We can live on this planet thanks to basic components which are needed for human existence – air, water, soil and the sun. But the paradox is that these most important things for us are being polluted by ourselves. Pollution is one of the greatest problems of our age. We must think of the quality of our air, water and soil more than any time before. Because the environmental problems affect all countries of the world.
Good relations between man and nature are important not only for us but even for animals and plants, which don’t pollute our common world (they are not so egoistic as people are). Throughout recent decades certain species of animals have vanished or became rare and many of them are still victims of poachers.
There are the problems of seas and oceans, pollution of air, changes in the atmosphere’s ozone layer and concentration of carbonic gas (carbondioxide). Water is a substance without which we couldn’t survive but we pollute streams, rivers and seas with old cans, oil, rubbish and different kinds of chemicals. We breath the air with the smoke from cars and with bacteria and it harms our health. Dislocated ozone layer is also a big threat to our survival because it protects the planet (and its inhabitants) from the direct glore of the sun. It filters out much of the sun s ultraviolet radiation. This radiation is responsible for sunburn, snow blindness, eye damage, skin cancer and so on. Man has become his own worst enemy. Several chemicals used in or produced by industry accelerate the speed of ozone decomposition. The presence of the ozone layer is so important that small changes in its concentration could have dramatic effects on life on the earth. The stuff that destroys the ozone layer is for example freons which are used in refrigeration technology or in the plastic production.
We must feel more responsibility for the air, water and soil, people must preserve and restore the quality of our environment. Our good relation to nature is one of our most important duties. Our possibility to live depends on the air, water and soil.
The air and water pollution is also a big danger for the Czech capital – Prague. There are many factories without modern equipment. Also the main streets and motorways are going through the city and the traffic on these streets is certainly very busy, especially during the day there are lots of cars, buses and trucks there. There are also numerous buildings in Prague that are still heated with solid fossil fuels and they contribute to the formation of smog, especially in winter. We can find a large number of heating plants in Prague too and these things contribute to contaminating the town with smog. There are even doctors who say that it is a health hazard to live in Prague. This situation isn’t so terrible in suburbs or in the housing estates, but in some parts near the centre or in some industrial parts of the capital the living conditions are very bad. Unfortunately we can find only a few parks, lawns or other green places here.
Prague has many problems with traffic. The problem is serious especially in the morning or in the afternoon when most people from the outskirts of the town are going to work. They have to commute to the centre every day because a lot of them cannot find any factories or other work opportunities near their houses.
The centre of the capital is looking well now. Lots of old houses have been reconstructed. A large number of fine hotels grew up among them too. But there are differences between the well looking centre of Prague and other parts, where we can see very dirty and wet flats – terrible living conditions. Of course, the majority of flats are in rather good state. On the other hand the flats are rather good. But there aren’t enough flats to satisfy people yet. Especially newly married young people are waiting for new flats for a long time.
The greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is caused by accumulation of certain gases in the earth s atmosphere. These gases – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and others – are generated primarily by burning fossil fuels. And the result of their accumulation in the upper atmosphere is that they act like a blanket (layer) and stop the heat reflected from the earth s surface, that would otherwise disappear into space. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for about half of the greenhouse effect. The more CO2 builds up, the more heat is kept.
If nothing is done, within a few decades the world will be unlike anything in human memory. The climate will change drastically, world-wide rainfall could shift dramatically creating monsoons in some areas, oceans currents and temperature will change too. Plant and animal populations will find themselves in such climatic and environmental conditions to which they cannot be adapted. The level of seas will rise up by 4.5 feet by the year 2035. They will flood several countries in the Pacific and large areas of all other continents. The water from melting snow and ice will cause a lot of erosions too.
It is necessary to reduce gas emissions (from electric plants, car traffic..), to use other resources of energy, not to buy plastic but recycled materials.
Before 1900 rainforests covered 14% of the world surface. Today they cover only 7%. The reason for this is simple. They have been cut down to provide : land, paper, timber, medicines, minerals, fuel. But not only trees are disappearing. Every rainforest also contains millions of animals, insects and flowers and these are destroyed too. If man continues to cut down rainforests, more than one million species of plants and animals will become extinct by the year 2030.
At the moment 94% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. One possibility is nuclear energy – but after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, many people think nuclear power isn’t safe and they are for „green“ solutions :
• wind energy
• solar energy
• wave energy from the sea
• geothermal energy from hot rocks under the earth
Acid rain is one of the most serious pollution problems. Factories let out gases and chemicals into the air, there they mix together and are carried for hundreds of miles by the wind. And finally they fall back to the earth with falling rain drops. This acid rain kills fishes and trees. It also slowly destroys buildings and bridges.
Because the environment is in danger, animals (as a part of it) are in danger too. They are also used for scientific research, millions of them are killed for sport or for their skin or fur.