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PRESENT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES SHRUTHI SHETTY MMS-B(IVTH SEM) 93

Environmental issues are the problems with the planet's systems i.e. air, water, soil, etc., that have developed as a result of human interference or mistreatment of the planet.

Few environmental issues1. Air and water pollution 2. Soil erosion 3. Deforestation 4. Global warming 5. Greenhouse effect 6. Oil spills 7. Population growth 8. Loss of biodiversity 9. Destruction of natural habitats 10. Destruction of natural resources 11. Attack of marine life 12. Nuclear issues 13. Acid deposition 14. Sea level rise 15. Species extinction, etc.

Major environmental issues are Degradation of forest land and agricultural land, resource depletion (water, mineral, forest, sand, rocks etc.),environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor

1) Global Warming Global warming is one of the major issues that we are being faced with today. The term signifies an increase in the atmospheric temperature near the earth's surface, which is caused due to various reasons. Scientists are of the opinion that a rise in the carbon dioxide levels will further aggravate the situation. The greenhouse effect causes the earth's heat to be trapped in the atmosphere, which results in the increase in temperatures. Global warming has thus caused a change in the climate of the earth, causing temperatures to rise. This, in turn, has an effect on various species dependent on the basic laws of nature. A change in the same makes survival a difficult issue. A warmer earth also causes changes in the rainfall patterns and thus affects humans, plants and animals as well. 2) Air PollutionOutdoor air pollution caused 6.2 premature deaths in India in 2010, which is a six-fold jump from the 1 lakh deaths in 2000. This makes polluted outdoor air the largest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution (mainly from smoking chullahs), tobacco use, and poor nutrition, says the Global Burden of Disease 2013, which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes every 10 years. One in three people in India live in critically-polluted areas that have noxious levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and lung-clogging particulate matter larger than 10 micron (PM10) in size. Of the 180 cities monitored by India‘s Central Pollution Control Board in 2012, only two — Malapuram and Pathanamthitta in Kerala — meet the criteria of low air pollution (50% below the standard). Though air quality monitoring has doubled between 2005 and 2010 from 96 to 180 cities, the number of cities with low pollution has fallen from 10 to 2, while critically-polluted cities have risen from 49 to 89. According to the Yale University study that assessed 178 nations worldwide, India's air quality ranks among the lowest five countries in the world air pollution. And according to the Environmental Performance Index 2014, Delhi is the most polluted city. The report assessed countries on their air quality, status of biodiversity, water and sanitation. Overall, India's rank was 155th, far below other BRICS countries, China (118), Brazil (77), Russia (73), and South Africa (72).

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Water PollutionPollution of surface water can create health risks, because such waterways are often used directly as drinking water sources or connected with shallow wells used for drinking water. In addition, waterways have important roles for washing and cleaning, for fishing and fish farming, and for recreation. Another major source of drinking water is groundwater, which often has low concentrations of pathogens because the water is filtered during its transit through underground layers of sand, clay, or rocks. Reasons that leads to Water Pollutioni. Agriculture: From pesticides/insecticides. Organochlorines that contain carbon, chlorine and hydrogen such as DDT, heptachlor, aldrin, endosulfan etc, and organophosphates that were promoted as less toxic by the industry such as parathion, malathion Hazard: Reproductive system dysfunction, birth defects. Known neurotoxins that damage nerve cells, immunity, kidneys and gene structure ii. Untreated sewage: From sewage, food waste and detergents. E. coli and faecal streptococci and nitrates in untreated sewage, fertilisers and manure; arsenic leechingfrom rock into groundwater water due to over-extraction. Hazard: Water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice, cholera, typhoid iii. Industrial effluents: From factories, refineries and power and steel plants release heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, chromium, fluoride, mercury, iron, zinc Hazard: Arsenic causes cancers of the bladder, skin and lung; others weaken teeth and bones weaker, damage vital organs, cause allergies, intestinal lesions iv. Food contaminants: From pesticides, fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics such as tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin and ampicillin given to livestock to prevent disease, accelerate growth and increase feed efficiency Hazard: Neurotoxin that damages the nervous system, immunity, kidneys, alters genes and causes hormonal imbalances, leading to problems such as early puberty and obesity

4) Ozone Depletion Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are considered to be the main cause of ozone depletion. The term ozone depletion implies a decline in the quantity of ozone in the earth's stratosphere. The loss of ozone in the lower stratosphere was first recorded in Antarctica in the 1970s. As we all know, the earth's atmosphere is composed of many layers; ozone forms one such layer in the stratosphere. CFCs are used in aerosol sprays as well as air conditioners. These, when released into the atmosphere add to the ozone depletion. The ozone hole in the Antarctic is caused primarily due to these CFCs. Due to ozone depletion, humans are faced with various other problems such as dealing with the harmful effects of UV rays. These affect not only humans, but also affect plants and various species of animals as well.

5) Loss of Natural Resources With the alarming rate of increase in population, the loss of natural resources has become one of the major concerns. Issues like deforestation, animal extinction, shortage of water, lack of space and food are only some of the concerns brought on by the lack of resources. There are many reasons that lead to the loss of natural resources (increasing demands brought on by population explosion, disregard for nature, human greed). This, in turn, affects the varied ecosystems. Activities such as overfishing and hunting have even led many species of fish and animals respectively to the brink of extinction. Forests are being cleared to meet the rising demands for the need of paper, wood and land. Mining and burning of fossil fuels have led to further depletion of resources. Then again, this is merely scratching the surface.

6) Nuclear Problems Nuclear energy is generated from the splitting of uranium atoms. This energy is used to create steam, which in turn is used to produce electricity. While there are definite advantages of generating nuclear power, what stands equally true is the fact that the process of producing the same harms the environment in many ways. The process of converting uranium into usable energy produces radioactive waste (2000 metric tons of radioactive waste is generated in a year in the USA alone) which is extremely harmful for human, animal and plant health at many levels. Along with that, the storage of nuclear power at a plant, as well as the fact that

most other equipment in the plant will also convert into radioactive material over time and remain radioactive for several years is a major threat. While decaying, radioactive material releases certain particles which leads to damaging effects on health, like cancer. Along with these health concerns, production of nuclear energy also leads to several other harmful effects like emission of carbon dioxide (during mining, transport, waste management and other processes of producing nuclear energy), usage of excessive water and water discharge. This will, in turn, affect the environment at many levels. 7) Loss of Biodiversity Biodiversity refers to the combination of a diverse range of species on earth. The varied plants, animals and microorganisms, the different ecosystems (coral reefs, deserts, rain forests, etc.) all have a unique role to play in the cycle of earth. These diverse species lead to the boost of varied ecosystems, which thus enables them to prevent, as well as recover from several disasters. However, due to varied human activities like deforestation, and hunting, the natural habitats as well as the survival of several species are being threatened. Several plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, while others have already become extinct. The extinction of animals and plants can lead to varied effects, some of which are - increase in sea levels (leading to floods), droughts, wildfires, forest destruction and more.

8) Energy Crisis The impact of energy on human life is probably only second to agriculture and forestry. That having been said, the negative impact that energy, as a source, has on the environment is quite far-reaching. Energy of any kind, may it be thermal, hydro, nuclear or electric has led to several environmental concerns. Where earlier the concerns were restricted to the local arena, the issues have now become global. Energy and the activities related to energy production lead to hazards of some form or the other. Extraction of raw material for production (emission of carbon dioxide), transportation, and the conversion to usable forms of resources have a harmful effect. Along with that, it has also led to concerns like acid rain, the greenhouse effect as well as global warming.

9) Improper Waste Management Wastes can be of several kinds (industrial, nuclear, chemical, domestic), and each can lead to environmental degradation. From excessive plastic used at home to the radioactive waste produced by nuclear plants, the impact can be disastrous.

Not only are these wastes harmful on their own, but the techniques (or the lack) of waste management and disposal adds to this problem manifold. Emissions from industries as well as toxic by-products like mercury, crude oil, plastic and lead are not properly disposed off. They are dumped into the oceans and soil, thus leading to disastrous impacts on all life forms. Of these, oil spills have become another major concern. These wastes lead to the destruction of natural habitats of both plants and animals and other species as well, in both land and water. They therefore make the environment toxic. Along with increasing the risk of extinction of several species, it also leads to other health concerns such as the development of fatal diseases like cancer and lead poisoning. These are some of the current environmental issues we are facing today. With an effort from each individual, we can only hope to save our planet from being destroyed.

Perhaps the largest of the environmental issues in India facing the people of India is inadequate or lack of access to vital fresh water resources. As India's industries get bigger so will the amount of water they require and the amounts are already beginning to spiral. As an example I use the Coca cola factory which was accused for years of messing up an entire eco system. By simply diverting all the water to their factory, millions of people went without. The company are also accused of causing huge droughts and contamination to a massive area by exploiting an excessive amount of ground water and then replacing it with toxic discharge. Of course, Coca Cola is a big famous company and that is why this came to news but I have no doubt that there are a million examples of similar things happening all over India. Years of exploitation and extraction of groundwater in India has caused the national water table to suddenly and very dramatically drop. Considering that 85% of rural drinking water and 55% of urban water comes from underground sources, this seems to me a very urgent problem as literally hundreds of millions of people could be left without water...does it even bear thinking about! The rivers are on the front line of pollution in India. Millions of people depend on them for their livelihoods but they are slowly being polluted and destroyed by sewage, chemicals and other agricultural and industrial waste.

Top environmental issues about which humanity should be thinking:
1) Toxins

Radioactive materials, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematocides―all of these man-made products kill or harm life. Dangerous radioactive materials last for millennia and warrant great wisdom in their production, use, storage, and disposal. All nuclear reactors should immediately be retrofitted with safer fuel pellets and gravity-fed cooling systems. Similarly, the heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other toxins will continue to have highly deleterious effects on the health and well-being of people and ecosystems. What can one do? At least buy organic bananas, rice, and cotton―three of the most toxin-producing crops―and advocate for reducing the use of toxins throughout industry and agriculture.
2) Our Dying Oceans

Overfishing has decimated most fisheries and the oceans are now devoid of over 95% of its larger predatory fish, such as sharks, Bluefin tuna, and billfish. Coral reefs are degrading almost everywhere they occur due to warming and acidifying (caused by more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) seas, overfishing, and sediment- and toxin-laden runoff from the land. And the tons and tons of discarded plastic that ends up in the ocean kills and sickens marine life up and down the food chain. As this plastic breaks down the resulting micropellets will continue to cause lasting harm in ecosystems. What can be done? Humanity needs an international effort to regulate and enforce sustainable fisheries, as well as a system of coastal and offshore marine protected areas that protect at least a quarter of the ocean. Sources of ocean plastic, from plastic shopping bags and flip flops in river runoff to industrial pellets and toothbrushes dumped offshore, need to be cut off, and truly biodegradable plastics (not just ones that break into smaller pieces) need to be widely adopted. To paraphrase the Inhabitat mission statement, the imperative of ‗good design‘ today is not only about color, style or trends – but instead about thoughtfully considering the user, the experience, the social context and the impact of a designed object, system, or interaction on the surrounding environment, and, increasingly, biosphere stewardship.

3) The Hemorrhaging of Biodiversity

Our species‘ activity within the last century is responsible for rapidly diminishing the diversity of life forms on this planet. Each species lost is a storehouse of environmental knowledge selected for over millions of years. The exploding sciences of biomimicry, bioengineering, and genetic manipulation highlight the enormous potential a single species may have in helping humanity create a healthier, more sustainable interaction with our environment through

improvements to medicines, food production, nutrition, technologies, and resilient ecosystems. A conservative estimate is that well over a hundred species a day are going extinct, with the rate of disappearing species accelerating as natural habitats shrink, fragment, and degrade and commercial exploitation of vulnerable species escalates. The loss of species is irreversible and the loss of old-growth natural habitats irretrievable within centuries. The fewer the species remaining on this planet, the more tenuous our own existence. EO Wilson rightly warns that our destruction of the Earth‘s biodiversity will be the thing that future generations will least forgive us for. What can we do? A good start is to fully shut down the international trade in wildlife, protect all remaining natural habitats, from rainforests to untrawled seafloors, and begin to restore watersheds by removing dams and protecting headwater and riverbank vegetation.

4) Degrading the Ozone Layer

Without the protective ozone layer high above in the stratosphere we would literally fry from the sun‘s ultraviolet radiation. Certain industrial compounds, such as organohalogens (the refrigerant Freon is an example), break down ozone in the stratosphere at very high rates for long periods of time and greatly reduce the ozone‘s ability to protect surface life from UV radiation. The US and China recently agreed to work to diminish the production and use of these compounds, which is a great step forward in wise biosphere stewardship.
5) Changing Climates

Humanity has released sufficient quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the last century that we are now starting to feel the effects of an inevitably warmer world. Pronounced droughts, floods, wildfires, and storms are expected more frequently, rising seas will inundate coastlines, and climate patterns will be reconfigured around the planet. Agricultural zones will shift and water may become scarce in many areas prompting mass migrations, great social upheaval, collapsing economies, and wars. Humanity is already committed to a great deal of change in our global climate, but reducing greenhouse gas production and creating more efficient technologies and production systems now will benefit future generations and help us back away from thresholds of irreversibly harsh conditions. We can help other species adapt locally to changing climates by protecting blocks of natural habitat that extend up mountains and pockets of habitat that will retain cooler and moister conditions, such as shady slopes and riverside habitats.

6) Deforestation

India is witnessing a rising demand for forest-based products. This is causing deforestation and encroachment into forest protected areas, which leads to a severe loss of natural resources. It is estimated that total industrial roundwood consumption in India could exceed 70 million m3 per year by the end of the decade (350,000 large shipping containers), while domestic supply would fall short of this figure by an estimated 14 million As the nation will have to depend heavily on imports to meet this growing demand, there is fear that this could result in loss of high conservation value forests and biodiversity elsewhere. The story of deforestation is another of the highly serious environmental issues in India. It is predicted that almost 5.3 Million hectares of forest have been destroyed since the independence. Most of it being chopped down for housing, industrialisation and river projects. It is estimated that the number of Mangrove Forests have more than halved in the last 20 years. The government soon recognized the importance that these forests hold for the conservation of soil and put forward a range of polices trying to curb the destruction; of course, nothing has really changed and thousands of acres are destroyed every year with nothing in the way of 'replacement'. Poor management and abuse of power are again the increasingly sad cause behind the mass deforestation of India, some call it greed. Protected areas are largely declassified so that commercial activities can take place but new areas are not reclassified. Poaching is another factor, people actually coming in and steeling trees and one of the final blows to the forest of India who already seem to have lost the battle is the invasion of foreign tree species such as Eucalyptus etc.

7) Plastics and other waste

Mismanagement and overuse of India's once abundant forests has resulted in desertification, contamination, and soil depletion throughout the sub-continent. This has serious repercussions for the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of Indians that live off the land. In Rajasthan alone, it is approximated that nearly five million tribal people (as of 2004) rely on the collection of forest produce as their only source of

income or nourishment. Without continual access to forest products such as fruit, honey, or firewood these communities experience debilitating hunger and are reduced to extreme poverty. Drought is having severe consequences for the people Rajasthan who have endured chronic shortages of water. In 2003, one-fifth of the villages in Rajasthan reported that they had no access to a reliable water source, and approximately half relied on a single source for the entire area. This affects the availability of safe drinking water, the success of the livestock population, and the security of basic food sources. Without water, health, and agricultural productivity, Rajasthani people are forced to struggle for their survival. Numerous NGOs in Rajasthan focus on environmental issues as they are extremely pressing concerns for this region. FSD works with NGOs that have been enormously effective in protecting natural resources and minimizing the effects of drought. For example in 2006, an FSD intern Elizabeth Thys worked with the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) to build a rainwater harvesting system. This water tank improved the quality and accessibility of drinking water for approximately 150 people in a rural area of Rajasthan.
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Population GrowthPopulation growth, because it can place increased pressure on the assimilative capacity of the environment, is also seen as a major cause of air, water, and solidwaste pollution. The result, Malthus theorised, is an equilibrium population that enjoys low levels of both income and environmental quality. Malthus suggested positive and preventative forced control of human population, along with abolition of poor laws. The literal meaning of population is the ―the whole number of people or inhabitants in a country or region‖. As the population increases, so do the problems. The main factors affecting the population change are the birth rate, death rate and migration.

The recent increase in population has been caused due to the following major reasons: a) The increase in birth rate due to medical improvements b) The decrease in death rate due to better medical facilities and advancements in the field of medicines c) Migration to the urban area from the rural area due to several reasons like job opportunities, infrastructure development, etc. India, being a developing country, has had to face several economic, political challenges. One of the most important problems is the population explosion. Some of the reasons for population explosion are poverty, better medical facilities and immigration from neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Nepal.

Several solutions to decrease the rate of population increase have been tried by the government, some successful, some unsuccessful. Although the rate of increase has decreased, the rate has not reached the satisfactory level yet. The population in India continues to increase at an alarming rate. The effects of this population increase are evident in the increasing poverty, unemployment, air and water pollution and shortage of food, health resources and educational resources.

9) Loss of Biodiversity-

Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable. Everything that lives in an ecosystem is part of the web of life, including humans. Each species of vegetation and each creature has a place on the earth and plays a vital role in the circle of life. Plant, animal, and insect species interact and depend upon one another for what each offers, such as food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment. Causes of destruction of biodiversityThe main cause of the loss of biodiversity can be attributed to the influence of human beings on the world‘s ecosystem, In fact human beings have deeply altered the environment, and have modified the territory, exploiting the species directly, for example by fishing and hunting, changing the biogeochemical cycles and transferring species from one area to another of the Planet. The threats to biodiversity can be summarized in the following main points: i. Alteration and loss of the habitats: the transformation of the natural areas determines not only the loss of the vegetable species, but also a decrease in the animal species associated to them. Refer to ―Alteration and loss of the habitats‖. ii. Introduction of exotic species and genetically modified organisms; species originating from a particular area, introduced into new natural environments can lead to different forms of imbalance in the ecological equilibrium. Refer to, ―Introduction of exotic species and genetically modified organisms‖. iii. Pollution: human activity influences the natural environment producing negative, direct or indirect, effects that alter the flow of energy, the chemical and physical constitution of the environment and abundance of the species; iv. Climate change: for example, heating of the Earth‘s surface affects biodiversity because it endangers all the species that adapted to the cold due to the latitude (the Polar species) or the altitude (mountain species). v. Overexploitation of resources: when the activities connected with capturing and harvesting (hunting, fishing, farming) a renewable natural resource in a particular area is excessively intense, the resource itself may become exhausted.