Environmental pollution refers to the introduction of harmful pollutants into the environment. These pollutants contaminates the environment. It has a hazardous effect on the natural world and on the activities of living beings.
The major types of environmental pollution are air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, thermal pollution, soil pollution and light pollution.
Deforestation and hazardous gaseous emissions also leads to environmental pollution. During the last 10 years, the world has witnessed severe rise in environmental pollution.
We all live on planet earth, which is the only planet known to have an environment, where air and water are two basic things that sustain life. Without air and water the earth would be like the other planets – no man, no animals, no plants. The biosphere in which living beings have their sustenance has oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon and water vapor. All these are well balanced to ensure and help a healthy growth of life in the animal world. This balance does not only help the life-cycles of animals and plants, but it also creates the perennial sources of minerals and energies without which the human civilization of to-day could not be built. It is for this balance that the human life and other forms of existence have flourished on earth for so many thousands of years.
Also read: Short paragraph on Pollution
But man, as the most intelligent animal, never stopped being inquisitive, nor was he content with the bounties of nature. His quest for knowledge and search for security succeeded in exploring newer and wider avenues of mysteries that remained baffling so long. Man’s excursions into the darkest regions of mysteries laid foundations for the stupendous civilization, for the conquests of men had ensured their domination in their world and gave them a key to control all the forces in nature.
With the dawn of the age of science and technology, there has been huge growth and development of human potentials. And, it is here that man first began losing control and became prisoner of his own creations.
Also read: Pollution: Different Types of Pollution
Sources and Causes
The sources and causes of environmental pollution includes the following:
- Industrial activities: The industries all over the world that brought prosperity and affluence, made inroads in the biosphere and disturbed the ecological balances. The pall of smoke, the swirling gases, industrial effluents and the fall-out of scientific experiments became constant health hazards, polluting and contaminating both air and water. The improper disposal of industrial wastes are the sources of soil and water pollution. Chemical waste resulting from industry can pollute lakes, rivers and seas and soil too as well as releasing fumes.
- Dumping solid waste: Household and commercial waste pollutes the environment when not disposed of properly.
- Vehicles: The smoke emitted by vehicles using petrol and diesel and the cooking coal also pollutes the environment. The multiplication of vehicles, emitting black smoke that, being free and unfettered, spreads out and mixes with the air we breathe. The harmful smoke of these vehicles causes air pollution. Further, the sounds produced by these vehicles produces causes noise-pollution.
- Rapid urbanization and industrialization: The urbanization and the rapid growth of industrialization are causing through environmental pollution the greatest harm to the plant life, which in turn causing harm to the animal kingdom and the human lives.
- Population overgrowth: Due to the increase in population, particularly in developing countries, there has been surge in demand for basic food, occupation and shelter. The world has witnessed massive deforestation to expand absorb the growing population and their demands.
- Combustion of fossil fuels: The combustion of fossil fuels pollutes the air, the soil and the water with noxious gases such as CO2 and CO.
- Agricultural waste: Fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture are key causes of environmental pollution.
Also read: Sources of Water, Air and Soil Pollution
Environmental Pollution can have devastating effects on sea life, on crops and on human health. It affects all plant, human and animal life in a negative way. Almost all of our gains in the fields of industrial progress, science and technology had so far been realized at the cost of our health. Even our flora and fauna were found to be threatened with extinction.
All this really leaves us wondering if all our achievements and industrial civilization really help us climb the peaks of prosperity or simply take us down the blind alleys of adversity. It is not only in India, but all over the world – even in Europe and U.S.A. – that the question is being raised whether all is well with our industrial growth and progress in the field of science and technology. Many crusaders against environmental pollution are vehemently protesting against the indiscriminate violations committed daily in the name of development.
The environmental pollution is not caused by the fall-out from nuclear tests or industries alone. The smoke left behind the automobiles and other vehicular traffic, the increasing use of synthetic detergents, nitrogen fertilizers and insecticides contaminate both air and water.
- The water we drink the vegetables are all contaminated to-day. As a result of this contamination our world is afflicted with a quite a number of incurable diseases.
- Environmental pollution affects water sources which mean that there is less fresh water available for drinking, washing, cooking and irrigating crops.
- Nothing in this world is immune, no life is safe and the future of this world is bleak.
- The factories are mostly built in populated areas and the smoke-emitting vehicles ply through the congested areas. Besides causing immense disturbances, there are increasing case of pulmonary tuberculosis and thrombosis and various sorts of brain and heart complications.
- Air-pollution may cause severe lungs-diseases, asthma, brain-disorder diseases, etc.
- Soil-pollution may have negative effect on farm output ratio. It can also contaminate the ground water.
- Noise-pollution have negative effects on hearing or auditory sense organs. It can also cause deafness, tiredness, and mental losses.
- The heat generated by industries and vehicles causes thermal pollution by raising the environmental temperature of the nearby areas.
- Many scientists believe that we are living in an era of mass extinction, due to human made environmental pollution.
The birth of mills and factories is the result of the growth of industry in this machine-predominated age. As long as they will be there, they must emit smoke, pollute the air and hasten our end by slow-poisoning.
The worst industrial environment tragedy occurred at Bhopal on December 3, 1984 as a result of toxic and poisonous leakage of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from a multi-national Union Carbide pesticides manufacturing plant. Over 2000 people including woman and children were killed, and hundreds were severely hurt.
What then is the remedy? A lot of pollution derives from human activity. As a result, it is we humans who will be able to stop pollution. But, there surely cannot be any radical solution, for the existing factories cannot be bodily lifted to a place far from the populated zone. However, the following attempts can be made to solve the problem of environmental pollution.
- The Government can at least see that future factories are set up at a distant place, an industrial complex far away from the township.
- Researcher may find out how to avoid harmful smoke from running vehicles.
- Deforestation should be stopped and Forestry should be developed.
- Discharge of Factory wastes in rivers should be banned so as to make the river-water free from pollution.
- Recycle the sewage or in all events it can be disposed of in such a way as to prevent it from polluting the environment.
- Reducing the amount that we buy, reusing and repairing items wherever possible, and recycling as much as we can will all help to reduce the amount of waste dumped in the environment. When we do need to throw away waste we should do so responsibly.
- Organic farming could be one solution for reducing environmental pollution levels.
- Using fewer plastics.
- Disposing of litter and chemicals responsibly.
- Burning fewer fossil fuels.
- The UN Conference on Human Environment was convened to study the profound changes in the relationship between man and his environment in the wake of modern scientific and technological developments.
- The World Health Organization also set up an international network for the monitoring and study of air pollution on a global scale and for devising possible remedies.
We can very well notice the abnormal behaviour of the seasons – the cycle developing clogs in its wheels; and the worried experts fear that the disturbed balance in the biosphere has assumed such serious proportion that very soon our world would be uninhabitable like Hiroshima of 1945. But it is heartening to find the entire world aware of the menace. Some of the advanced countries have already taken some measures to meet it. If we fail to restore the ecological balance right now, it would be too late tomorrow.
Updated with input article from ‘Laura’.
Category: Blog, EnvironmentTagged With: Environment, Pollution
Read this essay to learn about the human being, a rational and social partner in environmental action!
Man and environment are inter-related. The environment influences the life of human beings and also human beings modify their environment as a result of their growth, dispersal, activities, death and decay etc. Thus all living beings including man and their environment are mutually reactive affecting each other in a number of ways and a dynamic equilibrium is possible in between the two, i.e. human beings (society) and environment are interdependent.
The different social structures like industrial, agricultural, religious, aesthetic etc. have developed during various stages of human civilization and these structures represent human being’s accumulated cultural resources based on natural environment.
If the natural environment helped in the development of different structures of the society on the one hand, the existence and quality of environment now rests on the responses of these social structures to the environment on the other hand.
The burning issues like quality of environment, disruption of earth’s natural ecosystem, environmental degradation and pollution, ecological imbalances, depletion of resources etc. can be approached and solved only after considering the value judgments which may be determined by taking into account the consequences of ‘environmental improvement programme’ on the entire society and society’s response towards the improvement programme. Actually all these depend on the interest and desire of the society in improving the quality of environment.
The interaction between environment and society depends largely on the social and political system. Even the capitalistic and socialistic systems perceptions and reactions to the environment are quite different. The differential interactions are due to uneven distribution of natural resources, uneven economic and social development, dissimilarity of demographic factors, varying view points of the governments and individuals towards environment etc.
Continuous and exceedingly increasing rate of rapacious exploitation of natural resources, industrialisation, technological growth, unplanned urbanisation and profit oriented capitalism by the developed western world are responsible for grave environmental crisis and ecological imbalance not confined to their own countries but to the whole world.
The socialistic system of government gives more emphasis on the social importance of natural resources and environmental problems and the urgent need to tackle, these problems. Marxism preaches to organise society’s control over the rapacious exploitation of natural resources and to develop harmony between man and nature. The emphasis on rational exploitation of natural resources and ecological balance was in the constitution of USSR.
The changes in the relationship between man and environment depend upon the change in organisation and attitude of society. To improve environmental standard and to maintain ecological balance, the followings are some issues before the present civilized society.
1. Rapid population explosion:
Puts tremendous pressure on the natural resources and environmental quality. This is due to the fact that population growth leads to poverty which directly or indirectly declines the environmental standard.
2. Rational use of non polluted water resources:
The restoration of water quality of our water bodies and their optimum uses are the challenges before the present society.
3. To sustain and increase agricultural growth:
Without damaging environment. The over cultivation of soil, results in nutrient deficiency, lack of organic matter, soil salinity and damage to physical structure of the soil.
4. To check soil erosion:
The soil erosion can be prevented by the restoration of land or soil resources which are directly or indirectly related to strategies for the management of land, water and forest.
5. Restoration of forest resources:
The forest resources are depleting at a very faster rate in order to meet growing need of timber and farmland for the increased population. Vast forest areas have been converted into barren waste lands. So it is the need of the present society to restore our forest resources possibly through social forestry and afforestation programmes.
6. To check pollution:
The overexploitation of natural resources, intervention of bio-geochemical cycles and trace element cycle, extraneous release of matter and energy etc. cause serious environmental hazards.
In addition, continuous green house gas emission, hazardous chemicals of industry and agriculture, nuclear arsenals; radioactive wastes and biotechnological misuse lead to global catastrophism. So the prevention of pollution is of prime importance for the present society. Considering the above issues, it is clear that the fate of human being depends on how he is managing and overcoming the above problems.
Some possible ways of tackling the problems and maintaining environmental standard are:
(a) Taking effective measures for population control.
(b) Optimum use of natural resources.
(c) Conserving and protecting biodiversity.
(d) Creating public awareness about the benefits and implications of environment.
(e) Giving top priority for environmental protection.
(f) Developing ecofriendly technological processes.
(g) Promoting sustainable agriculture which will not harm the environment.
(h) Using bio-fertiliser or ecofriendly fertilisers.
(i) Using minimum amount of pesticides and insecticides.
(j) Developing waste land by adopting afforestation programmes.
(k) Developing suitable biotechnology to clean up hazardous wastes in the environment.
(l) Choosing suitable technique to treat the pollutants before their discharge into environment.