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Current environmental issues
 
Environmental Pollution
Types of pollution
Air pollution
Water pollution
Soil pollution
Controlling pollution
Government action
Scientific efforts
Business and industry
Agriculture
Environmental organizations
History
The growth of pollution
Progress in controlling pollution
Current environmental issues
 
The Clean Development Mechanism
Global warming
Reducing emissions (REDD)
Swine Influenza
Cholesterol
Heart Attack
 

Environmental Pollution

Current environmental issues

Current environmental issues include the need to weigh the benefits and risks of pollution controls, and the effects of population growth and of wastefulness in the industrialized world.

Weighing benefits and risks. Increased concern about the environment has caused people to protest many products and practices. Some of the disputed products and processes provide benefits to society. For example, people have argued against the use of disposable diapers because they take up space in landfills and decay slowly. But cloth diapers must be washed, and washing pollutes water and consumes energy. Nuclear power plants generate energy without creating air pollution. But such plants produce radioactive waste, which is difficult to dispose of. Business, environmental groups, and scientists work to determine which products, materials, and processes produce the most pollution. However, few choices are clear cut. It is often difficult to determine the relative risks and benefits to the environment of various products and practices.

When creating pollution laws, government officials must consider both the dangers of the pollutant and the possible financial effects of regulation. Regulations often require that an industry purchase expensive pollution control devices, make costly production changes, or discontinue manufacturing certain products. Such sudden expenses can cause some industries to go out of business, which creates unemployment. As a result, the effects of certain proposed pollution laws could harm people more than the pollutant would.



Effect of population growth. Despite progress in protecting the environment, the problem of pollution has become increasingly widespread and potentially more harmful. The main cause for the increase in pollution is that Earth's population grows larger every day. More people means more waste of every kind. As a result, one of the most important ways to begin controlling environmental pollution is to slow population growth. A reduction in population growth would slow the destruction and give people more time to develop effective pollution control systems.

Most of the world's population growth occurs in the poorest parts of the world, including certain nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In these areas, people use what little resources they have just trying to keep alive. Governments in developing countries struggle to build modern industries and agricultural systems to provide a basic standard of living for their citizens. However, many developing countries use old technology that tends to pollute because they cannot afford modern, efficient machinery. Even if they could afford pollution controls, pollution in the developing world would continue to rise simply because these nations are industrializing. And more industry means more pollution.

Wastefulness in the industrialized world. Many people in Japan and in wealthy North American and European nations have become accustomed to comfortable lifestyles that consume large amounts of energy and raw materials and produce many wastes. A person living in an industrialized nation uses about 10 times the amount of fossil fuels and electric power and produces 2 to 3 times as much municipal waste as a person in a developing country. For a true reduction in pollution, people in the industrialized world would probably have to accept less convenience and luxury in their lives. Solving the problems of global environmental pollution will require the cooperation of governments and industry in all countries, rich and poor, as well as the efforts of individuals all over the world.

Contributor:
Marian R. Chertow, M.P.P.M., Director, Industrial Environmental Management Program, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Source :
World Book 2005

     
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The Clean Development Mechanism global warming Reducing emissions (REDD)
CDM GLOBAL WARMING REDD
     
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HEART ATTACK INFLUENZA CHOLESTEROL