We know how organisms live altogether in communities in an ecosystem made up of the biotic and abiotic components. Such communities when of the similar features over large or regional climatic regions become biomes. By the explosively growing human population, considerable stress is being positioned on the environment in such a way that the communities are being adversely affected.
Man and the Environment:
Communities thrive in the environment in which man consists of a dominating influence. By means of the increasing human population, considerable stress is positioned on the environment via the ever-increasing consumption of quantities of water and food, employing a great deal of energy and raw materials and producing huge amounts of waste and pollution. Industrial pollution and deforestation add up to the threat on the environment.
Pollution is the direct or indirect discharge of products injurious to organisms into the environment as a direct result of human activity. Pollution can take place in any of such ways: Chemical, Industrial or Nuclear.
To cope up with the increasing human population, wide spread agriculture taken out increasingly by modern processes, causes large amounts of numerous new types of chemicals to be introduced into the global system. These comprise herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. A good illustration is the chlorinated hydrocarbons, a class of compounds which comprises DDT, lindane, chlordane and dieldrin. They are not biodegradable, might be resistant to decay and thus accumulate in the environment.
However, these chemicals have been banned for the normal use in industrial countries such as the United States and Europe they still circulate in the ecosystem. It is recognized that now, they are still made in the United States for export and employed in other countries often finding their way back to United States as contaminants on vegetables and fruits. Chlorinated hydrocarbon molecules break down slowly and build up in animal fat.
Moreover, as they pass via the food chain they become increasingly concentrated particularly in the top Trophic levels. Before the ban of DDT in Europe and United States it led to the production of thin, fragile eggshells in most of the predatory bird species in the United States and peregrine falcons in the Britain.
Industrial pollution takes place when factories or factory products discharge pollutants into the atmosphere which cause environmental harm. Industrial pollution can take place in any of these ways:
a) Production of Acid Rain:
Factories which burn coal as fuel propel smoke up high into the atmosphere via their smokestacks which are generally above 65 meters tall. The smoke includes high concentrations of sulphur dioxide and other sulphates. Combustion of fossil-fuels, whether petrol in vehicles or oil, coal or gas in power stations produces alike sulphur rich end results.
When sulphur is introduced into the upper atmosphere joins with water-vapor in the air, they generate sulphuric acid and when the water later falls as snow or rain, the precipitation is acid therefore, it is termed as acid rain.
b) The Ozone Layer:
Ozone is merely present in the concentrations of a few parts per million or less and concentrated in the earth's stratosphere 15 to 50 km above the earth's surface. During the mid 1980s British environmental scientists all of a sudden realized that over Antarctica, ozone levels were falling radically making a gap termed as the ozone hole. The hole is not a permanent characteristic, however instead one that becomes evident each year for a few months at the start of the Antarctic spring. It has been noticed that each and every September from 1975 onward, the ozone hole has reappeared and the layer of ozone thinner and the hole bigger.
Thinning of the layer of ozone in the stratosphere is a matter of serious concern. This layer protects main biological molecules especially proteins and nucleic acids from the injurious ultraviolet rays which bombard the earth constantly from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is a serious human health concern. Each and every 1 percent drop in the atmosphere ozone content is estimated to lead to a 6 percent increase in the incidence of the skin cancers.
Carbon dioxide and Global Warming:
The atmosphere of earth gives it a warmer temperature of around 15oC at ground level than the18oC of the moon which is devoid of atmosphere. Much of the incoming radiation from the sun is absorbed through the atmosphere and then re-radiated back to the earth's surface.
On the moon having no atmosphere, the heat is re-radiated out into space. The atmosphere on earth acts similar to a gigantic greenhouse trapping the heat and surrounding the earth. Humans can merely survive on the earth because of the effect of greenhouse.
Carbon-dioxide and water vapor are the gases in the atmosphere accountable for keeping the surface of the earth comparatively warm by trapping the heat radiating from the surface of the earth. Though, it is renowned that each and every year, humans are contributing to the greenhouse effect by discharging into the atmosphere gigantic amounts of carbon-dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nitrous oxide and other gases. The most significant of such gases in relation to the greenhouse effect is carbon-dioxide. Around 7-times as much carbon-dioxide is locked up in fossil fuels. Before extensive industrialization, the concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere was around 260 to 280 parts per million (ppm).
Nuclear energy came out from the realization that our sources of energy gas, coal and oil are becoming scarce and the cost of locating and extracting latest deposits more costly. Modern society is being forced to look somewhere else for energy. However, nuclear power is not cheap as power plants are costly to build and operate; employing current technology, the raw materials, uranium ore is so common in the earth's crust that it is not likely we will ever run out of it. Nuclear power thus promises to give an alternative source of abundant energy which can be employed for electricity generation.
When tropical evergreen forests are eliminated, the ecological effects can be disastrous. Most forest destructions take place in the tropics particularly in the rain forests of Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia. More than half of the world's human population lives in the tropics and the percentage is rising rapidly. Most of the people in the tropics have traditionally engaged in shifting the cultivation. Such agricultural systems work well where human populations are comparatively low.
As populations increase though, there will be decreased opportunities for successful growth of traditional crops. The utilization of firewood as a source of fuel hastens the termination of numerous tropical forests. Around 1.5 billion people globally depend on firewood as a main source of fuel. Local supplies are cut faster than the trees can renew themselves.
Loss of Biodiversity:
A most severe and rapidly accelerating of all global ecological problems caused by man is the loss of biodiversity. In the past 300 years, there has been a loss of species of renowned groups of organisms comprising birds, mammals and plants. Scientists have computed that as much as 20% of the world's biodiversity might be lost throughout the next 30 years. With man destroying the tropical rainforests beneath what may be termed growth, and felling of trees for logs, the loss might be much greater.
The loss could influence numerous species of mammals, plants, birds and invertebrates. Man is killing species off at a rate which has not been approached for the past 65 million years. There is the requirement to stop the trend as we might be doing so at our own peril. On moral¸ ethical or aesthetic grounds man consists of no right to drive to extinction his living companions in the universe. Secondly, organisms are the mere means of sustainability to man. They are sources of clothing, food, medicine, biomass and shelter. Thirdly, organisms taking place in communities function to preserve soils control or regulate water and nutrient cycles which are necessary to plants modulate features of the atmosphere and absorb pollution.
There is thus the requirement for man to work altogether and participate in sound, worldwide based schemes to preserve as much as possible of the biological diversity of life on the earth.
Resolving the environmental problems:
Resolving environmental problems might need the given suggested steps to be undertaken:
1) Assessment: The first phase in addressing any environmental problem is scientific analysis, via the gathering of information. By using the collected data and experimentation, models can be constructed to explain the circumstances and to make forecasts regarding future course of events.
2) Risk Analysis: By using the outcomes of scientific analysis as a tool, it is possible to analyze what could be estimated to happen if a specific course of action were followed. An environmental impact statement is often made at this point.
3) Public Education: When a clear choice can be made among alternative courses of action, the public should be informed.
4) Political Action: The public, through its elected officials, makes a selection, choosing a course of action and implementing it. To implement choices can be hard when environmental problems transcend national boundaries.
5) Follow-through: The outcome of any action taken must be cautiously monitored to see whether the ecological problem is being resolved and more basically to calculate and enhance the initial assessment and modeling of the problems.
It must be borne in mind which perhaps one of the ways of resolving the world's ecological problems is the enhancement of technology in the area of solar energy and wind energy to give the driving force for the technological growth of the future.
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