This is a tough question. I think that certain areas that haven’t been hit that hard by human development/pollution can repair themselves, but others may not be as lucky. For those hard hit areas, I think that human interference will be needed to jumpstart the repairs. For example, planting trees and cleaning up some of the pollution is a start to improving an environment. However, I worry that global warming and melting ice in the arctics is on its way to being irreversible.
Here are some green living tips to help prevent more environmental damage.
Certain aspects of the environment are basically damaged beyond any foreseeable repair. For example the Fukashima nuclear disaster will likely take many decades and billions of dollars in work to see any improvement. Other contaminations of the environment also have a very long contamination timescale. For example, volatile organic compoungs and PCBs will remain in much of the groundwater as well as the great lakes for many decades, if not hundreds of years into the future. This is a very likely scenario because heavy metal contamination from mining in the 1800’s still contaminates rivers in the state of Colorado today. However, many parts of the terrestrial ecosystem are able to recover quite quickly without any human intervention at all. This is evident in areas around Chernobyl which are now a rich biodiverse forest. The issue is that human intervention will not suddenly cease worldwide. In fact, even if it doesn’t persist in an intensive form, it will persist in a moderate form, pressuring an environment that is already near collapse in many parts of the world. Climate change will likley be the tipping point that will cause the collapse of many pressured ecosystems. However, if humans drastically and completely changed how heavily they tread on the earth there may be some real regeneration.
I have attached a link to a sound clip of frogs at chernobyl which I find an inspiring example of nature’s power to heal itself.
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