The environment as a topic of grave concern dominates the debates in the present times. Educational institutions such as schools and colleges have made it a point to include environmental studies in the compulsory curriculum. The need for environmental studies stems from the rampant deterioration of the environment at a global level. Huge quantities of toxic chemical wastes are spewed into the air, water and the land (in the form of sewage landfills). This unhindered liberation of non-treated wastes into the delicate environment leads to severe degradation of the environment on a global scale. Let us elaborate some of the most severe global environmental concerns:
Changes in an air, water and soil quality: the Human activity of burning fossil fuels, excessive tilling of land and extensive irrigational facilities and uncontrolled water pollution has tremendously shaken up the balance of the otherwise fragile ecosystems. Land, air and soil quality have degraded. Ambitious steps should be taken so as to reduce global emission. eEnormousquantities of potential top soil is eroded every year due to the lack of plant cover, owing to which the soil is more prone to degradation. Excessive usage of synthetic pesticides, indiscriminate use of fertilisers and over-exploitation and primary reasons for soil being harmed in quality as well as quantity. Sea-water is threatened by oil spills and industrial emissions from factories and urban industries that emit untreated waste matter directly into the water bodies. Ground water is challenged by pollution by chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and chromium, thereby threatening life and ecological balance.
Rainforests- An urgent issue of importance is the protection of the rainforests. These share a delicate balance owing to the mingling of flora and fauna. Hence, the preservation of the forests is a must as they serve as habitats for a wide diversity of plants and animals. These often lie in the watershed areas and call for significant attention. Engaging the local and indigenous communities for developing solutions to balance the co-existence of man and animals, in these natural rainforests is a matter of crucial importance.
Coral reefs and Biomagnification- This is a result of water pollution. Reviving the world’s oceans is an immediate concern as it has been predicted by marine scientists that by the year 2050, 70 % of the coral reefs of the planet could be lost. Oil spills from the coastal industries, oil rigs and moving vessels in the water bodies lead to death of the aquatic species. Not only are the coral reefs destroyed, but there is a phenomenon called Biomagnification where pollutants increase in quantity along the food chain. This happens because pollutants in the sea are consumed by phytoplankton, which are eaten by small fish, which is food for large fish. Large fish is finally consumed by man, thereby leading to death by mercury poisoning.
Curbing global warming and the ozone hole- Global warming is the steady increase in the average temperature of the earth. It is characterised by the temperature all across the globe, becoming unpredictable and erratic. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide gases increased in concentration thereby increasing the probability of Acid rain. Change in wind pattern, ocean currents, leads to possibilities of typhoons and cyclones. The possibility of epidemics increases owing to the mutation in microbes. Polar snow-caps have melted and resulted in widespread flood. The high exposure to Ultra-Violet radiation of the sun increases the chances of cancer and other severe teratogenic effects. The ozone hole that shields the earth from the UV radiation, is breaking down on account of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC compounds) which in turn causes damage to the genetic material and leads to higher probabilities of skin cancer. Retinal damage, malignant melanoma are other harmful effects of depletion of the stratospheric ozone.
Creation of cleaner technology- Preventing pollution is the slogan of most developmental strategies. The need of the hour is smart developmental decisions. Renewable technologies are preferred to the non-renewable ones. For instance, hydroelectricity, biogas, compressed natural gas (used in CNG vehicles) are opted for instead of fossil fuels and diesel and petrol. Vehicles running on Compressed Natural Gas are being increasingly promoted by for making a better choice in terms of technologies. Alternative sources of technologies need to be harnessed to prevent the exploitation of the dwindling natural resources.
Endangered flora and fauna- Stress on the environment is laid when there is a probability of extinction of wild species. Every species of flora and fauna has a role to play in maintaining the ecological balance. Hence, loss of one or another of the valuable species disrupts the delicate and fragile balance of the ecosystems and the food chains. Laws have to be passed in order to fight the extinction of these endangered animals and plants. For instance, campaigns are being actively undertaken to prevent the tiger from turning into an extinct species. Illegal hunting and poaching should be curbed so as to preserve the species and their habitats. Addressing the need for preserving and safeguarding biodiversity is an immensely significant environmental concern.
Overpopulation and climate change- The relationship between the two can be easily observed. Stress of the increasing population leads to excessive consumption of the natural resources. This is followed by over-exploitation and further depletion of the environment. Habitats are destroyed by deforestation and encroachment into nature, so as to clear land to make space for industries and human habitation. Fossil fuels are decreasing coupled by an increase in the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. Rise in the sea level, acidification of the oceans, floods and droughts are a blatant reminder of the excessive damage that mankind is subjecting the environment to.
These aforementioned changes in the atmosphere, global warming, mass disruption of the forest ecosystem, degradation of water resources, significant loss of valuable glaciers, noticeable change in the water currents and many more such hazardous effects of imbalance in nature need to be curtailed so as to ensure preservation of the environment for our future generations. The lack of consciousness in the educated individuals should be acted upon, just as the ignorance regarding these severe environmental concerns should be done away with using awareness strategies. The consumerist activities of fishing of sharks and whales, logging, mining, dumping toxicants in water and soil should be curtailed. It is time to switch to alternative technologies for a cleaner and greener Earth.