The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (U. S. EPA) supports all ordinances involving environmental protection and the abatement of natural resources degradation. These laws aim to restrict people from abusing the environment and destroying the natural habitats of numerous species. The CATO Institute in Washington believes that the government is not doing enough in terms of environmental protection. The institute emphasizes that government intervention needs to exert more effort in pursuing environmental preservation.
The government is essential in pursuing this goal since this endeavor requires a huge amount of monetary and human resources and may not be achieved by a small number of people only (439-440). With the population continually increasing, natural resources are quickly dwindling, and with the loss of natural habitat, the flora and fauna also perish. Currently, the government pursues strategies that aim to protect the plants and animals affected by heightened human development. Better laws and ordinances need to be passed for the government to effectively preserve the ecosystem.
If not, the world risks the possibility of humans satisfying only their own needs and satisfaction, without thinking of the long-term effects of development (U. S. EPA) Crucial Environmental Issues The emergence of numerous environmental issues, including the extinction of several plants and animals as well as changes in weather patterns, caused the government to implement restrictions on the activities of man affecting the environment. However, despite the efforts on the part of the government, environmental problems still occur. According to the U.
S. EPA, fragmented tactics are not expected to be effective in protecting the environment as only the obvious problems are being undertaken, while the complex and less obvious environmental issues still remain. The U. S. EPA believes that it is important for the government to change the fundamentals of environmental policies. More restrictions need to be incorporated whenever development is envisioned. This is because with the current rate of development, plants and animals are in danger of not continuing to live in their natural habitats.
Population explosion depletes the natural resources, which include plants and animals, which humans consume for their survival. In addition, human settlements also destroy the natural habitats of numerous species. Howard M. Singletary, Director of Plant Industry of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, believes that biological diversity is essential in environmental protection (Evaluate the Social). Conserving biological diversity involves the protection of the entire ecosystem.
Humans may see themselves as important or more important than the plants and animals that get destroyed as a result of increased population, but it should be noted that the environmental issues that man is facing at the present time are due to the absence of preventive planning. The short-term economic and monetary gains have frequently been treated as more important than the ecosystem. Yet, the destruction of plants and animals as well as their habitat contribute much in global warming and extreme weather situations. (Evaluate the Social). Humanity needs to see the impact of overdevelopment.
People also need to realize that they need to invest and sacrifice certain conveniences and luxuries in order to achieve long-term environmental goals. The scientific community and several advocacy groups are supporting government efforts to preserve the environment. The global movement is for the greater good and is based on the fact the earth and everything in it is not owned by a single individual, group or corporation. The scale of the human economy is now such that the wilderness areas that sustain much of the world’s remaining biological diversity are shrinking fast.
The rates of wildlife habitat takeover and of species extinctions are the fastest they have ever been in recorded history, and they are accelerating. Tropical forests, the world’s richest species habitats, have already been 55 percent destroyed, and the current rate exceeds 168,000 square kilometers per year. (Evaluate the Social). Stabilizing populations Stabilizing population is more important in industrial countries than in developing countries, since the former overconsume and hence overpollute and are thereby responsible for the greatest increase in the impact of human activities on the already overtaxed environment.
The richest 20 percent of the world consume over 70 percent of the world’s commercial energy. Thirteen countries have already reached a fertility rate required in order to achieve zero population growth, so it is not utopian to expect others to follow. The population growth-rate of developing countries of course must also be reduced dramatically. Their population is now 77 percent of the world’s total, and they are responsible for 90 percent of the world’s annual population growth. (Evaluate the Social).
The poor must be helped and will justifiably demand to reach at least minimally acceptable living standards by obtaining access to the remaining natural resource base. When industrial nations switch from input growth to qualitative development, more resources and environmental functions will be available for the poor in the South. Scientists observe that as the planet warms up, a great deal of ice and snow near the poles will probably start to melt. That will expose dark tundra and dark seas. That will warm things up – like painting a white roof black.
The darker the terrain gets, the warmer those parts of the world will get. More snow will melt there, making the terrain even hotter. All these explanations fill more than thirty pages of rather small print in the Philosophical Magazines, and every one of the calculations had to be solved by hand. To make a greenhouse forecast, experts now build what amounts to a working scales model of the Earth inside a supercomputer. They start with a blank globe, divided into a grid like the grid of latitude and longitude.
Typically each box in the grid covers several hundred miles on a side. These boxes are stacked from the surface of the planet high into the atmosphere – a dozen layers of giant boxes of air. Public concern over environmental policy was minimal until the end of the nineteenth century. As the United States expanded westward, the horizon seemed to present an unlimited supply of land, water, mineral deposits and timber. Farming techniques reflected little concern for minimizing soil depletion. Forests were cleared without concern for reforestation or the devastation of soil erosion.
Minerals were mined and metals smelted without concern for their effects on fresh-water supplies; when contamination did result, it seemed a minor problem, because alternative sources of water seemed endless. (Royan, 2001). Despite a history of conservation policies, fundamental concerns over environmental protection were still absent from the policy agenda as late as the 1950s. The publication of Silent Spring in 1962 drew attention to the dangers of pesticides such as DDT, in the food chain.
The sense of social responsibility that emerged in the 1960s also moved environmental policy from the background to the forefront of the policy agenda. Energy made it to the headlines once again in the year 2000; a shocking power crisis hit the state of California (Royan, 2001). Companies had realized once more that the horrors brought about by serious energy problems over the past three decades had not gone away. The California electricity crisis could potentially fan out towards other states; not only impact would it impact the profitability of a company, but could certainly put many out of business.
As the new century fast approaches, the world has slowly realized the synergy between energy conservation and global economic competitiveness. Energy conservation entails the elimination of wastes through the improvement of industrial facilities and processes. Energy conservation also implies environment preservation through pollution prevention, and mitigating the trends toward global warming. Global competitiveness goes hand in hand with energy conservation, and many industrial firms from all over the world have realized that.
Worldwide energy consumption in recent years has continued to escalate not only in developed countries but also in developing countries, primarily as a result of rapid industrialization and improvement in the standard of living. In a recent survey conducted by the Association of Energy Engineers, about 22 percent among those surveyed claimed to have reduced accumulated costs by $5 million or more by implementing energy conservation strategies (Cornforth, 1992). The potential for additional savings is still great. Thirty-six percent among those surveyed indicated that further savings that amount to over 10 percent are possible.
Thus, investment in protocols that promote energy conservation has proven to be effective in saving costs by reducing waste materials resulting from industrial processes. As the next century approaches, the economic world has gradually come to realize that energy conservation offers the most profitable competitive advantage. Marked improvements in the efficiency of industrial processes or facilities to save fuel consumption reduce wastage. HiTAC has been a significant energy conservation development in recent years, and is now applied to industrial furnaces in many factories worldwide.
A positive consequence of saving energy is minimizing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Because of the increased efficiency in combustion using HiTAC, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide-byproducts of incomplete burning, are reduced. Therefore, HiTAC saves on operational costs by making fuel consumption more efficient; and consequently, efficient fuel consumption minimizes waste products, among which are greenhouse gases that trigger global warming. (Hotel & Sarofim, 1967). Major Changes Taking Place in the US Population and Projected Problems Due to the Climate Changes
The US is said to have the highest population of the developed nations, and one of the highest population growth rates at one percent, equivalent to 2. 5 million new Americans every year (Haub). Three national population trends that have been identified in a recent US census are changes in geographic distribution, changes in ethnic composition, and the effect of immigration on population (Haub). With regard to the changing geographic distribution of the population, the population is said to be shifting from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West, both because of internal migration and immigration from other countries (Haub).
With regard to ethic composition, while ethnic minorities are said to comprise 25 percent of the population currently, that percentage will increase to 50 percent in 50 years, with Asians rising in numbers from 7. 1 to 40 million by 2050, and Hispanics rising in numbers to 90 million in 2050, constituting 22 percent of the population (Haub). Immigration, on the other hand, presently accounts for a third of the population increase yearly, and is expected to be a major contributor to population growth in the future (Haub).
It naturally follows that the South and West will have to deal with the attendant problems of the shifting geographic distribution in its favor, while the change in ethnic composition can be predicted to contribute its own set of problems. Problems Causing the Decline in the Quality of Life in Cities, Possible Solutions It is said that more than a billion urban dwellers, out of a total of three billion, are located in slum areas, with half living in Asia (Whelan).
This is indicative of the mammoth problems of governments with regard to the provision for food (Sustainable Development Networking Program), opportunities for employment, environmental degradation, sanitation, and general quality of living in cities. Another problem causing the decline in quality of life is said to be urban sprawl, whose effects range from over-congestion to pollution (Goodwin). In the US, the states that are the destination of internal and external migration and immigration in the ongoing shift in geographic distribution of the population that will have to deal with these issues.
Proposed solutions include the revision of federal laws to limit immigration, the creation of boundaries that will redirect urban growth to places where urban services can be provided, and tighter control on allowable density and housing (Goodwin). There are many environmentalists like Senator Hillary who had been bold about her support on the Supreme Court’s Global Warming Decision. She states that the scientific consensus is that global warming poses a serious threat to human activities (Statement of Senator Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court…2007, par 1).
She challenges President Bush to address this pressing global environmental threat as soon as possible. Issues on the Ozone In the discussions on the ozone hole, it is but apt to provide a brief explanation on what exactly is the ozone and how it is formed. The ozone, according to the Centre for Atmospheric Science, “forms a layer in the stratosphere, thinnest in the tropics (around the equator) and denser towards the poles”. More specifically, “[O]zone is a toxic, strong reactive compound consisting of three oxygen atoms” (Francois).
As explained by the Centre for Atmospheric Science, the ozone is formed “when ultraviolet [radiation coming from the sun], strikes the stratosphere, dissociating (or splitting) oxygen molecules to atomic oxygen…[that] quickly combines with further oxygen molecules to form ozone” More commonly, the ozone is known as the layer that protects human beings and other living things from the harmful rays of the sun, more specifically, the ultraviolet rays-shielding us from being stricken by skin cancer. This common conception of the ozone layer, which provides a good notion of what ozone is, is just one side of the coin.
Scientists refer to this more commonly know ozone as the stratospheric ozone (Centre for Atmospheric Science). On the other side of the coin is the tropospheric or the ground level ozone, which is considered as a major health hazard, is a “major constituent of photochemical smog” (Centre for Atmospheric Science). It is referred to as a pollutant because of its being lethal if inhaled (Newman). Ozone Facts According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the story of the ozone hole has its roots from the chlorofluorocarbons or CFC’s, “a family of most commonly used industrial compounds”.
CFC’s was invented by Thomas Midgley in 1928 which later on was called as a “miracle compound” due to its proven useful for man’s convenience (NRDC). Since then, it was effectively “used in refrigeration systems, air conditioners, aerosols, solvents and in the production of some types of packaging” (Francois). However, decades after the “miracle compound” was invented and used in many industries and households as effective refrigerants, it was found out that it had caused a serious damage to the environment, more particularly to the ozone layer.
It took American scientists Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland to prove that the “miracle compound” turned out to be damaging to the environment as they hypothesized in 1974 that CFC’s “possibly played an active role in the depletion of the ozone layer” (NRDC). This announcement had sparked heated debates not just among scientists but also among policymakers, environmentalists and industry players on the “whys and wherefores of ozone depletion” (NRDC).
It was explained by Newman that CFC’s became harmful to the ozone because of its chlorine make-up and “it turn[ed] out that CFC’s are an excellent way of introducing chlorine into the ozone layer”. This happens as the ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun strikes CFC’s that go up into the altitude of the ozone layer, this UV radiation breaks down CFC’s and frees chlorine (Newman). After chlorine has been freed, this “has the potential to destroy large amount of ozone” (Newman). Francois also provides connection of the thinning of the ozone layer to the introduction of large amount of chlorine in the atmosphere through the use of CFC’s.
The Centre for Atmospheric Science stated that “Evidence that human activities affect the ozone layer has been building up over the last 20 years, ever since scientists first suggested that the release of CFC’s into the atmosphere could reduce the amount of ozone over our heads”. But prior to the hole being discovered, the negative effects of the CFC’s were never taken seriously by the majority of the people as they were not convinced on the connection between CFC’s and the depletion of the ozone layer (NRDC).
In 1985, a major discovery had brought great alarm to the whole world as it was discovered by Joseph Farman and his colleagues that there was a hole in the ozone layer (Newman [b]). In fact, the severity of the discovered ozone depletion made the English scientist in the Halley Bay station in Antarctica, who discovered the hole, to think that the equipment he used to measure the extent of the hole was broken (NRDC). He sent the equipment back to England to have the equipment repaired but when he tried to measure the depletion again, his initial finding that the ozone layer had been depleted was confirmed (Francois).
Another theoretical attempt, which later on was proven to be correct, was the “recipe of the ozone loss” as summarized by the Centre for Atmospheric Science as follows: • “The polar winter leads to the formation of the polar vortex which isolates the air within it. • “Cold temperatures form inside the vortex; cold enough for the formation of Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs). As the vortex air is isolated, the cold temperatures and the PSCs persist. • “Once the PSCs form, heterogeneous reactions take place and convert the inactive chlorine and bromine reservoirs to more active forms of chlorine and bromine.
• “No ozone loss occurs until sunlight returns to the air inside the polar vortex and allows the production of active chlorine and initiates the catalytic ozone destruction cycles. Ozone loss is rapid. The ozone hole currently covers a geographic region a little bigger than Antarctica and extends nearly 10km in altitude in the lower stratosphere. “ Basically, the preceding enumeration of the “recipe of the ozone loss” is similar to the Heterogeneous Chemistry Theory that proposed chemical reactions occurring within the ozone layer.
This also explains why the hole is over Antarctica and not over the other continents. The atmospheric conditions prevailing in Antarctica, which is its having ultra cold temperature, suits the chemical reactions that take place resulting to ozone depletion. Consequences of Depleted Ozone The most common knowledge as to the adverse effects of the depletion of the ozone layer is that it increases the penetration of the ultraviolet radiation resulting to more skin cancer.
As Francois puts it, “[W]hen this protective layer is reduced, it has dramatic consequences on life” such as slower photosynthesis among plants as increased radiation results to less metabolism; destruction of micro-organisms which play a vital role in the food chain; and, the increase in cases of skin cancer. Basically, the depletion of the ozone layer can result to an enormous change in the ecological balance. It is a universal fact, based on the studies and researches that have been made, that a little tip in the ecological balance could result to a mammoth change in our environment that could adversely affect the way people live.
The slight increase in temperature can cause destructive floods to countries surrounded by oceans. In the case of the increase in the ozone hole, it can results to unfavorable changes in our environment starting from the destruction of micro-organisms and the instability that it causes to the metabolism of plants responsible to changes in photosynthesis. These changes may not be visible in the present time, which makes many people complacent and insensitive as to their roles in the protection of the ozone layer, but catastrophic results can be felt in the near future.
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