Few centuries ago, environmental pollution has existed, but it only started to be significant after changes and revolution occur in industrial development in the 19th century. This issue has a long history and is becoming serious. What is pollution? According to Oxford Dictionary, pollution is the process of making air, water, soil, etc. dirty; the state of being dirty. It occurs when there is introduction of contaminants that cannot be destroyed in the natural environment and cause adverse change which do cause harm to the earth.
It is necessary to get to the root of the problem before solving it. There are five main causes among thousands that lead to environmental pollution:
Due to the economic development and increased industrialisation activities, it mainly causes air, soil and water contamination that lead to environmental pollution. According to Tenaga Nasional Annual Report 2014, Power generation in Peninsular Malaysia Electricity in 2014 is came from natural gas (53.8%), coal (35.3%), hydropower (10.3%), distillates (0.6%) and MFO (0.04%). Such plants producing electricity can be harmful to the environment, not only during the manufacturing process, but also transportation of the energy to the consumers.
If there is a leakage in the pipelines which transport petrol, soil or water will be contaminated. Organism in their natural habitat will face difficulty to live because of the polluted environment.
Similar to industries, transportation that mainly came from fossil fuels. Let’s look at the transition history of transportation. Humans went from horse and carriages that didn’t need gas stations to automobiles. The evolution of auto mobilizing has become inevitable, as it soon became cheaper to keep a car.
However, as the traffic is increasing every day, pollution follows behind the cars and trains. Those mobile emission sources produce exhaust gas such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and dust and as time passes, air pollution occurs.
Agriculture can be harmful to the environment especially the contamination of water and soil. This is mainly because the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Most of the them are made from chemical substances and are meant to keep disease that can threaten animals away from the crops. Nevertheless, soil is the natural environment of those forms of life and pesticides lead them unable to live and grow. Harm is made. The balanced ecosystems are destroyed.
Trading activities include the production and exchange of goods and services. During the trading activities, pollution occurs mostly due to packaging. Plastic bags become a political issue upon damaging the beauty of our towns, villages, rivers and beaches. Animals such as birds and fish that shallow plastic bags often suffer from blocked intestines. They made those animals difficult in breathing and typically lead to painful deaths.
According to report in greenerideal.com (2018), researchers from the University of Queensland recently determined that approximately 52% of the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic debris and undoubtedly originating in the form of plastic bags.
Last but not least, increased world population is mainly responsible for the environmental pollution, including noise pollution, air pollution and water pollution. To build a residential area, the work of construction industries is required. The natural environment for wildlife and plants are forced to be driven away for construction purpose. People produce waste every day, and it is undoubtedly harmful to the environment.
Environmental pollution is imperceptibly causes a lot of negative effects on humans, animals, plant and ecosystem. Pollution is the main threat to Earth. It worsens the quality of life. The air is polluted with allergens and dust; maybe it is not life threatening, but still affective. The invisible dust humans and animals breathe every day could be the risk factor of developing allergies and sicknesses. Chemicals in the living environment of animals such as nitrogen and phosphate in fertilisers will cause overgrowth of algae. It prevents the penetration of sunlight into the water for other water plants to grow. Thus, water in the river is deoxidized which destroyed the normal course of other aquatic animals.
Plants especially trees, can be easily destroyed by acid rains. There are two main purposes for deforestation, to use trees as resources and to carry out clear land for farming and construction purposes. Trees act as natural air filters that change carbon dioxide into oxygen. Without trees, those greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun in the atmosphere, rising temperatures around the world and changing climate patterns. It can be proved that results in extreme weather such as drought and floods often occur in recent years.
Nowadays, most of the countries around the world take initiative to tackle environmental pollution to save the earth. There are simple ways in which we can care for the environment. These involve simply changing the way we normally do things. In other words, changing our habits. There are a few of measures that we all can do to reduce environmental pollution:
What does ‘reduce’ mean? We should practise to throw less rubbish out. Thus, there will be less need for landfills and incinerators. One good way is to buy goods with less packaging. Plastic bags that are used in packaging process are not biodegradable will produce tonnes of domestic wastes. Besides, limit driving by reducing the use of mobile vehicles that pollute the air. It is better to carpool, use public transport, bike and walk. Use the car only when there is no other choice.
To preserve the Earth’s limited resources, reusing items is one of the means. For example, writing papers can be used for both sides before throwing. There are other creative ways to reuse those items too. Let’s not be in a hurry to dump things. There are hundreds of ways and ideas to repurposes and reuse stuff. It saves your money and creates quality affordable goods by our own hands. Those items will be meaningful and priceless since that it is made by ourselves.
Each Malaysian generates an average of 1.44kg of general waste every day and 0.8kg (55%) of that can actually be recycled (Wong, 2017). Recycling is the process of collecting and converting waste materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash into new materials and objects. It can help to save material and lower the emissions of greenhouse gas. Three coloured bins are prepared to differentiate between plastics, metals, cardboard and glass. Blue recycling bin is used for paper excluding tissue paper, carbon paper and laminated paper. On the other hand, brown bin is used for glass, not including crystal, mirrors, window glasses, lab items, etc. Orange bin is used for aluminium tins, steel tins and plastic such as shopping bags, bottle drinks, food containers and detergent bottles. As the saying goes, “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Every single contribution from each person to dispose of recycle item into those coloured bins will save the Earth.
Every time people use the heater or air conditioner, clean the room, wipe the window, use the car to drive to school, and even style the hair, we have produced a lot of energy that affect pollution. Hence, if as there is not in use, it must be remembered to turn off lights, computers and electric appliances. With the advancement of the technology in the modern age, Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs have revolutionized energy-efficient lighting. They bring more value since they last longer.
While doing research about environmental pollution, I was surprised that Malaysians generate about 15,000 tonnes of waste daily. If this mountain of waste is disposed properly, we have only little to take care and worry about. Unfortunately, it does not occur. It is frightening but true that our planet is now in the midst of environmental pollution. It makes our environment dirty and unsuitable for us to use. However, many people are not just unconscious about the seriousness of pollution, but also unaware of their actions that may lead to environmental pollution. We dump all types of rubbish without separating them. We use too much of fertilizers and pesticides to plants in garden, resulting severe eutrophication. Without a clean environment, whole ecosystems could be damaged and thus the balance of nature fails which can be forever altered. Our own survival could be jeopardized.
Therefore, control and management are essential to be implemented to improve the quality of environment. It is our responsibilities to protect this planet. Public should be educated on the importance of save the Earth but since enough has been done in terms of education, it is time for action. I believe that it can be successfully implemented if all parties including teachers, parents, students and government work together.