are against abortion amongst each other but happily kill, murder, exterminate and torture fellow species that they consider edible, expendable or contrarians as the history of genocidal religious crusades, colonial butchery and endless wars vividly demonstrate.
There will be no peace and justice and there can be no peace and justice until humans share the planet and its resources equitably amongst each other and with all fellow species.
In 30 years humans could reduce their numbers to what they were in 1950, i.e. some 2,500 million, by simply abstaining from reproduction or using contraception. It would give global bio-diversity and the eco-system a real chance to recover.