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Environmental Issues

Acidification

Increased Acidity of air, water and soil.

Cause: Emissions of Nitrogen Oxide and Sulphur Dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel combustion.

Problems:

  • Death of aquatic life.
  • Damage to plants.
  • Damage to Buildings.
Air Pollution

Contamination of the air with harmful gases and particles.

Cause: Emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Solvents in paints and adhesives. Pollutants include Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Black Smoke particles, VOC’s and Ozone.

Problems:

  • Global Warming*.
  • Ozone depletion*.
  • Acid Rain*.
  • Eye and respiratory problems in plants, animals and humans.
Global Warming

The rising temperature of the Earths atmosphere.

Cause: Emission of “greenhouse gases” from fossil fuel combustion, agriculture, solvents, refrigerants and propellants. The primary greenhouse gases are Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and CFC’s.

Problems:

  • Reduced Biodiversity* due to changing climate.
  • Rising sea levels and flooding.
  • Extreme and unpredictable weather patterns.

* Stated as separate issues due to severity.

Land Degradation

Reduction in the ability of soil to support plant life.

Cause: Deforestation, intensive farming, acid rain from fossil fuel combustion, toxic waste leakage such as heavy metals.

Problems:

  • Desertification.
  • Soil infertility.
  • Damage to plants due to contamination and acidification.
  • Contamination of the food chain.
  • Reduced Biodiversity*.
Ozone Depletion

Destruction of the ozone layer located 20-50km from the Earths surface.

Cause: Reaction with chemicals such as chlorine, bromine and nitric acid, mainly from refrigerants and propellants, but also from fossil fuel combustion.

Problems:

  • Increased UV-B radiation reaching Earths surface, causing;
  • Skin Cancers in humans and animals,
  • Cataracts,
  • Damage to the immune system.
Reduced Biodiversity

Loss of variety in the natural world.

Cause: Deforestation, intensive farming, urbanisation, pollution, acidification, over harvesting and poaching of animals.

Problems:

  • Reduced resilience of species and ecosystems to hardship, due to interdependence of species including humans.
  • Loss of potential resources such as medicines and technologies.
  • Reduced quality of natural world to the human mind.
Resource Depletion

Consumption and destruction of non-renewable resources.

Cause: Excessive consumption of non-renewable resources.

Problems:

  • Non-sustainability of economies and lifestyles. Not specifically an environmental issue but an extremely important aspect of sustainability.
Solid Waste

Scrap material with no useful function.

Cause: Inefficient production processes, poor design for end of life treatment.

Problems:

  • Limited storage capacity in landfill.
  • Land use.
  • Methane emissions from landfill.
  • Leaching of pollutants from landfill into soil and groundwater.
  • Emissions from incineration.
  • Proliferation of scavenger populations near landfill sites.
Water Pollution

Contamination of natural water systems such as rivers, lakes, oceans and groundwater with hazardous substances.

Cause: Waste disposal, acidification, and agriculture. Contaminants include acids, trace metals, solid particles, solvents, nutrients, organic substances and radioactive material.

Problems:

  • Ill health and death of plants, animals and humans.
  • Visual damage to lakes, rivers and oceans.
  • Eutrophication.
  • Reduced Biodiversity*.
mike

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