*Being the Pending Holocaust

*

Various papers on aspects confronting the World today and tomorrow By: Billy C Sichone FFA, MBA 2nd Edition 2004

Introduction

The papers contained in this book let were originally research papers
presented as assignments to the Preston University. In more ways than one, they were written from the depths of the author’s heart in that they helped express what he has felt and feels about the carelessness that anthropogenic activities have brought upon the spaceship earth. He has read and agonized much about the now frequent and familiar sour news about the degradation that has and continues to take place at various points of the earth. Despite countless conferences and affirmations by the World’s nations, hardly any observes what they pledge to do. In 1992, the Rio summit was a land mark meeting where many nations officially acknowledged the myriad environmental problems resulting from human activity and bound themselves by declarations to either stabilize the toxic emissions or reduce them over a period of time. We are yet to see any tangible results from that conference. It is the prayer of the author that reading through these articles will give the reader just but a tip in the ice berg of the problems that sunk the Titanic on April 12, 1912. Farewell reader and determine to do something after wards.

Billy C Sichone 01/06/04 Mongu

©William Press 2004

Danger!Planet on fire!

2

Billy C Sichone

Paper 1 Air Pollution
In December 1952, over 4,000 people perished at the grisly hands of toxic smog which settled over London for four days. More recently, in 1991, Athens was engulfed in a cloud of smoke, which landed many in hospital. These and many like incidents have been recorded more frequently all over the world, especially in major cities where there is heavy traffic. But what has caused these occurrences? What exactly is the root cause and what can be done to correct this situation? Many have undertaken to highlight these problems and one of these is an article “Environmental Polluters to face criminal charges” which appeared in the Zambia Daily mail issue of 4th August 1999. We shall attempt to define what this kind of pollution is and then seek to show its effects as well as the possible remedies. What exactly is pollution? Pollution is generally defined as “The introduction of certain parameters into the environmentΓ, which cannot be engrafted properly into the ecosystem due to their nature or volume and thus lead to deleterious consequences as a result of an eco-inequilibrium.” Clearly, we note that this state of affairs is very hostile to vegetation, animals and human kind. The parameters here spoken of are of varied types depending on the type of pollution at hand. For our purposes we confine ourselves to air pollution. This is one of the most common forms of pollution because we meet it at every turn. As one walks around the compound, they will notice little smoke emitting fires, as people clean their yards. In the city, big industries pour noxious gases galore. But what are the major sources of pollution in the world today? A number are identified below: 1. The Coal Power generating plants. These are spread all over the world and in some cases, their concentration is so high like in the coal power plants of the UK. These use coal that burns and gives off thick dark fumes. These fumes billow into the air and are transported many kilometres away from the polluting point. It is a curious fact that over 92%Ε of the polluted air present in Norway is as a result of the Pollution in the lower latitudes such as England. This clearly shows that Pollution is not only a local problem but a global one. The burnt coal heats up water to produce steam. This selfsame steam turns the turbines to generate power. While the power is useful and necessary, the by products from this process are toxic and the solid waste is difficult to dispose off. 2. Volcanic eruptions The Volcanic eruptions have been known to be the largest natural polluters, even outweighing present anthropogenic emissions. It is estimated that some eruptions release as much as 15 – 30 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the air!∏

The environment is the world in which we live. It is the source of our food, water and the air we breathe Source: Introduction to global environmental issues, Pickering.C. Owen L Page 109. Source: Introduction to global environmental issues, Pickering.C. Owen L page 116. Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

3

3. Toxic Fumes from Cars. As the number of world vehicles has swelled, so also has the amount of emitted poisonous fumes. Cars give out at least two noxious air pollutants as a result of engine combustion. These pollutants are Carbon Monoxide and Lead. Carbon monoxide, an odourless, colourless gas, is formed when the following reaction occurs due to incomplete combustion:

2C(s) + O2 2CO (g)
This carbon monoxide is released is large volumes especially in the cities where there is much traffic. For example, in Zambia, where the emission levels are not regulated, it is estimated that 45,000Ξ tons are released into the atmosphere per year! The Lead is put in the fuel to increase the engine efficiency to burn the fuel. This toxic pollutant is very deadly and once it enters the human body system, even in minute quantities (as little as 100 micro grams/cubic decimetre), it will cause terrible mental disorders on the victim, especially children. The exact amount of damage caused by these is incalculable. The average estimation for Zambia per year is approximately 444Ξ tons released into the air. These levels are frighteningly high and are bound to increase as more vehicles pour onto the already jammed the streets. Nitrogen oxide is another pollutant to consider though it is not directly released from the car fumes but is a mixture of oxides of Nitrogen and other gases like Carbon monoxides and Sulphur Dioxide. 4. Domestic burning. This is by far the most common type of pollution source because man has been burning things from the earliest times of civilisation. Now we have arrived at a stage where unnecessary fires are not welcome. Fire ceased being a wonder many ages ago, rather is now an inconvenience where it is unnecessary, because fumes will billow from there making the air dirty. There is another type of burning- that of natural gas in homes, especially in the cooler countries where gas is used for cooking and warming. An example of a polluting reaction is the burning of methane in the following reaction:

CH4 + 3O2 CO2 + 2H2O
This reaction causes more carbon dioxide to be released to the atmosphere thereby contributing to global warming.

5. Industries- The industries are a major source of pollution as their by-products are usually dirty and toxic. The Oil refineries and other chemical factories have continued pouring dense poisonous fumes into the air. These must be watched very carefully. 6. Mining activities- Anthropogenic activities such as mining are as old as the world probably. Today, however, this activity ranks among the highest polluters in the world. Smoke and dust come from the mineral processing activities especially from the metal smelters. It is no wonder that the surrounding areas of the mines do not have vegetation and acid rain is a common feature in nearby localities. 7. Firewood burning- As the need for power rises, so also the demand for firewood. This means that more trees are felled to produce the wood charcoal. The ramifications are that there will be fewer trees to carry out photosynthesis which converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to give oxygen. The mere processing of wood to charcoal makes smoke to be produced. This practice is more pronounced in developing countries.
Source: Enviro line April 1996 Vol 1 No. 1 pp8 Source: Enviro line April 1996 Vol 1 No. 1 pp8 Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

4

8. Air plane and Rocket fumes. Not much has been written about the effect of planes on the environment. One author once asserted that the pollution produced by the take off of one Boeing 707 is equivalent to 6,850 accelerating Volkswagens. In Munich for example, an area of 20 hectares near the airport has suffered severe pollution where the pine trees are dying-all due to the air plane exhausts.∂ Want of space forbids us to talk about the noise and air pollution generated by the many rockets launched into space. 9. Exponential Population growth. The rapid increase of the worlds’ population has far outstripped the earth’s carrying capacity. There is unbearable strain on the worlds’ resources as the global population hurtles towards the seven billion mark. Not only is there stress on the resources, but also the amount of Carbon dioxide emissions have increased proportionally. While human population is on the increase that of plants is on the decline meaning less oxygen machines available (i.e. the plants) Having identified the major air polluting sources, we proceed to enquire as to the types of pollutants and the effects of this type of pollution. The question to hand is “What are some of the toxic air pollutants and what are the effects on man and the environment?” The major air pollutants are given below: 1. Carbon monoxide. This is a colourless and odourless gas formed when incomplete combustion takes place. This gas is produced in car engine combustion as well as when hydrocarbons are burnt where insufficient oxygen is present. The fact that this gas cannot be smelled makes it doubly dangerous because the person inhaling it suffocates to death. Carbon monoxide has been the major cause of many a death that has occurred in village huts where people sleep with a fire in the middle of a poorly ventilated hut. Others have perished when they have left the car engine running while in an enclosed place such as a garage. 2. Sulphur dioxide. This gas is mainly emitted from the Mines, which pour out untold amounts of this gaseous substance into the air. This gas rises into the atmosphere and settles in the air. Some of it is dissolved into the rainwater to form other chemicals that fall to the ground. Zambia is said to release over 1,000 tonsℑ of this gas into the air. In Kitwe and Mufulira (Zambian town on the Copper belt), the refinery plants and the underground fumes often cause many to choke as the “Senter” is released at certain hours of the day. Extremely concentrated fumes are released at a particular hour of the day and when that is done, people are sent scampering while others have to endure the choking fumes with great discomfort. Later on in life, these selfsame fumes effect will come to haunt the victims while the mines go Scot-free. 3. Hydro carbons and organic acids- The hydrocarbons fuels and the CFCs are used in aerosols as propellants. They are preferred because they are chemically very inert and thus do not react with other materials in the container. However, in the upper atmosphere, UV light splits the CFC! to give Chlorine. This chlorine then reacts with ozone to produce oxygen.
Source: Conservation for survival ,Lindahl K., 1972, Page 14 Source: Enviro line April 1996, Vol 1, number 1, Page 8 Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

5

4. Lead- Is a naturally occurring element and it is added to petrol in cars to improve the engine efficiency. As a result, the selfsame metal (in tiny particle form) is released to the atmosphere where it is inhaled by living organisms. The air concentration of the Lead is relative from place to place but is highest where traffic congestion is upper most-the cities. New York and Tokyo have been known to have very high concentrations of Lead and on days when Traffic reduces, say, on Sundays, the levels of the same pollutant have reduced by the same token, in some cases by as much as 80%!Χ . Incidentally, this lead is found in many more substances such as paints, insecticides, and solder. It is also used in the glass making process. 5. Nitrogen Oxides-These are oxides that come from sources such as the burning of organic substances, or reactions in the air with certain gases such as Carbon Monoxide or Sulphur oxides. The major sources of these oxides are the burning of coal in power plants and the car fumes. 6. Nuclear waste and fall out. This topic has been a source of much controversy in the recent past due to the nature of the materials at hand. While nuclear use and knowledge has increased over time, the age-old question that still begs answering is, “How are we to safely dispose off hazardous nuclear waste permanently after use?” No real solution has been found. The problem is that nuclear materials are lethal and invisible to the human eye. In addition, they usually have long half-lives and can exist in that lethal state for many years. Where these have accidentally been exposed to the free atmosphere, untold amount of damage has been recorded, as was the case with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former USSR. To this day, large stretches of land and air are deadly to traverse. This nuclear waste and fallout threatens both the wild life and the environmental health of a certain locality. Even more hair raising is the fact that the contaminated air moves from place to place and thus transports the radiation particles to distant places. It has been reported for example, that animals grazing in Sweden and Norway were condemned and the milk not fit for human consumption. Various reports have been given as to the radiation levels at the Chernobyl disaster, but one reading pegged it at more than 300 roentgens an hour, more than 300,000 times above the normally allowed dose!δ once exposed, the body cells rapidly disintegrate, mutations occur and cancers like Leukaemia develop later on From the above scenario, it is clear that nuclear technology, whilst plausibly cheaper and more efficient, is a long-term hazardous pollutant of the atmosphere. The aforementioned pollutants are classified as gaseous and particulate. Some of these pollute directly and as such are known as primary pollutants while others form as a result of prior reactions of primary gases to form secondary pollutants. An example of a secondary gas is Nitrogen dioxide and ozone. When these gases are emitted in excessive

“The total chlorine loading of the atmosphere has continued to rise… Governments should replace CFCs and other Ozone depleting substances, consistent with the Montreal Protocol…” Agenda 21-1992 Rio earth summit. Source: Conservation for Survival, an ecological strategy. Lindahl K., 1972 ,page 14 Source: Readers’ digest, May 1991 issue. Pekkanen. J, The man who flew into hell Page 151 Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

6

quantities, the earth fails to clean the atmosphere adequately. Naturally, the Earth has a “Cleaning” mechanism that can only handle a certain level of pollution beyond which, the toxic substances remain in the atmosphere and “stick” to the clouds. In the fullness of time, the said toxins begin to wreck havoc as they affect the natural functions of the atmosphere. What are some of the effects of air pollution? Looking at the magnitude of the terrible effects≤, it is difficult to point out exhaustively the extent of this scourge but a few suggested answers will suffice for our purposes. The following effects immediately come to the fore: Discomfort, health problems and death. It is now a documented fact that air pollution is a silent, slow but certain killer. As intimated at the beginning of this paper, the noxious gases have and continue to do great harm. In humans, it has been discovered that where there is more air pollution, diseases such as bronchitis and other respiratory ailments abound. Another known disease connected to atmospheric damage is Emphysema. Furthermore, air pollution is linked to Lung cancer as this disease is more prevalent in industrial countries rather than in agrarian ones. There has been a world over increase of Lung cancer and in the USA for example, as an author states, this type of cancer kills more people than all the other cancer types combinedΚ. Carbon monoxide, one of the poisonous gases once inhaled displaces the Oxygen in the blood and reduces the amount carried to the body tissues, thus the brain gets starved of oxygen and the victim dies. The concentration of this gas varies from place to place. In the USA for example, Lindahl states that more than 100 million tons of Carbon monoxide was emitted in 1968. This figure is nothing compared to the present levels today, 32 years later. Furthermore, CO slows down the body reactions even in the healthiest persons and contributes significantly to the risks of accidents. 2. Acid rain formsΩ. It is hardly necessary to be labour the point that acid rain emanates directly from air pollution. What happens is that as the Nitrogen oxides and the Sulphur oxides dissolve into rain water, they change the pH level of the water so much that by the time the rain falls to the ground, the pH of the water will be around 4. It must be noted that not all the gases are absorbed due to their high concentration, the excess “sticks” onto the clouds and falls later as rain. This rain will most likely fall in a totally different locality and cause other problems such as acidifying lakes and soils. Further, the rain destroys the vegetation as well. The two ways in which this acid rain destroys the vegetation and plant diversity is by making the soil have an unfavourable pH level and secondly, by simply poisoning the soil so that certain plants will not grow. The following is a suggested reactions take place in the atmosphere to form acid rain:
1.

The 1992 Rio earth summit highlighted the following… “Air pollution damages lungs, corrodes buildings, poisons soils and crops, kills forests and makes lakes unfit for aquatic life…" Source: Conservation for survival., Lindahl. 1972,page 19 Vegetation is affected by the following pollutants: Gases kill the cells, acid rain damages plants as well as lowers the soil pH & mobilizes toxic metals, air borne particles settle on the plants to reduce solar radiation received hindering photosynthesis, dust particles block stomatal pores and inhibit gas exchange as well as photosynthesis Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

7

(i)

SO2(g) + H2O(l)H2SO3 (Sulphurous acid) or
(ii)

SO3(g) + H2O(l) H2SO4 (Sulphuric acid)

This is how acid rain is formed as the gases react with rainwater
3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Large stretches of vegetation are destroyed- Closely akin to the aforementioned point, large stretches of vegetation are destroyed. It has been speculated by some scientists that if not carefully managed, air pollution has the potential to cause entire forests to vanish. This is because the plant leaves are destroyed by either dry or wet deposition of pollutants on the leaf surfaces. As the pollutants settle on the surface, they not only destroy the stomata but allow toxic gases like ozone to enter into the plantΩ too. Furthermore, in places near industrial areas, mines and airports, the vegetation is either absent or experiences stunted growth. A visit to the Mines in Mufulira, Zambia will reveal just how much air pollution has damaged large stretches of forest. In those areas no plant survives once planted. The explanation is simply that the Sulphur dioxide scorches chokes and kills the plants. Air concentration balances altered. I did not find any documented evidence but I seriously think that a chance exists that the traditional concentration ratio of gases in normal clean air (i.e. Nitrogen, 78%, oxygen 21% and 1% other trace elements) is now being altered due to the anthropogenic actions as more gases are pumped into the atmosphere. This postulation, if correct, will mean that the air becomes more toxic and unhealthy for organisms. The will lead to diversity reduction in species and diseases increases such as lung cancer as asserted in No. 1 above. Weather and climate changes-The far-reaching consequence of pollution is that the weather, world-over is changing rapidly and unpredictably. Hither to, it took no less than 30 years to predict the climatic conditions of an area but today this data is obsolete. The reason is that air pollution has affected the weather patterns so much that we can no longer easily predict the climatic conditions of a place. The advent of the computer and Satellite technology aids us to figure out what is going on at a given moment but cannot tell us precisely what will happen 10 years hence. All these sudden weather changes are attributed to atmospheric pollution. Death of marine life due to temperature changes. Due to the weather instability and the atmospheric changes, marine life will die. The water temperature changes will lead to extensive deaths of organisms which are sensitive to temperature variations, even minute changes of say 1*C will create a mass grave of organisms. The Bio diversity is at risk as well. Destruction of buildings. Air pollution has caused certain gases which were hitherto not in abundance in the air to increase to such levels where when they react with certain substances, they cause a lot of damage. A well observed case is that of acid rain which destroys the curving on some ancient limestone buildings. The acid reacts with the calcium carbonate and thus breaks down the structures slowly but surely. Other uncalculated costs such as the dirt on the walls of buildings, the corroded metal bridges and many other structures distorted by pollution indirectly. To replace, paint

See footnote with same symbol on previous page Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

8

or clean them costs a lot of money which would have otherwise been spent profitably elsewhere. Dust pollution for example is a menace in many places. 8. Deserts expand and get hotter There is an expected significant advance of the hot deserts as more vegetation dies off. The world is increasingly becoming hostile to plants as more toxins are released into the air. In recent years, the Kalahari and the Sahara deserts have been noted to be expanding further out at a phenomenal rate. As though that were not enough, the deserts are becoming even hotter! Both these changes have been noticed, we have no telling what nature has up its sleeve next. 9. Changes in the circulation of the ocean currents. The advent of the indiscriminate air pollution by human activity has led to the erratic weather patterns in the atmosphere. Among the anticipated changes is the route of the ocean currents. Traditional patterns are being violated by the unstable conditions in the upper atmosphere and with time, it is thought that these changes will affect the ocean currents. If this happens, it will lead to many changes such as the different distributions of species, different impacts on the continents and the reduction of the bio diversity. 10. Ozone layer depletion. Since the British scientists in the Antarctica discovered the Ozone holesβ, there has been a lot of discussion and “Heat” generated from various quarters. The fact that the Ozone layer has developed holes due to human activity spells doom for man. This layer is the worlds’ shield against the lethal solar radiation that comes to the earth from the sun. When the said radiation reaches the earth, the ozone layer filters out the harmful UV radiation from the rays and allowing only safe levels to reach the earth. In the absence of this selfsame layer, the entire intense load reaches the earth causing invisible but catastrophic harm to the worlds’ organisms. In humans, especially among the white skinned people who have little melanin in their skins, cancers are prevalent. Cataracts have also been associated with the Ozone depletion phenomenon. This has been traced to the deadly solar radiation. Furthermore, increased UV air radiation will affect marine, crops, and terrestrial ecosystems through the UV effect on sensitive species. But what exactly is ozone? What happens to it and why? Where is it found? We shall attempt to offer some answers. Ozone is a form of oxygen except that each Ozone molecule is made up of three oxygen atoms. It is a light blue toxic gas with a pungent smell. The ozone is found in trace elements near the surface of the earth but the bulk of it is found in the stratosphere, a layer between 15 to 45 kilometres above the earth. Ozone is formed by the reaction of ordinary Oxygen gas (O2) molecule with atomic oxygen (O) from Nitrogen dioxide in the air in the presence of Ultra Violet radiation. The reaction goes as follows:

O2 (g) + O (g)  O3

Quoted from the Awake! Magazine, December 22, 1994 issue page 6 “When our atmosphere is damaged” Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

9

This reaction takes place on a large scale and so forms a layer that is an effective barrier against the lethal gamma particles. Unfortunately, this selfsame gas is easily destroyed by certain elements in the atmosphere which leads to the situation we sited-the ozone hole. The major cause of the rapid break down of the layer is attributed to the use of aerosols. These aerosols contain inert propellant gases such as Chlorofloro Carbons or CFC∇ s. After being released from spraying cans and fridges, these ascend to the higher orbs where, in the presence of UV light they split to give free Chlorine radicals. These free chlorine radicals then go and “Attack” the ozone in a spontaneous continuous manner. In this way, the destruction rate of ozone is far higher than the formation, thus leading to the gaps or ozone hole. The following is the reaction that probably takes place when the Ozone is broken:

Cl + O3  ClO + O2
Unless drastic measures are put in place, we will continue to witness more and more ozone holes, as the present ones are growing bigger by the day. Also the skin cancer cases will continue to rise especially among the white skinned people in places like Australia∆ where the ozone protection has fallen sharplyΛ. It is gratifying to note that modern fringes and aerosol cans have been branded “Ozone friendly”. Although extensive damage has been done to the Ozone layer already, there is still hope of reversing the trend, tough it will take many years, aye, centuries to repair the mess. We badly need the Ozone layer. 12. Frequent Famine and floods. Air pollution is poised to cause more frequent natural disasters. There is so much evidence for this assertion because the natural disasters are galore in almost all parts of the world. An example is the flooding which took place in Mozambique recently. This is probably a place where no previous record of flooding of that magnitude has been recorded, but alas, it has happened! Much more is to come. Further, what is the explanation of the droughts, famines and crop failures worldwide? Isn’t it because of mans’ continued violation of the natural balance in the ecosystem? We are bold to assert that all this has its root cause in Pollution! Let us gear up for more natural disaster show downs! 13. Heat waves. Hither to, heat waves were a rare phenomenon and restricted to certain geographical areas but the recent years have witnessed a higher frequency of these heat waves even in places where these were previously unheard of. It is believed that the said waves will increase in frequency as the chaotic weather patterns continue to be catalysed by more air pollution. Scanning the local press, one will definitely come across some incidence related to these sudden heat outbursts in different parts of the world. Where these have occurred, the temperatures have risen to unbearable degrees causing many
An estimated 20 million tons of CFC 1994 have been already been released into the atmosphere…reports the 1994 magazine Popular Science. The following except is from The New scientist: “…there were unusually low values of Ozone concentrations in 1992 between latitudes 50*N & 60*N, covering northern Europe, Russia and Canada. The Ozone level was 12% below normal, lower than at anytime in 35 years of continuous observations…” Depletion is most rapid in extremely cold & still conditions like Antarctica where over 60% or more Ozone has bee destroyed. Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

10

human and animal deaths. Plants are not spared either, as they become scorched too. Excessive heat is dangerous as it causes serious dehydration. 14. Polar cap melting. There is a belief that in coming months and years, the rising world temperatures will cause the ice caps at the two poles of the earth to melt. The two cold deserts hold a lot of water in frozen state and thus reduce the amount of free flowing water in the oceans, but with the afore mentioned development, there is going to be a more pronounced ice melting and the consequent release of more water to the oceans. This development will be a result of air pollution that will in turn lead to higher temperatures. What this melting will entail has not been fully calculated but suffice it to say that the ice caps will definitely begin to melt in coming days, if they have not already begun! 15. Global warming. Although warmer temperatures have been alluded already, it is necessary for us to highlight this as we see it being pivotal to the many changes that are taking place in the world today. As may have been noticed, there is a general increase in the world temperatures due to the presence of more free Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a green house gas, meaning that its presence causes the world to heat up because the gas traps the Infra red radiation and keeps the heat in the lower atmosphere. When this happens, the heat builds up in the world causing an inequilibrium in the ecosystem. The off shoots are the observed changes in the weather and climate. It is postulated that going by the present trends, the temperatures worldwide might rise by an estimated 1.5-4.5*C, depending partly on the response of the natural CO2 reservoirs such as forests and oceans. Talking about the reservoirs, it is estimated that some 300,000 times more carbon dioxide is trapped in the ocean floors in fossils and rocks®. It is feared that as more global warming occurs, these deposits will be released into the atmosphere, causing even more problems. Reversing the global warming will be hard since CO2 remains in the atmosphere for many decades. The 1992 Rio de Jenairo earth summitε called for countries to stabilise the CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. Whether this has been achieved, we have no telling just now. 16. Tide rise. It is postulated by some scientists that there has been and will be more tidal rise in the ocean and sea water levels. As pointed out in 14 above, the melting of the polar caps will mean more water unlocked into the oceans. This, among many things threatens to flood lowlands such as the pacific islands and Bangladesh. Also, the atolls, Coral reefs and other bodies where organisms thrive will be submerged and reduce the biodiversity further. This will also mean that the hurricanes on coastlines will be even more difficult to quell. It is feared that the world melting ice might raise the sea water level uniformly worldwide by no less than thirty centimetres within a century. 17. Reduced light intensity It has been noticed that the light intensity in heavily polluted areas has been reduced significantly due to the dark fumes that hover over the polluted
Source: Worlds in the sky, Sheenan.W., 1992, page 75 Maurice Strong, the earth summit Secretary General stated: “Stabilising the gaseous composition of the atmosphere is clearly the most urgent problem we face in the 1990s… Carbon emissions must be cut at least by 60% just to put the global warming trend on hold…” Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

11

areas. As one approaches a mining town like Kitwe in Zambia, one can clearly see a dark smoke hallow o enveloping the city, but upon entering the city, the cloud is virtually invisible to the human eye. Every hour, people are breathing smoke into their body systems unawares. In some extreme cases, visibility due to the dense fumes has been reduced to less than 10 metres! This condition is a sure recipe for disaster and has a twofold negative effect: 1. The process of photosynthesis is hindered in plants and thus leads to stunted plant growth and death. 2. The dark clouds have contributed to many accidents due to the poor visibility. 18. Noise pollution. Another component that comes hand in hand with mechanisation is noise. As the machines efficiently do their work, noise has made our world so uncomfortable. Although the definition of “Noise” is relative, any unwanted sound can be classified as noise. The Factories, cars, aeroplanes and even our own domestic gadgets give off noise. Of concern is the sonic booms produced from aeroplanes and also from magnificent vehicles like the space shuttle. Not only do the planes pollute by the destructive gases they produce, they also emit too much noise, such that some people have had their hearing impaired as a result. In some instances, glasses are shattered due to the high noise decibels flooding the atmosphere. Those who work among machines for long hours on end are most at risk of suffering the ill effects of continuous noise pollution. 19. Acidification of lakes and soil poisoning. When the acid rain falls it pollutes the water bodies making them inhabitable to aquatic life. This has occurred in Norway and Sweden. Also, the selfsame acid rain changes the pH of the soil making it poisonous to plants. This has a bearing on the type of Flora and Fauna extant in a given locality. Both these negative effects lead to reduced bio diversity. The above outlined air pollution effects speak for themselves that we are virtually sitting on a pending time bomb. Only a few seconds remain before the detonation takes place, what ought to be done? How are we to handle the prospects that confront us? The article to hand suggests that the law be invoked. In Zambia, the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control act is in place, in particular, the Air Pollution Control Bill which was signed in 1996 are there to help the Environmental Council of Zambia. But what practical tangible steps can we take to help tame the pollution tide? A few practical steps are suggested: 1. Strengthen the existing laws against Polluters. - The relevant appointed environmental protection institutions must be strengthened. In turn, this will empower them to prosecute polluters with minimal external interference. In many countries, the same ecological protection bodies are there only to report pollution occurrences but have no power to bring to book all the offenders. If they are to be relevant and effective, laws must be enacted to give them “teeth to bite”, otherwise they remain as white elephants in any country, these bodies must have the powers to issue or revoke a licence to all that pollute the atmosphere in one way or the other. Not only should they be empowered to issue licences, but they must also be given the right to monitor and check any premises at will,

Danger!Planet on fire!

12

Billy C Sichone

as they please. Only in this way will polluters be deterred from degrading the atmosphere. Of course this is a costly exercise but atmospheric degradation is even more costly! 2. Minimise the polluting levels of the atmosphere.Θ Presently, the emissions into the atmosphere are so high that if we continue at the present rate, we are headed for a major catastrophe. With the breakdown of the ecosystem will come economic collapse and death. The ideal situation is to simply shut down the pollution sources! Unfortunately, this is not a possibility now. The best that can be done is to minimise the air contamination levels to a bare minimum so that the earth can be given the capacity to recover, though this process will take many years (the recovery). Pragmatic measures must be put in place that will enable the existing polluters to carefully watch their waste emissions and also to be at the forefront promoting the anti pollution cause. Furthermore, cleaner and more efficient ways must be developed which reduce the degree of air contamination. 3. Develop healthier, cleaner and efficient power sources. More money must be spent on research into newer cleaner power sources. Presently, hydrocarbon fuels are extensively used world over. The problem with these hydrocarbon fuels is that they are not renewable and therefore wasting assets. Secondly, they emit a lot of by products that cannot be safely disposed off. In burning coal for example, we have a two-fold waste-the solid as well as the gaseous waste. These cannot be disposed off easily. The one (solid waste) has to be dumped on land previously undisturbed whilst the other (gas) will billow into the air and contaminate it, thus destroying the air quality. As though that were not enough, acid rain falls to the earth as a bonus! It should be our firm belief that research is primary at the moment or else risk destroying the earth further. Some countries have made plausible strides towards that direction but the majority are still engrossed in exploiting these dirty power sources. Some of the latest developments are the use of water as a fuel instead of petrol. Other inventions are the solar power and the now generally accepted hydroelectric power. For many developing countries, the nuclear power harnessing is still a far-fetched dream and many do not even think about that option because of the attendant hazards. Many still harbour an antipathy for Nuclear power harnessing because of its potential deleterious nature. In an ideal situation, Nuclear power is potentially a good power source as is the hydro one but these systems must be perfected and made more efficient before they can be effectively used widely across the world. Other power source ideas are yet to be hatched, for this, we anxiously wait! 4. Regulate the emission to the 1990 levels. Among the many proposals that were suggested at the 1992 Rio earth summitε was the desire to regulate emission to the 1990 levels. This means that nations must strive to either reduce or maintain the 1990 levels while alternative solutions were being sought. The extent to which this proposal has been implemented is yet to be ascertained but it is certainly a good first step towards taming the pollution tide. If we are to tackle any issue, we must first stop in our tracks and then refocus which way forward.
It is important to note the following as stated by UNEP in 1992 “ Exposure to air pollution is now an inescapable part of urban life through out the world…” See foot note under global warming on 10 by Maurice strong. Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

13

5. Intensify global awareness campaigns. Ironically the greater part of the world remains asleep in the light. They see the danger but many remain indifferent or continue in their old indiscriminately destructive habits. It is high time people awoke and came out of their cocoons. Many global environmental protection crusaders have emerged in the recent past and they must be supported by all. Individuals must be made aware of the true repercussions of their actions and that of others, probably thousands of kilometres away. We need a concerted effort to tackle this human created vice rather than by few disjointed individuals. It must be pointed out that this environmental decay knows no geographical or political boundaries but is global in nature. Furthermore, this should be a political campaign requirement as well. Candidates who ignore the environmental component must not be given a hearing at all as they have no pulse for mother earth. One other way to get the world’s attention is to report the occurrences of pollution accompanied by the stiff penalties mated out on the offenders publicly. In this way, many will be careful, dreading to be brought to public disgrace lest they lose their good will. Also, as has happened in some places, the products of the offending companies are boycotted. Time has come for the world to open its eyes and see the exact picture on the ground. We long for a higher antipathy to pollution! 6. Encourage people to use public transport so as to minimise the air polluting trafficThis proposal is a plausible one but it largely depends on the degree of understanding and sympathy people have towards environmental issues. The idea at hand is to encourage people to use public transport rather than their own vehicles. This cuts down significantly on the number of vehicles on the road, thus fewer emissions into the air. There is obviously going to be a reduction in the concentrations of the carbon monoxide and other related gases into the atmosphere. The problem with this idea is that some people will not trade their comforts for anything. Perhaps one way to encourage people is to offer some kind of incentive to those who voluntarily use public transport though they have their own cars.
7.

In extreme cases, declare certain days as “car free”- This proposal is closely connected to the one above except that in this instance, people have no choice but to obey. The issue at hand is a moral one that affects everyone. It was done once in Japan (1970) and the CO dropped as much as 80%!≈ This ban was implemented on Sundays on over 122 busiest streets in Tokyo. We are fast approaching a time when this will not only be an issue of indifference but a must. We need to act fast before the laws of nature force us into an austere position. Introduce toxins neutralising elements during mass production processes. This will mean that certain chemicals will have to be introduced either into the air or be added to by-products so that when they react with atmospheric pollutants, they bring about some kind of neutralisation. This has been explored in some coal power stations where the waste fumes are passed through some substances, which neutralise or filter out most of the toxic Sulphur dioxide. This could be extended to other areas and used on a wider scale. The only hurdle is that this is an expensive undertaking and also

8.

Source: Conservation for survival. Lindahl K, 1972, page 14. Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

14

poses other detrimental environmental problems such as where these waste materials will be dumped without tampering with the topography of the land.
9.

“Nip” potential pollution sources in the “bud.” This is simply the idea that any upcoming pollution source must be watched strictly even before one puff of smoke is released to the atmosphere. This is very involving because it amounts to “witch hunting”! By and by, this will be a necessary activity. To ensure that this works well, realistic guidelines must be put in place. These parameters will guarantee that we are not always acting as “fire fighters” but rather, disaster preventers. By that token, new factories must be meticulously watched lest they proliferate and add to the existing mess. Be cautious and meticulous what “Investment” to allow into the country, especially in the poorer developing countries! Although most of the atmospheric pollution presently occurs in the highly Industrialised countries, this scourge is fast shifting to the less developed nations. While the Developed nations are looking for ways to deal with the waste emanating from mass production, the poorer nations will compromise many issues so as to get the technological and financial assistance from the more advanced nations. Since these poor nations have no choice in the matter, they open their countries to all manner of investment without caring to put certain minimum environmental and health standards in place. As such, the rich investors come with their powerful Dollars, revive old dilapidated mines and factories as well as explore new areas of development. Half the time, these new investors’ main goal is profit and not sustainable development per se. We do not need to go far, we just need to turn our eye and see what has taken place in Zambia where the major factories and mines have been taken over. There is literary no care for the environment. Another way this serpent has slithered its way into the less environmentally polluted countries is under the guise of “aid”. This subjective point is validated by the fact that in the countries where these industries originate have strict laws and very high fines slapped for pollution offences. Without foresight, these beggarly nations embrace any glimmer of apparent free technical help not realising that there is a translation of pollution points. That is not to say that there is nothing good in all the technical aid given, not at all! To the contrary, the presence of these institutions will create the much-coveted jobs, though at the cost of long term permanent damage to the environment. The air quality degenerates to almost inhaling smokeα, akin to Hitler’s gas chambers! Establish the critical loads of every environment. This is very crucial if sustainable development is to be a reality in the world today. There must be a deliberate policy in place to determine the critical loads of the environment. Since Pollution cannot be entirely eradicatedχ, degradation. As such, the environment has certain levels of Pollution that it can safely clean beyond which the earth does not have the capacity to effectively clear the air. This calls for careful observation and research and then to determine the maximum levels beyond which degradation begins. In the case of water

10.

11.

See the May 1987 issue of the National Geographic page 624 “Exposure to air pollution is now almost an inescapable part of the urban part of life through out the world”- UNEP, 1992 Danger!Planet on fire! Billy C Sichone

15

bodies for example, this means that the acid neutralising capacity (ANC) must be known. The propensity to turn acidic must be determined. In some countries, the air and water are so easily pollutable because of the continued releasing of pollutants into them.
12.

Curb noise pollution: Though noise pollution is here to stay, ways must be devised which minimise the noise levels from machinery. Silencers must be utilised or the noise pollution sources relocated to alternate places far from society. This will minimise the inconvenience suffered by myriads.

As the article new millennium unfolds we, like the article author ably concludes, hope that the law enacted will have the potency to restore sanity in human kinds’ mad quest to exploit nature without paying back dividends. Let us join hands with the environmental crusaders on the throes of earth restoration!

Bibliography
Zambia Daily mail, 4th August 1999 issue by Kasuba Mulenga, “Environmental polluters to face criminal charges” 2. Reader’s Digest, May 1991 issue, Pekkanen “The man who flew into hell” Pages 147176 3. Introduction to global environmental issues.1995 Pickering C. Owen. L. London & New York. Routledge 4. Enviro line, April 1996 issue Vol 1 No. 1 Environmental council of Zambia 5. Conservation for survival: an ecological strategy.1972. Lindahl K. London. Victor Collancz ltd 6. Worlds in the sky.1992. Sheenan. W 7. GIS WORLD , March 1994 issue,Vol 7 No. 3. Page 32. Chernobyl: GIS aids model nuclear disaster relief. GIS WORLD Inc, Washington. 8. National Geographic, May 1987 issue. Mike Edwards, “Chernobyl-One year after” pages 632-653,624-625 9. Caring for the earth- a strategy for sustainable development (Summary). IUCN/WWF/UNEP 1991 10. A bomb Radiation effects Digest. Harwood academic publishers, 1993. 11. National Geographic, July 1987 issue. Cobb.C. jr. The Great Lakes’ troubled waters. Pages 2-31 12. National Geographic, July 1992 issue. Lee D. America’s third coast 13. Message, May/June 1990 page 18,19, WM.B Eerdmans publishing Co., 1985 14. National Geographic, March 1985 issue, Allen A. Boraiko. Hazardous waste. Pages 318-351,364-383 15. Quotations from the Rio de Jenairo summit
1.

Danger!Planet on fire!

16

Billy C Sichone

Paper 2

Fresh Ground water pollution.

“NIMBY!”-“ Not in my back yard!” is now a common word to express just the degree of averseness people have towards all forms of pollution, especially that which poses a severe health hazard. People no longer want to live, work or visit a place near to a dumping site, Nuclear power plant or any toxic waste emitting industry. This aversion has been on the increase from the middle of last century… but why the sudden “noise”? Why are people bothered by pollution? Is it harmful? If so, what are some of the effects and remedies of pollution? These are some of the questions & answers the article “Hazardous waste” from the March 1985 issue of the National Geographic addresses. As one turn to the article, a person clad in protective clothing while holding forth thick sticky oily stuff on a pole is seen. The picture is so graphic that one needs not read the story. The picture tells it all. Pollution has been a thorny issue for some time now. Being mindful that the word “Pollution” is a general term and there are various types such as Air, Water, soil, dust and noise pollution. We seek to define it as such and then draw our boundaries. Pollution basically is the introduction of certain parameters into the environment which cause an imbalance in the ecosystem, as a result of dumping waste in certain localities which situation leads to an environment being hostile to various ecoplayers such as humans, animals and vegetation. For our purposes, we confine ourselves to water pollution. In talking about water pollution, we must go further to state that we are dealing with fresh ground water. As earlier intimated, the article takes 34 pages to cover this pollution as found in the Michigan State-USA. In the said State, like any other, pollution has reached cripplingly dangerous levels. Reading the article, one cannot help agreeing with people who yell “NIMBY!” because of the devastating effects of environmental degradation. It is clear that this problem is a global one but is more serious in some places than others. The long industrialised countries like the USA are worst hit. On the one hand, the industrial machinery is churning out an unprecedented high quality and quantities of products, while on the other, the by-products cannot be easily disposed off! Slowly, the world has been storing up trouble, which is returning to haunt the human neighbourhood. It seems the old graves are opening up and hazardous solid waste ghosts are resurrecting from their graves and coming for us, this time with venomous lethal potency. But what exactly causes this pollution? What are the sources of these hazardous waste products? For generations, as new technological feats have been surmounted, the world population has been growing exponentially. As at 6th October, 1999, the World Population was estimated at six billion!Ρ By all standards, this is a big number of people, looking at the present earth carrying capacity. Somehow, all these people must have good clothing, enough food, good shelter and access to clean drinking water. The tragedy is that the

Danger!Planet on fire!

17

Billy C Sichone

fresh water bodies are becoming dangerously polluted by the day. There is an immense pressure exerted on the environment as the by products are disposed off. The disposal methods are varied, depending on the expense attached to the disposal mode. Some throw their rubbish into surface water bodies while others simply bury the stuff. With time, however, this has proved a bad way to deal with effluents because human kind is being harmed, as these toxic wastes begin to seep into the water tables from different points… and livings things ultimately use this same water. The harm mostly comes through the food chain, although it may take years to accumulate and cause serious fatal health problems later. But what are the major sources of these toxic substances? According to the article, the following are the major sources: 1. The Industries- As these churn out top quality goods, the industries have had a problem to dispose off the by products. Industries such as fertiliser, paint, vanish and detergent paste factories produce effluents which are disposed off into streams, rivers or simply drained into pits. These selfsame have hitherto not had impermeable walls, thus letting the chemicals to seep into the ground en route to the water table. Furthermore, as the toxic fumes and gases are emitted into the atmosphere, they dissolve into rain water and fall to the ground in the form of acid rain. These in turn sink and ultimately find themselves into the ground water. This contaminates the ground water terribly. 2. The second source of ground water pollution is the agriculture activity. As more and more farmers use chemicals, the said chemicals leech and go into the ground water. Chemicals such as DDT which were widely used years ago have wormed themselves back into the food chain causing untold amount of biological damage. It is interesting to note that the unused DDT portions extant at the time of banning in the USA, are now a health hazard as the drums in which they have been stored, locked away in some underground pits, are leaking and thus trickling into the ground water! Σ 3. The third source is simply the dumping of waste-especially from the City. Michigan alone has over 59 toxic dump sites and most are probably not safe. In all probability, the sites begun simply as “safe” but as time progressed, more garbage piled up. Having weak and permeable bases, and under extreme pressure, the garbage begun to sink. With the advent of rain water, the toxic chemicals soaked in and trickled to the water table. As earlier intimated in No. 2 above, the DDT drums corroded and as a result, the deadly chemical have leaked into the ground water. 4. Another source is the landfills which are dug up by human kind. These are areas where the land is dug up specifically for disposing off waste material instead of dumping the toxic stuff directly into some water bodies. The Mining industries for example, have lagoons in which the contaminated stuff is kept either permanently or temporarily. In these circumstances, they are usually placed away from civilisation and the area sealed off. Unfortunately, until recently, these landfills were not watched carefully to see the impact on ground water. The article in question shows in graphical form just how that these toxic substances again percolate into the ground from whence humans draw water for domestic use. A case which happened in Japan in the 1950s has been sited. It points to the fact that careless disposal of toxic waste ultimately will get back to us. In the said case, thousands were afflicted by the mercury which ravaged their nervous systems. Others had their bones weakened by chronic disease called “Itai-itai” as a result of dumping waste.

Danger!Planet on fire!

18

Billy C Sichone

5. Non renewable resources using energy power plants are another source of concern because they give off a lot of waste which is dumped in heaps. These by products are a time bomb as they not only create pressure on the environment by changing its topography, but the wastes remain toxic for many years yea, thousands of years! This is true in the case of the Nuclear and coal power plants. Talking about the Nuclear power stations, the Chernobyl disaster of April 26th, 1986 comes to mind. This disaster has left an indelible mark upon the sands of time as a monument of the imminent disaster mankind is courting. Among the many disastrous consequences is the fact that the Sarcophagus will remain a danger point to contaminate ground water. The said reactor No.4 which was entombed is reported to be breaking apart. The melt down point is proving to be more difficult to maintain than earlier thought. Similar accidents have been recorded in the USA, though on a smaller scale. Having laboured to establish the sources of this ground water pollution, we now proceed to find what the major types of toxic substances which are prevalent in the ground water and what the effects of ground water pollution are. The article mentions the following chemicals 1. Mercury 2. Nitrogen 3. Polychlorinated biphenyls-PCBs These are but some of the toxic chemicals which are difficult to deal with as they result from necessary human activities. For example, some of the mercury may come from watches which people throw away! Furthermore, some of these are by products from manufacturing detergents and carpet cleaning chemicals. What exactly are the effects of ingesting these substances? The effects are many but the findings from the article reveal the following: a. These contaminants cause cancers in humans as well as in other animals. Some fish have been found with tumours.? b. There are reported birth defects in humans. The offspring are found to have disfigured bodies or may have brain damage. Usually, these children will be mentally retarded. c. Miscarriages are another result. These chemicals induce spontaneous abortions which leave terrible scars on the victims. d. Blood diseases are also common. The blood is badly contaminated and as such, the body does not function well causing body weakness and a slow death. e. Some organs are not spared as they cannot metabolise these chemicals and heavy metals. Damages occur to the Liver, Kidney and the genes (mutation). This leads to serious fatal conditions. f. Nervous disorders will be witnessed as well. The chemicals will wind their way into the nerve centres of the body and cause them to malfunction. Nerves, as sensitive as they are, will be permanently damaged-Mind you, most of these are in remote parts of the body, are too numerous, minute and nigh impossible to replace. g. The bones are destroyed. In the case of the Itai-itai disease, there is excruciating pain felt by the victim. The bones become so weak that a mere sneeze will cause a bone to crack! Numerous bone dislocations are experienced as well. This has crippled many a soul in Japan.

Danger!Planet on fire!

19

Billy C Sichone

h. The water is rendered unfit for human consumption. It is said that there is probably more Fresh ground water than fresh surface water combined. Now if we are to destroy this precious resource, like we have done with surface water, where are we going to get the other water, seeing that the fresh water sources are dwindling rapidly? i. As the fresh ground water resources retreat, there is a danger that the contaminated salty sea & ocean water will move in to fill the hollow spaces. These are horrifying prospects indeed! The gloomy picture painted above largely affects humans. Other animals and plants are affected differently. For example, some fish can carry toxic substances such as DDT in their body tissues and remain in good health until, by a shortage of food, they begin to utilise the stored up fat. The same fat poisons the fish with lethal effect♥. What are the antidotes and the remedies to the problem? What can be done to avoid the above situation spreading further? A few solutions are offered: 1. Treat the solid waste before dumping or burying. The truth is that it is easier and cheaper to dispose off untreated waste. As such, companies, whose main interest is profit, will look for any loop hole to avoid incurring more expenses on things like incineration. If all polluters would spend more on treating waste, this would significantly reduce the ground water pollution. 2. Dispose solid waste materials far from the water table, away from humans and animals which need fresh clean water supplies. This is but another time bomb because man will have recourse to this same water in future, especially in the light of the dwindling supplies and the world exponential population growth. 3. Use Raw materials which will give off harmless disposable by products. This is a hard alternative but it is viable once found. Most of the Pollution emanates from the toxic by products. Furthermore, the said wastes are usually hard to get rid of as they very long half lives. Others will virtually take thousands of years to decompose and lose their toxic potency. 4. Bury all waste in Impermeable dump sites and pits. Ensure that the garbage is located in an area where the rock structure that is impermeable, as is the case in West Germany, where the solid waste is stored in drums 2,300 feet below ground in former salt mine tunnels. These tunnels are deep, dry and geologically stable. This is thought to be the safest facility in the world. Alternatively, the waste could be dumped in other artificially made concrete sites. This is very costly to construct but Pollution is more costly in the long run! Generations ahead will curse us if we do not do something now! 5. Promote the use of natural fertilisers where possible. This keeps within the ecosystem equilibrium. More ways must be devised that will ensure maximum use of decomposition and animal waste. This is extremely difficult to achieve given the population today which demands food on a commercial level. Subsistence ways are far outstripped by food demand and somewhat obsolete for our times. The environmental problems hem in on us from every side but as the author of the article ably quotes someone at the end of his report, we affirm that “We would like to live long enough to see an end to problems with hazardous waste”, to this we aspire!

Danger!Planet on fire!

20

Billy C Sichone

Bibliography
1. Boraiko.A, (March, 1985, pp318-351) Hazardous Waste. Washington D.C: National Geographic Society. 2. Lindahl.K, (1972) Conservation for survival. London. Victor Collancz Ltd 3.GIS World, Battista .C, March 1994 issue “Chernobyl: Model Aids Nuclear Disaster relief” pp32-35. 4.Readers’ Digest,Pekkanen. J, May 1991 issue,Volume138 “Chernobyl: The man who flew into hell” pp 147-176. 5.Pickering.C.K., Owen. L.A(1995) An introduction to global environmental issues. London & New York: Routledge 6.Cobbs Jr. C,(July,1987,pp 2-31) The Great lakes’ troubled waters. Washington D.C: National Geographic society 7.Lee.D.B (July,1992,pp2-37)Americas’ third coast. Washington D.C: National Geographic Society 8.Caring for the Earth-Summary. IUCN/UNEP/WWF(1991) pp 16 9. Environmental Management hand book-Preston University/CACC
Ρ

Source-UNEP,1999.

Danger!Planet on fire!

21

Billy C Sichone

Σ ?

National Geographic, March 1985 issue pp 337 National Geographic, July 1987 issue, page 27 by Cobbs, Jr Charles E ♥ Conservation for survival, page 69.Lindahl Kai

Danger!Planet on fire!

22

Billy C Sichone

Paper 3 Deforestation

There has been much talk about the threat to exterminate forests lately. The local and
international press including books are replete with the debates on the forests. The crusade for the forest conservationΤ is on the increase each day. But why is there such an outcry? After all, what is the necessity of keeping many needless trees around us? Are we backtracking on the dreams of our forefathers who wanted a clearer planet? Among the many people who have ventured to address this issue is Bwalya Nondo whose article entitled “Kafue Forest reserves fall to squatters” is a classic one. Perhaps the question that still begs answering is “What is the importance of forest?” In answering that question, we will do well to state that in this assignment, we deal with the topic of Deforestation, in general and its effects. What then is deforestation? Someone has simply defined it as “The conversion of forest land to other uses, such as pasture and cropland”& This simple definition means that large stretches of prior forested land are cleared due to anthropogenic actions, in the quest to develop. A few years ago, trees occupied more land than people did but now, the opposite is true. In Zambia, where at least three major categories of vegetation exist i.e. the closed forests, the open forests, and the grassland, including wetlands & Dambos, none have escaped unscathed by the wave of forest degradation wave that has hit world.ϒ The question still lingers, what is the importance of forests? A number of answers come to the fore: 1. Forests are the Natural oxygen machines through the process of photosynthesis. 2. Forests help to hold the soil together. The soil structure is refined as well as held together. 3. Forests are windbreakers. Many a whirlwind is stopped by the tree barrier. Dust pollution is also minimised. 4. Forests help regulate the hydrological cycle. Through transpiration, much water is transmitted to the atmosphere. Also, the trees keep water from being lost rapidly. 5. Forests are of economic value-Forests provide the much needed wood for construction and other uses such as paper and rubber making. The trees also enrich the soil with nutrients. 6. Forests are the natural habitats of many organisms. Myriads of organisms perch and flourish in the trees. Untold bio diversity is found in the forest, adding to the beauty of the natural world. 7. Forests help prevent floods. There have been postulations that the frequent flooding in area like Bangladesh has been due to deforestation. Trees reduce the run off rate and also retain most of the water from the uplands. 8. Forests provide Fuel and charcoal.-This goes without saying, fuel and energy are derived from trees for domestic use. 9. Forests protect the water catchment areas. Where trees have been felled around the catchment area, streams have dried shortly afterwards. This is because trees retain water and also keep the water table near the surface. When they are cleared, all the water is lost rapidly.

Danger!Planet on fire!

23

Billy C Sichone

10. Forests are a source of medicines. The cure of Aids and Cancer are concealed somewhere in those forests. Medicines all have their root to forests. 11. Forests ensure that subterranean water bodies are perennial. Akin to No.9 above, the underground streams and rivers run dry shortly or reduced to seasonal ones. 12. Forests are a barrier to soil erosion-akin to No.2 above, the absence of trees will leave the area vulnerable to rapid erosion where gullies will dominate. The soil subsequently becomes loose and loses fertility. Erosion disfigures the landscape too. 13. Forests are the hub a great bio diversity of plants and animals. Akin to No. 6 above, not only is it a habitant for organisms, but it must be emphasised that a Bio diverse crop of organisms is kept safe in the forests leading to a balanced eco-system. 14. Forests provide shade and comfort. Although this might seem a minor point, trees give shade and comfort to animals and humans as well. It is difficult to compute this in monetary terms but it surely has value. 15. Landslides prevented. On sloppy topography, trees hold the soil together and in times of heavy runoff, the trees reduce the possibility of landslides. The points above show the importance of trees if man is to survive in ages to come. Our introduction declared that forests were being indiscriminately cleared, what exactly are the major contributors of this scourge? The underlying answer is that human activity is at the centre of it all. Some major causes are highlighted below: 1. Charcoal burning. The demand for charcoal has increased as the global population has. The article highlights the activity as one that takes place every day in the forest reserve. Although charcoal burning is labour intensive, economic necessity overrides inconvenience. 2. Demand increase. The exponential world population growth means the demand has increased by the same token. Therefore, more trees are felled to satisfy the ready market. 3. Development. Large stretches of land are cleared annually pave way for development. New towns, roads and structures are constructed without taking an environmental impact assessment. The profit motive rather than the sustainable development is the human goal. 4. Atmospheric pollution -There has been an increase in the incidence of acid rain as a result of atmospheric pollution. When the acid rain falls on the vegetation, it has destroyed many of them. 5. Agriculture- As man has moved to commercial farming, large areas have been cleared for monoculture thus not only destroying forests but the biodiversity as well. The article highlights how the Kafue east topography has been ravaged. 6. Spraying-In the quest to kill pests, many forests and plants have been poisoned and killed. When DDT was widely used, it actually went up the food chain to poison man as well. 7. Pasture- With the advent of commercial farming, animals are kept in one area where they live and feed. Their confinement causes pressure on the land as the hoofs destroy the land and all the available vegetation is either trampled on or eaten.

Danger!Planet on fire!

24

Billy C Sichone

8. Fires. Natural fires are caused by lightening but others are lit by humans, in conformity with the age old traditional practices. This is prevalent in the flood plains of the Western Province of Zambia. This kills plants and organisms. Having noted the sources of deforestation, we now proceed to look at the effects of this act of deforestation. The perceived adverse effects are: 1. Soil erosion. There being no trees to hold the soil together, the land quickly becomes denuded and useless. 2. Siltation. Closely akin to the above, in areas where rivers flow, the eroded soil goes into the river and causes siltation. This raises the river bed there by blocking the river, and sometimes, deposition islands develop. 3. Droughts. As there are no trees to facilitate transpiration, land becomes dry and so no water transmitted to the upper atmosphere. Droughts result. 4. Desertification encroaches. The deserts expand having been given a foothold to claim more land. Once deforested, the land is vulnerable to barrenness that leads to desertification. 5. Drying up of Perennial rivers and streams. The absence of rivers in catchment areas means no water to guarantee the continued flow of the river. 6. Drying up of subterranean streams. The absence of trees not only lowers the water table, it also leads to underground streams to dry up. 7. Lowering of food security. Although remote, the indiscriminate cutting down of trees ultimately leads to lower crop yields as the soil will be less fertile and thus lead to economic collapse. 8. Flooding. Deforestation has been linked to flooding in Bangladesh. The Himalayan region has undergone acute deforestation and some Environmentalists strongly believe that deforestation is to blame.∆ 9. Fewer medicine sources. The cure for cancer is believed to lie somewhere in the forests, but if these are cleared, it spells doom for humankind. Medicines like quinine were discovered in the forests! 10. Landslides. These are more frequent in denuded and deforested areas because the soil is loose. 11. Land invasion by new growth. The deforested land is taken over by secondary forests or the exotic species invade the land, changing the landscape forever. 12. Reduced bio diversity. Monoculture has led to a reduced species of plants that interplay so wonderfully to add beauty and balance to the ecosystem. When these are cleared, the land becomes vulnerable. We have looked at the causes and effects of deforestation, it is now fitting to offer some possible remedies to this pending catastrophe. These are: 1. Strengthen the law on forestry. As the article suggests, the greatest need is to enact laws that will empower forest pundits to deal with offenders. As is the case in the Kafue forest reserve, the pundits are the law-abiding citizens and not the forest destroyers! The Ministry has no teeth. 2. Carry out an environmental assessment impact before any major under taking such as the building of towns or roads.

Danger!Planet on fire!

25

Billy C Sichone

3. Afforestation. There has been a growing call for more trees to be planted, whether exotic or not. Whilst very plausible, this must be done very carefully or else the exotic plants can invade and overtake the indigenous species. Also, some plants like the pines in England have been linked to the acidification of water bodies.κ Care must be taken by all concerned to ensure that no adverse impact results from an apparently worthy cause. 4. Reforestation-This will mean allowing the natural vegetation to regeneration freely having been depleted due to human activity. This is the best and ideal practice but regeneration takes many decades and centuries to recover the former glory. The rate of re growth in some exotic species is quicker and thus preferred. 5. Awareness campaigns. Incidentally, those who practice destructive habits know the consequences though not fully. There should be a deliberate effort to educate the masses through different fora and media. Myriads careless whether the tree in their back yard is there or not. 6. Offer alternative land to squatters- Apart from cautioning the people, the culprits must be offered other land designated for farming etc. The problem that confronts some people is that they have no alternative means of lively hood. If you deny them the trees, they will perish with hunger! 7. Work within the extant framework. This means that no one is victimised but that the authorities work hand in hand with the forest users to ensure that only enough is felled to allow the forests recover. This is the goal of sustainable development. People must develop, but not at the expense of the natural surroundings. 8. Increase funding and research. This sector has been marginalised in many a country because it has been perceived as a “non-crucial” area, this is a mistake! In poor countries, the above suggestions cannot take place unless a deliberate policy is put in place to ensure that the suggestions are implemented and monitored. For example, only $ 500 million∝ has been spent on this in Zambia. This is by far inadequate. 9. Minimise Political interference-Half the time, Politicians do not have the long-term dangers at hand. They only think of the vote. As a result, certain foolish things are condoned. My view is that if there is to be any interference, it should be for the cause of forest preservation and not for egocentric purposes. Selfish politicking has been the major cause of the impunity displayed by the Kafue forest invaders. The problem at hand is indeed a very grave one and can only be solved by humankind. Quick action must be taken or else all that remains will also be extinct. We fear that what has happened at the Kafue Forest reserve will spread like bush fire. It is so heart rending to watch helplessly as Gods’ creation is ripped asunder. Let marshal all our resources to save what remains!

Bibliography
1. Sunday Times of Zambia, July 25th 1999 issue. Bwalya Nondo, “Kafue forest reserves fall to squatters”.
Danger!Planet on fire! 26 Billy C Sichone

2. Times of Zambia, July 5th & 19th 1999 issues. Kawanga V& Hanyona S, “Forest and habitat development paralysed” 3. Zambia Daily Mail, 28th January 1999 issue. Mulasikwanda L. “Human activity eroding biological diversity” 4. Zambia Daily Mail, July 5th 1999 issue. Nachalwe C. “Poor funding blamed for deforestation” 5. Zambia Daily Mail, March 3rd 1999 issue. Chanda A. “Charcoal burners: Not all are environmental polluters” 6. The Post, December 4th 1998 issue. “Nyerere campaigns for afforestation” 7. The Post, February 8th 1999 issue. Kayumba L. “UNZA launches tree planting project” 8. An introduction to global environmental issues 1995. Pickering K. Owen L. London and New York. Routledge 9. Know your trees-some common trees found in Zambia 1995. Storrs A.E.G. Regional Soil conservation Unit. 10. Conservation for survival 1972. Lindahl K. London. Victor Collancz ltd. 11. Environmental management hand book-Preston Univ/Azaliah 12. Caring for the Earth: a summary. IUCN/WWF/UNEP 1991 13. Forestry for sustainable rural development 1998. New York. Ford foundation. 14. Charcoal industry workshop May 10-14, 1993 Siavonga, Zambia. Serenje W . Chidumayo E. Chipuwa J. Ellegard A & Egneus H 15. Zambia Daily Mail, August 4th 1999 issue. Mulenga K. “Environmental polluters to face criminal charges”

Danger!Planet on fire!

27

Billy C Sichone

Τ

Conservation is the management of human use of the Biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs & aspirations of future generations-Kawanga & Hanyona & Introduction to global environmental issue, Pickering K & Owen L. P366 ϒ It is estimated that between 200,000 to 300,000 hectares of forests are indiscriminately destroyed annually- January 28th 1999 Daily mail & August 4th 1999 Daily Mail. ∆ Introduction to global environmental issues Pickering & Owen. p 263,264 κ Introduction to global environmental issues p 118,119 ∝ Zambia Daily mail, July 5th 1999, “Poor funding blamed on deforestation”, Chiwanza Nachalwe

Danger!Planet on fire!

28

Billy C Sichone

Paper 4

Pollution of surface fresh water bodies
“Pollution” is a pregnant term and has been defined variously. My own simple definition
of pollution is “The introduction of certain parameters into the environment which cannot be co-opted into the ecosystem and thus cause an eco-inequilibrium leading to environmental degradation”. This situation renders the environment to be harmful and unpleasant to humans, animals and plants. As can be seen, this definition of pollution is general. Since there are different types of pollution, it is fitting for us to be clear in our minds from the outset, what type of pollution we are talking about exactly. For our purposes, we confine ourselves to fresh surface water pollution. “Human kind has been polluting water since the early days of civilisation.”λ In those earlier days when the World population was small, the fresh water bodies seemed far from being significantly contaminated. But alas, with the advent of the industrial revolution, there has been an “explosion” of goods produced. “Mass production” has been the call. With the advent of modern technology, higher living standards, longer life expectancies and population booms have been experienced. Naturally, these have their own impact on the environment. As such, since the 1950s, we began to hear outcries from different pockets on this terrestrial ball. The present six billion (As at October 6th 1999UNEP estimations) people on the earth today, have surely led to great strains on the earth’s carrying capacity to meet all the needs. The exponential population boom is having its toll today. As such, one does not need to go far to discover how and why the issue of fresh water scarcity is being highlighted today. There is a critical shortage of clean fresh water generally on the earth. On the one hand, the industrialised countries maximise on the use of the fresh water resources, while on the other, the less development countries like Zambia only use 3% letting the other 97% to flow wastefully to the ocean! The industrialised countries like the USA, Norway and Sweden have some of the worst polluted fresh water bodies where, in some cases, the entire aquatic and biological life is almost dead! The Great lakes in the USA, for example, are so polluted such that it is hazardous to drink the water directly from them! In the quest to industrialise, the developing countries have also started polluting their fresh water sources as well. Their industrial waste is dumped into the rivers and lakes whose pollution levels in most cases far exceed the maximum accepted pollution levels. Most of the industrial and human effluents are not treated, as this option is cheaper. As one of the ramifications of pollution, the articles “Kafue weed becoming national crisis”, and “Kariba weed under control” show clearly that a catastrophe is looming in Zambia as well. The problem illustrated is but a tip in the ice berg of the grave environmental decay that confronts the world today. The Kafue and Kariba weeds are two different water hyacinths, which have plagued rivers and lakes in Zambia. The said

Danger!Planet on fire!

29

Billy C Sichone

articles bring out very revealing facts about the effects of pollution. For example, the Kafue weed (also known as the Water Malignant hyacinth) has in some places covered the entire river! There is a thick blanket of vegetation across the river such that the river cannot be seen or flow properly! But what has caused this situation? For one thing, it is not known how this Kafue weed got into the river, because it is natively found in South America. How this weed landed on the Kafue is yet to be discovered. One thing for sure is that it is there and flourishing! According to the Kafue weed article, the said pester was first spotted in the early nineteen seventies though in very insignificant traces but overtime, this selfsame weed has spread widely ending up as a menace. It has proliferated to almost uncontrollable levels. In attempting to answer the question as to the causes of this pending holocaust, the article points to the issue of pollution. The hyacinth thrives in an atmosphere where there is a lot of water, sunshine, Nitrogen and Phosphorus nutrients. All these elements are present on the river. The following are the sources of some of these elements. 1. The industries – The Nitrogen Chemicals, Kafue textiles, Indeni oils & the Tannery, to name but a few, pollute the river. 2. The Mines – the mines dump some of their waste such as the slug into the river. These contain some nutrients. In some cases, the mines dump the waste in lagoons which lead to other pollution problems such as the pollution of ground water. 3. The Agricultural Activities – The Nakambala Sugar Estate and the other farmers release a lot of chemical effluents into the river. These chemicals are a good ground for the hyacinth thriving- leading to eutrophicationφ in the river. 4. The sewerage – Which is dumped into the river from the cities such as Lusaka, Kafue and Mazabuka. In some cases these human waste is not treated thereby causing a lot of problems later on downstream. The above have continued to dump more and more waste into the river to the extent that the Kafue river has turned out to be probably the most severely polluted river in Zambia. This river, with all its impurities flows into the Zambezi River, which river, we have reason, is itself polluted because of the presence of a similar weed at the Lake Kariba. But what are the effects of this water pollution? Does it affect anything or anyone at all? The answer to this is an affirmative yes! The presence of heavy water pollution leads to the following. 1. The water becomes unfit for human consumption. As we all know, “Water is life”, a familiar adage says. It will mean people cannot have access to clean and safe water. If they drink the water, their health is at risk. Actually, in some countries people are warned sternly against drinking water from the tap or else get ill, develop terminal diseases such as cancer and die! 2. The water once polluted will cause the hyacinth to flourish thereby making the river not navigable. In some cases, the river dies!-In extreme situations, the river simply dries up and is buried!

Danger!Planet on fire!

30

Billy C Sichone

3. The presence of pollution leads to the aquatic and biological life to die. In the case of the Kafue River, the hyacinth depletes the oxygen concentrations to levels such that fish die! Further, the “thick vegetation blankets” not allow light to penetrate to the aquatic life beneath. 4. The hyacinth, in the case of the Kafue, Kafubu and Lake Kariba sucks in enormous amount of water, which is lost rapidly through evaporation. The Kafue weed article stated that these plants are composed of 95% water, which water is lost and replaced very frequently. This means that the rivers or lakes lose the much needed water for the hydroelectric power generation. This has serious adverse economic impact – Also, the concentration of the effluents increases, since the water is less. 5. The water bodies cannot be used for other economic activities such as fishing, boating or swimming. Imagine diving into an acid swimming pool! But this can happen to the massive water bodies too! 6. Breeding ground for mosquitoes. These Water hyacinth are a perfect hub for mosquito breeding, having significantly reduced the water speed. The environment created is like a stagnant pool of water. 7. Closely connected to No.6 above, the reduced water speed due to the presence of the weed will lead to siltation at the Dam wall bases of the man-made lakes. This siltation is undesirable because it will ultimately lead to the interruption of hydro power generation and also create more pressure on the Dam wall. Having looked at the effects of fresh water pollution, the article goes on to attempt to offer some solutions. The following are suggested: 1. Using biological methods – This is breeding the Weevils, which feed on the hyacinth. These weevils are propagated and then introduced into the water bodies. Ideally, if there were a large enough population, they could clear the hyacinth. Questions have been asked such as “After the hyacinth are wiped out, what plants will the weevils ravage next?” Others have raised the point that the populations of these self-same weevils are too small while the imminent danger is great, needing immediate action. 2. The second suggestion is the use chemicals to clear the weed. This was used at the lake Kariba (August 1998) with a measure of successΨ. The question that begs answering is “Won’t those chemicals eventually get into the food chain and cause problems later?” This method is quite effective but poses a danger on the aquatic life in that water body. Infact, this chemical method is in itself another source of pollution!! 3. The third remedy is the mechanical. This method suggests that direct physical intervention be implemented. The Government will have to hire certain organisations

Danger!Planet on fire!

31

Billy C Sichone

will use machines and physically “fish” out the weed from the water bodies. It is practised in East Africa, where soldiers do it (The Lake Victoria has not been spared in this scourge either!). This is an excellent idea but extremely costly too, looking at the extent of the hyacinth problem. This method has been tried on the Kafubu River before, (This tributary of the Kafue River is extremely clogged by the weed. It is on the Copper belt of Zambia) but no sooner had the weeds been removed than they reappeared, with even more vigour! Sustainable ways are needed to combat this foe. 4. The last suggested remedy is to simply turn off the supply of those nutrients! This will mean that all the polluting sources must have alternative places to dump their effluents. For example, the Nakambala Sugar Estate will have either to strictly treat its waste or find an alternative dumping site. The above suggested ways are not exhaustive, other possible solutions exist as well. It is a fitting conclusion drawn by the Kafue weed article that this scourge ought to be fought with as much vigour as we spend on fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We must marshal all our resources to fight the Hyacinth to the very bitter end! So, we can see that surface water pollution is on the increase Worldwide and must be meticulously watched. In Zambia, the Environmental Council has been empowered through the Environmental protection and pollution control act (EPPC) cap 204 of 1991, to monitor and prosecute polluters. We feel more power is needed if this careless pollution tide is to be tamed. Remember, water is life!

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Zambia Daily Mail, Singy Hanyona, January 25th 1999 “Kafue weed becoming national crisis” 2. Time of Zambia, Emelda Shonga,16th July, 1999 “ Kariba weed Crisis” under control says ZRA 3. “The Chronicle” February 12th, 2000 “River Polluted”< This is a Zimbabwean National daily. 4. Zambia Daily Mail ,Mulenga Kasuba, August 4th, 1999 “Environment polluters to face criminal charges” 5. Environment line, ECZ April 1996 volume 1 number 1 “Environmental Pollution in Zambia: What is it like?” 6. Pickering. C.K., Owen. L.A(1995) An introduction to Global Environmental issues. London & New York: Routledge 7. Cobb Jr. C,(July, 1987, pp 2-31) The Great Lakes’ troubled waters. Washington D.C: National Geographic society 8. Lindahl.K(1972) Conservation for Survival. London. Victor Collancz ltd

Extra note:

Danger!Planet on fire!

32

Billy C Sichone

A hard copy will come through the regular mail box with the attached copies of article. I will also include photos of the said plagued rivers to add colour to the work. I have visited the following Water bodies and physically seen the weed: 1. The Kafue River, at the road bridge, where the river is probably worst clogged by the weed. 2. The Kafubu river-This river is completely covered at the places I chose, I found two major sources of pollution:i. There is a sewer system which is none functional but simply pours untreated human waste into the river! ii. There are industries which pour their waste into the river. Ndola is the “Industrial Capital” . Much of the effluents are not checked either. The irony of it all is that the Major part of Ndola gets its domestic water supplies from this selfsame river!.. and no one raises a finger in protest!! A few have though with little success. 3. The Lake Kariba & Dam- The Dam wall was not too badly clogged but the weed could be seen floating on the lake in large “Batches” of healthy green vegetable islands.
λ

An introduction to Global Environmental issues, Pickering C & Owen L (1995) page 135.

Danger!Planet on fire!

33

Billy C Sichone

φ Ψ

Eutrophication -Addition of nutrients to water bodies which increase their productivity “Kariba weed under control…”, Emelda Shonga, Times of Zambia 16th July, 1999.

Danger!Planet on fire!

34

Billy C Sichone

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful