The poisoning of the world's land, air, and water is the fastest-spreading disease of civilization. It probably produces fewer headlines than wars, earthquakes and floods, but it is potentially one of history's greatest dangers to human life on earth. If present trends continue for the next several decades, our planet will become uninhabitable.
Overpopulation, pollution and energy consumption have created such planet-wide problems as massive deforestation, ozone depletion, acid rains and the global warming that is believed to be caused by the greenhouse effect. Most scientists are convinced that greenhouse gases are warming the Earth. What they are still trying to figure out is how quickly temperatures are rising, and what will happen as a result. The climate changes that will result from global warming are extremely difficult to predict.
The seas are in danger. They are filled with poison: industrial and nuclear waste, chemical fertilizersand pesticides. The Mediterranean is already nearly dead; the North Sea is following. The Aral Sea is on the brink of extinction. If nothing is done about it, one day nothing will be able to live in the seas.
Every year, major health problems result fromhazardous waste. Increasing amounts of hazardous waste have caused increasing health problems.
There are over 80,000 chemicals in existence, and many are used commonly in industrial processes. Often, these chemicals find themselves in places where they are able to harm human health.
Every ten minutes one kind of animal, plant or insectdies out for ever. If nothing is done about it, one million species that are alive today will have become extinct twenty years from now.
Air pollution is a very serious problem. In Cairo just breathing the air is life threatening- equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The same holds true for Mexico City and 600 cities of the former Soviet Union.
Industrial enterprises emit tons of harmful substances. These emissions have disastrous consequences for our planet. They are the main reason for the greenhouse effect and acid rains. Even greater environmental threats are nuclear power stations. We all know how tragic the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster are.
Another problem is smog. Smog causes a smoky dark atmosphere to arise over cities. It decreases visibility, and creates a haze throughout the area. Numerous studies have monitored smog throughout the world. Some of the world's dirtiest cities have millions of inhabitants, all of whom are threatened by the smog.
Modern Los Angeles suffers severely from smog, as London did in the 19th century. These two areas released certain chemicals into the air and created a foggy atmosphere. In London, where fog levels have now fallen far below those of years ago, people were often unable to see their hands and sometimes could not walk around.
Smog creates many harmful health effects. It can cause anything from minor pain to deadly diseases such as lung cancer. Smog slowly ruins people's lungs to an extent as great as that of cigarettes.
The human body has difficulty defending itself against the harms of smog. Smog can irritate and inflame pulmonary membranes, causing chest pains, coughing, and throat irritation. Other illnesses such as colds and pneumonia can also be brought on by exposure to smog.
However, every environmental problem has causes, numerous effects, and most importantly, a solution.
People may solve most environmental problems. They may try to restrict population growth, use less energy, improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and move to non-polluting renewable forms of energy production. Also, automobile-produced pollution can be decreased with highly beneficial results.
Some policies could successfully reduce global warming. Raising fossil fuel prices, taxing emissions, and encouraging people to take environmentally friendly action through such activities as planting trees will all help.
Of course, many people are worried about water pollution and do a lot to stop it. Many non-governmental projects are also being carried out in an effort to clean up the water. Industries are beginning to reduce the amount of chemicals they dump into water, and environmental groups are participatingin cleanup projects.
The plastics industry, blamedfor some of the worst pollution of the water, is making its products degradable. However, many environmentalists think this is hardly enough.
People are beginning to realize that environmental problems are not somebody else's. They join and support various international organization and green parties. If governments wake up to what is happening- perhaps we'll be able to avoid the disaster that threatens the natural world and all of us with it.
1. Put 10 questions to the text.
2. Are doing something to solve global environmental problems?