Environment Research Paper
Environment is the complex of social or cultural conditions which affect an individual or community. We, human beings, constitute a part of this environment and need to find ways to preserve it for future generations. Modern industrial development of domestic chemicals created new environmental problems. Rachel Carson in her Silent Spring (especially chapter 15 Nature Fights Back) wrote about chemical pollution and threats it creates for humans. Her warning raised the public and enlarged the movement of environmentalism. In my essay I want to discuss another important environmental concern humans face today globally – water pollution.
Water pollution is any physical or chemical change in quality of water that affects living organisms or makes water not good for using (drinking). There are two pollution sources: (a) point source: discharge pollution from specific locations, and (b) non-point source: pollution is diffuse and has no specific location.
Pathogenic organisms are the most serious water pollutants. The main source of these pollutants is untreated human waste. Of course, in developed countries plants reduced most of the sources of pathogenic organisms in surface waters, but in less developed countries the situation is quite different. People in these countries lack basic sanitation and have no access to clean water to drink.
As Rachel Carson wrote that when humans interfere in nature control process, the balance of nature is changed. This is true not only with insects but with water also. Water clarity is affected by chemicals as well as the abundance of plankton. Human activities increase the eutrophication. Using chemical poisons kills only the first wave of insects, but new ones come with more resistance to poison due to undergoing the process of natural selection. It becomes harder to kill them this time. The situation with water is more complex because once polluted it becomes unsuitable for usage. It is hard to make it clean again.
United States and Canada have shown a good example in protecting and restoring water. Just to mention Clean Water Act (1972) which established National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). It requires each industry to gain a permit to dump wastes into surface waters. This led to the improvement of water quality: in 1999 the EPA reported that 91% of river miles and 87% of lake acres are suitable for use.
Nevertheless, many problems still remain. In United States about three forth of water pollution comes from soil erosion and surface runoffs from urban areas. Pollution with nitrates has decreased due to higher control of point pollution. However, it increased four times from non-point pollution recently.
Other countries (such as Japan and Australia) have also improved quality of water. Treatment of industrial waste in Europe equals to that in US. Western Europe has made huge investments in cleaning water globally. But, in the less developed countries (Africa, South America and Asia) the quality of water is worth then in the poorest countries of Europe. Treatment of waste is absent; in urban areas almost all waste is directly discharged into rivers. Development of heavy industry, growing urbanization and lack of investments into cleaning and preserving water are reasons of poor water quality.
The cheapest and the most effective ways to reduce pollution are to avoid releasing of the waste into water. The industry process needs to be modified so that fewer wastes are produces. Recycling materials also reduces waste streams into water. Still, the greatest challenge in water pollution today is to gain control over non-point pollution sources. A good example is seen in Chesapeake Bay, America's largest estuary. The key objective of this plan was to reduce nutrient loading and pollution prevention measures. Even though progress is obvious, the goals of reducing nitrogen are still years away.
Human wastes create the most serious health related water pollution. In poor countries most rural people just go into field to relieve themselves. If population is low than nature can eliminate this waste quickly, but if it is large – we have pollution not only of water but also soil. Sanitary engineers have developed effective wastewater treatment systems to protect quality of water. In many American cities sanitary sewers are connected with storm sewers which carry urban runoff from streets.
For further progress in preserving nature and especially water, people need to be environmentally educated. Such person will understand nature, environmental issues and interrelationships. Understanding how we influence environment is another result of such education. Educated person tries to find the ways to participate personally in protection and preservation of nature: he becomes involved in activities to improve and maintain natural resources.
Insects are held check by natural predators; the water cannot be cleaned by itself if once polluted. In theory of course in can, but it will take long time. The intrusion of humans into nature needs to be on very low level. Rachel Carson proposed to leave the problem wit insects to nature, but cleaning of water cannot be left unnoticed. People polluted it and it is our goal to clean and preserve it now. People are part of natural balance as well as insects and plants. Polluted water affects every part, including humans.
Each individual can make a change: many voices together can make a difference. It is important to be active at local level and communicate to officials your ideas: how to preserve and improve quality of water. To achieve better results we need to keep population stable, decrease reliance on non-renewable resources and, of course, ethical and spiritual reconnection with nature and humans. Many people are willing to pay for cleaner environment: more investment should be attracted to nature preservation and cleaning water.
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