By Rishin Mukherjee:
From the immense amount of propaganda that goes around in the media these days, it is clear that there is a lot of environmental degradation all around us. Such is the depth of the situation that conferences are being held every year, and new tools like CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) and Carbon credits are being created to prevent further damage and to encourage protection of the environment. But what exactly is going wrong? What is it that creates all this fuss? Look no further, if you find anything familiar from the following then you might want to think again!
Top ten causes for The Environmental Damage
1) High quantity of Exhaust gases: The biggest reason by far for all kinds of environmental degradation is the exorbitant amount of gases, harmful to the environment, which is released by the various industries. Prime amongst these gases are C02, S02 and NH3. Of course there are many more, and these are the main culprits for ozone holes and global warming.
2) Deforestation: Close second comes the deforestation all over the world, to harness forest resources, to clear land, for wood and for various other reasons. Deforestation causes major problems for one simple reason; it decreases the number of trees, which clean the environment, provide oxygen and also affect rain patterns. This is the major reason why there are calls for tree plantation; it is to make up for this loss.
3) High number of industries such as mining: Mining creates a lot of pollution, mainly because it releases particulate matter, which qualifies as Respirable Particulate Matter (RPM); the particulate matter which can enter our lungs and can harm the entire respiratory system. This form causes the most direct harm to humans, also particulate matter can come from indoor pollution, as can be seen in cooking on traditional ‘choolahs’ and cottage industries like ‘bangle-making’.
4) Chemical effluents: Effluents are another by-product of industries which poses threat to the environment, leather and tanning industries, petroleum industries and chemical manufacturing industries create major waste products which are released directly into nearby streams without treatment, creating river pollution and causing harm to aquatic life.
5) Transport: As the spending power of the population increases and as cars become available more, the number of vehicles on the road increases. The amount has grown exponentially in countries like India, Brazil and China and this is a point form of pollution which directly affects humans. Smog is a nuisance that is created because of vehicular pollution, and Hydro-Carbons released from engines are the cause of creation of lower level ozone that is harmful to humans.
6) Unprecedented Construction: Urban Heat Island is a direct cause of the unprecedented construction activities that are being carried out right now, and urban heat island causes trapping of pollutants. Urban Heat island is an effect caused due to trapping of solar radiation by concrete and cement which are materials which trap heat extremely well. Construction causes removal of vegetative cover which usually allows for better exchange of heat. This heat island effect causes constricted circulation of air, which traps pollutants released in urban areas and does not allow for mixing of the air, thus decreasing the air quality.
7) Secondary Pollutants: Secondary pollutants are ones that are not directly emitted; however they get created when primary pollutants react amongst themselves. Major amongst them is the creation of ozone from reaction between non-burnt Hydrocarbons and Nitrous Oxides. There are various other secondary pollutants and the reaction between these pollutants cause reactions that lead to formation of ozone holes. Stratospheric clouds are the main reaction sites for such pollutants.
8 ) Ruinous agricultural policies: Overloading the land with fertilizers, overgrazing and shifting agriculture are ruinous agricultural policies that degrade land, creating soil erosion that leads to silting in major rivers and reservoirs. Soil degradation is a continuous cycle and it ultimately leads to desertification and degradation of land quality by allowing the direct action of eroding agents on cultivable land.
9) The Population Explosion: The increasing population creates a load that the entire environment has to support, not only in terms of food and lodging, but also in terms of the amount of waste that it generates and the ability of the environment to sustain this growth. All major activities are carried out to support this growing population, and whilst this is unavoidable, what is required is the proper planning that should come with this explosion.
10) Unplanned Land-use policies: Land models are available these days which help in proper planning and use of land resources. However, failure to use these models and land management policies can lead to land pollution and degradation of the worst kind. Extraction from mines renders them unusable for habitation and if rehabilitation work is not carried out, the piece of land is sure to lose all its value and become unusable. Land classification is one of the major activities that help in proper land use, and it should be followed with utmost care.