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Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The Blacksmith Institute issues annually a list of the world's worst polluted places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, and Zambia.
Air pollution has always been with us. According to a 1983 article in the journal Science, "soot found on ceilings of prehistoric caves provides ample evidence of the high levels of pollution that was associated with inadequate ventilation of open fires."3 The forging of metals appears to be a key turning point in the creation of significant air pollution levels outside the home. Core samples of glaciers in Greenland indicate increases in pollution associated with Greek, Roman and Chinese metal production.
The industrial revolution that gave birth to environmental pollution as we know it today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immense quantities of coal and other fossil fuels gave rise to unprecedented air pollution and the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load of untreated human waste. Chicago and Cincinnati were the first two American cities to enact laws ensuring cleaner air in 1881. Other cities followed around the country until early in the 20th century, when the short lived Office of Air Pollution was created under the Department of the Interior. Extreme smog events were experienced by the cities of Los Angeles and Donora, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s, serving as another public reminder.[8HYPERLINK "#cite_note-Donora-7"]
2.Part A: Forms of pollution by industries and its impact on our environment
(a)Air pollution act and its impact on environment:
There have been two acts proposed by the Canadian federal government with the name "Clean Air Act". The first, passed in 1970, sought to regulate the release of four specific air pollutants: asbestos, lead, mercury, and vinyl chloride. It has since been replaced by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in the year 2000.
Former Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose introduced the second Clean Air Act in mid-October 2006, containing mostly measures to fight smog pollution and greenhouse emissions.. On October 19, 2006, Ambrose revealed details of the plan which would include reducing the greenhouse emissions levels of 2003 by about 45 to 65% for the year 2050. There are plans for regulations on vehicle fuel consumption for 2011 and targets for ozone and smog levels for 2025. The effectiveness of this act has been challenged by the opposition parties, with Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party stating that the act does little to prevent climate change and that more must be done. After eatening to make this into an election issue the Conservative Party agreed to rework the act with the opposition parties.
United States federal government has enacted a series of clean air acts, beginning with the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, and followed by the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Air Quality Act of 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, and Clean Air Act Amendments in 1977 and 1990. Numerous state and local governments have enacted similar legislation, either implementing federal programs or filling in locally important gaps in federal programs
(b)Water pollution act and its impact on environment:
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Commonly abbreviated as the CWA, the act established the goals of eliminating releases to water of high amounts of toxic substances, eliminating additional water pollution by 1985, and ensuring that surface waters would meet standards necessary for human sports and recreation by 1983.
The principal body of law currently in effect is based on the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972, which significantly expanded and strengthened earlier legislation. Major amendments were enacted in the Clean Water Act of 1977 and the Water Quality Act of 1987.
The 1972 CWA created a new requirement for technology-based standards for point source discharges. EPA develops these standards for categories of dischargers, based on the performance of pollution control technologies without regard to the conditions of a particular receiving water body. The intent of Congress was to create a "level playing field" by establishing a basic national discharge standard for all facilities within a category, using a "Best Available Technology." The standard becomes the minimum regulatory requirement in a permit. If the national standard is not sufficiently protective at a particular location, then water quality standards may be employed.
Water pollution may be analyzed through several broad categories of methods: physical, chemical and biological. Most involve collection of samples, followed by specialized analytical tests. Some methods may be conducted in situ, without sampling, such as temperature. Government agencies and research organizations have published standardized, validated analytical test methods to facilitate the comparability of results from disparate testing events.
(c)Soil pollution act and its impact on environment:
Following WWII and Vietnam, scientists discovered high incidences of mutation, miscarriage, mental defects, cancer and sickness in areas where nuclear warheads had been dropped. Food shortages also alerted officials that something was seriously wrong with the local soil. DDT and Dioxin were two of the worst pollutants from war aftermath.
In some cases, agricultural processes cause soil pollution. High levels of radionuclides like nitrogen and phosphorus can be found surrounding farm centers containing high population densities of livestock. Pesticides applied to plants can also seep into the ground, leaving lasting effects. Heavy metals can arrive in the soil by using polluted water to wet crops and by using mineral fertilizers.
Industry is to blame for some of the biggest soil-pollution disasters. Heavy metals come from iron, steel, power and chemical manufacturing plants that recklessly use the Earth as a dumping ground for their refuse. Plants that burn their waste on-site are guilty of releasing heavy metals into the atmosphere, which come to settle in the soil, thus leaving behind lasting effects for years to come. Even companies that try to dispose of their waste properly contribute to the problem when faulty landfills and bursting underground bins leach undesirable toxins into the soil.
"When old factories are relocated, they just dismantle the houses, carry away the machines and nothing else is left to be done. The land that used to be a production site either is turned into farmland or real estate. Few understand that this land has become sick," explains Zhao Qiguo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Soil Science.
People living near polluted land have higher incidences of migraines, nausea, fatigue, miscarriage and skin disorders. Long-term effects of pollution include cancer, leukemia, reproductive disorders, kidney and liver damage, as well as central nervous system failure. Children often suffer from developmental problems and weakened immune systems.
In addition to direct health effects, soil pollution also harms plants that feed Americans. Chemicals can sometimes absorb into food like lettuce and be ingested. Other times, the pollutants simply kill the plants, which has created widespread crop destruction and famine in other parts of the world. The entire ecosystem changes when new materials are added to the soil, as microorganisms die off or move away from contaminants
3.Part B:Industrial revolution is the major causes for environment pollution and its prevention
(a)The Ecological Impact of the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in Earth's ecology and humans' relationship with their environment. As the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed every aspect of human life and lifestyles from human development, health and life longevity, to social improvements its human impact on natural resources, public health, energy usage and sanitation would not begin to register in the world's psyche until the early 1960s, some 200 years after its beginnings.
It wasn't that the Industrial Revolution became a stalwart juggernaut overnight. It started in the mid-1700s in Great Britain when machinery began to replace manual labor and fossil fuels replaced wind, water, and wood primarily for the manufacture of textiles and the development of iron making processes. The full impact of the Industrial Revolution would not begin to be realized until about 100 years later in the 1800s when the use of machines to replace human labor spread throughout Europe, North America and the rest of the world. This transformation is referred to as the industrialization of the world processes that gave rise to sweeping increases in production capacity and would affect all basic human needs including food production, medicine, housing, and clothing. Not only did society develop the ability to have more things quicker, it would be able to develop better things. These industrialization processes continue today.
(b)Awakening to the Implications of Unsustainable Growth and Dependence on Limited Resources
There were many indicators that the Industrial Revolution had propelled the world human population into an era of living and production at the ultimate expense of the human condition and the resources that were (and could be) taken for granted for the entire prior history of humankind. There were always more resources than the demand for them. Yet, it would take one person in the 1960s to make the general public aware of the cause and effect of human outgrowth from the Industrial Revolution. Rachel Carson took on the powerful and robust chemical industry in her globally acclaimed 1962 book, Silent Spring, and raised important questions about humans' impact on nature. For the first time, the public and industry would begin to grasp the concept of sustainable production and development.
It was the fossil fuel coal that fueled the Industrial Revolution, forever changing the way people would live and utilize energy. While this propelled human progress to extraordinary levels, it came at extraordinary costs to our environment and ultimately the health of all living things. And while coal and other fossil fuels were also taken for granted as being inexhaustible, it was American geophysicist M. King Hubbert who predicted in 1949 that the fossil fuel era would be very short-lived and that other energy sources would need to be relied upon.
Hubbert predicted that fossil fuel production, in particular oil, would reach it s peak starting in 1970 and would go into steady decline against the rising energy demands of the population. Just like that, the decline in production started in the United States in 1971 and has spread to other oil producing nations as well. This peak production is known as "Hubbert's Peak." By the time the world began to heed Hubbert's prediction, the use of fossil fuels - so heavily relied upon to fuel the Industrial Revolution -- had become so firmly interwoven into human progress and economy that changing this energy system would drastically alter the very way we have lived our lives. It will happen, but it will take time, continued ingenuity and vast economic incentives to transform dependence on this fuel that fostered the growth and prosperity launched by the Industrial Revolution.
Looking back at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, it is difficult to realize how what took place then is having such complicated and vast effects today, but that is the principle of environmental unity - a change in one system will cause changes in others. Certainly, the seeds of progress - and the ramifications of that progress - were planted then. And with the very same mechanisms and effects that brought about both the progress and the indelibly connected results of that progress to our ecology - the good, the bad and the ugly - over the last 250 years, we will enter a new era of sustainability. That is the next revolution.