Environment: Environmental problems

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Environment: Environmental problems
Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land. Many things that are useful to people produce pollution. Cars spew pollutants from their exhaust pipes. Burning coal to create electricity pollutes the air. Industries and homes generate garbage and sewage that can pollute the land and water. Pesticides—chemical poisons used to kill weeds and insects—seep into waterways and harm wildlife. All living things—from one-celled microbes to blue whales—depend on Earth’s supply of air and water. When these resources are polluted, all forms of life are threatened.

Pollution is a global problem. Although urban areas are usually more polluted than the countryside, pollution can spread to remote places where no people live. For example, pesticides and other chemicals have been found in the Antarctic ice sheet. In the middle of the northern Pacific Ocean, a huge collection of microscopic plastic particles forms what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

As stated before, there are different types of pollution, which are either caused by natural events (like forest fires) or by man-made activities (like cars, factories, nuclear wastes, etc.) These are further classified into the following types of pollution:

Air Pollution

Water Pollution
Soil Pollution
Noise Pollution
Besides these 4 types of pollution, other types exist such as light pollution, thermal pollution and radioactive pollution. The latter is much rarer than other types, but it is the deadliest.
One of the largest global environmental disasters in the recent history which is being experienced by countries and the population of 62 million people in Central Asia, is the tragedy of the Aral Sea that in its environmental, climatic, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences poses direct threat to the region's sustainable development, health, gene pool and future of the people residing in it.

The Aral Sea, which was once a unique, beautiful and one of the largest closed water reservoirs in the world, is practically on the verge of complete disappearance and turned into an unprecedented disaster and irreparable damage to the life of the population living there, the ecosystem and biodiversity of the Aral Sea.

Until 1960 the Aral Sea had an area of 68.9 thousand km² with the volume of water 1083 cubic km, its length extended to 426 km, width - 284 km, the greatest depth was 68 m.

The Aral Sea area was a region with a wide variety of flora and fauna, 38 species of fish and a number of rare species of animals inhabited the Aral Sea basins, the number of saigas reached 1 million heads, the floristic composition comprised 638 species of higher plants.

In addition, the Aral Sea played an important role in the development of the region's economy, its production sectors, in ensuring employment of the population, and in the formation of a stable social infrastructure. In the past, the sea was among the richest of fishing grounds in the world: the annual catch of fish in the reservoirs of the Aral Sea was 30-35 thousand tons. More than 80% of the inhabitants of the Aral Sea coast were engaged in the production, processing and transportation of fish and fish products. Fertile lands of the delta of the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers, as well as highly productive pastures provided employment for more than 100 thousand people in the sphere of livestock, poultry farming, growing of agricultural crops.

Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas, and burning them causes what is known as the “greenhouse effect” in Earth’s atmosphere.

The greenhouse effect is when the sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere, but when that heat is reflected off the surface cannot escape back into space. Gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels prevent the heat from leaving the atmosphere. These greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide. The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise overtime, otherwise known as global warming.

Global warming has presented another issue called climate change. Sometimes these phrases are used interchangeably, however, they are different. Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns and growing seasons around the world. It also refers to sea level rise caused by the expansion of warmer seas and melting ice sheets and glaciers. Global warming causes climate change, which poses a serious threat to life on Earth in the forms of widespread flooding and extreme weather. Scientists continue to study global warming and its impact on Earth.

Exercise 1
What do you think? Decide if you think the following ideas:
a) will happen in the next 50 years?
b) could happen?
c) won’t happen?
Mark the sentences a, b or c.
1) Most cars will be electric.
2) Nuclear Energy will end.
3) Alternative energy will be more important than oil.
4) You will recycle all your bags, cans and paper.
5) Almost all the rainforests will disappear.
6) People will continue to sunbathe.
7) The climate will get worse.
8) The next generation will care more about the environment than the present.
9) In elections “Green Issues” will become more important than any other.
10) People will destroy the earth.
Exercise 2
How much do you know Environmental Problems that face the world today?
Look at the quiz and try to answer the questions. Leave room for the actual answers later.
1. What are CFCs and how do they affect the environment?
2. What alternative forms of energy do you know?
3. What is the Ozone Layer? What does it do? What is happening to it?
4. How are forests good for the environment? What is happening to them?
5. What is a hybrid car? How does it help the environment?
6. What is acid rain?
7. What is recycling? How does it help the environment?
8. What is the Greenhouse Effect?
xercise 3

xercise 4
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