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Environment Devastation

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Environment Devastation Essay, Research Paper

The impact of people on their environment can be devastating. This is where the

respective role of governments can make decisions that shape environmental

policy and responsibilities. These governments can be broken up into four

different levels: local, state, federal and international. Air quality and

biodiversity are two current issues that can be related to the role of

governments. Global warming is also another implication that has a devastating

effect on the environment. Current examples include the rise in sea levels,

polar meltdowns, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and human deaths due to

disease from the effects of global warming. Firstly the environment can be

defined as the natural features of our surroundings such as plant and animal

life and their habitats, water, soils and the atmosphere. A local government

named Rockdale Municipal Council has implemented certain actions to deal with

the quality in that region. They have recognized that the main source of poor

air quality originates from air pollution sources such as motor vehicles,

industrial premises and aircraft emissions. The solutions to these problems

include improvements to Ryde and Botany Bay cycle way, integration of land use

and transport planning strategies, production of "Air Quality – the

Facts" booklet for community, investigation of complaints regarding odours

and dust, tree planting and preparation of a Local Air Quality Management Plan

in 1999. Air quality is a major issue in most states within Australia that

affects our greenhouse, to tackle the implications state governments have

created policies and responsibilities. For instance Cities for Climate

Protection (CCP) is a program that enables mainly state governments to take

action on greenhouse. CCP provides these state governments with a strategic

framework to diminish greenhouse gas emissions by helping them identify and

recognize the emissions of their council and community, set a reduction goal and

develop and utilize an action plan to reach that goal. State actions include:

capturing the methane from landfill sites and public and non-car transport into

urban planning. On a federal or national basis Australia has employed policies

to increase the air quality. For example the Commonwealth Government will

guarantee that Australia carries its fair-share of the burden in worldwide

efforts to combat global air pollution through policy development and

implementation. They have also supported the National Greenhouse Strategy (NGS)

which began in late 1996. The government will also support the development of a

national strategy to observe and manage "air toxics". The air toxics

strategy will monitor, establish the levels of community exposure to, and manage

emissions of selected air toxics. The federal government will even consider the

inclusion of air toxics in a future National Environmental Protection Measure.

Further measures include the leading of the development of national ambient air

quality standards through the National Environmental Protection Council and the

assistance of the establishment of a National Pollutant Inventory which will

require large companies to publicly report their emission of 90 pollutants.

Local government Rockdale Municipal Council has introduced responsibilities and

policies to reduce the loss of biodiversity. This local government has learned

that the cause involves the introduction of species, pollution of land and

water, weed invasion and urban encroachment. Their solutions to these problems

comprise of the planting of over 3,500 plants and shrubs in Bardwell Valley and

Scotts Reserve, bush regeneration and planting in Scarborough Reserve,

involvement in Cooks River Foreshores Working Party and preparation of a flora

and fauna study in 2000. Policies towards the community include controlling

noxious weeds on your property, planting native trees indigenous to the area and

applying to the council prior to removing any trees. The Labor Tasmanian

Government has created a new Environment Policy on biodiversity that hopes to

preserve native plants and animals. The policies commit the government to

encourage community involvement in biological diversity programs, proclaim the

Tasman National Park, establish a State Biodiversity Committee with community

representation to arrange a Tasmanian Biodiversity Strategy, support the

development of a State Policy on the protection of remnant native vegetation,

examine the possibility of incorporating the Biodiversity Strategy into

legislation and seeking the co-operation of local government and the community

in including and enforcing biological diversity guidelines in development

criteria. The federal government has enabled several policies to deal with

conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. The government will support the

National Reserve System program to expand Australia’s National Parks, support

off-reserve biodiversity conservation including the planting of trees and the

protection of vegetation through the Bushcare program and work with the States

to reduce unsustainable land clearing, develop an "alert list" of

introduced plants and animals that pose a risk to our environment. The

government will also maintain a ban on the export of live fauna; support

research into Australia’s floral and fauna assemblages as well as biodiversity

conservation methods and ratify the Desertification Convention. An international

conference held in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 discussed issues on how best to

reduce global warming. Kyoto Protocol negotiations have reached a legally

binding agreement limiting the amount of gas emissions all industrialized

countries. The protocol also included provisions for emission trading between

industrialized countries. The overall nominal effect of the Kyoto protocol is

for a reduction of 5.2% of emissions by 2010. However the agreement has many

flaws and could lead to emission rising above 1990 levels. The protocol

specifies that Japan must reduce emissions by 6%, USA by 7% and the European

Union by 8%. The chairman of the conference negotiators, Raul Estrada said that

further discussions were needed to find a way of implementing a system of

trading in emissions. Trading allows countries that produce high levels of

greenhouse gases, such as the USA, to buy the right to retain or even increase

emissions. Global warming refers to an expected rise in global average

temperature due to the continued emission of greenhouse gases produced by

industry and agriculture which trap heat in the atmosphere. Higher temperatures

are expected to be accompanied by changing patterns of precipitation frequency

and intensity, changes in soil moisture and a rise of the global sea level. To

assess current examples relating to global warming, an examination is first

needed on these examples. Sea levels could rise six feet and up in future

centuries. The entire Amazon rainforest will be lost if the level of carbon

dioxide in the atmosphere increases by more than 50%. But no matter whatever

action the world takes to stop global warming, sea levels are set to rise and

wipe out several island nations. The worst news is that whatever governments do

to cut emissions, sea levels will rise by at least 2 metres over the next few

hundred years, devastating Tuvalu and Kiribati in the Pacific and the Maldives

in the Indian Ocean. Low-lying farmland and cities occupied by hundreds of

millions of people will also be engulfed. Robert Nicholls of Middlesex

University in London stated that "thermal expansion of the ocean will

continue for many hundreds of years after CO2 is stabilized, due to the gradual

penetration of heat deeper and deeper into the ocean. All around the world ice

sheets and glaciers are melting at a rate quite remarkably since record keeping

began. A worldwide institute, based in Washington DC says that glaciers and

other features are particularly sensitive to temperature shifts, and that

"scientists suspect the enhanced melting is among the first observable

signs of human induced global warming. Some of the effects of global warming are

as follows: arctic ocean sea ice shrunk by 6% since 1978, with a 14% loss of

thicker year round ice, Greenland ice sheet has thinned by more than a metre a

year on its southern and eastern edges since 1993 and 22% of glacial ice volume

on the Tien Shan mountains has disappeared in the last 40 years. Worldwatch

declared that the Earth’s ice cover reflects much of the sun’s heat back into

space and the loss of much of it would affect the global, raise sea levels, and

threaten water supplies. They also stated that the land and water left revealed

by the retaining ice would themselves retain heat, creating a feedback loop that

would speed up the warming process. The institute pronounced that the world’s

glaciers, taken as a whole, are now shrinking faster than they are growing.

Worldwatch also warns of the outcomes of retaining ice on wildlife. In northern

Canada reports of hunger and weight loss among polar bears have been associated

with ice cover changes. And in Antarctica, sea loss, rising air temperatures and

increased condensation are altering the habitats and the feeding and breeding

patterns of seals and penguins. Cornell University ecologists believe that

global warming may account for millions of human deaths from disease. David

Pimentel a professor of ecology at Cornell stated and assumes that "Most of

the increase in disease is due to numerous environmental factors, including

infectious microbes, pollution by chemicals and biological wastes and shortages

of food and nutrients. Global warming will only make matters worse." Global

warming will produce a favorable climate for disease producing organisms and

plant pests. Global climate change will result in a net loss of obtainable food,

for example the decline in rainfall (due to global warming) causes crop and

plant production to die out. Infectious disease and environmental factors are to

blame for more than 75% of all deaths in the world. Environmental disease may

comprise of organic and chemical pollutants, including smoke from tabacco and

wood sources. More than three billion people are malnourished. Malnutrition

increases vulnerability to pollution-related illnesses and diseases such as

diarrhea. Therefore Pimental concluded, "we’re seeing the first signs that

global climate change can influence the incidences of human disease". And

that "this change combined with population growth and environmental

degradation, will probably intensify world malnutrition and increases in other

diseases as well." Melting is taking on vast and unprecedented level in the

Arctic sea ice, the Antarctic and in dozens of mountain and sub-polar glaciers,

and the rate has accelerated immensely in the past decade. The Earth’s ice cover

could have intense changes on the global climate and rising sea levels could

start regional flooding. Melting of mountain glaciers could also endanger urban

water supplies and the habitats of plant and animal species in fragile

environments. Within the next 35 years, the Himalayan glacial area is expected

to shrink by one-fifth, to just 100, 000 kilometres. A prediction forecasts that

the remaining glaciers could disappear in 30 years. The melting has been

especially noticeable in the past three decades, and scientists believe that it

is the result of human behaviour and the build up of carbon dioxide and other

greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. All current examples of

global warming are significant due to the effects that it has on the environment

and people. For people, it can cause infectious diseases and pollution-related

illnesses that in turn effect our standard of living. Some examples can be more

significant than others. For example diseases amongst people is more so

important than the rise in sea levels and melting of glaciers since peoples

existence are endangered.

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