Ecology and the world today
Коптяева Снежана Алексеевна, студент;
Грачева Анна Николаевна, студент;
Курбанова Абис Магомедовна, студент;
Матвеев Максим Андреевич, студент;
Радимушкин Андрей Юрьевич, студент;
Рябица Константин Вячеславович, студент;
Майоров Алексей Алексеевич, студент
Коргина Анита Владимировна, преподаватель иностранного языка, научный руководитель
Дмитровский институт непрерывного образования университета «Дубна» (Московская обл.)
Since ancient times Nature has served Man, being the source of his life. For thousands of years people lived in harmony with environment and it seemed to them that natural riches were unlimited. However, with the development of civilization man's interference in nature began to increase.
Large cities with thousands of smoky industrial enterprises appear all over the world today. The byproducts of their activity pollute the air we breathe, thewater we drink, the land we grow grain and vegetables on.
Every year world industry pollutes the atmosphere with about 1000 million tons of dust and other harmful substances. Many cities suffer from smog. Vast forests are cut and burn in fire. Their disappearance upsets the oxygen balance. As a result, some rare species of animals, birds, fish and plants disappear forever, a number of rivers and lakes dry up.
The pollution of air and the world's ocean, destruction of the ozone layer is the result of man's careless interaction with nature, a sign of the ecological crises. The most horrible ecological disaster befell Ukraine and its people after the Chernobyl tragedy in April 1986. About 18 percent of the territory of Belarus were also polluted with radioactive substances. A great damage has been done to the agriculture, forests and people's health. The consequences of this explosion at the atomic power station are tragic for the Ukrainian, Bylarussian and 3ther nations. Environmental protection is of a universal concern. That is why serious measures to create a system of ecological security should be taken.
Some progress has been already made in this direction. As many as 159 countries — members of the UNO — have set up environmental protection agencies. Numerous conferences have been held by these agencies to discuss problems facing ecologically poor regions including the Aral Sea, the South Urals, Kuzbass, Donbass, Semipalatinsk and Chernobyl. An international environmental research center has been set up on Lake Baikal. The international organization Greenpeace is also doing much to preserve the environment. But these are only the initial steps and they must be carried onward to protect nature, to save life on the planet not only for the sake of the present but also for the future generations. [C.381–383]
Our planet Earth is only a tiny part of the universe, but nowadays it’s the only place where we can live.
People always polluted their surroundings. But until now pollution was not such a serious problem. People lived in rural areas md did not produce such amount of polluting agents that would louse a dangerous situation in global scale. With the development: overcrowded industrial highly developed cities, which put huge amounts of pollutants into surrounds, the problem has become more and more dangerous. Today our planet is in serious danger. Acid rains, global warming, air and water pollution, and overpopulation are the problems that threaten human lives on the Earth.
In order to understand how air pollution affects our body, we must understand exactly what this pollution is. The pollutants that harm our respiratory system are known as particulates. Particulates are the small solid particles that you can see through rays of sunlight. They are products of incomplete combustion in engines, for example: internal-combustion engines, road dust and wood smoke. Billions of tons of coal and oil are consumed around the world every year. When these fuels are burnt, they produce smoke and other by-products, which is emitted into the atmosphere. Although wind and rain occasionally wash away the smoke, given off by power plants and automobiles, but it is not enough. [c.384]
Animals in danger
At present a thousand species are almost extinct because we hunt them or damage their environment. Here are some of the animals in danger. The World Wildlife Fund is fighting to save them.
The French priest, Pierre David, was the first European to see a giant panda in China in 1869. Today the giant panda is one of the rarest species in the world. There are perhaps only 300 of them left. It likes to live in bamboo forests, but these are slowly disappearing.
The giant panda can live for up to 20 years, and a big male can weigh 150 kilograms. A newborn panda weighs only 125 grams and measures less than 15 centimeters. The female panda is 800 times heavier than the baby at birth and the baby is 3–4 months old before it can crawl. It is pinkish-white at birth without dark markings and the familiar black eyes
Fortunately, the Chinese government now protects the panda, so it should survive. The World Wildlife Fund uses the panda as its symbol.
The story of the whale has been another great wildlife tragedy. Some of these are the largest animals that have ever lived. A blue whale can weigh over 125 tonnes. Whales are mammals, not fish and they are highly intelligent. They send messages to each other over very long distances with high-pitched sounds.Whales are now in great danger because hunters have killed too many of them. Modern ships and machines have made it easy to hunt these animals, and they are often killed in a very painful and cruel way. Some countries have agreed to protect the whale, but others have not and still kill too many. Our forests are disappearing because they are cut down or burnt. If this trend continues, one day we won’t have enough oxygen to breathe, we won’t see a beautiful green forest at all. The seas are in danger. They are filled with poison: industrial and nuclear wastes, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If nothing is done about it, one day nothing will be able to live in our seas. Every ten minutes one kind of animal, plant or insect dies ou1 forever. If nothing is done about it, one million species that art alive today may soon become extinct. And even greater threats are nuclear power stations. We all know bow tragic the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster are. Fortunately, it’s not too late to solve these problems. We have the time, the money and even the technology to make our planet a better, cleaner and safer place. We can plant trees and create parks for endangered animals. We can recycle our wastes; persuade enterprises to stop polluting activities, because it is apparent that our careless use of fossil fuels and chemicals is destroying this planet. And it is now more than ever apparent that at the same time we are destroying our bodies and our future. [c.226–227]
Global warming is sometimes referred to as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the absorption of energy radiated from the Earth’s surface by carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to become warmer. Each time we burn gasoline, oil, coal, or even natural gas, more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is what is causing the temperature on the Earth to rise, and creating many problems that will begin to take place in the coming decades.
Today, however, major changes are taking place. People are conducting an unplanned global experiment by changing the face of the entire planet. We are destroying the ozone layer, which allows life to exist on the Earth’s surface. All of these activities are unfavorably changing the composition of the biosphere and the Earth’s heat balance. If we do not slow down our use of fossil fuels and stop destroying the forests, the world could become hotter than it has been in the past million years. Average global temperatures have risen 1 degree over the last century. If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to spill into the atmosphere, global temperatures could rise five to 10 degrees by the middle of the next century. Some areas, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, will dry out and a greater occurrence of forest fires will take place. At the present rate of destruction, most of the rain forests will be gone by the middle of the century. This will allow man-made deserts to invade on once lush areas. Evaporation rates will also increase and water circulation patterns will change. Decreased rainfall in some areas will result in increased rainfall in others. In some regions, river flow will be reduced or stopped all together completely. Other areas will experience sudden downpours that create massive floods.
If the present arctic ice melting continues, the sea could rise as much as 2 meters by the middle of the next century.
Large areas of coastal land would disappear. Plants and other wildlife habitats might not have enough time to adjust to the rapidly changing climate. The warming will rearrange entire biological communities and cause many species to become died out.
The greenhouse effect and global warming both correspond with each other. The green house effect is recalled as incoming solar radiation that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere but prevents much of the outgoing infrared radiation from escaping into outer space. It causes the overheat of the air and as a result, we have the global warming effect. As you see, greenhouse effect and global warming correspond with each other, because without one, the other doesn’t exist. [c.386]
The hole in the ozone layer
Discovery of the hole in the ozone layer showed that human activity has a major impact on the Earth. The damage of ozone in the stratosphere high above the planet’s surface has been brought about as the result of the widespread use of chemicals, which under normal conditions are chemically inert and harmless. Ozone occurs at all levels in the atmosphere, but most of it is found in the stratosphere, between about 15–50 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, where it plays a very important role. Ozone absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation which is produced by the Sun. Ultraviolet radiation can damage cells of living things — plants, animals and people. Whereas small doses result in nothing worse than sunburn, larger amounts may cause cataracts or skin cancer, and can affect the growth of plants. The damage of ozone has been caused by complex chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine. Large amounts of gas called CFCs were produced in twentieth century for use in everyday appliances like fridges, aerosol spray cans, and fire extinguishers. At ground level, these compounds are chemically non-reactive. However they are carried on wind systems up into the highatmosphere, where the ozone layer is. CFCs can be broken up by the intense sunlight, but before their destruction CFCs gases become reactive and damage the ozone layer. The hole in the ozone layer is formed over the Antarctic continent each spring. During the long dark Antarctic winter, the atmosphere becomes colder than anywhere else on the Earth. Strong winds enclose the cold air above the Antarctic, allowing ice clouds to form. The ice crystals provide the sites where chlorine reacts _ with ozone when sunlight returns in the spring, and results in the ozone hole. In early summer, the ozone hole mixes with the rest of the air mass of the stratosphere. Over the past years, the concentrations of chlorine in the atmosphere have been steadily increasing, and as a result — more ozone has been destroyed.
Ozone itself is a useful protective layer high above our heads, but in the cities is pollutant agent. The CFCs have other effects too. As well as contributing to the breakdown of ozone, CFCs are also very effective in providing «greenhouse effect», contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere. However, the possible change in climate resulting from increases in various greenhouse gases might actually make the stratosphere colder, not warmer.
Governments of many countries agreed in 198 7 to the Montreal Protocol in an effort to reduce the amount of CFCs, and so protect the ozone layer. Since then, more countries have signed it, and more substances included for control. As a result, the amount of chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere is decreasing. With less chlorine in the atmosphere the ozone hole should become smaller, and eventually close up, but it might take 20–30 years. [c.387]
Water pollution occurs mostly, when people overload the water environment such as streams, lakes, underground water, bays or seas with wastes or substances harmful to living beings.
Water is necessary for life. All organisms contain it, some drink it and some live in it. Plants and animals require water that is moderately pure, and they cannot survive, if water contains toxic chemicals or harmful microorganisms. Water pollution kills large quantity of fish, birds, and other animals, in some cases killing everything in an affected area. The major water pollutants are chemical, biological, and physical materials that lessen the water quality. Pollutants can be separated into several different classes:
The first class is petroleum products: oil, fuel, lubrication, plastics. The petroleum products get into water by accidental spills from ships, tanker trucks and when there are leaks from underground storage tanks. Many petroleum products are poisonous for animals. Spilled oil damages the feathers of birds and the fur of animals, often it causes death.
The second class is pesticides and herbicides. There are chemicals used to kill harmful animals and plants. If they penetrate into streams, rivers, lakes, these chemicals can be very dangerous. The chemicals can remain dangerous for a long time. When an animal eats a plant that’s been treated with it, the poisons are absorbed into the tissues and organs of the animals. When other animals feed on a contaminated animal, the chemicals are passed up to them. As it goes up through the food chain, the chemical becomes more harmful, so animals at the top of the food chains may suffer cancers, reproductive problems, and death. Nitrates can cause a lethal form of anemia in infants. The third class are heavy metals, such as, mercury, selenium, uranium, radium, cesium, etc. They get into the water from industries, automobile exhausts, mines, and natural soil. Heavy metals also become more harmful as they follow the food chain. They accumulate in living being’s cells and when they reach high levels of concentration in the organism, they can be extremely poisonous, or can result in long-term health problems. They can sometimes cause liver and kidney damage. The fourth class is fertilizers and other nutrients used to promote plant growth on farms and in gardens. The fifth class is infectious organisms and pathogens. They enter water through sewage, storm drains, runoff from farms, etc. The last one is thermal pollution. Water is often taken from rivers, lakes or seas to be used in factories and power plants. The water is usually returned to the source warmer than when it was taken. Even a small temperature change in a body of water can drive away the fish and other species that were originally there, and attract other species in place of them. It breaks a balance and can cause serious circumstances in future. [c.388]
The world’s population is an important issue. For hundreds of thousands of years, the human population grew at a low but steadily increasing rate. Then, in less than last 200 years, the world population went from several hundreds of millions to more than 6 billion people. The Earth has certain limitations and in particular, there are limits to growth of things that consume the Earth resources.
Many people believe that these resources, both the Earth and the human intellect are endless and population growth can continue and that there is no danger that we will ever run out of anything. Yet, many people had predicted catastrophic shortages of natural resources that would follow, because of continued population growth. Countries try not to raise this subject to the public much, because they do not want to raise panic. Nowadays they have to do something about it before it gets out of hand. They try to censor it and sometimes lie. Do you know that the USA itself consumes 50 per cent of all electricity produced on the Earth? The population of the USA is just around 285 million people. It is an interesting fact.
Overpopulation is like a big magnifying glass making little problems into big ones.
Overpopulation is destroying our environment, lowering the standard of living, and generally degrading the quality of life. Overpopulation also causes more violence, environmental pollution that reflects on land degradation, tropical forest destruction, global warming and destruction of coral reefs. 6--billion member society has to get a huge food infrastructure, so society start producing genetically made food, which is cheaper than ordinary one but might reflect in the nutrient balance. For example, in China it is prohibited to have more than one child for a couple. There is a very dangerous situation in India. By the year 2025, its population might reach 1.5 billion people. Every second five people are born and two people die, so there is a gain of three people. At this rate, the world population is doubling every 40 years and would be: 12 billion in 40 years, 24 billion in 80 years and 48 billion in 120 years. But the Earth could provide food only for 20 billion people. [c.405]
How can we decide the problem of pollution in the world?
That the problem of pollution and ecology has become the most important one for mankind is evident to all. The more civilization is developing, the greater the ecological problems are becoming. Air and water pollution by industry is now reaching tremendous proportions. In our era it is changing from a national to an international problem, especially in territories where rivers cross several countries. The seas and oceans are also becoming seriously polluted. A similar situation is developing in the atmosphere. It is known that many cities throughout the world suffer from air pollution. However, our scientific knowledge and technological advancement make it possible to eliminate it if people use good will and make considerable investments for that purpose. The development of natural resources on a global scale is already possible from a scientific and technical standpoint. Large-scale experimental work in this area is successfully being carried out. At present scientists in industrially developed countries are working on the theory of interaction of all the atmospheric and oceanic global processes that determine the climate and weather of the world. Increasing growth of population, industrialization and the use of resources are slowly but surely changing the global climate and water balance. This can be described as a great experiment, one that may bring about changes in the environment more serious than ever before. The essential feature in the environment protection is that many problems can be solved only on the level of world community. Therefore, the planning of protection against pollution by human society as a whole is imperative today and in the near future. It is necessary to develop an international program to study data on land, forest, atmospheric and oceanic resources, both renewable and non-renewable. It is the joint efforts of many scientists and special public organizations that can deal with the problem and take necessary measures to protect the environment. It is still a big job and much remains to be done5. However, scientists are confident that planned actions of all countries can eliminate pollution and achieve successes in purifying air, water and soil and in safeguarding natural resources. At the same time, one must realize that social and political circumstances may stand in the way of further progress in this field. [C.27–28]
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