Human Impact on the Environment

“We live in times of relentless loss”, writes Daniel MacMillen Voskoboynik in his introduction for Luka Tomac’s book of photography, 1 Degree Rising. “The imprint of a portion of humanity has violently reconfigured the cycles of the planet’s waters, chemistry, soil, atmosphere and thermal balance”, Voskoboynik continues. The imprint of humanity Voskoboynik highlights in his writing makes light of the human impact on the environment. Research demonstrates that globally “electricity and heat production are the largest contributor to global emissions”. This is closely followed by transport, manufacturing, construction and agriculture. 

aware_ presents three key areas in which humans negatively impact the environment, and climate positive solutions to lessen our impact in each area.   

Air Travel 

In the thick of the pandemic, airlines were forced to allow their short-haul flights to continue operating as normal, despite the lack of passengers – at a time when the human impact on the environment should have been at an all-time low. To protect an airline’s landing and takeoff rights, ghost planes were travelling across Europe “in order to keep slots at high-trafficked airports” (WIRED). The German airline Lufthansa admitted to running 21,000 empty flights in the winter of 2021 (The National News). Even pre-pandemic, it was widely understood that – despite the aviation industry becoming more fuel-efficient – overall emissions have increased as the volume of air travel has gone up. Recent reports demonstrated that “by 2020, aviation emissions were 70% higher than in 2005 and they could grow by 300% by 2050” (Harvard). 

aware_ presents 3 necessary steps to reduce the aviation industry’s impact on the environment: 

  • The promotion of train travel: “A journey from London to Madrid would emit 43kg (95lb) of CO2 per passenger by train, but 118kg by plane (or 265kg if the non-CO2 emissions are included), according to EcoPassenger.” (EcoPassenger


  • Increased Aviation Taxation 


  • Introduction of Electric Aircrafts & Hydrogen-powered Aircrafts  
Human impact on the environment

Fashion Consumption  

Almost 5% of the global CO2 emissions emitted yearly is caused by the fashion industry. This is equivalent to the total greenhouse gas emissions from Germany, France and UK combined. It’s easy to forget that the 9$ dollar T-Shirt was manufactured in a sweatshop when it isn’t plastered across the marketing campaign, we see flash past on the highway. But in 2013, at the event of the Rana Plaza disaster, questions had to be answered. The collapse of a building in Bangladesh, killing at least 1,132 people, put into question our human impact on the environment, and humanity, like never before. Since, fast fashion brands have been busy committing acts of greenwashing (providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound), appealing to the consumer’s moral compass, telling them what they want to hear. However, recent years has seen an increase in demand for transparency. 

aware_ presents 5 tips to reduce our human impact on the environment when shopping: 

  • Avoid synthetic materials: the microplastics enter our waterways and, like plastic bags, synthetic clothing cannot biodegrade 


  • Look out for recycled materials: if the brands surrounds an “eco” collection with their standard unsustainable pieces then the brand is unlikely to have an honest, holistic, approach to sustainability 


  • See where it’s made: traceability and transparency are one of the most pressing problems within the fashion industry 


  • Check the price: if it’s too cheap the person who made it wasn’t paid enough 


  • See how it feels: if you’re not 100% sold, don’t buy it, 20% of the time we wear 80% of our wardrobes 
Human impact on the environment

Consuming Meat 

It’s no secret that the consumption of animal products is affecting the planet. According to the United Nations, “the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined” (UN). Intensive animal farming, also known as factory farming, is a form of intensive agriculture which aims to maximise meat and dairy production by keeping animals at high stocking densities. Through the use of modern machinery and biotechnology, agribusinesses (“a term used to describe the sector that encompasses all economic activities that are related to farming” – CFI), are able to meet increasing consumer demand for meat, milk, eggs and cheese. Intensive animal farming accounted for 30% of meat production globally by 1990 and by 2005 this has risen to 40%. What began as a way of providing food security has led to farmers moving away from traditional, more sustainable, practices of rearing meat in order to fill supermarket shelves. At the cost of fully stocked fridges land is being increasingly depleted, according to PETA: “more than 90 per cent of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for grazing livestock” (PETA)

Recent years has seen the development of meat alternatives, developers working to emulate the taste and texture of meat for those non-meat eaters fatigued by offers of tofu, tempeh and mushroom burgers. aware_ presents two companies on a mission to convert consumers: to modernise their dietary habits and open their minds to a new school of thought with eating.   

aware_ presents two leading meat alternative brands on a mission to reduce our human impact on the environment: 

Impossible Foods: the US-born meat alternative is on a mission to woo meat lovers, and produce enough Impossible products to match the meat quantities currently being consumed across the world.   

Beyond Meat: has created a range of products that provide a ‘meaty experience’ with a reduced impact on both your body and the planet.  

– By Eliza Edwards

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