What is pollution? Pollution or contamination is substances, preparations, organisms or their mixtures (furthermore referred to as pollutants) dissemination or diffusion of pollutants, mostly the result from human activities, which has a negative effect, because of its consequences to the quality of human life or the ecosystems. Mankind has come a long way in the history of its development, but the history of mankind is just a glimpse of time in world history. The history of land development includes about 4.6 billion years. Life on it – 3.5 billion years. The human (Homo habilis) – about 1.5 million years, at present, and the current intelligent human (Homo sapiens) – only about 40 thousand years. (Harari) However, during this short period of existence, Homo sapiens has been substantially replaced by its surrounding environment. Man has been working in nature since ancient times, when he began to use the most primitive tools of work.
However, that effect was observed only in a very limited area, in and around the settlement itself. With the advent of agriculture, the first signs of soil degradation appeared: the more intensively the land was cultivated, the more it was lost. Advances in science and technology and population growth have only exacerbated the contradictions between human production and nature. Due to the development of production, uncontrolled use of natural resources, the quality of the environment deteriorates, the natural metabolism is violated, and the processes of nature’s natural processes are disrupted due to pollution with harmful substances. Ecological problems arise that limit society’s ability to preserve its environment. The major components that are vastly affected of our ecosystem are water, land and air.
Firstly, water is the most common compound on Earth. Land aquatic shell – the hydrosphere makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface. The way water circuit functions are abruptly heated by the sun, water evaporates from various waters reservoirs. Then, vapors condense, turn into clouds. Continuing, the cooled steam is pouring rain or hail, snow. Finally, precipitation is absorbed into the ground and rivers return to the sea. There’s different kinds of pollutions in water, such as – biological pollution, chemical pollution and physical pollution. Biological pollution, that forms from infected organisms, parasitic worms’ eggs. Chemical pollution: inorganic pollutants – salt and heavy metals, organic pollutants – pesticides, carbohydrates and other. Physical pollution: noise, vibration, electromagnetic waves, factories, people activities, industries and other. The largest effect on water pollution has the effect of industrial effluents. Contaminated wastewater is increasing rapidly as the industry continues to expand, while cities are growing, farms are growing as well, to compliment the vastly increasing numbers of our population. During these times, the pollution takes place not only inland waters but also the oceans, while pollutants are brought into coastal towns and rivers.
Moreover, oil spills are quite common. Currently oil drilling rigs are built deep in the ocean where conditions are not favorable. Wells are penetrating deeper and deeper into the oceans rock at the bottom as demand for oil grows and resources decreases. (WordPress) All this increases the risk of accidents and the consequences are particularly painful. For example, more than 2,800 dead pigs were found in one of the main sources of drinking water in Shanghai. The dead bodies of pigs most likely came from neighboring Zhejiang provinces. It is believed that pigs were pushed into the river by farmers when the animals died of the disease. (Neuman) Not only in China, but also in India the situation is disturbing, only 209 out of 3119 cities has partial or full effluent cleaning equipment.
On the shore of Gangoh, 114 cities on the river bank, in each of them lives 50 thousand or more inhabitants. Untreated wastewater is released daily into the river. Paper and rubber factories, oil and fertilizer complexes, etc. dumps the waste directly into the river. Consequently, the outcome of water pollution can resume in great effect on human existence. Since more than half of our body is made up of water, quality of our water on earth and therefore in our bodies is something we should consider. (Greger) However, it is not the only thing that we should be worried about, since we build, live and evolve on a surface, in other words – land, we are obliged to protect it as well.
Secondly, land is the crucial base of human prosperity. As we know, planets are not designed to live forever, and each planet has it’s time. However, we have a gift, to be an intelligent being comes with responsibility. Our responsibility is either to do our best to extend our existence, whether it is on Earth or some other planet. Currently, with the short period of time that we have invested into science, the time we have on Earth is decreasing in a faster pace than it should be. In other words, we are doing, as the saying goes in Russian, translating – doing a favor to a bear, meaning that doing a favor to a bear is a dilemma that eventually will eat you.
What is harming the land or soil, sources of pollution are industry, agriculture, road transport, residential areas and so on. Waste, old unnecessary plastic packaging is a particularly big problem because it is a long-decomposing petroleum product. Mechanical pollution – pollution of the environment only by substances with a mechanical effect, such as dust and particulate matter. Dust – solid particles the size of 1-150?m. They are formed during many industrial and agricultural processes: mining, metallurgy, machine building, metal processing, textile industry, agricultural work, road rolling. House dust – dead human skin cells, crumbled hair, fabric threads, plant fragments, ground sand, food crumbs, etc. They breed dust mites, molds and fungi. The most common sources of fine particulate matter pollution are boilers using fossil fuels, such as ash and soot. Industrial processes – metal, fabric dust, soil erosion and transport, which not only directly emits solid particles, but also lifts them off the road surface.
Furthermore, in ancient prehistoric times, when man was only a hunter and gatherer, his influence on the landscape was quite insignificant. With the progress, the advancement of technology, the increase of invention and discovery, the results of human activity became more and more noticeable. In an effort to obtain as much output as possible at any cost, no attention was paid to where and what object will be installed or built. As a result of this irresponsibility, natural landscapes have been disturbed: plows, pastures, wastelands, poor grasslands and low-yielding large-grass meadows, felled forests, exploited quarries, drained wetlands. In the urban landscape, buildings, engineering facilities and lines, roads, landfills often overshadow the natural base, if not near the building’s organic connection with the natural environment. Recently, the landscape has become the focus of attention in all developing countries, trying to follow the experience of the most advanced countries in the field.
As a result, integrated environmental information systems are being developed for the forecasting of the impact of human activities, the quality of the living environment, and the planning of urban development. Although these models help to identify ecological problems, capture so-called hotspots, they do not provide an integrated assessment of the state of the urban landscape, which can predict the sharpest socio-ecological tension fields and avoid landscape pollution. For example, during year 2017 in United States, out of 267,790,000 tons of municipal solid waste, an rapidly increasing massive number of 139,590,000 tons took place in landfill. (Hassenzahl, Hager and Berg) The socio-ecological quality of the environment should be assessed from the point of view of psychological comfort and aesthetics. Thus, all of it affects our overall quality that also includes what we breathe.
Last, but by far, not least – air. Something that none of us can imagine living without or if we do so, at least not naturally, with great distress. Such as the current situation of COVID-19 proves us, the people that did get sick, experiences the lack of air. Which we tend to take for granted. So, as Earth, needs that air that comes from self-sufficient provider – itself, which is nature. Air pollution at times can be visible. We can notice a dark smoke coming out from the exhaust pipes of factories or vehicles. Unfortunately, it is the more often case that we do not see air pollution. Nonetheless, it is dangerous.
Primary air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, non-burnt hydrocarbons, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, benzene and other toxic exhaust gases that produce secondary pollutants such as ozone, are emitted in large quantities with vehicle emissions and therefore cause significant direct and indirect emissions, risks to human health and the environment. Carbon monoxide or CO is very dangerous to human health because it affects the cardiovascular system. For example, the course of angina is aggravated, and the tolerance of physical exertion in patients with peripheral vascular and pulmonary diseases is reduced. There are even possible functional disorders of the central nervous system. High levels of carbon monoxide are detrimental to heart function. Next, ozone is a crucial element of the atmosphere that shapes the planet’s climate, even though it is only a millionth of the atmosphere. It is mostly 12 – 18 miles away from the surface. The optimal lighting of the earth’s surface and the thermal regime suitable for living organisms depend on the ozone layer.
In the human body, ozone has a negative effect, because by intensive oxidation, hemoglobin is broken down in the blood. Ozone can cause deterioration in lung function, increase in airway sensitivity, respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia or asthma, increased nosocomial morbidity and mortality from respiratory diseases. Especially during 2019-2020 situation with coronavirus, people are able to see many effects of the environment. Whether the whole mess happened because of again, a manmade caused issue or of some other reasons, it is not hard to see how fast Earth started healing itself. Where on the contrary, people are losing lives or surviving through a traumatic experience, that most likely leaves an affect in the body – limited ability to breathe.
To conclude, I have reflected and went over some in-depth insights from many resources while focusing mainly on water, land and air pollution worldwide, while taking into consideration the current global situation of COVID-19 and its unfortunate affects. During my research and the class, I was able to conclude one thing – that we are guests on this planet and that at any time it all can come to an end. However, we have a very strong influence on how the outcome for mankind can turn. And in fact, Homo Sapiens are making a change by developing solar panels, hopefully they are not in fact, toxic. Working on developing different kinds of water pollution treatments, solutions for land and air pollution also, that seems very promising. Changes are being done, however fast will determine our future, or those will be fortunate or unfortunate enough to see it, if it is not already, too late. If we are able to have this amount of information and such knowledge and wisdom, such situations like coronavirus should not keep repeating itself time and time again. As the quote goes “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
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