The main environmental problems facing mankind today.
All parts of the environment are closely related to one another. Ecologists, who study the relationships among living things and other parts of the environment, say that because of the close relationships, a kind of pollution that chiefly harms one part of the environment may also affect others. Air pollution harms the air, but rain washes pollutants out of the air and deposits them on the land and in bodies of water. Wind, on the other hand, blows pollutants off the land and into the air.
There are several kinds f environmental pollution: air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and pollution caused by solid wasters, noise, and radiation.
Air pollution turns clear odourless air into hazy, smelly air that harms health, kills plants, and damages poverty. Air pollution results from pouring hundreds of millions of tons of gases and particles into the atmosphere each year. Most of air pollution results from combust ion processes. The burning of petrol to power motor vehicles and the burning of coal to heat buildings and help manufacture products are examples of such processes.
One serious result of air pollution is its harmful effect on human health. Both gases and particles burn people’s eyes and irritate their lungs. They may cause such diseases as cancer and emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Air pollutants can also damage the earth’s upper atmosphere, destroy the ozone layer, change the average temperature, reduce the amount of sunlight the reaches the ground, cause the warming of the earth’s surface.
Water pollution reduces the amount of pure, fresh water that is available for such necessities as drinking and cleaning, for such activities as swimming and fishing. The pollutants that affect ware come mainly from industries, farms and sewerage systems.
The addition of heated water to a body of water – thermal pollution coming mostly from industries and power plants – also upset cycles. Heated water can kill animals and plants that are accustomed to living at lower temperatures. It also reduces the amount of oxygen that water can hold.
Another major pollutant, which ruins beaches and kills birds and marine life, is fuel oil, which enters oceans primarily from oil tankers and offshore oil wells.’
Soil pollution damages the thin layer of fertile soil that covers much of the earth’s land and is essential for growing food. Fertilizers used by people add extra nutrients to the soil and increase the amount of the crop that can be grown on an area of land. But the use of large amounts of fertilizers may decrease the ability of bacteria to decay wastes and produce nutrients naturally. Pesticides destroy weeds and pests. But pesticides may also harm helpful insects, worms and bacteria, and other helpful organisms in the soil.
Noise is an especially troublesome pollutant in urban areas. The noise causes discomfort in human beings. Some scientists even link prolonged exposure to loud noises with the development of high blood pressure and ulcers.
Radiation is an invisible pollution that can be highly dangerous. Nuclear radiation comes from radioactive substances, including waste from nuclear weapons testing and from nuclear power plants. Small amounts of radiometric radiation are produced by a variety of electronic devises, including computers, lasers, microwave ovens and television. Explore to large amounts cause cancer and harmful changes in reproductive cells.
International agreements ban most testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Such regulations have helped eliminate the major sources of radiation. However, the amount of radioactive waste is steadily increasing.
Scientists are studying ways to dispose of these wastes safely and permanently.
24. Conventional schooling in Belarus: problems and alternatives.
CONVENTIONAL SCHOOLING: PROBLEMS AND ALTERNATIVES
Most people have strong opinions about schools they went (or go)to. Often this is "the result of their own personal experiences which leave them feeling that there is much to criticize and' little to praise in the kind of schooling they received.
Conventional school nowadays is very often criticized. There are different reasons for it, starting with the level of education provided by conventional schools, finishing with the problem of truancy and children trying to flight shy of classes. As far as our conventional schools are concerned, there "are come problems that - are hardly found in other countries. First of all, there are not enough teachers and "young people take up teaching" as their future career unwillingly. As a result classes today are very often overcrowded, sometimes because" of lack of teachers pupils are not taught some subjects, most often foreign languages, for a long time. At the same time, teachers have to over-exert themselves without being paid much. So the problems are really very acute and some changes in conventional school are needed.
Today there, are lots of alternatives to conventional schooling, such as specialized colleges, gymnasiums, lyceums. Parents today are free to choose what school they would send their children to.
I'd like to speak about such alternative way of education as Dr.Weil's Summerhill school and City-as-a-school Idea.
An alternative in education – the city as School – Has been started in New York, USA. Its idea itself is not new but the New York programme is merally recognised as being the most successful of its kind.
Three hundred and fifty high school students between 15 and 18 attend the City-as-School: it's a school without walls and its classroom is the city itself, students spend their days in the theatres, museums, government offices and businesses of New York in a programme of part-time apprenticeships that are individually tailored to their interests and needs.
Students are accepted into City-as-School after an interview; the only academic requirement is two years of basic mathematics and science at a high school.
Credits are given, for satisfactory completion of each assignment, so that the students stand as good a chance of getting into an American college as their counterparts in ordinary high schools. In fact it was shown recently that 80-85 per cent of CAS graduates are going on to college without problems.
Many of the CAS students are young people who, for one reason or another, were unhappy with conventional education.
The New York CAS is viewed as a useful alternative way of dealing with these final and often troublesome school years. There are however, still some lingering doubts as to whether this kind of life experience can totally replace the academic development acquired in the classroom.
Summerhill began as an experimental school. It is no longer such; it is now a demonstration school, for it demonstrates that freedom works.
Dr. Neil set out to make a school in which he should allow children freedom to be themselves. In order to do this, they had to renounce all discipline all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction. All it required was a complete belief in the child as a good, not an evil, being.
His view is that a child is innately wise and realistic.
Logically, Summerhill is a place in which people who have the innate ability and wish to be scholars will be scholars; while those who are only fit to sweep the streets will sweep the streets. For one thing, lessons are Optional Children can go to them or stay away from them - for years if they want to. There is a timetable - but only for the teachers.
The children have classes usually according to their age, but sometimes according to their interests. They have no new methods of teaching, because we do not consider that teaching in itself matters very much. They have no truants and seldom a case of homesickness. They very rarely have fights - quarrels. There you can seldom hear a child cry, because children when free have much less hate to express than children who are downtrodden. Hate breeds hate, and love breeds love. Love means approving of children.
The function of the child is to live his own life- not the life that his anxious parents think he should. In Summerhill, everyone has equal rights. The absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.
So we see, that there are really lots of alternatives to conventional schooling. So we are only to choose which variant fits us better.