Population, natural resources
End of the World
What is environmental protection
By the notion of environmental protection we understand all activities whose aim is to exploit, maintain and, if possible, replenish sensible resources and riches of natural environment. Apart from informal activities (ecological organizations and movements), some ecological activities became formalized and made global. Furthermore, international legislative and executive institutions take care of the protection of natural resources.
The conception of environmental protection appeared in the 19th century when the processes of industrialization sped up (the development of industry, the growth of cities, the increased exploitation of natural resources) which entailed new threats, such as pollution. At that time people became conscious of human destructive influences and the necessity of protecting their resources.
In the 20th century the development of industry progressed. This intensive expansion, which often took the form of overexploitation, caused other dangers and, accordingly, the development of activities whose aim was to protect the environment. Nowadays these problems are more often than not, regulated by law.
The main activities concerning environmental preservation, some more global than others, include the introduction of restrictions on the emission of harmful chemical compounds, a prohibition on using particularly destructive substances, protection of valuable ecosystems (national and landscape parks) and specific riches (natural features of historic importance). Environmental protection also involves less spectacular actions, such as promoting cleanliness, waste segregation, saving natural resources by more sensible use of, for example, water and energy.
Types of environmental pollution
Human activity is characterized by a huge diversity and practically in every field pollution may be generated. Pollution can be divided in terms of environment or the area of contamination: air pollution, soil pollution, water pollution and landscape pollution. We distinguish various types of pollution: dust, gases, sewage, waste, radioactive contamination and also noise and light.
Anthropogenic air pollution is mainly the result of the emission of harmful dust, gases and aerosols into the atmosphere. These harmful substances come from industrial, food-processing and transport activity.
Water pollution is the effect of water contamination by sewage and waste. Additional factors which pollute are: water transport (direct influence) and using pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agriculture; these agents penetrate through soil into ground water and then into cycle. What is more, the cycle of water in the nature is disturbed due to forest destruction, improper farming and the development of cities.
Soil is usually polluted by extensive and irresponsible waste disposal, using fertilizers and plant protection agents. It is also polluted indirectly by air, rainfall and ground water pollution.
Landscape pollution includes, first of all, omnipresent rubbish, waste stockpiles, dumps, slag heaps and damage caused by the exploitation of fossil deposits, everything that lowers the aesthetic qualities of the environment and frequently results in the destruction of nearby ecosystems.
Although light and noise pollution does not cause damage to the particular environment (air, land or water) and it might seem to be exaggeration of the problem, it becomes more and more serious threat to big cities and their surroundings. Artificial light has a negative influence on animals' and people's vital functions. The negative influence of the excess of light affects especially organisms which are active at night. Birds suffer as well - city lights made them disorientated during migrations. People are advised against sleeping in places which are lit by street lamps since it causes sleep disorders and in extreme cases it may lead to insomnia and exhaustion of organism.
There is no doubt that noise has a negative influence and, as scientists discovered, about 40% of Europeans live in conditions in which the noise generated by traffic exceeds the 55 decibels, so it exceeds the safe level (serious hearing irritation) during day whereas 30% Europeans are subject to noise which goes above 30 decibels even at night and at this level sleep is disturbed.
The effects of the environmental pollution
Environmental pollution has a destructive influence on a global scale - the problem concerns our whole planet and also local places - the existing threats are different in various countries.
On a macro scale people and by-products of their activity in the form of harmful substances polluting the air, soil and water, led to the increase in the greenhouse effect and consequently to global climate warming, the ozone hole and acidified precipitation. And thus:
On a macro scale each threat mentioned above influences: separate elements of the natural environment, plants, animals, whole ecosystems. They also cause diseases associated with the progress of civilization, for example allergies incidence rate has increased, more and more people suffer from diseases of blood circulation system and cancer.
The methods of environmental preservation
To protect the environment it is necessary to take action at local level as well as cooperate at international level.
On a global scale United Nations and various international committees and ecological organizations deal with the environmental protection. The aim of formalized activities is to introduce legal articles regulating the issues of environmental protection: restrictions on the emission of harmful compounds, the methods of waste recycling, prohibitions and promotion of specific activities.
The general aim of such activities is to eliminate threats; however, it should not mean ceasing all kinds of activities since it would defeat the purpose and stop the development; the point is that we ought to learn how to exploit the natural resources sensibly and let technology develop, taking into consideration our and environmental protection. And these types of actions are possible even at specific unit's level. All of us have considerable influence on the use of natural resources and clean environment. Every person is able to limit the emission of exhaust fumes, they just have to choose transport public or a bicycle instead of a car from time to time. We will be also ecological-friendly if we save water and energy, support waste recycling (by rubbish segregation) and first and foremost we will be aware of all the existing threats and the fact that it is human mindlessness that often leads to accidents with tragic consequences (ecological catastrophes).
Diseases caused by environmental pollution
Harmful effect of environmental pollution manifests itself in lowered immunity to all kinds of diseases which means that human organism becomes more liable to pathogenic influence of various factors.
This influence can be direct or indirect. All harmful chemical compounds we take in with the air or water have direct, toxic impact on people. Animals and plants which are also influenced by pollution in the process of nourishment become the source of harmful substances which we assimilate indirectly while eating.
As far as specific diseases caused by pollution are concerned, they are, above all, all kinds of diseases associated with the progress of civilizations. Their development, variety and incident rate depend closely on industrialization and changes in the quality and style of life resulting from the progress of our civilization. These diseases include cancer, allergies, asthma, sight and hearing diseases (caused by the excess of light, noise, ultraviolet radiation), neurosis, diseases of blood circulation system, skin diseases.
All kinds of emitted pollution has impact on our health and it is impossible to discuss it briefly; nevertheless, their influence is indisputable, especially as in industrialized areas incidence rate of diseases associated with the progress of civilization has increased which is contrary to the areas with less developed industry or with no industry at all; in these areas contagious diseases are more frequent.
Even a special field of medicine was distinguished - environmental medicine. Its aim is to deal with diagnosis, treatment and, above all, prevention of health problems caused by environmental pollution.