Environmental Pollution: Causes and Solutions

Introduction

The past two centuries have been characterized by vast technological advances that have had a significant effect on man and his environment. One of these advances has been in the form of increased industrialization by man.

Industrialization has resulted in detrimental practices such as deforestation, air and water pollution which have all threatened the fragile balance that exists between man and the environment. The consequences that have risen as a result of neglecting to take care of the environment have now become a reality to the whole of mankind.

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This has forced environmental issues to take a center stage in man’s life as nations have come together and put a valuable effort to restore, maintain and manage their respective eco systems. This paper shall present a concise yet informative research on the issue of environmental pollution. A definition of pollution shall be offered as well as a discussion on the major causes of pollution. Possible solutions to this problem shall be reviewed and the most suitable solutions offered.

What is Pollution?

The United Nations Environmental Programme defines pollution as the “undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities”. Pollution of the environment can occur naturally but it is man-made pollution that is mostly degenerative in nature. Pollution occurs in the air, soil and water as a result of substances which are harmful being released into them.

Causes of pollution

Waste disposal has been noted to be one of the main means by which water bodies are polluted. Most human beings have a tendency of throwing their rubbish and dirt into the water bodies and drainage systems assuming that they will be drained away to a better place. This results in the creation of rubbish hills which are not only an eye sore but they also pollute the air and the soil.

Fishermen and other members of the shipping industry pollute the waters by disposing cargo waste, plastic as well as noise emanating from their ships and machineries. The presence of such pollutants has serious impacts on the environment since some of the disposed substances are toxic.

Nuclear power has been exploited to provide power for running industries and cities. However, this power plants results in the production of radioactive waste which must be disposed off. If not properly disposed, radioactive waste can pollute the soil or water bodies if it is allowed to seep into the water table or into an ocean (Harrison 45). This form of waste is not only harmful to human beings but also to other animals, fishes and marine life. In a water body that is contaminated, the radioactive substances affect the fish and kills them leading to the decreased amounts of fish in the water body.

Another source of soil pollution is the excessive chemicals that are used in the agricultural sector, and homes. Mooney et al demonstrates that the weed killers used by individuals to tend to their gardens end up contaminating the soil (23). However this pollution does not end here for the contaminants often drain into the ground where they contaminate the underground waters. While this type of pollution is not visible, it still presents a serious threat to life resources. This pollution also extends to rivers in which the underground waters drain into.

Air pollution is mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels which results in the emission of green house gases. Fossil fuels are needed to run most industries and for this reason, Harrison claims that rapid population growth which led to increased industrialization, globalization and the need for more room for expansion is to blame for most of the pollution cases (23). Air pollution by green house gasses is especially troublesome since it has been seen to cause global warming.

These gas emissions also lead to atmospheric pollution which in turn contributes to acid rain. This type of pollution is wide spread and very problematic because if it is not stopped at the source, the chain reaction that follows cannot be prevented or stopped. The acid rain pours into soil making them acidic and therefore nonproductive and into oceans contaminating the water therein.

Solutions to pollution problems

The government has continued to play a significant role in reduction of pollution levels by adopting various strategies aimed at reducing pollution. A significant policy is that of Tax rebates which is offered to all industries that adopt eco friendly practices. This move by the government will reduce industrial emissions into the air as well as the level of toxic wastes that get into our water bodies by a wide margin since industrial fumes are some of the biggest causes of air pollution (UNEP).

In addition to this, all industries should be encouraged by law to plant trees which acts as carbon sinks thus reducing pollution levels. An increase in taxation on vehicles that are “gas guzzlers” can also aid in the battle to reduce green house gases emissions. In so doing, the adverse effects that air and water pollution by the industries have on our environment will greatly be reduced.

Over the years, it has been suggested that new architectural designs can help retard global warming. As such, the government must enforce the set laws which stipulate that new industrial, commercial and residential houses should be built using materials compliant with the new environmental laws.

More effective and efficient water and waste treatment methods have also been developed and it is a prerequisite to have them installed before starting up any industry. Citizens are also encouraged to use the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) model as part of their contribution towards a greener State.

Individuals can do a lot on their own to reduce the carbon footprint. Throughout the world, the level of electricity consumption is increasing every day (UNEP). It is therefore important that they adjust their lifestyle if they are to meet the stipulated limits. This can be done by switching to less energy consuming light bulbs, using public means of transport as compared to personal vehicles, switching back to fans rather than using air conditioners, using LCD and plasma screens instead of tube televisions.

To curb water pollution, dish washers can be employed instead of hand washing thereby reducing water wastage. Using the shower instead of the bath tub has been known to reduce Co2 emissions. In so doing, the level of pollution will have reduced significantly and the effects of these pollutants on our environment minimized.

The industrial sector is notable the chief polluter in almost all countries. As such, any change in this sector no matter how small can spell a big difference to the overall reduction of carbon emission. Shifting to more eco friendly equipments that use less fuel is one of the notable ways in which industries can make a difference.

Industries that employ the use of boilers should install smoke density meters which check on the levels of smoke emitted into the air thereby creating a means through which these harmful emissions can be regulated (Mooney et al 89). Implementation of a decentralization program can also help greatly reduce both vehicular and industrial pollution. This is because decentralization calls for the spreading out of industries as opposed to having them concentrated in one area.

Most suitable Solution

Knowledge based solutions are so far the best technique to tackle the problems of pollution that continue to affect our world. This is because an informed society is likely to understand the consequences of its actions and as such use this knowledge to solve its challenges that it faces daily.

As such, individuals must raise their level of interest in environmental issues to a level that is higher than it stands today. The reality is that few people know about some forms of pollution let alone their negative effect on our lives and the earth. If people were enlightened, it is likely that they would avoid activities that further pollution such as use of chemicals. Education and awareness therefore are the best ways to ensure that the environment is secured for future generations.

Conclusion

This paper set out to provide an informative research on pollution, its major causes and solutions that can be utilized to ensure a reduction in pollution. To this end, this paper has outlined the major forms of pollution. The paper has then proceeded to discuss the major ways in which pollution occurs.

It has been noted that most of the toxic wastes that invade our environment are human-made. The paper has also revealed that while there is no single solution to dealing with the problem of pollution, there are a number of actions which can be taken to mitigate pollution. If implemented, these changes no matter how little will at the end make a vast difference in the lives of many people as well as the ecological balance that supports such existence.

Works Cited

Harrison, Roy. Pollution: causes, effects and control. USA: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2001. Print.

Mooney, Linda Knox, David and Schacht, Caroline. Understanding Social Problems. NY: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Urban Environment Unit: Urban Air Pollution. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. http://www.unep.org/urban_environment/issues/urban_air.asp

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