A variety of environmental problems now affect our entire world. As globalization continues and the earth’s natural processes transform local problems into international issues. Some of the largest problems now affecting the world can be enumerated like:
• Anoxic waters — Anoxic event, Hypoxia, Ocean deoxygenation, Dead zone
• Climate change — Global warming, Global dimming, Fossil fuels, Sea level rise, Greenhouse gas, Ocean acidification, Shutdown of thermohaline circulation
• Conservation — Species extinction, Pollinator decline, Coral bleaching, Holocene extinction, Invasive species, Poaching, Endangered species
• Dams — Environmental impacts of dams
• Energy — Energy commercialization
• Environmental degradation — Habitat destruction, Invasive species
• Environmental health — Air quality, Asthma, Electromagnetic fields, Electromagnetic radiation and health, Indoor air quality, Lead poisoning, Sick Building Syndrome
• Genetic engineering — Genetic pollution, Genetically modified food controversies
• Intensive farming — Overgrazing, Irrigation, Monoculture, Environmental effects of meat production, Slash and burn, Pesticide drift
• Land degradation — Land pollution, Desertification
• Soil — Soil conservation, Soil erosion, Soil contamination, Soil salination
• Land use — Urban sprawl, Habitat fragmentation
• Nanotechnology — Nano-toxicology, Nano-pollution
• Nuclear issues — Nuclear fallout, Nuclear meltdown, Nuclear power, Radioactive waste .
• Overpopulation — Burial, Water crisis, Overpopulation in companion animals, Tragedy of the commons
• Ozone depletion — CFC
• Pollution — Light pollution, Noise pollution, Visual pollution
• Water pollution — Acid rain, Marine pollution, Ocean dumping, Oil spills, Thermal pollution, Urban runoff, Water crisis, Marine debris, Ocean acidification, Ship pollution, Waste water, Fish kill, Algal bloom, Mercury in fish
• Air pollution — Smog, Troposphere ozone, Indoor air quality, Volatile organic compound, Particulate matter, Sulphur oxide
• Resource depletion — Exploitation of natural resources, Over drafting
• Consumerism — Consumer capitalism, Planned obsolescence, Over-consumption
• Fishing — Blast fishing, Bottom trawling, Cyanide fishing, Ghost nets, Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, Over fishing, Whaling
• Logging — Clear cutting, Deforestation, Illegal logging
• Mining — Acid mine drainage, Mountaintop removal mining, Slurry impoundments
• Toxins — Chlorofluorocarbons, DDT, Endocrine disruptors, Dioxin, Toxic heavy metals, Herbicides, Pesticides, Toxic waste, PCB, Bio accumulation, Bio magnification
• Waste — E-waste, Litter, Waste disposal incidents, Marine debris, Medical waste, Landfill, Leach ate, Recycling, Incineration, Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Apart from the above, there may be some more reasons responsible for causing environmental hazards. If we, as responsible inhabitant of this beautiful earth, go through our own working sincerely, we may find ourselves responsible to some extent for enhancing pollution.
We too can take a few steps. For example, we use glass in our day-to-day life. After the use, we throw away. You know! A glass bottle that is sent to a landfill can take up to a million years to break down. By contrast, it takes as little as 30 days for a recycled glass bottle to leave your kitchen recycling bin and appear on a store shelf as a new glass container.
- Glass recycling is both simple and beneficial. It is good for the environment…it is sustainable. Glass containers are 100-percent recyclable, which means they can be recycled repeatedly, again and again, with no loss of purity or quality in the glass.
- Glass recycling is efficient.. Recovered glass from glass recycling is the primary ingredient in all new glass containers. A typical glass container is made of as much as 70 percent recycled glass. According to industry estimates, 80 percent of all recycled glass eventually ends up as new glass containers.
- It conserves natural resources. Every ton of glass that is recycled saves more than a ton of the raw materials needed to create new glass, including: 1,300 pounds of sand; 410 pounds of soda ash; and 380 pounds of limestone.
- It saves energy. Making new glass means heating sand and other substances to a temperature of 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, which requires a lot of energy and creates a lot of industrial pollution. One of the first steps in glass recycling is to crush the glass and create a product called “cullet.” Making recycled glass products from cullet consumes 40 percent less energy than making new glass from raw materials, because cullet melts at a much lower temperature.
- Recycled glass is useful. Because glass is made from natural materials such as sand and limestone, it glass containers have a low rate of chemical interaction with their contents. As a result, glass can be safely reused. Besides serving as the primary ingredient in new glass containers, recycled glass also has many other commercial uses—from creating decorative tiles and landscaping material to rebuilding eroded beaches.
- Glass recycling is also simple. It’s simple because glass is one of the easiest materials to recycle. For one thing, glass is accepted by almost all curbside recycling programs and mu
nicipal recycling centers. About all most people have to do to recycle glass bottles and jars. Or, they may carry their recycling bin to the curb, or maybe drop off their empty glass containers at a nearby collection point.
Fireworks too contribute a lot to increase the pollution. Fireworks use is increasing in popularity around the world, including in countries without strict air pollution standards. Their use includes a variety of toxic pollution that rain down on neighborhoods from coast to coast, often in violation of environmental laws. Fireworks Can Be Toxic to Humans. Depending on the effect sought, fireworks produce smoke and dust that contain various heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds and other noxious chemicals. Barium, for instance, is used to produce brilliant green colors in fireworks displays, despite being poisonous and radioactive. Copper compounds are used to produce blue colors, even though they contain dioxin, which has been linked to cancer. Cadmium, lithium, antimony, rubidium, strontium, lead and potassium nitrate are also commonly used to produce different effects, even though they can cause a host of respiratory and other health problems. The chemicals and heavy metals used in fireworks also take their toll on the environment, sometimes contributing to water supply contamination and even acid rain. Their use also deposits physical litter on the ground and into water bodies for miles around. Keeping in view the hazards of fireworks, we must think if we really need fireworks.
To make our environment better, we can think about the pattern of our commuting. Should we go in our cars, we should keep flying or we should prefer cycling? The simple answer is that driving in a relatively fuel-efficient car (25-30 miles per gallon) usually generates fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than flying. In assessing the global warming impact of a trip from Philadelphia to Boston (about 300 miles), driving would generate about 104 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2)—a leading greenhouse gas—per typical medium-sized car, regardless of the number of passengers, while flying on a commercial jet would produce some 184 kilograms of CO2 per passenger.
While even driving alone would be slightly better from the standpoint of greenhouse-gas emissions, carpooling really makes environmental sense. Four people sharing a car would collectively be responsible for emitting only 104 kilograms of CO2, while the same four people taking up four seats on a plane would generate some 736 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Flying from San Francisco to Boston, for example, would generate some 1,300 kilograms of greenhouse gases per passenger each way, while driving would account for only 930 kilograms per vehicle. So, again, sharing the drive with one or more people would lower each individual’s carbon footprint from the experience accordingly. In terms of saving for finance and time, air travel can be cheaper if you go for long distances.
If you talk about the emissions, an individual’s emissions from riding a bus (the ultimate carpool) or a train would be significantly lower. A cross-country train trip would generate about half the greenhouse-gas emissions of driving a car. The only way to travel greener might be to bicycle or walk—but the trip is long enough as it is. It depends upon you as to what you prefer – your own conveniences or the benefits for your present and future generations.
Though overall, aviation accounts for only about 2 percent of carbon dioxide emissions globally, at high altitudes jet exhaust may cause a warming effect that is two or three times greater than that of carbon dioxide. To reduce the affect, we can cut Night Flights especially in winter. It can help slow global warming by lowering greenhouse gas emissions caused by air traffic. At night, the warming effect is magnified, because there is no reflective cooling effect to help counter it. And the problem becomes worse in winter, when cold, moist air is more likely to exist at all elevations. According to the researchers, contrails are almost twice as likely to form in winter than in summer.
The research study, which was reported in the journal Nature, found that night flights accounted for only 25 percent of the daily air traffic but contributed 60 percent to 80 percent of the warming caused by commercial aviation. At the same time, winter flights accounted for only 22 percent of the annual number of commercial flights, but they contributed half of the annual warming effect.
What Causes Global Warming?
Scientists have determined that a number of human activities are contributing to global warming by adding excessive amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat that normally would exit into outer space.
Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming
While many greenhouse gases occur naturally and are needed to create the greenhouse effect that keeps the Earth warm enough to support life, human use of fossil fuels is the main source of excess greenhouse gases. By driving cars, using electricity from coal-fired power plants, or heating our homes with oil or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Deforestation is another significant source of greenhouse gases, because fewer trees means less carbon dioxide conversion to oxygen.
During the 150 years of the industrial age, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by 31 percent. Over the same period, the level of atmospheric methane has risen by 151 percent, mostly from agricultural activities such as raising cattle and growing rice.
The Consequences of Global Warming
As the concentration of greenhouse gases grows, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere and less escapes back into space. This increase in trapped heat changes the climate and alters weather patterns, which may hasten species extinction, influence the length of seasons, cause coastal flooding, and lead to more frequent and severe storms.
What are Greenhouse Gases?
Many greenhouse gases occur naturally, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Others such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) result exclusively from human industrial processes.
Human Activities and Greenhouse Gases
Human activities also add significantly to the level of naturally occurring greenhouse gases:
• Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by the burning of solid waste, wood and wood products, and fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal).
• Nitrous oxide emissions occur during various agricultural and industrial processes, and when solid waste or fossil fuels are burned.
• Methane is emitted when organic waste decomposes, whether in landfills or in connection with livestock farming. Methane emissions also occur during the production and transport of fossil fuels.
The Properties of Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse gases vary in their ability to absorb and hold heat in the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as the “greenhouse effect.” HFCs and PFCs are the most heat-absorbent, but there are also wide differences between naturally occurring gases. For example, nitrous oxide absorbs 270 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide, and methane absorbs 21 times more heat per molecule
than carbon dioxide
How Do Humans Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Global Warming?
Throughout most of human history, and certainly before human beings emerged as a dominant species throughout the world, all climate changes were the direct result of natural forces.
Industrial Age Accelerates Global Warming
That changed with the start of the Industrial Revolution, when new agricultural and industrial practices began to alter the global climate and environment. Before that time, human activity didn’t release many greenhouse gases, but population growth, deforestation, factory farming, and the widespread use of fossil fuels are creating an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
Invest half an hour to protect the environment by changing how you live each day
This we know that burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. You may not be able to reduce global warming, end pollution and save endangered species single-handedly, but by choosing to live an earth-friendly lifestyle you can do a lot every day to help achieve those goals. And by making wise choices about how you live, and the amount of energy and natural resources you consume, you send a clear message to businesses, politicians and government agencies that value you as a customer, constituent and citizen.
You can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely. You can consider to take the following steps, apart from others what you think appropriate, to help reduce global warming.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Do your part to reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of disposables. Buying products with minimal packaging (including the economy size when that makes sense for you) will help to reduce waste. And whenever you can, recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. If there isn’t a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, ask about starting one. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
2. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning
Adding insulation to your walls and attic, and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows can lower your heating costs more than 25 percent, by reducing the amount of energy you need to heat and cool your home.
Turn down the heat while you’re sleeping at night or away during the day, and keep temperatures moderate at all times. Setting your thermostat just 2 degrees lower in winter and higher in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
3. Change a Light Bulb
Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a CFL will save you $30 over the life of the bulb. CFLs also last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy, and give off 70 percent less heat.
4. Drive Less and Drive Smart
Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving gasoline, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Explore your community mass transit system, and check out options for carpooling to work or school.
When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gas you save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
When it’s time to buy a new car, choose one that offers good gas mileage. Home appliances now come in a range of energy-efficient models, and compact florescent bulbs are designed to provide more natural-looking light while using far less energy than standard light bulbs.
Avoid products that come with excess packaging, especially molded plastic and other packaging that can’t be recycled. If you reduce your household garbage by 10 percent, you can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
6. Use Less Hot Water
Set your water heater at 120 degrees to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if it is more than 5 years old. Buy low-flow showerheads to save hot water and about 350 pounds of carbon dioxide yearly. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water and the energy required to produce it. That change alone can save at least 500 pounds of carbon dioxide annually in most households. Use the energy-saving settings on your dishwasher and let the dishes air-dry.
7. Use the “Off” Switch
Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room, and using only as much light as you need. And remember to turn off your television, video player, stereo and computer when you’re not using them.
It’s also a good idea to turn off the water when you’re not using it. While brushing your teeth, shampooing the dog or washing your car, turn off the water until you actually need it for rinsing. You’ll reduce your water bill and help to conserve a vital resource.
8. Plant a Tree
If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. During photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. They are an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle here on Earth, but there are too few of them to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by automobile traffic, manufacturing and other human activities. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
9. Get a Report Card from Your Utility Company
Many utility companies provide free home energy audits to help consumers identify areas in their homes that may not be energy efficient. In addition, many utility companies offer rebate programs to help pay for the cost of energy-efficient upgrades.
10. Encourage Others to Conserve
Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbors and co-workers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment.
11. Eat Vegetables
Eating less meat and more fruits, grains and vegetables can help the environment more than you may realize. Eating meat, eggs and dairy products contributes heavily to global warming, because raising animals for food produces many more greenhouse gas emissions than growing plants. A 2006 report by the University of Chicago found that adopting a vegan diet does more to reduce global warming than switching to a hybrid car.
Raising animals for food also uses enormous amounts of land, water, grain and fuel. Every year in the United States alone, 80 percent of all agricultural land, half of all water resources, 70 percent of all grain,
and one-third of all fossil fuels are used to raise animals for food.
Making a salad doesn’t take any more time than cooking a hamburger and it’s better for you—and for the environment.
12. Pay Your Bills Online
Many banks, utilities and other businesses now offer their customers the option of paying bills online, eliminating the need to write and mail paper checks or to keep paper records. By paying your bills online you can save time and money, lower the administrative costs of companies with which you do business, and reduce global warming by helping to prevent deforestation.
Signing up for online bill paying is easy and doesn’t take much time. You can either choose to have certain bills paid automatically each month or elect to review and pay each bill yourself. Either way, you will receive outstanding returns on your small investment of time.
As we celebrate World Environment Day today, we understand that every environmental problem has causes, numerous effects, and most importantly, a solution. Let’s take a step towards a clean and green environment. Plant a sapling, travel by public transport, use water and electricity wisely or just recycle & reuse! Every little we do in our own field, apart from what I could mention here, can help make a difference and pave way for a brighter tomorrow. Come, help conserve the environment for us and our loved ones.
Be Happy – Celebrate Environment Day Sincerely For Being Happier Tomorrow.