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Connected by the oceans; can we work together to protect the environment?

By: Abdullah Shahid

Every disaster has a prerequisite. So what is the prerequisite of pollution? Pollution has been
haunting mankind since industries first opened their doors. Ever since, our air reeks of the toxic
gases emitted by these industries. Unfortunately, various ecosystems, animals and the wellbeing
of our future generations was the cost of this revolution.

We lived in a mirage that our actions, inventions were completely harmless up until the curtains
were pulled; at that point nothing could be done and there was no going back. The ozone hole,
plastic pollution, lack of drinkable water in many places and unbreathable air in many places are
all results of our naïve acts.

The year 1907 we invented plastic. A very versatile material that could be used in any aspect of
our life. A revolutionary, indestructible material. Although these properties helped us a lot but at
the end of the day we had no way to dispose it as it was non-biodegradable. So we started
dumping it on land and sea resulting in landfills and plastic debris patches in the sea.

It is estimated that every year 8 million metric tonnes of plastic is dumped into the sea [1]. This
harms all sorts of marine life, from whales to microscopic organism. These animals eat this
plastic thinking its food but as their stomachs can’t break it down, it results in their eventual
death due to starvation. We humans are also eating our own waste [2], as we catch fishes that
have already ingested this plastic and consume it, those fragments of plastic end up inside us.

Fast forward to the 1930s, we discovered that we could make aerosol sprays with the help of
chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). We continued using it till the 1980s unaware of the fact that our
layer of protection against the sun, the ozone layer, was depleting. But as we found out about the
hole, it had grown to the size of Antarctica itself [3].

Although our air as a whole has been polluted by toxic gases, but there are some places where
the conditions are worse than elsewhere. Moreover, there are things that most of these places
have in common. For instance, most of these places are developing countries or they are ones
with high population density.

Population density can have a huge impact on the pollution levels of a place. This is because
larger population density would mean that there are more people living in a relative smaller area.
Moreover, that would also mean that there may be more vehicles present and there will be an
increase in the activities which cause pollution. Cooking and burning for heat are examples of
such activities.

Furthermore, the monetary status of a country has a huge impact on its policies regarding
pollution control. If a country is going through monetary crisis, it will pay no heed to how much
pollution its industries are causing as long as they help its economy. To add to that, even if they
wanted to solve their problem, they wouldn’t have the resources to do it.

The only true solution to these problems is working together; sharing our technology or our
resources with those who don’t have it or can’t afford it. Most of the countries with clean air
have low population density. If only we could re-distribute the population of earth, we will solve
this problem of burdening the resources of a certain place. Bangladesh with a population of 165
million [5], doesn’t have enough resources to sustain its population, for instance it doesn’t have
enough rivers or other sources of drinkable water to provide for this massive population.

In addition to that sharing of technology is also very helpful. For instance Germany is the
country that recycles the most compared to any other country in the world [4]. If only they would
be willing to share this technology for a greater cause, will we be able to solve the problem of
plastic pollution. Besides, it would be nearly impossible for developing countries to come up
with such technology.

Water pollution on the other hand is being done by all countries, whether developed or
underdeveloped; all of them are doing it. Agriculture is what causes the most water pollution.
Besides that industrial dumping there toxic waste is also a problem.

If we don’t solve this problem we may run out of drinkable water in the future. According to the
United Nations wars may be fought by 2030 [6] for this precious resource that we are constantly
polluting without even thinking twice.

Working together is also the key to solve water pollution. Sharing technology once again is vital
as there are many countries in the world that don’t even have sewage treatment facilities; all of
the waste from the country ends up in water bodies as they don’t have any other way to get rid of
it.

Helping and regarding each other’s problem and as our own is the solution to all the
environmental problems that we are facing. If only we could be selfless and think about our
home, planet earth and readily share whatever we have in terms of technology without thinking
about how much profit we get will we be able to save our home. We could also make
immigration laws a bit more lenient in countries with low population to encourage people to
move there. And thus we could have an evenly populated earth. We should educate people
regarding the problems pollution is causing which would then encourage them to prevent it.

Earth is our only home, irreplaceable no matter how hard we try to find a replacement for it in
the wide universe, we never truly will. So if we fail to stop pollution, then catastrophes,
destruction would be inevitable in the coming future; even worse, there may be no future for this
planet.