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Will the Global Environment Continue to Deteriorate?

Nowadays, there are many problems faced by the global environment. The majority of these problems are caused by humanity. Due to the current trends in the society, global environment will continue to deteriorate. Actions of people make it more and more difficult to stop pollution, contamination, toxins, the emission of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, acidification of ocean waters, which cause global warming and diseases on the planet.

According to Global Environmental Issues (2010),“Global warming, nuclear waste, pollution, extinction of species… the list of global environmental issues, which is already quite a long one, continues to grow in length. Most of us seem to have become quite involved in our personal lives, and hence, are not at all aware about the current environmental issues, while others know about them, but prefer to carry on with their it-won’t-affect-us attitude. The end result, the list is just growing longer and longer, while we run out of time to solve these global environmental problems.”

Pollution is the introduction of a contaminant in a natural environment that causesinstability, disorder, harm or discomfort in an ecosystem, in the physical environment or in a being vivo. The contaminant may be a chemical, energy, as sound, heat, light, or even genes. The contaminant may be a foreign substance, energy, or natural substance, when natural pollutant called natural, when it exceeds normal levels. It is always a negative alteration of the natural state of the environment, and usually generated as a consequence of human activity. The Blacksmith Institute, a nongovernmental organization that monitors pollution, made a list of the world’s most polluted countries in the 2007 report include: Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia, according to 7 Environmental Problems That Are Worse Than We Thought (2010).

“In the final analysis, the environmental crisis affects everyone on the planet, but the degree to which the inhabitants of different parts of the world contribute to this crisis depends on the level of their economic development and their consumption patterns. As much as 70% of the world’s consumption of fossil fuel and 85% of chemical products is attributable to 25% of the world’s population. Water consumption is also unevenly distributed.”, according to Combating Environmental Degradation (2010).

Environmentalism is a broad political movement, social, philosophical and advocating various actions and policies to protect the interests of nature left in the natural environment, or restoring or expanding the role of nature in this environment.

Goals generally expressed by environmental scientists include: reduction and cleanup of pollution, with future goals of zero pollution; reduce consumption by the society of non-renewable fuels; development of alternative energy sources, green, low carbon or renewable energy; conservation and sustainable use of natural resources escarsos like water, land andair; protection of unique or representative ecosystems; preservation of endangered species or threatened species; the establishment of natural reserves and biospheres under various types o protection and, more generally, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems in which men and all other life on Earth depends, according to Current Environmental Issues and News (2009).

As a fact, huge development projects – megaprojects – pose special challenges and risks to the natural environment. Large dams and power plants are some of the cases cited. The challenge for the environment with these projects is increasing because more and bigger megaprojects are being built, in developed and developing nations, according to Environment and development (2009).

The most consdierable forms of pollution are listed below with their particular pollutants most relevant to each case: air pollution, chemicals and particles released into the atmosphere. The gases most common air pollutants including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor vehicles. The photochemical ozone and smog are created as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons react with sunlight. The matter or fine dust is characterized by its size micrometers PM10 PM2.5.

Light pollution, includes light trespass, over-illumination and astronomical interference. Pollution by Garbage, large accumulations of waste and trash are a problem every day more, which is caused by large crowds of people in industrialized or are in the process of urbanization. Noise pollution, including noise avenues, aircraft noise, industrial noise of high intensity sonar also influence the environment. Soil contamination occurs when chemicals are released by a spill or leak below and above the earth. Among the most significant soil contaminants are hydrocarbons, heavy metals, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), 3 herbicides, pesticides and organochlorines. Radioactive contamination resulting from activities in the 20th century in atomic physics, such as nuclear plants and nuclear weapons research, manufacture and use radioactive materials. As well, thermal pollution, a change in temperature of a body of water caused by human influence, such as the use of cooling water for power plants. Visual pollution, which may relate to the presence of towers for electricity transmission, Billboards on roads and avenues, geographic scarred (as in open pit mining), open storage of trash or municipal urban waste, according to Environmental Degradation (2010).

Water pollution by the release of waste and pollutants in surface runoff draining into rivers or penetrating into groundwater from spills, wastewater discharges, eutrophication and littering. Also, uncontrolled release of CO2 greenhouse gas is produced by acidification of the oceans. Marine debris pollute the oceans and coasts and sometimes accumulate as in the great Pacific garbage patch. Genetic pollution is unwanted or uncontrolled transfer of genetic material (through fertilization) to a wild population. Both genetically modified organism to other non-modified or non-native or invasive species to native populations. Electromagnetic pollution is caused by electromagnetic radiation spectrum generated by electronic devices or other products of human activity, such as pylons, cellular phones, appliances, etc., according to Combating Environmental Degradation (2010). Sources and Causes. Air pollution comes from natural sources and by the hand of man. Although overall pollutants produced by man from burning, construction, mining, agriculture and war is increasingly important in the pollution equation of air.

Emissions from motor vehicles are considered one of the main causes of air pollution. Major stationary sources of pollution include chemical plants, power plants based on coal burning, refineries of petrol, petrochemical plants, radioactive waste management, incinerators, large livestock farms, PVC factories, factories producing metal, plastic factories, and other heavy industries. Air pollution by agriculture comes from the cutting and burning of natural vegetation, also for spraying pesticides and herbicides. About 400 million metric tons of hazardous waste are generated each year. U.S. tons less than 5% of the world’s population, but produces 25% of CO2, and generates approximately 30% of garbage in the world. In 2007, China surpassed the U.S. as the largest CO2 producer in the world. Mankind has a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the consequences of global warming, climate report concluded the largest. But climate change and the transition from coal and oil to renewable sources has to happen in the coming decades, according to Environmental Pollution (2011).

Some of the more common soil contaminants are organochlorines (CFH), heavy metals (like chromium, cadmium – found in rechargeable batteries, and lead – found in lead paint, aviation fuel and still in some countries, gasoline) MTBE, zinc, arsenic and benzene. In 2001, a series of reports included in a book called “Fateful Harvest” released “a widespread practice of recycling industrial byproducts into fertilizer, soil contaminated with various metals and common substances”. Municipal landfills are a source of chemicals entering the environment soil (and sometimes subterranean ground water) that flow from the great variety of waste accepted, especially substances illegally discarded there, or old landfills before 1970 when small will implement controls in the United States or the European Union. There also is an unusual discharge polychlorodibenzodioxins, commonly called dioxins for simplicity, as TCDD.

Contamination may also be a consequence of natural disasters. For example, hurricanes often involve water contamination with sewage, and petrochemical spills from the ruptured boats or automobiles. On a larger scale environmental damage is common when coastal oil rigs are involved or refineries. Some sources of pollution, such as nuclear plants or oil tankers, can produce potentially harmful emissions dispersion or when accidents occur. In the case of noise pollution the dominant source of this is motor vehicle, producing about 90% of all unwanted noise worldwide, according to Global Environmental Issues (2010).

There is a considerable effect reflected in humans and caused by the global environment. Adverse air quality can kill organisms including humans. Ozone pollution can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, throat inflammation, chest pain and nasal congestion. Water pollution causes about 14,000 deaths per day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water by untreated sewage in developing countries. An estimated 700 million Indians lack access to adequate health care, 1000 children die from diseases in India every day. About 500 million Chinese lack access to potable water. Also, 656,000 people die prematurely each year in China by air pollution. In India, air pollution causes about 527,700 deaths each year. Studies have estimated about 50000 deaths in the U.S. for air pollution. Oil spills can cause skin irritation and efflorescence. Noise pollution induces hearing loss, hypertension, stress, and sleep disturbance. Mercury poisoning has been linked to developmental disorders in children and neurological symptoms. It can be said that older people are more exposed to different diseases caused by air pollution. As a fact, people with heart or lung disorders are at greater risk. Children and babies are also at serious risk. Lead and other heavy metals have been shown to produce neurological problems. The chemicals and radioactive substances can cause cancer and birth defects.

Environment. Rio Tinto in Spain is contaminated as a result of acid mine drainage. The contamination has been found widely present in the environment. There is a wide range of effects due to this: Biomagnification describes situations where toxins (such as heavy metals, DDT, etc.) can pass through trophic levels, toxins are exponentially more concentrated in recent trophic levels. The carbon dioxide emissions cause ocean acidification and the constant decrease in pH of the oceans of the Earth due to the dissolution of CO2 in the water.

The emission of greenhouse gases leads to global warming that affects ecosystems in many ways. Invasive species compete with native species and reduce biodiversity. Invasive plants can contribute to the biomolecules (allelopathy) that can alter soil and chemical compositions of an environment, or even reducing native species competitiveness. Nitrogen oxides are removed from air by rain and fertilize the earth and may change the composition of species in an ecosystem. As well, smog and haze can limit the amount of sunlight that plants receive to perform photosynthesis and leads to the production of tropospheric ozone that damages plants. Also, soil can become infertile and unworkable for plants. This will affect other organisms in the food chain. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides cause acid rain which lowers the soil pH value, according to Current Environmental Issues and News (2009).

Greenhouse gases and global warming. Carbon dioxide, while vital for photosynthesis, is sometimes called pollution, because it increases the levels of this gas in the atmosphere is affecting the Earth’s climate. Altering the environment can highlight areas of contamination that are usually classified as separate, as water and air. For example, recent studies have investigated the potential of a lake-term increase in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing a small but critical increase in the acidification of ocean waters, and the possible effects of this. Ecosystems such as coral bleaching, reduced calcification harms shellfish such as oysters and mussels with a large effect on fishing, it is uncertain what effect on other ecosystems.

The Earth receives an amount of solar radiation, mostly (91%), which is absorbed by the atmosphere, and the remainder (9%) is reflected into space. The concentration of carbon dioxide arising mainly from burning fossil fuels, hinders or decreases the percentage of radiation the Earth reflects back to space. Thus, while not being radiated into space, the heat causes an increase in mean surface temperature.

Due to air pollution and its effects, many scientists point out that global warming in the medium and long term can have an irreversible character. So now, should be taken to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming. Other scientists, however, admit the increasing content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but note that much of this gas comes from the concentration of water vapor, which is independent of human activities. This controversy has just postponing the decision-making regarding the adoption of a policy that reduces the effects of increased average temperature of Earth.

The carbon in the atmosphere ensures a basic condition for the existence of life on earth: the temperature. The Earth is heated by infrared radiation emitted by the sun to a temperature of -27 ° C. These radiation reaching the surface and are reflected back into space. The carbon forms a protective enclosure which traps some of these and reflects infrared radiation back to the surface. This produces an increase of 43 ° C in global average temperature, keeping it at around 16 ° C. Without the carbon in the atmosphere at the surface was covered with ice. The excess carbon, however, tends to trap more infrared radiation, producing the greenhouse effect: a rise in average temperature as to limit or even stop the ice caps covering the poles. Scientists still disagree whether global warming is already occurring, but are concerned about the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at an average rate of 1% per annum. The burning of vegetation in developing countries accounts for 25% of the increase. The largest source, however, is the burning of fossil fuels like oil, especially in developed countries. Consequently, it can be said that the global environment continues to deteriorate. The humanity is developing new technologies, discovers new possibilities and new comforting conditions, and at the same time harms the environment, according to Global Issues (2011).

All in all, pollution is the degradation of habitat through the introduction, usually human, ororganic chemicals, genes or radiation (radioactivity, artificial light), altering more orless functioning of ecosystem. By extension, the word sometimes means the effects of geological phenomena such as volcanic rock. Pollution of human origin can have a major impact on health and the biosphere as evidenced by exposure
to pollutants and global warming transforms the Earth’s climate and ecosystem, resulting in the emergence of unknown diseases previously in certain geographical areas, migration of certain species or even their extinction if they can not adapt to their new biophysical environment. It was after the Second World War that awareness of human impacts on the environment was created, along with the birth of environmentalism and ecology. Environmental concerns led governments to take steps to minimize the environmental footprint of humans and human activities to address contamination. Unfortunately, humanity does everything to make the global environment continue to deteriorate.

 

References

7 Environmental Problems That Are Worse Than We Thought (2010). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://earthfirst.com/7-environmental-problems-that-are-worse-than-we-thought/
Combating Environmental Degradation (2010). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://www.ifad.org/events/past/hunger/envir.html
Current Environmental Issues and News (2009). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://www.globalstewards.org/issues.htm
Environment and development (2009). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from http://www.un.org/Docs/SG/environ.htm
Environmental Degradation (2010). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/environmental-degradation.html
Environmental Pollution (2011). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://www.enotes.com/earth-science/environmental-pollution
Global Environmental Issues (2010). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/global-environmental-issues.html
Global Issues (2011). Retrieved April 9, 2011 from http://www.globalissues.org/