Environment Hazards and Remedies

Environment Hazards and Remedies

Environment means: “The natural conditions, such as air, water and land, in which people, animals and plants live.” Environment hazards are of two kinds; of natural origin and of human origin. In the first instance we shall discuss the natural origin hazards 🙂 Define:- Water-logging and Salinity: When the sub-soil water table rises so high that it comes very close to the surface level, the condition is called water-logging, this is a very dangerous disease of the soil as it makes agriculture almost impossible.

Environment Hazards and Remedies

Another disease directly related to water-logging is salinity; salts present in the lower layers of the earth get dissolved in the water and water brings these salts to the surface of the earth, the water evaporates due to sun, leaving behind the salt deposits on the surface of the soil. The salt layer keeps thickening and takes away all the fertility of the land and this makes the land infertile.

Earthen (katcha) canals are the main cause of water-logging and salinity. The water running in the canal keeps absorbing in the soil, causing the sub-soil water table to rise. Canal irrigation system was fin introduced, in the area which is now Pakistan, in the year 1859. The problem of water-logging and salinity started showing up in early years of the 20th century.

Efforts to solve the problem started in the year 1912 between the periods from 1912 to 1954 different steps for the solution of the problem were taken; water level in the canals was lowered, earthen canals were lined with bricks or concrete, tube wells were installed and drains (nullahs) were built for draining the excessive water from the water-logged areas. More organized and systematic efforts started in 1953-54 under the Colombo Plan; land surveys were made and detailed maps prepared. These surveys revealed that 65000 sq kilometers of land had been affected by water-logging and salinity.

SCARP (Salinity Control & Reclamation Program) was initiated for the control of water-logging and salinity as well as for the reclamation of the affected land. Under SCARP 1 scheme thousands of tube wells were installed, drains were built and flood information and control centres were established. About 4 million acres of land was thus secured with the help of embankments and tree plantation.

The measures adopted by the governments with the help of international donor agencies helped fight the menace to a great extent but the problem was not fully solved, according to an estimate in the provinces of the Punjab and Sind hundred thousand acres of agricultural land is still being destroyed each year due to water-logging and salinity.

Deforestation: Forests play a vital role in the economy of a country; they contribute in a variety of ways. Forests prevent land erosion, produce timber and firewood, wood is used in the manufacturing of furniture, wood pulp is the basic raw material for all paper industry. Sports goods and match industry depends largely on wood. Forests provide raw material for turpentine oil and different types of gums and fibers.

Forests keep the atmosphere pleasant; provide water vapours to the air, causing rain. Decomposed foliage serves as green manure which adds natural fertility to the soil. Forests provide breeding place and habitats to the wildlife and in this way contribute indirectly to the production of milk and meat. For a big section of our population forests are sole source of earning. Forests add to the fertility of the land in many ways and prevent water-logging and salinity. We know that Oxygen is the lifeline for all living things- humans and animals. Forests are the single largest source of Oxygen production.

Due to the exceeding volume of Carbon Dioxide in the air the greenhouse effect is intensifying day by day, this process is called global- warming. Scientists believe that global-warming is a great threat for the future of human life on the earth. Enhancement of the forests by planting trees in large numbers is the most effective way to deal with this menace (we shall study about greenhouse effect in some detail in the following pages).

Causes of Deforestation in Pakistan: The area now called Pakistan was once full of natural forests. Due to excessive and indiscriminate cutting of forests this treasure was gradually lost. Now we have forests on only 4% of our land (this area excludes northern areas of Pakistan). In order to reach the global standards of 20-25 per cent we need to enhance our forest area at least five times of its present coverage. Following are the major reasons that count for the scarcity of forests in our country:

  • A large part of our landform consists of dry, hilly area; these conditions make forestation impossible or extremely difficult.
  • Water supply is insufficient.
  • Majority of the population is illiterate and do not understand the importance of forests.
  • In order to accommodate the fast increasing population more land is required, forests are being cut for reclaiming more land for human settlement and more agriculture.
  • Trees are cut to meet wood and timber demand but new trees are not planted to replace the ones.
  • Selling firewood is the only source of income for a great number of poor people living in the forest regions.
  • Wood is consumed in huge quantities as building material, and in furniture, paper and match industry.

How to prevent deforestation? Tree plantation is the best way to prevent deforestation. Trees prevent land erosion, improve atmosphere and increase rainfall. Tube-wells gradually bring the underground salts to the surface of the soil, these salts prevent plant growth.

Environment Pollution and its Forms:

Components of the Environment: Two factors play important role in the formation of our environment:

  1. Abiotic Factors: For example natural properties of the soil, rocks, sunshine, water and air.
  2. Biotic Factors: Humans, animals and plants.

Factors Causing Environment Changes: Following factors cause changes in the environment:

  • Density of population.
  • Ratio of urban and rural population.
  • Urban and rural planning.
  • Sanitary habits and disposal of the refuse.
  • Drainage and sewerage system.
  • Energy consumption and resultant air pollution problems/ traffic.
  • Industrial waste.
  • Forests and plantation.
  • Rains and water courses.
  • Radiations and emission from electronic devices and machines.
  • Noise.

Pollutants

Pollutant is a substance that pollutes. To pollute means to make air, water, soil, etc. dangerously impure or unfit for use. Things that pollute human atmosphere are of numerous kinds. Following are the more familiar and scientifically recognized environment pollutants.

Air Pollutants: Gases and those suspended particles in the air which adversely affect human beings and animals are classified as air pollutants. Obviously, in big cities the problem of air pollution is more serious than in the rural areas, in industrial areas as compared to agricultural or arid areas. Smog is the combination of smoke and fog which has now become a common sight in big cities, busy highways and industrial areas/Some major air pollutants are:

  • Oil and fuel (petrol, diesel, gas) combustion in motor vehicles and factories, furnaces, homes, etc.
  • Coal.
  • Atomic devices.
  • Dangerous chemicals, i.e. asbestos, fibres, tin, mercury, led, zinc, aluminium, beryllium, etc.
  • Radiations emitted from high-tension electric wires and electric transmissions and networks.
  • Pollen grains.

Water and Subsoil Pollutants: Water is the second largest source of pollution. Water pollution can be classified into four kinds:

  1. Pollution due to micro-organisms for example the germs which cause diseases like Hepatitis etc.
  2. Organic pollution for example sewerage in the urban localities, pesticides, fertilizers and animal refuse.
  3. In-organic pollution, i.e. poisonous water running out of factories, which may contain chemicals like Arsenic, Led, Potassium, Phosphorus and hundred others of the kind. One example is the water produced by tannery industry in Kasur, which is causing cancer on large scale.
  4. Sedimental pollution means the substance that provides favourable environment for the growth of sub-water plants. This water is difficult to filter because it chokes the filters and if consumed by humans it damages the kidneys.

Pollution contaminates water in the following ways:

  • Pollution of natural water courses, e.g. rivers, canals and streams. This type of pollution is generally caused due to throwing of industrial waste into these water courses.
  • Streams of contaminated and polluted water created by the industrial waste, open drains and uncovered sewerage system.
  • Pollution of natural underground water due to seepage of polluted and poisonous water. Industrial waste poisons the natural underground water courses.
  • Substandard and unhygienic underground sewerage system.

Land/Soil Pollution: Land or soil is polluted in a number of ways, e.g.

  • Ugly outlook due to accumulation of trash, plastic bags, empty tins, cans and household refuse at public places.
  • Indecent town planning and non-civic habits of the people.
  • Cutting of forests. (As per international standards at least 25 percent of the land in every country should be covered with forests).
  • Absorption of poisonous chemicals, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides into the soil through water.
  • Overgrazing of pastures and unnecessary burning and cutting of plants.

Measures to Prevent Environmental Pollution

We should adopt the following measures to prevent environmental pollution:

  1. Creation of General Awareness; Environmental pollution is a great menace to the future of humanity; it is our prime responsibility to create general awareness in the people, through education and information, about the gravity of its consequences and about an individual’s role in preventing the hazards caused by environmental pollution.
  2. Population Planning:Population growth is the root of all problems related with environmental pollution. To prevent environmental pollution, population growth has to be planned and restricted.
  3. Prevention of Urbanization: Bigger cities have bigger pollution problems. To prevent environmental pollution, expansion of cities has to be restricted. Cities and townships should be provided with green belts, parks and open spaces.
  4. Plantation:Trees and plants are the prime source of environmental purification. Trees inhale Carbon Dioxide and exhale Oxygen, reduce temperature and create healthy effect on all human activities both physically and psychologically. As per international standards area under forests should form at least 25% of the total area of a country.
  5. Conservation of Resources: Human race should adopt a simpler way of life which is closer to nature. Nature has given us a never ending treasure of resources. This treasure will never fail us if we utilize it with restraint and patience and always keep in mind that we have to take only our share out of it and not to encroach upon others’ share.

Impact of Climate and Environmental Pollution on Human Life

The climate in different parts of the earth is not the same. It differs from place to place. These variations in the climate have deep effects on people and their way of life. We can study this difference in our own country. In the northern and north western highlands people build houses with sloping roofs to make them safe from heavy rainfall and snowfall.

In Karachi, Hyderabad and other Sind areas, sea breeze blows throughout the year, this reduces the effect of high temperature. Windows and ventilators are provided at such height in the houses as to receive maximum sea breeze.

To the south of the Hindu Kush there are a number of rivers which make the land fertile. They pass through Chitral, Swat and Dir. In the villages of these valleys people farm and cultivate land. River Indus provides Pakistan with its best agricultural land and irrigation system. That is why a very big portion of country’s population lives in the Indus plains. Most of the big cities and towns of Pakistan are situated in this area. Hazards of Environment Pollution

Following are some of the hazards caused for human life due to environment pollution:

1. Diseases:

  1. Deformities of the newborn children.
  2. Kidney disorders.
  3. Disorders of the digestive system.
  4. Disorders of the nervous system.
  5. Loss of Natural Resources.
  6. Deforestation and destruction of plants.
  7. Loss of fish and other marine life.
  8. Reductions of the agriculture produce.

Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

In order to grow out-of-season crops the agriculturists fabricate transparent plastic to produce or glass compartments controlled temperature and humidity level. These compartments are called green-houses.

Environment Hazards and Remedies

Greenhouse gases occur naturally and encircle our globe like a warm blanket, without greenhouse gases, our planet would be too cold to sustain life. As we know it, the air contains Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and other greenhouse gases in low quantities. These gases absorb heat, so under a natural process these gases keep our globe warm to a certain degree.

When the sunlight touches the surface of the earth, after passing through the atmosphere, some part of it is reflected back and the remaining part is absorbed in the earth. The heated earth surface gives out infra-red light which is absorbed by the greenhouse gases. The heat absorbed through this process maintains a level of temperature which is essential for the existence of life on the globe. All this process is called greenhouse effect.

The use of coal, oil and natural gas has enormously increased during the last three hundred years resulting in a marked rise in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, for example 30% increase in the volume of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) present in the air, has been recorded after 1730. Plants and trees are a natural source of reducing the CO2 level in the air.

As we have seen earlier in this chapter, forests are being cut rapidly and the area under forests is being reduced to a dangerously low level, use of mineral fuel is massively increasing. This has caused a marked increase in the greenhouse effect, resulting an increase in the temperature; (the process is called global warming). The process will continue increasing if its causes are not removed.

The situation has aggravated to such a degree that the increase of a few more degrees in the temperature may create environmental hazards of enormous magnitude; for example the polar snowcaps will start melting, water level in the oceans will rise and many low-lying coastal areas will submerse under water.

Read like: Major Natural Regions of Pakistan

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