Contaminating The Environment Essay, Research Paper
Contaminating the Environment
Humans are able to control nature unlike any other creature here on earth. We are the smartest of all the animals on this planet. This is why we are able to control most of the good or bad effects that happen here on earth. However, we do not always do what is best for the environment. Every year people and animals die from us polluting the earth. Chemicals are becoming one of the main problems with controlling the environment. Humans’ spray poisons on the land we live on and expect that nothing wrong will happen. These poisons eventually end up in our water we drink or shower in. There are many chemicals that cause harm to our environment. “Strontium 90, released through nuclear explosions into the air comes to earth in rain or drifts down as fallout and embeds itself in the soil where it enters into the grass or corn and eventually finds its way into the bones of human beings to remain there until death.” (Carson 513) Every year there are new products that threaten the environment. These products or chemicals can float into the air and are becoming a major source of pollution. Some chemicals we have created are depleting the ozone layer. Humans use dangerous materials to contaminate the air, water, and land.
Contaminating the air is our first serious threat to our planet. In many large cities, cars and factories pollute the air. In cities such as Los Angeles and Mexico City smog is a constant problem. Children, elderly people or people with asthma often get sick from breathing dirty air. There have been new developments in our understanding of the holes in the ozone layer and in our scientific studies of the spreading risk of ozone depletion. CFC’s and chlorine are known for destroying the ozone layer. Chemicals that are in the air cause different hazes. Smog from our cars are easily seen if you are in populated city. Certain hazes reflect a large amount of the incoming sunlight. Through time reduced sunlight could reduce the amount of evaporation of the ocean water and would then cause the earth to have less rainfall. When there is less rainfall there aren’t as many plants being grown. Having fewer plants will cause more animals to starve to death. If plant and animal life is destroyed then we will eventually perish too. Another threat is posed by acid rain, a type of air pollution. The burning of fossil fuels causes acid rain. Once these fossil fuels are burned they are released into the air. “Once in the air, some acid-forming materials-large particulates-from power plants, industries, and mobile sources fall to the earth just a few miles away or within 18 to 30 miles.”(Gay 27) When this occurs these acid materials end up in our water or on the land we live on.
Another problem we face is water pollution. Water is our most valuable resource. It is used for a variety of uses. Factories, sewage treatment plants, and oil tankers cause water pollution. If an oil tanker has a leak it covers the ocean with oil. This oil ends up on our beaches and kills animal life and makes our beaches not safe to go to. Farmers runoff water containing pesticides and fertilizers from acres of agricultural land are a major source of water pollution. They spray poisons on crops to prevent insects from infesting the fruit or vegetables. These poisons seep into the ground and then cause water pollution. This pollution is much more difficult to control. The runoff water from the farms accounts for a majority of the contaminants in streams and lakes. “For example, just one liter of insecticide killed over 1,000 fish in the River Glaven in Norfolk. During the 1950s, otters in many parts of the country were nearly wiped out by the accumulation of pesticides in our rivers.” (www.wildlifetrust) With almost 80 percent of the planet covered by oceans or lakes, people have thought that these bodies of water could serve as a limitless dumping ground for wastes. This is wrong because raw sewage, garbage, and oil spills have begun to overwhelm the oceans, and most coastal waters are now polluted. Beaches around the world are closed regularly, often because of high amounts of bacteria from sewage disposal. Another threat is water that seeps through porous rocks and is then stored beneath the ground. This is called groundwater. Although groundwater is a renewable resource, it takes a long period of time to be replenished. Contamination also arises from leaking underground storage tanks, industrial waste ponds, and wells that contain hazardous wastes. We must consider the effects that water has on earth. This polluted water destroys the land we live on.
The last problem we face is soil pollution. Soil pollution can affect plant and animal life. Having toxic materials on the ground kills plants that are necessary for insects to survive. If these insects die then other animals don’t have food. This cycle continues until eventually all the animals die. Treating the soil with chemical fertilizers and pesticides interferes with the natural processes occurring within the soil and destroys useful organisms. This process kills even beneficial microorganisms and leaves the soil sterile and dependent upon fertilizer to support plant growth. This results in heavy fertilizer use and increases polluted runoff into lakes and streams. Solid wastes are another threat to our soil. Solid materials such as garbage, paper, plastics, metals, and wood are thrown out annually. Areas where wastes are buried, called landfills, are the cheapest and most common disposal method for solid wastes worldwide. Landfills quickly become overfilled and may contaminate air, soil, and water. These landfills are massive pits of pollution. The chemicals in the landfills fall to the bottom of the pits and are then absorbed into the ground. Once the chemicals are in the ground they are carried off from underground water. These landfills also produce a type of gas from the decaying trash. We have found a way to recycle this gas to use it as an energy source. Recycling is helpful because it extracts and reuses certain waste materials. Expanding recycling programs worldwide can help reduce solid waste pollution for the entire planet.
If we continue to foolishly not take care of our planet we will end up like the thousands of dead plants and animals that at one time lived on this earth. As long as this pollution continues it is only a mater of time until we die off. As John Steinbeck says, “our rivers are poisoned by reckless dumping of sewage and toxic industrial wastes, the air of our cities is filthy and dangerous to breathe from the belching of uncontrolled products from combustion of coal, coke, oil, and gasoline.” (Steinbeck 550) Even our drinking water has become polluted with toxins. Water is the key to survival, and without it nothing can survive. Having polluted air effects the ozone layer that will lead to global warming. We must work on keeping a cleaner planet so that every living organism has a chance to live. Humans control nature by regulating everything harmful to the environment. As technology grows we are able to see what effects we have on the environment as a whole.
Carson, Rachel. “The Obligation to Endure” The Mcgraw-Hill Reader, Gilbert H. Muller Boston Seventh Edition 1999
Steinbeck, John. “Americans and the Land”. The Mcgraw-Hill Reader, Gilbert H. Muller Boston Seventh Edition 1999
Gay, Kathlyn. Air Pollution. New York: Watts 1991
“Rivers” April 18, 2001.