Edition by Ann Fain
While poverty is of great concern, there are other environmentally destructive factors to consider as well. Every year approximately 5 million people in developing countries die from problems related to air and water pollution. Air, land, ocean, and fresh water pollution are very real and continue to threaten our lives and the lives of many species of animals.
Humankind is responsible for the emission of mercury, nickel and arsenic – more than double the amount emitted from natural sources. The emission of zinc has already tripled and the emission of cadmium (chemical used in batteries and pigments like plastic products, and is known to cause cancer) and lead are respectively 5 to 10 times higher than natural emissions. According to estimates by the United Nations (UN), about 2.8 billion people will live in regions with chronic drought until the year 2030. The UN also qualifies water as “the petroleum of the 21st century.
”Poverty is one of the principal causes and effects of environmental problems in the world. Explain better, while poverty has resulted in environmental deterioration, the principal causes of the continuous decline of the global environment are the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. We find that environmental degradation and pollution is produced through the expansion of poverty and accumulation of wealth. In developing countries the majority of the problems connected to poverty are through an increase in population and desertification. This is different than developed countries, which are associated with industrialization.
The UN also indicates that other problems are the quantities produced by particular types of garbage, radioactive and urban, and from residual industry waste. Examples include tires, batteries, and chemical, toxic and hospital waste. All of these need to be disposed of properly, receive adequate treatment prior to disposal and/or be processed to be environmentally safe to reuse. Other causes for concern are the diverse environmental accidents that have occurred in the last 50 years. Aside from the fact that these accidents have been directly responsible for the death of humans and animals, they have caused serious contamination problems of the oceans, rivers, forests, air, plant life and the planet in general. (See the picture below)
We want to conclude this article by mentioning that the growing global population and global tendencies in the last 400 years are severely taxing our environment. It took 200 years for the population to double by the year 1650; 80 years for the population to double by 1850; 45 years for the population to double by 1930; but only 35 years for the population to double by the year 2005. There were more people born in the 20th century than in the history of humankind. The world is dynamic. It is in constant transformation and each generation tends to think that their time on this earth is the most crucial to the history of humankind. However, what becomes clear is that we really just live in one moment of crisis different from all the other crisis of the past. In the end, humankind needs to ask crucial questions and be decisive for about its future.
In 1945 the effects of the 2nd World War culminated with the launching of two atomic bombs on Japan.
In 1954 the United States tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the contamination of 18 million square km of ocean and radioactive clouds extending approximately 410 km. Not only were millions of fish and many fishermen contaminated, but it is speculated that this bomb was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
In 1967 in Torry Canion, England an oil tanker spilled oil in grand proportions. Two years after in 1969, another oil tanker spilled oil in American waters. In 1984 two explosions and a fire resulting from a gas leak caused the death of 150 people in Vila Socó, Brasiliera de Cubatao in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Also in 1984 a liquid gas tank explosion in Mexico caused the death of more than 500 people and left more than 4 million injured. The accident became known as “the day the skies of Mexico City caught fire.”
In 1986 there was an enormous catastrophe at Chernobyl in the then USSR resulting in the nuclear reactor contaminating the atmosphere with a level of radiation about 30 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. More than 100 million people suffered from genetic damages and cancer in the yeas that followed.
In 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez spilled 40 million cubic meters of oil in Alaska. Approximately 260 million birds died in this accident, among other species of animals, and even today the marine life still suffers from the consequences.
In 1991 during the Gulf War, Iraq burned more than 700 oil wells in Kuwait. This was the largest oil disaster in history.
In 1993 Braer spilled two times the amount of oil in the Shetland Islands than the Exxon Valdez did in Alaska.