An environment is generally defined as the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal or plant survives or operates. From this, it must be relatively easy for one to comprehend its importance in the famed cycle of life. This environment of ours is constantly changing and as our environment changes, so does the need to become increasingly aware of the environmental issues that are causing these changes. With a massive increase of natural disasters, warming and cooling periods, different types of weather patterns and much more, people need to be a lot more cautious with the way they lead their lives in conjunction with the types of environmental issues our planet is facing.
All across the world, people are facing new environmental issues every day which makes us vulnerable to disasters and tragedies, now and in the future.
Some of the current environmental issues that require urgent attention are-
The Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is a natural process that plays a major part in shaping the earth’s climate. It produces the relatively warm and hospitable environment near the earth’s surface where humans and other life-forms have been able to develop and prosper. It is one of a large number of physical, chemical and biological processes that combine and interact to determine the earth’s climate.
A greenhouse is a small house made of glass that is used to grow plants. A greenhouse traps the sun’s rays and keeps the heat from escaping. It is warm inside. In the same way that the glass traps heat in a greenhouse, the atmosphere traps heat next to the earth.
Certain gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour trap energy from the sun. The natural greenhouse gases act like a big blanket around the earth, keeping it warm. Humans can create extra greenhouse gases but this means that more heat gets trapped. This causes the temperature of the earth to rise, which results in Global Warming.
Global Warming is the recorded increase in the average temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Global Warming affects the weather patterns on Earth and causes Climate Change. Climate change results in higher sea levels, more rainfall and severe droughts and floods.
The ozone layer is a layer of concentrated ozone gas about 24km up in the atmosphere. Like a good pair of sunglasses, it protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This very important layer is being destroyed by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which are used in industry and everyday life (e.g. aerosol cans). The chlorine in these compounds can cause ozone destruction. The hole in the ozone leaves humans and wildlife open to unsafe levels of UV light.
The introduction of any matter – solid, liquid or gas – into waters which changes the physical, chemical or biological condition of the water is called water pollution. It also includes placing any matter where it might fall, descend, be washed or blown, into any waters (e.g. soil which may wash into a creek). Water pollution occurs when the water becomes overloaded with too much of one thing and the aquatic organisms cannot keep up with their cleaning responsibilities. Some organisms may die and others may grow too fast.
Air pollution is a result of industrial and certain domestic activity. An ever increasing use of fossil fuels in power plants, industries, transportation, mining, construction of buildings, stone quarries had led to air pollution.
Solid Waste Management
Solid-waste management may be defined as the discipline associated with controlling the generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing, and disposal of solid waste in a manner that is in accordance with the best principles of health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics, and other environmental considerations, and that is also responsive to public attitudes.
Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land use such as arable land, urban use, logged area or wasteland. With the reduction in prices of raw agricultural products internationally, there is increasing pressure for poor rural agriculture to expand their land and increase production. This can have many negative consequences on the environment and consequently on harvests, reducing the long-term viability of this solution as a supplement to income. Deforestation defined broadly can include not only conversion to non-forest, but also degradation that reduces forest quality – the density and structure of the trees, the ecological services supplied, the biomass of plants and animals, the species diversity and the genetic diversity.
To control these overwhelming changes, we must inculcate certain changes like the famous three, reuse, recycle and reduce along with creating clean energy, afforestation, defending endangered animals and fostering sustainable communities.