Environment is a very broad term. It includes everything that is around, above and below us. Air, water, plant and animal life is all included in the environment. The greatest problem of present day world is the pollution of environment, be it water, air or sound. Pollution literally means fouling the natural environment by some unnatural elements which make it polluted to the extent that it becomes unhealthy for plant and animal life. National calamities like earthquakes, cyclones, famines, epidemics, etc., because great suffering to human being. But man’s most effective enemy is man himself because he is himself responsible for polluting the environment in which he lives.
The problem of water pollution is rampant in all thickly-populated areas, especially urban conglomerates. No doubt water does possess a self-cleaning property, but there is limit to it. The problem intensifies with the addition of pollutants in our waterways from any sources; radioactive wastes from factories, laboratories and hospitals; fallout from nuclear explosions domestic wastes from the cities and towns, chemical wastes from factories and industrial units, etc. Persons with a higher DDT content in their fatty tissue are afflicted with brain tumor, higher blood pressure and malfunctioning of the liver. The Bhopal gas leak tragedy of December 2/3, 1984 was a consequence of the release of poisonous Methyl isocynate from the Union Carbide plant producing pesticides and insecticides.
Contemporary pessimism, however, goes far beyond this traditional worry about the state of affairs, Its new aspect is the assumption that our descendants will be even worse off than we are, because the world will have become too complex for comprehension by the human brain, These developments, together with the recklessly wasteful use of world’s limited resources by the advanced market economies, even at the cost of damaging the eco-system and denying the poor countries the succor they need desperately, and the disconcerting experience of half-baked modernization plans, which have distorted both priorities of development and living mores in large parts of the Third World
This is how environment is polluted by human activity. If environmental degradation continues at the present rate, mankind is bound to perish one day or another. It is, therefore, imperative to take measures for protecting and minimizing if not totally eliminating, pollution of the environment.
The scientific development and expansion of urban areas has become as must to cater to the increasing needs of increasing number of people capable to be benefitted by the modern standards of living. The atmosphere has to be affected more and more by the production of more and more consumer goods along with the capital goods. . Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that the future of India is not a mass production but in production by the masses may definitely have meaning for Western world as well. The human tragedies resulting from unemployment may lead industrial societies to reconsider that, except for the dullest, most repetitive and painful tracks, human beings are better than machines-and certainly more creative. If we are to cut ten trees to make a road, it should be imperative to raise twenty around to compensate the loss.
Researchers are already underway for devising new methods to control environmental pollution and protect the environment. In India, the department of Environment and Prevention and Control of Pollution boards, working at national and State levels, have enacted several laws to protect the environment and stop its further degradation. The chipko movement started in 1973 in Himalayan foothills has received worldwide acclaim. A mass movement worldwide like this is the need of the time.
Essay No. 02
Pollution is by far the most rapidly growing problem of the modern technological society. Pollution implies the addition or release of such substances in concentrations in the environment which tend to deteriorate the use to which such components of the eco-system are put to, and which tend to impair the normal physiological and biological systems of the associated biota, including man. These include such chemicals or substances which do not form part of the natural cycles but are gradually building up in the environment. Man is an essential part of the highly complex web of living organisms which we can call biosphere and, therefore, harm done to any part of the biosphere would reflect on human welfare.
The condition in India is pretty serious. It is no longer, feasible to ignore the alto ignore the alarming nature of India’s environmental conditions Seventy per cent of all the available water in India is polluted. During the last decade, there has been five-fold increase in the incidence of blood cancer and lymph node cancer. Nearly 53 percent of India’s total land area is subject to serious environment degradation. Deforestation, siltation, water, air and noise pollution, insanitation-all these are posing serious threat not only to the quality of life in India, but also to its basic survival. There are many diseases which are transmitted through water. Examples are typhoid, cholera, jaundice, etc. According to an estimate more than 80 percent Indians suffer from water-borne diseases.
Man is poisoning the biosphere. Nobody can save him from this danger unless he himself becomes alert. It is responsibility of the international community to protect the environment from pollution. It is gratifying that some action is being taken, though belatedly, in our country to identify problems connected with environment. The environment bill 1986 passed by Parliament in May 1986, would enable co-ordination of activities of various regulatory agencies, creation of an authority with adequate powers to protect the environment and “deterrent” punishment to those endangering. It is hoped that with the strict implementation of the bill, the needed efforts to protect our environment would be forthcoming.
Essay No. 03
Man and Environment
Man has caused many far-reaching effects on the environment over the years. Global warming, pollution and the damage to the ozone layer are a few of the major things that can be heard about in the news. Man has damaged the earth gradually over the years and this damage cannot be reversed, we are now trying to stop any more damage being caused to the environment.
Conservation work is going on across the country and this is helping to preserve the wildlife and countryside that we have left. The expanding human population has placed a huge demand on the food production of the country. The resources are limited but the population is increasing quite rapidly so the problems are growing. The demand for food means that crops need to be perfect so the use of fertilisers and herbicides is increasing too. Factory chimneys emit sulphur dioxide, which has to be monitored. Sulphur dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by industrial processes is ultimately converted into dilute sulphuric acid, returning to Earth as acid rain. For this reason, sulphur dioxide is a major cause of air pollution. Crude oil, known as petrol, is used in the manufacture of fertilisers, medicines, plastic, building materials, paints and to generate electricity. It is also used for the fuelling of transport such as cars and planes. Petrol contains hydrocarbons and sulphur. When the hydrocarbons and sulphur are burned for use they give off sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide. These gases are harmful to the environment. Sulphur dioxide forms sulphuric acid and causes acid rain, carbon dioxide adds to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect means that the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that usually prevent heat loss from the earth are increasing. This results in raised temperatures on earth leading to partial melting of the polar ice caps. If the ice caps melted too much some countries would be flooded, if they were all to melt then the whole world would be underwater. The government is trying to reverse some of the effects man has had on the environment, for example, factories have to monitor the amount of emissions that come from their chimneys very closely and if they emit too much sulphur dioxide or other harmful chemicals then the factory can be closed down. Factories also have to monitor the amount of chemicals that they pump into the drains, they have to neutralize the effluent before it is pumped into the main drainage system to prevent any chemicals getting into the main sewers and into the rivers and affecting the ecosystem of the rivers. Some waste can be recycled, at the water treatment works they can make the water clean enough, may be not to drink, but to water non-edible crops and for industrial processes and recreation. Crop rotation is another way in which the land is being preserved a little more. Different crops are being grown in different places so that the same nutrients aren’t being used from the same piece of soil every time and therefore the nutrients are being used in equal quantities. The nutrients in the soil then have time to replenish themselves over the years. In addition, natural fertilisers are being used like farmyard manure instead of phosphates and nitrates. This means that the nutrients are released slowly as they decay and therefore improve the structure of the soil. The demand on agriculture to increase food production conflicts greatly with the need to protect the environment. Organic crops are becoming more popular as they don’t have any fertilisers on them, which affect the environment. Many
farmers are turning to organic crops and the government is introducing incentives to try to encourage farmers to grow organic food as it can be expensive. Organic food production seems to be a very good idea. It protects the environment as it doesn’t involve the use of herbicides and fertilisers and it allows the farmers to carry on producing food in large enough quantities.
Man’s effects on the environment are many but the effects are being slowed down and where possible reversed. The consequences of many years of abuse to the earth are being realized and people are trying to do something about it. Tillage operations that prepare the soil for planting and control weeds expose bare soil to possible erosion by wind and water. Erosion removes fertile soil and contributes to problems of air and water pollution. Several techniques are used to combat erosion. Crop rotation is also being increasingly used to hold soil in place between plantings. Still, many small-seeded crops require a finely worked seedbed, and soil erosion cannot be eliminated. Global warming is being reduced as much as possible by the reduction of toxic emissions and wastewater is being recycled instead of pumped into rivers and seas. Man is trying to reverse and slow down the effects on the environment although some things cannot be reversed.
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ENVIRONMENT IN DANGER
Synopsis: Environment is in danger and so are life and its quality. Many species of animals and plants are already extinct and many more on the brink of it. The phenomenon known as ‘green house effect’ is one of the greatest dangers to our environment. Enormous emissions of carbon dioxide have assumed alarming proportions and must be addressed immediately. It has helped spread and growth of our many dangerous diseases. It has also adversely affected the rainfall patterns. Our forest-cover is shrinking rapidly and giving rise to diverse complex problems. Water-pollution has been no less alarming. Discharge of various types of untreated chemical and other wastes are mainly responsible for pollution of our water resources. Industries have been the worst offenders in this respect. Both human and animals life have suffered a lot as a result of it. Foolish and excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers has polluted our fruits, vegetables, dairy products and cereals. The residues of these neurotoxins ultimately reach human system causing several diseases. Mother’s milk too is not free from pollution. Some urgent and hard decisions are their implementations are imperative. Noise-pollution and international trade of toxic wastes are other areas of concern. Consequently, the Third World nations have been at the receiving end.
Environment is in danger and so life and its quality. Several factors like population explosion, industrial and technological developments in the last 200 years have done immense harm to environment which supports life and growth. Many species of plants and animals are already extinct and many more are on the road of extinction. Pollution has become a major problem of the present day society. There is too much addition of polluting substances to the environment causing a great imbalance in the elements of atmosphere. This imbalance in biosphere has not only deteriorated the quality of life but has also threatened its very survival. Environment and life are two very unique things found only on the planet earth. These make the earth the only living planet known so far. Environment and life are two aspects of the same coin. If environment is affected, life cannot remain unaffected and immune. As such, environmental pollution is a matter of global concern and needs global remedy. It is a threat to the whole world, nay to the very existence and survival.
The every thickening blanket of carbon emission is one of the greatest dangers to our environment. It has already caused the warming up of earth’s atmosphere for minus 0.30 C in 1870 to plus 0.30 c in 1990. This dangerous phenomenon, known as green house effect, has resulted in 30 per cent more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere today than 200 years ago. Advanced countries in Europe and America produce more than half of the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions. According to a study the U.S. alone has been causing 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission per head. East-Europe is producing 3 tonnes per head of carbon dioxide, West Europe 2.1 tonnes, China 0.6 tonnes; Africa 0.3 tonnes followed by India 0.2 tonnes. One of the major factors for this emission is the large scale and indiscriminate use of fossil fuels. During the year 1996 alone, carbon emission from burning fossil fuels all over the worlds accounted for 6.1 million tonnes. It is increasing further rapidly as the number of cars, buses, trucks, scooters and such other vehicles plying on the road is increasing the world over.
Such emissions cause bronchitis and various other respiratory diseases. The London smog of 1952 killed as estimated 4000 people. According to a WHO report increasing carbon emission has helped many tropical diseases like malaria, dengue, and cholera to assume serious dimensions in Africa and Asia. Besides, it also worsens the problems of malnutrition and water-scarcity. It also adversely effect the rainfall pattern and causes droughts and famines. It is reported that warming of the earth’s surface by 3 or 4 degrees may result in the elimination of 85 per cent of the remaining wetlands and many species of water birds and turtles.
Records indicate that as a result of the emissions of these greenhouse gases, the year 1995 has been the warmest year so far since record-keeping began some 130 years ago. This increase in earth’s temperature has resulted in dwindling of food grain production, shrinking of forest cover, extinction of many plant and animal species and acid rains. The average global temperature during 1995 was 15.390 C, breaking the previous record 15.380 C in 1990. The constant rise in temperature makes oceans release more energy into the atmosphere, leading to more violent storms and cyclones.
The environment is deteriorating rapidly which can be seen and experienced in many ways. For example, the deforestation of the planet continues unabated resulting in soil erosion, flash floods, droughts, the elimination of many species of animals and plants. About 40 per cent of the earth was covered with forests a few decades ago but not it has shrinked to just 20 per cent. And most of this damage has occurred since 1950. The tropical and sub-tropical regions have suffered the most in this respect. Large forest areas have been cleared for the purpose of cultivation and farming. Over-grazing, logging and felling of the trees indiscriminately on a large scale for timber and fuel has further worsened the situation. Rain forests are disappearing at an estimated rate of 4.6 million hectares per year which sustain and support a vast species of animal and plant life. Moreover, the destruction of forest causes soil-erosion which silts the rivers, lakes, canals, streams and other reservoirs.
Water pollution has also been on increase alarmingly all over the world. Sewage and industrial waste have fouled our seas, rivers lakes and other sources of water. The norms regarding the discharge of industrial effluents are being flouted by the industries with impunity. Even the drinking water being supplied in towns and cities by the civic bodies is not safe. This has directly affected the health of people. They suffer from many diseases, deformities and illness. The destruction of wholesomeness of our water resources is causing havoc. The encroachment upon lakes, rivers and seas by industries is a serious threat to our environment. Since most of our cities are on the banks of the rivers or the coast of the seas, our rivers and seas have turned murky and polluted with industrial and human waste and effluents. The toxic chemicals, industrial wastes discharged into rivers, lakes and seas from mills and factories have proved fatal to all kinds of marine life. People often fall ill by eating fish etc. taken out of these rivers, lakes and seas and they are often poisoned by industrial wastes pumped into these natural sources of water.
Industries, especially in developing countries, pay no attention towards pollution control measures and treatment of effluents before discharge into rivers and seas. Recently, the Supreme Court of India ordered out the hundreds of industrial units around the Taj Mahal. Similarly, in many States like Delhi, Gujarat etc. the courts have ordered the closure or immediate shifting of the hundreds of manufacturing industrial units. The ostrich-like approach to the problem of pollution by Indian industries is really condemnable. It is better that the industries in India immediately realize that the key to their survival lies not only in their ability to cope with competition but also in pressures of all sorts including that of following zero-pollution norms.
The indiscriminate use of pesticides like DDT, BHC (Benzene hexachloride) etc. has seriously damaged the fragile ecology of soils by weakening the micro-organisms in it. These pesticides ultimately contaminate fruits, vegetables, cereals, and dairy products. The neurotoxins reach the human body through various food-stuff and severely impair the central nervous system and cause other disorders. The milder forms of pesticide poisoning result in migraine, dizziness, stomach-ache, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Dairy products have been found containing very high levels of pesticides residues. Mother’s milk too is not free from this contamination. Vegetables and fruits suffer from pesticide overload. Insecticides like carbofuran are used to quicken fruiting. Parathion is used to give fruits and vegetables a fresh look. Bananas, grapes, apples etc. are sprayed with harmful ripening agents, fungicides and pesticides.
Urgent steps need to be taken to stop this deterioration in our atmosphere and environment. The balance of nature should be restored at the earliest. Some hard and effective decisions are the need of the hour. Something should be done to stop the damage caused to the ozone layer by the discharges from the rockets and airplanes besides the emissions of synthetic chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and such other substances. The developed countries should immediately phase out the use of these chemicals. With the rapid increase in consumerism and the use of white and brown goods, the demand of appliances that use ozone-depleting substances is growing fast. The cult of owning of refrigeration is spreading fast in the developing and underdeveloped countries.
Noise pollution and international trade in toxic wastes are other areas of concern. The recyclers and processors of the toxic wastes expose the humanity at large to many hazards. People should be made aware of these hazards. Industrialized countries are dumping their toxic wastes in under-developed countries. All the countries should be obliged to accept the Base Convention to keep the environment clean of such wastes. There should be an effective ban and control on global trade in hazardous wastes. No country should be allowed bartering the health and well being of its people for a few dollars. During April 1996 to January 1997, over 15,000 tonnes of lead and battery wastes were imported in India. During this same period nearly 12,000 tonnes of zinc waste was also imported. In 1996 alone, Australia exported at least 8,500 tonnes of hazardous wastes and 1.9 million scrap batteries, and India, the Philippines and China were it major destinations.