Anthropogenic means of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature.[1] Prior to the Industrial Revolution, humanity's influence on nature had been comparatively mild (although human have been influencing the environment for as long as humans have been human). However with the introduction of motive power, the use of oil and gasoline to achieve energy needs, and the reliance on electricity, anthropogenic impacts on the environment have increased exponentially. Energy is needed by society for energy services to meet our needs, and because of this, energy is at the forefront of human impacts. All sources of energy have some impact on the environment, but the easier forms of energy to use generally have a harsher impact.

Anthropogenic emissions of pollutants have significantly and rapidly altered the function of ecosystems,[2] including our own, however these pollutants are being produced because of our need for energy. Many impacts can be mitigated, however it is often inconvenient and costly for a power plant to install air pollution control devices, and it often requires tremendous political will to enforce such protocols.

Human impacts on the atmosphere, soil, bodies of water, animals and plant life have generally been getting even worse, however there are many efforts aimed at reducing these effects. Many specific pollutants have been addressed and the emission of them have decreased greatly. See the page on detailed pollution data for more information.


  1. Merriam-Webster. (Accessed July 29, 2015). Anthropogenic [Online], Available:
  2. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. (Accessed July 29, 2015). Anthropogenic Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems [Online], Available:

Authors and Editors

Jordan Hanania, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev
Last updated: August 26, 2015
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