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5.12 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION

The world at large is rife various environmental problems which constitute topical issues that pose a great challenge to both developed and developing countries. These problems are referred to as issues because they are complicated in nature. They have necessitated profound discussions to take place trying to find way of either solving them, or reducing them or copying with them. Examples of environmental problems which affect the world includes environmental pollution, land degradation, environmental hazards like floods, drought, and famine; and severity of these problems have increased nowadays, because of fast technological advancements, population explosion, increase in poverty that lead to poor resources management, political instabilities, etc.
Environmental Pollution;
It’s the introduction or addition of any substance or situation that is harmful or not required to the environment or in a place that substance pollutes the environment is referred as the pollutant. It is usually a substance that is present at a place wrongly, in wrong amount and at a wrong time.
Pollutants can be categorized into several categories that include gaseous, liquid and solid pollutants.
Pollution can be positive or negative. Positive pollution takes place where pollutants are introduced into the environment leading to problems to mankind, animals and plants. Negative pollution occurs when something valuable or important is removed from the place creating problems to the living organisms for example removal of the upper soil layer by erosion, depletion of vegetation or removal of nutrients from the upper soil layer by leaching process.
The factors that have led to the increase in the rate of the environmental pollution in the world are as explained below;
1. Rapid population growth taking place a global level especially in the third world countries. This leads to the increased rate of production of wastes and problems in managing the wastes.
2. Increases level of poverty in the developing countries make people use cheap energy resources that cause air pollution like charcoal and fire wood.
3. Rapid advance in technology that has led to the development in industries that emit a lot of gases and wastes.
4. Development of transport network that has led to the increase in number of cars that emit a lot of fumes or smoke to the environment.
5. Increase in political conflicts that force people to keep on migrating from place to place and end up polluting the environment as well as the use of weapons like nuclear bombs.
Classification of Environmental Pollution;
Environmental pollution can be classified as Air pollution, Soil pollution, Water pollution and Noise pollution.
AIR POLLUTION
Air is a very important resource in sustaining life without it there can’t be life on earth. Is a mixture of gases surrounding the Earth. The gases that constitute air include Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide and other gases. Air is being polluted and this is a very serious problem on earth since the effects of air pollution are spread over the large area and affects everything where that problem occurs. So air pollution is the global problems. Air pollution refers to the introduction of unwanted or harmful substance into the air or the atmosphere. Air pollution tends to vary from place to place.

In urban areas pollution is greater than in rural areas because of industries that emit a lot of smoke and gases. High population affects vegetation in urban areas such that when the wind blows it tends to raise dust leading to pollution of air. Likewise the use of charcoal in towns leads to the production of gases like carbon monoxide that pollutes the urban atmosphere.
In rural areas air is polluted through burning of firewood, burning of the bush that introduces smoke, soot and ashes as well as cultivation and mining that introduce dust and some gases into the air.
Causes of air pollution
Natural causes;
1.
Volcanic eruptions – That give out dust, ashes and gases like sulphur, carbon dioxide.
2. Winds- That blow and raise the dust and pollen to certain levels in the atmosphere. Some of the dust has chemicals that are toxic and hence harmful to the living organisms both Flora and Fauna.
3. Temperature inversion – Temperature inversion is the situation in which the temperature increases with altitude. When there is temperature inversion the air impurities are trapped in the lower level of the atmosphere leading to air pollution since the impurities tend to hand in the human premises in large concentrations.
Human causes;
1. Industrial activities- lead to the emission of fumes and gases that pollute the air.
2. Automobiles- also emit fumes and gases just like industries due to the burning of field oil leading to air pollution.
3. The use of charcoal, coal, firewood and fuel oil for different purposes like cooking, lighting, smelting etc lead to the emission of soot, fumes and gases that pollute the air.
4. Construction activities. The construction projects like road construction, setting up buildings etc lead to introduction of dust into the air.
5. Agricultural activities pollute the air through
(a) Digging in the soil that raises dust into the air
(b) Spraying some chemical like insecticides that are aimed at killing disease and pests.
(c) Decomposition of agricultural remains like rice stalks emits greenhouse gases like methane which is harmful to the environment.
6. Mining activities also lead to the introduction of dust and some gases into the atmosphere.
7. Lack of clear and strict policies on air pollution control contributes to the occurrence of air pollution since there is no statement guiding people on how to use resources properly, how to handle wastes and how to combat the existing problem of air pollution.

Effects of air pollution
1. Reduction in amount of solar energy because of being blocked by the layer of dusts fumes hanging in the atmosphere leading to problems in photosynthesis.
2. Transpiration in plants is upset since the smoke and dust settling on the leaved block the stomata.
3. Global warming can occur as a result of trapping of heat energy from the sun by the green house gases. Global warming can lead to death of plants, occurrence of storms and drought due to excessive evaporation, the rise in seal level, etc.
4. Poisonous gases can kill both plants and animals.
5. There can occur depletion of the ozone layer. When the ozone layer is depleted the Ultra Violet rays can reach the surface because different effects like skin diseases etc.
6. Air pollution can reduce clarity of the air especially when there is smog and dust.
7. There can occur acid rain fall when gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide mix with rain water. Acid rain can latter lead to soil and water pollution.
8. Air pollution creates an irritating smell keeping people in residential areas uncomfortable.
9. There can occur serious diseases affecting respiratory system like bronchitis.
10. Also, air pollution lead to skin and eye itching to human beings.
11. Air pollution leads to food poisoning though contamination of the crops in the farm. For example poisonous dust or radioactive material like lead can settle on vegetables which on being taken by human being because some adverse effects like leukemia, cancer and even death.
Measures towards redacting or mitigating air pollution predicament;
1. Planting tree which absorb gases like carbon dioxide and prevents fast movement of air that leads to the introduction of dust into the atmosphere.
2. Improving the combustion system in the engines so that the fuel can burn completely. When there is complete combustion little amount of gases is emitted from the cars or industries.
3. Reducing number of small cars and introducing mass transit liners (large cars like buses) especially in towns.
4. Finding alternative sources of energy instead of depending on charcoal, firewood and fuel wood. Alternative sources of energy are solar energy, tidal power, geothermal power etc, which are environmentally friendly.
5. The governments should enact strict policies and laws on proper management of resources so that the amount of pollutants can be reduced.
6. Discourage the use of aerosols in the killing of pests and prevention of diseases like malaria. Aerosols introduce CFC’s into the air which is so harmful to the ozone layer.
7. Land- filling when dumping the wastes so that when they decompose they cannot
lead to the emission of gases like methane into the atmosphere.
SOIL POLLUTION
Soil is an important resource since it supports plant growth, which in turn supports animal life. It plays a great role in the support of agriculture, which is the single major source of food in the world. Like air, soil also gets polluted in different ways but pollution of soil, unlike air pollution, tends to be localized since it tends to concentrate in one area where pollution occurs.
Soil pollution refers to the introduction or addition of any substance in the soil, which is unwanted or harmful to plants, animals and having adverse effects to the soil quality.
Source of soil pollution
Sources of pollution can be categorized into atmosphere, industries, homesteads, mining and agricultural areas.
1. From the atmosphere – The pollutants are introduced into the soil through the acid rain or wind. Acidic rain leads to the increase in the amount of acid in the soil which later destroys the soil structure, corrodes the minerals, and dissolves the nutrients and kills plants and animals. Acid rain is predominant in the industrialized countries like Germany, Eastern part of Canada and Scandinavian countries like Sweden where it has destroyed a lot of vegetation.
2. From the industries – some chemicals, radioactive materials and metals can be introduced into the soil and render the soil unfit for agriculture. Some of the chemical are poisonous in nature; therefore they kill plants and animals.
3. From the homesteads – some wastes like bottles, metallic materials, plastic bags, cans etc which are dumped into the soil pollute the soil.
4. From the farms there are chemicals which include pesticides like DDT, crop remains, fertilizers etc, can get into the soil leading to soil pollution.
Irrigation agriculture encourages the accumulation of salt in the soil (Stalinization) which leads to the increase in alkalinity. The increase in alkalinity can cause the death of plants and some of the animals.
Likewise, agricultural activities can cause negative soil pollution through soil erosion accelerated by the depletion of vegetation.
5. Mining activities – can lead to the introduction of some rock fragments and some mineral like lead into the upper layer of soil. Sometimes mercury is also used in gold mining. Also in some places explosives are used in breaking the rocks. One these substances get into the soil they cause adverse effects on plants and animals.
Effects of soil pollution;
1) Killing of animals and plant (biota) since some chemicals affects the plant and animals cells. Organisms are very crucial in the decomposition of some material in form of humus.
2) Decline in agriculture as a result of poor production caused by poor plant growth. Poor plant growth takes place because of the decline in soil fertility.
3) The decline in agriculture leads to the occurrence of famine, which in turn leads to poor health and death of people.
4) It can lead to water logging or flooding because of poor drainage caused by the soil pollution, which tends to create an impermeable layer of substances in the soil.
5) It makes man incur a lot of costs when trying to fight against the problem of soil pollution, for example liming of soil to reduce acidity of flushing to reduce alkalinity.
6) Change in soil structure as some of the minerals and nutrients are dissolved by acidic materials.
7) Migration of people to other area which have not been affected by soil erosion.
8) Water being polluted through surface run-off and render it unsafe for use.
9) Change in soil color which causes problems in soil classification and determination of land use.
10) Occurrence of diseases in organisms like cancer in human beings.
Measures geared towards curbing the problem of soil pollution
1.Reducing or stopping the use of chemicals in agriculture like DDT dihedron and weed killers.
2.Encourage the use of manure instead of industrial fertilizers.
3.Recycling of wastes rather than dumping them in the soil.
4.Launching afforestation and reforestation programs, which can use up carbon dioxide.
5.Control of population so as to reduce the rate of production of wastes that lead to the pollution of soil. When population is excessively high waste management becomes problematic and this leads to soil pollution, as the wastes are not properly managed.
6.Educating people on how to undertake their activities judiciously.
7.Radioactive materials should be dumped so deep in the ground.
8.Training and encouraging farmers to use proper farming methods like crop rotation, use of organic manure and switch from the traditional system like shifting cultivation.
9.Encouraging the use of alternative sources of energy like solar energy, natural gas, biogas etc which do not pollute the air that can in turn lead to soil pollution through acid rain.
10.Diversification of economic activities can help in combating the problem
of soil pollution. For example one can engage in trade or honey extraction rather than depending on agriculture which tends to pollute the air.
11.Formulating strict policies that govern on show to dump the wastes. Fines should be imposed on those who dump the wastes randomly.
12.There should be special areas established for dumping purposes and these should be on area, which will not be used for agriculture or any other useful activities. They should also be away from the water bodies since soil pollution can cause water pollution through surface run-off of water seepage underground.
WATER POLLUTION
Water is a very important resource that supports human life. No water no life. It is used in different ways that is cooking, washing, irrigation, plant growth, cooling the engines, in construction, transportation, production of electricity, etc. but nowadays water is highly polluted posing great problems to the well being of people, animal life and plant existence.
Water pollution refers to the addition or introduction of unwanted substances in the water which have negative effects to animals, human beings and plants. Water pollution is also referred to as water contamination. Water is said to be contaminated when it contains much wastes or foreign substances that upset the balance between the organisms in water. Polluted water is not fit for human consumption like drinking until it is treated first.

Ways through which water can be polluted;
1. Disposal of untreated sewage (effluent) into the water bodies. The sewage can be from the homesteads, institutions like schools, hotels and hospitals etc.
2. Dumping of wastes from the industries in to the water bodies.
3. These can be in either liquid or solid form. For example hot water and metallic materials can be disposed into the river of the ocean leading to water pollution.
4. Some chemicals and other wastes from the farms can get into the water bodies through the surface run-off or by deliberate dumping by human being leading to water contamination.
5.Oil spills from the leaking oil containers or pipes. This happened in the Indian Ocean when there were some oil spills from TIPPER in Dar es Salaam in 1990s: Oil forms a uniform cover on the surface of water.
6. Some fishermen who use chemicals in fishing tend to cause water pollution.
7. Breaking of the rocks along the coastal areas or near other water bodies using explosives like dynamite which is being used at Kunduchi Beach quarries leads to water pollution. Dynamite can kill fish and plants.
8. Wind also introduces into the water bodies the dust taken from the surrounding areas especially the dry open areas like the deserts.
9. Water pollution can result from volcanic eruptions that take place in the ocean. These spew out some molten materials (Lava) which introduce gases in the water and raise the temperature of the water, Addition of temperature in the water is called thermal pollution. Volcanic eruptions are so frequent in the Mid – Atlantic Ocean ridge.
Effects of water pollution
1. Water pollution can lead to the death of plants and animals if the pollutants are poisonous or cause the rise in temperature to extreme levels.
2. Spread of disease like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery and typhoid.
3. Oil spills kill aquatic organisms because it prevents oxygen from penetrating into water. Organisms die because of lack of oxygen (asphyxia).
4. Water pollution leads to the emission of foul smell that causes discomfort to the people around the water body. The foul smell is caused by the decomposition of the organic matter introduced into the water body.
5. Tourism that depends on the presence of the water body especially due to swimming and sport fishing can decline due to water contamination by oil spills, toxic chemicals and solid metallic material.
6. The color of water changes. The water becomes unclear due to the presence of impurities.
7. Multiplication of seaweeds as a result of the increase in nutrients from the wastes in water. The increase in nutrient is called eutrophication. The sea weeds like hyacinth in Lake Victoria deprive the fish of its food leading to the decline in the fishing industry.
8. The death of fish leads to the loss of valuable source of protein to human being.
Measures towards water pollution control;
1. Encourage the use of proper fishing methods rather than using chemicals since chemicals end up killing different fish, animal and plant species.
2. The oils containers and pipes should be kept properly and frequently inspected so as to avoid the problem of oil spills.
3. Discourage clearing and settling in the catchment areas since they can contribute to water pollution so as people will be dumping their wastes in the stream sources.
4. Controlling the population growth in order to reduce the amount of wastes produced. Also when people are few it becomes easy to manage the wastes.
The term “climate change” refers to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the climatic is never static, the term is more properly used to imply significant long-term abnormal fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind system, and all other aspects of the earth’s climate. It is defined by the United Convention on Climate Change as “Change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’ Climate changes can be abrupt or gradual such that abrupt changes tend to be destructive as the life system and economies have not sufficient time to adapt themselves to the changes. Gradual changes are not a great problem since they allow adaptation in living organisms and economies.
c) The most supported theory is that of the Serbian scientist called Milutin Milankovitch. He developed a theory called Milankovitch Cycles based on periodic shots in the earth’s orbit and tilt. According the Milankovitch cycle’s theory the earth’s elliptical orbit stretches and shortens in a 100,000 year cycle, while the axis of rotation changes its angle of tilt in a 40,000 years cycle. Furthermore, over a 26,000 – year period, the axis wobbles like an out-of-balance spinning top. These variations change the distribution and intensity of energy reaching the earth’s surface and, consequently, global climate. Therefore, climate changes during the ice age were due to Milankovitch cycles and according to this theory the formation and expansion of glaciers worldwide happen after every 100,000 years or so. (Basing on this theory of cycles, do you expect possibility of ice period in the future?).
Mankind has been accused as being the major culprit in exacerbating or triggering abrupt and catastrophic climate changes at a global level. Currently the world is experiencing Global Warming at an alarming rate such that the temperatures have increased about 0.50 C (0.90F) over the past hundred years. Globally, the twentieth century has been the warmest since at least A.D 1400. About twelve of the past 19 years were the warmest globally and 1998 was the warmest year since reliable instrument records began 120 years ago. Man contributes to climate changes through the greenhouse effect by emitting greenhouse gases natural gas; the use of air conditioners, refrigerators, and insecticides that release CFCs; large scale rice cultivation and livestock husbandry that lead to the production of methane gas. Climate models suggest that if the current trends continue global means surface temperatures will increase between 10C and 4.5.0C (20 and 80F) by A.D. 2100.
Also, deforestation that is associated with massive destruction of tress lead to desertification. In many places in Africa natural forests have been destroyed. The trees are used for building, making furniture, building ships and boats, making paper and firewood for fuel. In Tanzania for example, lumbering is taking place at an alarming rate in Miombo woodlands of Tabora, Mpanda and Rufiji area. This creates conditions for the onset of the desert conditions. Rural energy crisis has aggravated a serious problem of forest destruction, particularly in Africa and Asia. Wood is still extensively used in many developing countries as a primary source of energy for cooking and heating purposes and for processing agricultural and industrial products. In Kenya, for example, wood and charcoal account for about 70% of all the energy used (Karugga and Kubasu, 1993). Because of high costs of paraffin and gas, majority of people in Africa cannot afford and therefore they have no other alternative than using firewood for fuel. This has left the land exposed to the agents of soil erosion.
El Nino refers to abnormal conditions or disruption of the ocean atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for the weather around the globe. Among these disruptions are increase rainfall across the southern tier of the US and drought in the west Pacific. El Nino means little boy or Christ child or infant Jesus in Spanish. This name was used because of the tendency of the phenomenon to take place around Christmas. El Nino is also referred to as ENSO which means El Nino – Southern Oscillation. El Nino is not a new phenomenon, it has been taking place for thousands of years and its records date back as far as 1597. It was originally recognized by the Peruvian fishermen off the coast of South America as the appearance of unusually warm water in the east Pacific Ocean occurring near the beginning of the year. El Nino is often called ‘warm event’.
The event is characterized by reversed wind system in the west pacific such that the flow of the wind is from the west towards the east. The warm water in the west is pushed eastwards by the reversed wind across the pacific. Also, there are changes in temperature (warming) in the east pacific, which lead to the weakening of trade winds. The event takes place after every 2 to 7 years though in some unusual cases it can be after one year or after tea years. For example there have been several events in different years that include 1972-1973, 1977-1978,1982-1983, 1986-1987, 1991-1992, 1993-1994, 1997-1998,2002 March 2003. El Nino is usually interrupted by normal weather conditions or by unusually very cold events referred to as La Nina which is sometimes called El Viejo, Anti – El Nino or simply “a cold event” or “cold episode”. El Nino that took place between 1997 and 1998 was very strong and devastating. During El Nino the hot spot in the Pacific moves east creating two convection cells. The level of water in the west Pacific (Indonesian coast) collapses and water surges west wards leading to the rise in the level of water in the east Pacific (near South America).
Eruption
Year
El Nino

Agung (Indonesia)
Mayon (Philippines)
El Chinon (Mexico)
Nevado de Ruiz (Colombia)
Pinatubo (Philippines)
1963
1968
1982
1985
1991
1965
1968
1982-1983
1986
1992-1993
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY A LEVEL(FORM SIX) NOTES - 5.12 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION(1)
La Nina is also called ‘the little girl’ or El Viejo’ or ‘a cold event’ this is an event characterized by unusual cold ocean temperature in the equatorial or tropical Pacific. It is the opposite of El Nino which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperature in the equatorial or tropical Pacific. La Nina usually takes place after El Nino and examples of the years which have experienced La Nina are 1987,1988,1995 and June 2003.

The effects of La Nina drought;
-La Nina cause heavy rains and where El Nino causes heavy rains La Nina causes severe drought and very cold conditions.

-It also damages property and leads to death. In the US, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the southeast and cooler than normal in the northwest In Indonesia. In Indonesia, very heavy rains take place while South America experiences severe drought rather than very heavy rains.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY A LEVEL(FORM SIX) NOTES - 5.12 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION(1)EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY A LEVEL(FORM SIX) NOTES - 5.12 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION(1)


EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY A LEVEL(FORM SIX) NOTES - 5.12 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION(1)

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