Land is a virtual solid surface on which people and other things can thrive or sink. Landforms are part of the Earth's surface that includes oceans, rivers, and lakes and ranges in elevation from sea level to above sea level. A lot of what we see in our daily lives and in nature is land made of land. More recently, land has become almost completely digital with the development of computer technology.
One of the biggest changes in land use has been the conversion of forests and agricultural land into cropland and the farming of feed for animal and human consumption. Most of the Earth's land surface has been converted from grassland to cropland or into flatlands. The vast majority of modern human activity across the globe has taken place in agricultural land places which support human habitation, habitat, and natural resources. This process of converting the Earth's land surfaces for various purposes has had some profound consequences on the Earth's surface. One of the major results of this phenomenon is the rapid global warming.
Land erosion and soil erosion are both major contributors to global warming. In the United States, for example, about 22 billion acres of grassland and prairie land is being used to grow cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, lupins, hay, and other synthetic fibers, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The extensive use of land for grazing has caused massive damage to the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and the world's largest national park, Yellowstone National Park. Among the natural resources that are destroyed or damaged by land erosion and land loss are rivers, lakes, snow, and ocean bodies.
Another huge problem associated with the increased use of land to produce food, feed livestock, and other land-based products are the loss or degradation of the natural resources that are rooted in the land. These natural resources are forests, wildlife, wetlands, and other landscape features. Landforms become degraded due to the effect of livestock production, resulting in less oxygen in the soil and less water in streams and rivers. Landscapes that are affected by agricultural development often lack moisture and nutrients, thereby depleting the ground of these natural resources. They are not replenished when crops are harvested, making the soil conditions even worse. In addition, crop fields take up most of the natural wildlife habitat, causing habitats to disappear from the land area.
The shrinking land area can result in serious consequences for human health and the environment. Human health becomes affected by the lack of clean and fresh drinking water, which can lead to health problems like diarrhea and cholera. The presence of diseases and parasites in the soil due to the alteration of the land, and the pollution of groundwater by agricultural run-off and commercial fertilizers create a dangerous threat to the quality of drinking water and the safety of the environment. The land use, in the form of air pollution, toxic wastes, pesticides and herbicides, contribute to the depletion of natural resources and is considered a major cause for death and illness in developing countries.
Land degradation occurs over a period of time as a result of a variety of causes such as changing land use and the effects of climate change. Different parts of the land may be influenced by different processes. The land surface may get damaged due to wind, rain and other physical factors, or may get destroyed due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, and floods.