Essay On Pollution Has No Solution
What is Environmental Pollution?
Pollution is the contamination of the environment by introduction of contaminants that can cause damage to environment and harm or discomfort to humans or other living species. It is the addition of another form of any substance or form of energy to the environment at a rate faster than the environment can accommodate it by dispersion, breakdown, recycling, or storage in some harmless form.
Environmental pollution is one the greatest challenges that the world is facing today. It began since industrial revolution, increasing day by day and causing irreparable damage to Mother Earth. Environmental pollution has its own causes, effects and solutions. Looking into these will help you identify the causes and what steps you can take to mitigate those effects. Broadly, environmental pollution consists of six basic types of pollution, i.e. air, water, land, soil, noise, and light.
When people think of environmental pollution, most focus on fossil fuel and carbon emissions, but there are different contributing factors. Chemical pollution in bodies of water contributes to illnesses. Electromagnetic pollution has effects on human health but is uncommonly considered in present times despite the fact we essentially expose ourselves to it on a daily basis. Taking a look at causes and effects of environmental pollution will pull any mind on a rapid downward spiral. Solutions are in the works and, if we work together across the world, there is hope remaining, at least for the time being.
The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned.
~ B. F. Skinner
Causes of Environmental Pollution
- Pollution from cars, trucks, and other vehicles is and has been our major environmental pollution issue for almost a century now. The problem is we did not realize this until the problem had manifested to monumental proportions.
- Fossil fuel emissions from power plants which burn coal as fuel contributed heavily, along with vehicles burning fossil fuels, to the production of smog. Smog is the result of fossil fuel combustion combined with sunlight and heat. The result is a toxic gas which now surrounds our once pristine planet. This is known as “ozone smog” and means we have more problems down here than we do in the sky.
- Carbon dioxide is another product from all of the vehicles on the planet as well as unreformed power plants and other industrial facilities. A continually growing population of humans and clear cutting of forests has exacerbated this problem so natural defenses are no longer present and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise.
- Water pollution is a major issue. Many industries dump wastes into rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams in an attempt to hide wastes from EPA inspectors. These water sources feed major crops and food becomes contaminated with a variety of chemicals and bacteria, causing rampant health problems.
- Radiation comes into play as well. This is an exceedingly nasty pollution issue and requires extensive description. Primarily, there is radiation from the sun. As the natural ozone layer around the Earth has become depleted. The sun is wonderful, but the only reason we are able to survive on this planet so close to the sun is due to the fact of natural shielding against solar radiation. As the protective ozone layer around the planet has become thinner, ultraviolet radiation has risen significantly, causing increases in skin cancers and other types of cancer in all countries, killing millions of people every year.
- More radiation is a problem. The sun shining brightly on a naked planet is not the only source of radiation we are exposed to. Electromagnetic radiation is another insidious culprit. Once upon a time, the major concern around this type of radiation was due to high tension wires which carry huge amounts of electricity to cities. Now, we even carry sources of this radiation with us as cell phones, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices.
Effects of Environmental Pollution
- The polluting gases mentioned above have an interesting effect on climate. Essentially, these gases form a veil around the planet which holds heat in, increasing the overall temperature of the planet. The rise in planetary temperature, or global warming, is not immediately noticeable. However, even a rise of a few degrees Centigrade causes catastrophic changes in weather. This is happening now.
- Pollen has increased. It is ironic, but even with fewer trees in the world; the increase of carbon dioxide emissions induces plants such as ragweed and many trees to produce more pollen than ever before. This has resulted in rampant allergies across the world, affecting the health of billions of people.
- One of the solutions to tamp out carbon monoxide emissions from coal burning power plants was and still is to use radioactive power plants. While this does cut down on gas emissions significantly, there is radioactive waste which causes various cancers to bloom in major cities and small towns all around while destroying ecosystems entirely.
- Global temperature has risen significantly over the years. The protective atmosphere is further being polluted by methane gas released from melting icecaps. This is causing rampant weather issues around the planet.
This all seems like a fairly bleak outlook for the planet and all the creatures on it. It is, in fact, a load of dark and very real truth. For much of it, there is little turning back. Being realistic, though solutions are in the works to combat global warming, the hope is dim. Radiation does not go away quickly either, especially in a technological age requiring more power, more gas, and intensified depletion of protective gases around the planet. We are on a significant downhill snowball ride to hell. There are things we can do. Let us take a look at some of the solutions which are currently being implemented to reduce pollution.
Solutions to Environmental Pollution
- Gas emission pollution is being mitigated in a variety of ways with car emission control, electric and hybrid vehicles and public transportation systems. Not all major cities have successful implementation and decent public transportation in place, but the world is working on this issue constantly and we have managed to reduce emissions profoundly over the last decade. There is much catching up to do.
- The cost of radioactive power plants is becoming apparent and the days of coal power plants are nearly dead. The radiation is a serious issue. Radioactive leakage from power plants and nuclear testing have already contaminated oceanic life to such a degree that it will take hundreds of years to return to normal. More radiation solutions are in the works with various ecologically friendly power technologies being built every day.
- Solar power is a fantastic solution. Now that solar radiation is at a climactic peak, we can reap power from the sun using solar panel systems. These range from home systems to larger scale systems powering entire communities and cities.
- Wind power is coming into play. This may not seem like much at first, but when you get about 100 feet off the ground, there is a great deal of wind up there. By building wind turbines to harvest natural wind energy, electricity is produced. Wind turbine power and solar power are both powerful forces against fossil fuel power and radioactive power. The one problem here is power companies. They want to stay with radioactive power plants because they actually can’t be removed. It has become the crusades of many individuals and small corporations to make the switch and there are plenty of people following this as populations cry out for help.
- Electromagnetic radiation (ER) reduction. Once major manufacturers of computers and electronic devices realized the blatant potential for huge ER emissions directly into the eyes and brains of users, they started to implement hardware protocols to minimize risks and reduce ER production significantly. Newer devices are in the lead to knock this problem out and, fortunately, this is working.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is well aware of all leaks and tricks industries are using to dump wastes. This agency now has extremely strict protocols and testing procedures implemented against such facilities so populations are not affected. Additionally, the EPA is measuring air pollution and implementing regulatory procedures for vehicle emissions. They also monitor pollen issues and, with the help of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they implement solutions to reduce pollen in the air.
Dropping pollen counts is a major focus for EPA and CDC activities. Asthma and other allergic conditions are flooding medical care facilities and pharmaceutical companies with serious public health problems. The response has been swift and various methods to control emissions and reduce pollen counts are in the works. Children and elderly people are at the highest risk for environmental pollution related health problems. The good news is we are directly on the horizon to cut down the causes and risks while providing practical health solutions for the general public throughout the world.
Photo by: Pixabay
When people think of air pollution, most immediately picture heavy smog drifting over cities and industrial plants.
This is the first and most evident form of air pollution, but it’s not the only one.
Let’s begin today’s discussion by defining the term air pollution at a broader level. Air pollution in its most basic definition is the introduction of harmful substances into the Earth’s atmosphere.
These substances linger and cause many adverse effects. As you know, humans and other living creatures rely on the atmosphere for respiration. When air quality is dampened by pollution, immediate and longer term consequences take place.
Pollution has been known to cause allergies, disease, damage to crops, and in extreme cases, even death.
In addition, air pollution creates an imbalance in the natural gases that make up our Earth’s atmosphere. These imbalances slowly aid in the depletion of the Ozone layer, an essential region of the stratosphere that soaks up most of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.
As the Ozone depletes, the rate of global warming increases. If enough air pollution clutters our environment, it creates the danger of more rapid deterioration of the Ozone layer.
You can see the trouble this may cause.
It’s important that we, as citizens of the world, fully understand the causes, effects, and possible solutions of air pollution so that we can make an educated decision for Earth’s future.
There are many causes of air pollution. For sanity’s sake, we’ve done our best to categorize them at a more general level.
Before we get into the different causes, let’s take a quick step back and look at the different variations of air pollution.
First, there’s invisible and visible air pollution. The smog you see lingering over a city is a good example of visible pollution.
Invisible pollutants aren’t as noticeable, but they can be just as deadly, if not more so. Examples of invisible pollutants include nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, to name a few.
Carbon monoxide inhaled and introduced into the human blood stream spells trouble if the pollution is a high enough concentration.
Digging down even deeper, air pollution can be split into primary and secondary pollutants.
Primary pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, are ones directly released into the atmosphere. Secondary pollutants, like smog for example, are the result of primary pollutants intermingling with the already existing particles in the atmosphere.
Without any further ado, let’s get into some specific causes of air pollution.
1. Vehicle Exhaust Fumes.
The number one source of air pollution in city environments is vehicle exhaust fumes, which happen to release high amounts of carbon monoxide. It’s no surprise then that carbon monoxide also happens to be the largest air pollutant in the United States.
Millions of vehicles are operated on a daily basis in the US alone, each one leaving its own carbon footprint on the environment. This is why hybrid and fully electric vehicles are making a splash in the automobile marketplace.
People are looking to rely less on fossil fuels to power their cars, leading to less toxic emissions into the environment.
2. Fossil Fuel-Based Power Plants.
In addition to vehicle exhaust pollution, fossil fuels also present a wider scale problem when they’re burned for energy in power plants.
Chemicals like sulfur dioxide are released during the burning process, which travel straight into the atmosphere. These types of pollutants react with water molecules to yield something known as acid rain.
This is one of the reasons that alternative energy sources, such as nuclear, solar, and wind are being explored in greater detail. They tend to release much less pollutants into the environment to produce equivalent amounts of energy.
3. Exhaust from Industrial Plants and Factories.
Similar to exhaust being released from vehicles, heavier machinery located inside big factories and industrial plants also emit pollutants into the air.
Industrial plants can be found pretty much everywhere in the world, so the spreading of air pollution is basically global.
4. Construction and Agricultural Activities.
On a daily basis, dirt and dust is kicked up into the atmosphere from excavating and demolition type construction activities.
Switching the focus to agricultural activities, ammonia is a frequent byproduct that just so happens to be one of the most dangerous gases in our environment.
There are also plenty of nasty chemicals that get placed into the atmosphere from pesticides and fertilizers, which are being used at increasingly higher rates.
5. Natural Causes.
When people think pollution, they almost always blame other people. Let’s not forget that the Earth is one of the biggest polluters itself, though.
Volcanoes, forest fires, and dust storms are nature-born events that dump massive amounts of air pollution into the environment.
It’s often debated that humans don’t come close to volcanoes when it comes to air pollutants, but we’ll leave that for the readers to decide.
6. Household Activities.
Forget about outdoor pollution. What about the pollution that takes place inside our own homes?
Common household chemicals, notably bleach, without proper ventilation is a primary source of indoor air pollution.
Smoking tobacco through the use of cigarettes and cigars also releases toxic pollutants into the air.
It’s often easier to think of outdoor pollution as the primary danger on a wide scale level, but don’t dismiss the little everyday activities that also impact our health.
Now that we know the culprits of air pollution, let’s start discussing the harmful effects.
There are many different types of effects that air pollutants can cause. For one, there’s the human health factor to consider.
If humans are at risk, then other forms of wildlife and organic creatures are in danger as well.
Then there are the effects on the planet and its atmosphere.
In the paragraphs to follow, we’ll take a closer look at all of air pollution’s effects.
1. Accelerated Global Warming.
This is a green energy discussion, so let’s tackle this one first.
Earlier on, you learned about the Ozone layer and its role in protecting our planet. Air pollution directly accelerates the rate at which global warming happens by depleting the Ozone layer.
Global warming refers to the increased temperatures Earth continues to experience. These higher temperatures lead to the melting of the polar ice caps and icebergs, which elevates sea levels and creates concern for the human race.
2. Human Respiratory and Heart Concerns.
Air pollution is known to cause irritation in the eyes, lungs, nose, and throat. It creates respiratory problems and exacerbates existing conditions such as asthma and emphysema.
When continually exposed to air pollution, humans become at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Air filled with toxins can have a number of adverse effects on the arteries, and have even been a contributor to heart attacks.
3. Wildlife Endangerment.
Most diseases and conditions that humans are susceptible to, animals are as well. Air pollution creates many of the same issues that humans face.
Heavily polluted areas force inhabitants to seek new homes, which can negatively impact the ecosystem.
Toxic chemicals, which we’ll discuss in the next bullet, also deposit over surfaces of water that can lead to the endangerment of marine life animals.
4. Acid Rain.
When air pollution, specifically sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, are released into sky through fossil fuel burning, it creates the phenomenon known as acid rain.
Water, high in the atmosphere, combines with these chemicals and becomes acidic in nature. It then scatters the ground, disguised as normal rainfall.
Acid rain has been known to cause harm to humans and animals alike, and even damage crops.
Up until this point, we’ve covered all the bad of air pollution. Now let’s get onto the good.
Well, there’s actually not much good to say for air pollution, but there are a number of positive ways it can be dealt with.
Understanding the causes and effects proves to be important so that we can determine how best to combat it.
Reducing the use of fossil fuel powered automobiles is clearly something that can help. Same with finding unique ways to reduce energy consumption.
Let’s dig a little deeper into common solutions for preventing and minimizing air pollution.
1. Minimize the Use of Fossil Fuel Powered Automobiles.
As a leading contributor to air pollution, it only makes sense that a vehicle-based solution appears first on this list.
One way to do this is by switching to a hybrid vehicle, or better yet, one that runs on fully electric.
Other ways include taking public transportation, carpooling with friends and colleagues, or even riding a bike to your destination.
2. Be Mindful of Energy Consumption.
When you’re leaving home, be sure to turn off the lights, TV, and any other electronic appliances.
Fossil fuel plants are a major cause of air pollutants, and the less energy you need, the less we have to rely on those plants to generate electricity.
This also means turning to energy efficient devices when possible. Fluorescent lightbulbs over the course of their lifespan can reduce energy consumption while adding significant savings to your pocket.
3. Become an Advocate for Clean Energy.
Every day, technology continues to advance that improves the efficiency and cost of clean energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal. These types of energy sources create much less air pollution.
Even nuclear is leaps and bounds better than traditional fossil fuel plants when it comes to air pollution.
Find ways to promote and educate the public on clean energy alternatives. A small contribution goes a long way in the grand scheme of things.
Ah, yes. Recycling. Another topic of heated debates. Wherever you stand on the matter, recycling can help reduce air pollution.
Instead of throwing away used containers and material, try reusing them or recycling them to be used again by someone else.
One thing I personally love to do is reuse to-go containers from restaurants as plastic ware for work lunches. This obviously only works with plastic material, not Styrofoam.
We have now discussed the common causes, effects, and solutions for dealing with air pollution.
With air pollutants being such a widespread epidemic, it’s imperative that we come together as Earth’s inhabitants to become part of the solution, instead of continuing to be the problem.
We can make the choice to drive less toxic automobiles. We can choose how much energy we consume on a daily basis. We can also choose to reuse our old materials instead of dumping them into the environment.
Air pollution can have some devastating impacts on our bodies and the planet if left untouched.
What are your thoughts on the situation?
Featured Image Credit: David Holt @ Flickr