Towards a Clean TomorrowImagine a black, soot covered world, devoid of trees, plants, and butterflies. How would it be, to wake up every morning to the clanking of metal and machine, instead of the sweet chirping of birds and buzzing of busy bees? What would it be like to drink somewhat murky, contaminated liquid, when all you thirst for is, just a glass of pure water? These are already hard realities in many parts of the world; caused by careless exploitation of natural resources and rampant increase in pollution in our environment.
So what is pollution? How does it bring about afore mentioned effects in our environment? This brief essay shall explore what is meant by pollution, the different types, what causes them and how they can be minimized. Pollution – Plentiful VarietyA detailed definition of what exactly constitutes pollution has been given by OECD (1974) as “Pollution means the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the environment, resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment” (cited in Peiry 2).
In simple terms, contaminating natural resources like water, soil, air and changing their natural composition resulting in harmful effects to life and life forms, constitutes pollution. Pollution can be in different forms, namely, Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Soil Pollution, Noise Pollution, Thermal Pollution, and Radioactive Pollution. Some of them cause permanent damage to the ecology of the place. Air PollutionAir is the immediate portion of atmosphere that envelops us and provides us with life-giving oxygen.
Air also contains other natural gases such as nitrogen, carbon-di-oxide, hydrogen, some inert gases and water vapor. Carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle are two important ways through which the balance in the gaseous elements of air is maintained. However, this natural balance is disrupted when the following occurs: 1) large amounts of gases or vapors emitted into atmosphere 2) particles and/or chemical compounds become saturated in the atmosphere and react 3) the newly introduced chemicals get dissipated at a lower rate than the rate at which they are absorbed through afore mentioned natural cycles 4) entry of new, non-bio-degradable chemicals and their reactions.
Some causes of air pollution are volcanic eruptions, industrial gases, burning of fossil fuels, forest fires and automobile emission (thinkquest. com. types –air). The resultant effects are dangerous - acid rains, smog, vacuum in the ozone layer and green house effect. Reducing levels of automobile-emissions and preventing emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) can go a long way in reducing air pollution (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, http: //www. lbl. gov/Education/ELSI/pollution-main. html ). Water PollutionWater is known as the elixir of life. No living thing can live without water.
Nature maintains a water-cycle, the mechanism through which sea-water naturally evaporates and comes down again to earth as rain, snow, to flow into rivers and oceans and re-cycled again. It is also a great solvent that dissolves a wide range of chemicals. Thus water is polluted easily, when it is exposed to foreign substances that negatively alter its quality (thinkquest. com. types-water). http: //library. thinkquest. org/C0111040/Types/water. php ). When the polluting agent is a single source it is called ‘point-source’ pollution and when there are more than one – it is ‘non-point-source’ pollution (http: //www. water-pollution. org. uk/types. html).
When drinking water is polluted by means of biotic organisms, they cause various health problems like stomach upset, and indigestion. Chemical contamination makes it unsuitable for drinking since it loses its quality, and may cause nausea, vomiting and ulcer. It is also important to note that, since water is essential for all life forms, it can affect entire eco-system. For example, the heavy metal wastes from industries let into water-systems nearby may not cause drastic or visible pollution. However, they settle at the bottom of the water body and slowly enter the food chain when fish and other marine organisms consume them.
They are then eaten by others higher in the food chain, causing widespread carcinogenic diseases.