Ocean Pollution and Climate Change

Oil spills and other pollution at sea actually account for a small fraction of ocean pollution.

Nearly half of all ocean pollution comes from activities that take place on land, like sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, garbage dumping, and chemical spills. Another third comes from airborne pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and mercury from coal burning power plants.

Pesticide and fertilizer runoff are creating huge dead zones oxygen depleted areas where many marine species struggle to survive. The world’s largest dead zone, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is roughly the size of Connecticut.

  1. Plastics are another major source of contamination in our oceans. Of the 100 million metric tons of plastic produced every year, about 10 million end up in the oceans.

    Plastic pollution comes in all shapes and sizes. Larger pieces make up the Eastern Garbage Patch, a floating whirlpool of trash in the Pacific oceans that’s about the size of Texas. Smaller pieces like the micro beads in your toothpaste and cosmetics are choking hundreds of different marine species.

  2. The same greenhouse gases causing climate change are also having disastrous effects on the ocean.

    Our oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide, rapidly causing them to become more acidic. This is threatening the habitat of every species that calls the ocean home, particularly vulnerable coral as well as many types of plankton, which form the base of the food chain.

  3. In a very real sense, we are fighting a two-front war. One front is the fight to keep the oceans clean and to sustain the marine plant and animal life on which we depend for our livelihoods and that keep the earth in proper balance.

  4. The other front is the fight to slow the growth of global warming and, unfortunately, also to adapt to the changes we know are coming to rising seas, encroaching sea water, violent storms and periods of drought.

Population Growth and Envirnomental Degradation

Population is an important source of development, yet it is a major source of environmental degradation when it exceeds the threshold limits of the support systems. Unless the relationship between the multiplying population and the life support system can be stabilized, development programs, howsoever, innovative are not likely to yield desired results. Population impacts on the environment primarily through the use of natural resources and production of wastes and is associated with environmental stresses like loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution and increased pressure on arable land. Human population issues are extremely important when it comes to our way of life and our future on this planet.

Poverty is said to be both cause and effect of environmental degradation. The circular link between poverty and environment is an extremely complex phenomenon. Inequality may foster unsustainability because the poor, who rely on natural resources more than the rich, deplete natural resources faster as they have no real prospects of gaining access to other types of resources. Moreover, degraded environment can accelerate the process of impoverishment, again because the poor depend directly on natural assets.

Lack of opportunities for gainful employment in villages and the ecological stresses is leading to an ever-increasing movement of poor families to towns. Mega cities are emerging and urban slums are expanding. Such rapid and unplanned expansion of cities has resulted in degradation of urban environment. It has widened the gap between demand and supply of infrastructural services such as energy, housing, transport, communication, education, water supply and sewerage and recreational amenities, thus depleting the precious environmental resource base of the cities.

The result is the growing trend in deterioration of air and water quality, generation of wastes, the proliferation of slums and undesirable land use changes, all of which contribute to urban poverty.

Direct impacts of agricultural development on the environment arise from farming activities which contribute to soil erosion, land salination and loss of nutrients. The spread of green revolution has been accompanied by over exploitation of land and water resources, and use of fertilizers and pesticides have increased many fold. Shifting cultivation has also been an important cause of land degradation. Leaching from extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers is an important source of contamination of water bodies. Intensive agriculture and irrigation contribute to land degradation particularly salination, alkalization and water logging.

It would not be exaggerated if stated that the major international wars to be fought in the future will continue to be over natural resources Power conflicts and self-interest will perhaps mean that, there will be gross violation of basic rights and death or misery for millions of innocent people. Throughout history, most wars have had trade and resources at their core, fueled by imperialistic motives. In future as well, perhaps this pattern is likely to continue, as resources get depleted, distributed unequally and wasted in these wars (hot and cold), additional conflicts and contention will arise through access to even more limited resources.

More people means less forest, water, soil, and other natural resources, but more waste, pollution, and greenhouse gases. This suggests that climate change may be sped up by population growth if we don’t do something soon. Alternative resources, conservation, improved environmental technology, and better education about global warming can ease our impact on the earth and serve as a new frontier for our future generations. We now know so much about

Alternative resources, conservation, improved environmental technology, and better education about global warming can ease our impact on the earth and serve as a new frontier for our future generations. We now know so much about human population that it seems as if we can easily control it. In the end, though, the prospect of the human race is up to the people, not the government. We will decide how far we are willing to go to preserve our earth for its future inhabitants. If we make population a priority, and assist countries in need of help, than we should be able to guide ourselves toward a stable level of development and growth.

 

Environmental Degradation

Environmental degradation is a result of socio-economical, technological and institutional activities. Degradation occurs when Earth’s natural resources are depleted. These resources which are affected include:

  • Water
  • Air
  • Soil

The degradation also impacts our:

  • Wildlife
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Micro-organisms

Environmental changes are based on many factors including:

  • Urbanization
  • Population growth
  • Economic growth
  • Intensification of agriculture
  • Increase in energy use
  • Increase in transportation

Our land, water, and soil are compromised when people exhaust resources or release harmful chemicals into the air. Deforestation, wasting resources, and pollution all add to the demise of an environmentally sound and safe planet. For example, when trees in forests are cut down in large quantities so that more homes can be built on the land, the birds and wildlife who lived in the forest must find a new place to live.

The vegetation that once grew on the land is destroyed. Trees that absorbed carbon dioxide to help the biosphere are now unable to do so. If the wood from the trees is used to make products and those products such as paper are later recycled, that is one hopeful aspect for the planet. However, sometimes trees are just cut down and burned. This is what is known as slash and burn, a practice that only destroys forests and all that live in them.

Impacts 

When factories produce harmful chemicals and toxic waste into bodies of water, humans suffer. Pesticides and fertilizers can also get into a region’s water system and pollute it. Drinking water is contaminated. Some residing in third-world countries are highly affected by the degradation of our planet and these unhealthy practices cause the following:

  • Illnesses
  • Death in children
  • Death in adults

Stop Environmental Degradation by: 

There are ways which you can help to decrease degradation in our environment. Some of these include:

  • Purchase recycled products
  • Conserve water
  • Do not litter or toss waste into inappropriate places
  • Conserve energy
  • Join an awareness group
  • Talk with others about the impacts of environmental degradation
  • Be an advocate to save our planet!


Rebel Road Expansion lead to Deforestation

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We live in an era of unprecedented road and highway expansion. It is an era in which many of the world’s last tropical wildernesses, from the Amazon to Borneo have been penetrated by roads. This surge in road building is being driven not only by national plans for infrastructure expansion, but by industrial timber, oil, gas, and mineral projects in the tropics.

forest-map-of-pakistan

Pakistan is a forest deficient country. It has suffered the loss of forest biodiversity (conifers, riparian, thorn, mangroves) owing to poor management practices of over hundred years, which administer forest systems by dividing conifers into periodic blocks. Policy makers gave preference to certain species on the basis of commercial interests. They ignore taxonomy and follow no scientific procedures. All these practices have led to fragmentary ecosystems and brought some species to the verge of extinction.

Despite their environmental costs, the economic incentives to drive roads into wilderness are strong. Governments view roads as a cost effective means to promote economic development and access natural. 

Local communities in remote areas often demand new roads to improve access to markets and medical services.

There is a need for a permanent think tank outside the government and advocacy groups to support forest policy formulation and implementation process on a perpetual basis as reflected in the Forest Policy 2001. The government should focus on improvement of forest management practices to prevent the loss of biodiversity (for example, reduce the practice of giving preference to certain species for their commercial value and ignoring other species). The integration of ecosystem approach to forest management can prevent further fragmentation of forest habitats.

Think about how much we can avoid if deforestation is controlled.

deforestatio

The government needs to incorporate taxonomy in forest management. Including women in forest management decisions and forestry projects should address the gender dimensions of deforestation. In the final analysis, the effective enforcement of the existing laws and regulations on forests use and management and involvement of the communities in the policy making process from the very outset enables the government to address and arrest sharp forest decline by creating a feeling of a sense of ownership and empowerment among communities.