ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: LOCAL, REGIONAL AND GLOBAL
The environmental issue or problem occurs when there is a change in the quality or quantity of environmental factors that can affect everything on Earth directly or indirectly. These problems can occur at three levels.
LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL Issues
- Waste Disposal
- Water Scarcity
- Endangered Species
REGIONAL AND GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL Issues
- Global warming
- Ocean Acidification
- Acid Rain
- Ozone Depletion
- Polar Melting
We will be discussing two main issues: Pollution and Climate Change in detail.
Pollution can be defined as an undesirable addition of constituents to water, land, or air which adversely affects human life, species, living conditions and will deteriorate our resources. Pollution can be classified mainly into four categories- Air pollution, Water pollution, Soil pollution, Noise pollution.
- AIR POLLUTION: Air pollution refers to the addition of pollutants into the air that is detrimental to human beings and the planet as a whole.
SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION:
The pollutants are added to the atmosphere by the following sources:
- Electrical Power Plants
- Industrial Processes
- Heating Plants
MAJOR AIR POLLUTANTS –THEIR SOURCES AND THEIR IMPACT
|Carbon Monoxide (CO)|
Fuel combustion from engines and vehicles
|Reduces the amount of oxygen, aggravates heart disease, chest pain|
|Metal refineries and other metal industries, waste incinerators (waste burners)||Damages the nervous system, results in IQ loss, Cardiovascular and renal effects in adults, effects related to anaemia.|
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
|Fuel combustion and wood burning||Lung diseases leading to respiratory symptoms increases susceptibility to respiratory infection|
Particulate Matter (PM)
|Chemical reactions, fuel combustion, industrial processes, farming and during road constructions.||Lung or heart diseases, respiratory problems and sometimes premature deaths.|
Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
|Fuel combustion (electric utilities and industrial processes as well as natural occurrences like volcanoes.||Asthma and makes breathing difficult|
- WATER POLLUTION: Water pollution is the contamination of pollutants in water bodies like lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater without treatment very often by human activities which leads to harmful effects.
SOURCES OF WATER POLLUTION
- NATURAL SOURCES: These include decay, the composition of plants and animals, volcanic eruptions, coastal, cliff erosion, landslides and soil erosion.
- ANTHROPOGENIC SOURCES: These include industry, urban, agricultural and cultural sources.
MAJOR WATER POLLUTANTS
- Industrial pollutants: Includes heavy metals-boron, arsenic, zinc, lead, mercury.
- Agricultural pollutants: Insecticides, pesticides, chemical fertilizer, weeds, plants remain.
- Urban pollutants: Sulphate ion, nitrate ion, chlorine ion, sodium ion, calcium ion, nitrates and potassium ions.
- Natural pollutants: Volcanic dust, debris caused by landslides, decomposed organic matter.
- Physical pollutants: Oil, grease, dissolved and suspended solids, volcanic dust.
Effects of Water Pollution
- Death of aquatic (water) animals.
- Irrigation by polluted water affects plants resulting in yellowish colouration and defoliation.
- Disruption of food-chains.
- Diseases-hepatitis, cholera, typhoid, jaundice, diarrhoea and skin diseases.
- Destruction of ecosystems.
- LAND POLLUTION: Land pollution is the destruction of the earth’s land surfaces, directly or indirectly as a result of man’s activities.
SOURCES OF LAND POLLUTION
- Agricultural sources: It includes waste produced by crop, animal manure and farm residues, chemical left over of all pesticides, fertilisers and insecticides.
- Ashes: The residual matter that remains after solid fuels are burned is known as ashes. Two types of ashes are: Bottom ash is the debris from burnt metal and glass waste and it is not bio-degradable. The second type of ash - fly ash. It is the ash which is trapped by filters in the chimney of the incinerators.
- Mining sources: It includes underground debris, piles of coal refuse and heaps of slag.
- Industrial sources: These include paints, chemicals, metals and aluminium, plastics.
- Sewage Treatment: It includes the biomass sludge, and settled solids.
- Garbage or waste: Household or municipal waste such as glass, metal, cloth, plastic, wood, paper, and so on.
- Deforestation: This results in soil erosions, desertification and land degradation.
- Chemical And Nuclear Plants: Chemical waste from chemical industries that are disposed of into landfills.
EFFECTS OF LAND POLLUTION
- Hazardous chemicals can wipe out living organisms in the soil.
- The activity of landfills, mining, industry, are destructive to vegetation.
- It may cause arsenic poisoning. It can also cause liver, skin, heart, cancers and neurological damage.
- NOISE POLLUTION: Noise is an unwanted sound or unpleasant sound which produces discomfort on the ears. Noise is considered as environmental pollution.
SOURCES OF NOISE POLLUTION
- Household sources: Gadgets like TV, Loudspeakers, grinder, food mixer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, washing machine cooler and air conditioners.
- Social events: Places of worship, parties, discos and other social events.
- Industrial and Commercial activities: Printing presses, construction sites and manufacturing industries.
- Transportation: Aeroplanes flying over houses, trains, over the ground and underground trains, vehicles on road.
EFFECTS OF NOISE POLLUTION
Noise pollution may lead to many problems such as hearing loss, sleep disruption, stress-related illnesses, speech interference, and lost productivity.
Climate change can be defined as significant changes in global temperature, wind patterns, sea levels precipitation, and other measures of climate that occur over several decades.
Climate change is evident in the form of:
- Global temperature rise
- Warming oceans
- Shrinking ice sheets
- Glacial retreat
- Decreased snow cover
- Sea level rise
- Declining Arctic sea ice
- Ocean acidification
CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
- Increased Greenhouse Effect: Greenhouse effect is the warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include-Nitrous Oxide (NO2), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Water Vapour (H20), Methane (CH4) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- Burning of fossil fuels: It has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
- Industrial activities: These activities have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.
FUTURE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
- Sea level will rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
- The Arctic Ocean is likely to become ice-free.
- Hurricanes will become more intense and stronger.
- Climate change will result in more droughts and heat waves.
- Changes in precipitation patterns.
- Frost-free season (and growing season) will lengthen.
- Temperatures will continue to rise.
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