Pollution Issues To Think About
To deny that the world is now facing pollution issues is to be naïve about the true state of the world, the environment and mankind’s future as a whole. Many pundits, policy makers and a few scientific minds would like to argue that the earth is "too big" to be affected by man’s activities, but recent events are big enough to make us think otherwise.
Without being too specific on global warming, the biggest of all the pollution issues facing mankind today, there are a variety of other concerns that should cause us to take a pause and be more thoughtful. Floods, droughts, severe winter storms, landfills on the brink of bursting at the seams, the increasing scarcity of potable water, smog and acid rain are just some of the pollution issues that confront present and future generations alike.
To comprehend the true scale of pollution issues that the world is facing, it helps to compartmentalize the discussion according to the three basic forms where they occur: air, water and land pollution. While this disregards other new forms of pollution identified such as noise pollution, it simplifies the discussion to those that are directly quantifiable in terms of effects. In the next paragraphs, we’ll briefly look at each of these pollution issues to stress the gravity and urgency of finding a solution to each one.
Air Pollution. This refers to the overall decline in the quality of breathable air that we inhale. The decline can be described in various ways but to simplify it, a loss in air quality is typically attributed to smog or low-lying ozone, particulate pollution or those related to dust and soot, and potentially toxic and non-naturally occurring chemicals like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, benzene and many others.
It is not difficult to argue that air pollution is directly man-made or anthropogenic. That means that man’s activities are directly causing the rise of pollutants in the air thereby lowering air quality. The increase in the number of cars coupled by higher energy demand leading to burning of more fossil fuels have doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the concentration of these noxious gases in the atmosphere. According to statistics from many medical institutions world-wide, respiratory disease is the fastest climbing class of illnesses in the last decade no doubt due to the decline in air quality. If this does not stress the urgency of curbing air pollution sources, then it is not inconceivable to see further increase in respiratory illness incidents in the future.
Water Pollution. In many parts of the world, what was once pristine bodies of water are now contaminated with various pollutants. Rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are all victims to the increase in trash and other forms of contaminants. In the Northern Pacific Ocean, there is an area twice the size of Texas that collects trash from all over the world. In many cities, waterways are no longer able to sustain populations of water plants and animals. Water sources are now contaminated that they are no longer drinkable. These are just a few of the many facets of water pollution highlighting various pollution issues in the world today.
Land Pollution. According to recent statistics, each person in the United States produces 760 kilograms of trash per year and this leads all countries in the world in terms of “trash per capita.” From the same set of statistics, the weighted per capita of trash for everyone in the world is 572 kilograms per year; no wonder our landfills are filling up faster than we can make them.
Pollution issues are very serious matters of public policy, behavior, management, and mindset. A collective effort with greater emphasis on preserving the earth for future generations should be made in order to avert some of the pollution issues affecting many of Earth’s natural resources. If we do not start now, it is not inconceivable to think that there will be no Earth to gift to our children and our children’s children.