Study of Environmental Issues Associated with Industrialization


Although our industrial ways seem to be a very progressive step into the
future, there are many flaws to the way many things are today. Things have
definitely changed over the past century, as we can currently do things much
more efficiently then before. The cost of this efficiency may seem inexpensive
in many ways, however we do not realize that the cost of these new technologies
do not just include money, time and labour, but it also costs us our well being
as well as the beauty and comfort of our own home, earth. Ozone depletion,
climate change as well as the direct effects of chemicals from industrial
emissions and fuel combustion are a great threat to our planet and if nothing is
done to resolve this problem soon, the results may be disastrous.
There is a layer of chemicals twenty kilometers up in the stratosphere
called the ozone layer. This layer protects the inhabitants of earth by
reflecting much of the suns harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. Without this layer
above us, many living things including humans could not survive. The ozone
layer is currently depleting and the reason for this is believed to be caused by
a few things. Deforestation, fertilizer use and fuel combustion are minor
contributors to this problem while chemicals such as chloroflourocarbons (CFCs),
halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, methyl bromide and
hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) are the major contributors to the deterioration
of the ozone layer. These chemicals have industrial halocarbons that break up
into chlorine and bromine in the upper stratosphere when they react with the
sun's rays. Chlorine eats up the ozone layer while bromine acts as a catalyst
and speeds up the process. Often found in Antarctica, there are frozen chemical
clouds in the upper stratosphere called polar stratospheric clouds. These polar
stratospheric clouds destroy the ozone layer at a much faster pace then the
industrial halocarbons. The depletion of the ozone layer is a great threat to
mankind and all other living things on earth because without this layer of
chemicals, we will be exposed to excess UV rays. This excess exposure can lead
to many things such as malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, damage
to eyes by means such as snow blindness and cataracts, which is the clouding of
the eye that can eventually lead to blindness. Above all this, excessive UV
exposure can lead to symptoms similar to AIDS as prolonged exposure could weaken
the human immune system. As far as plants and animals go, plants may die or may
not be as healthy as a result of too much UV exposure and animals will suffer
similar symptoms as humans. So if the ozone layer that we depend very much on
is destroyed, it could be concluded that we as inhabitants of the world are also
destroyed.
It is believed but not yet proven that we are altering the world climate
by releasing chemicals into the atmosphere by a process called "global warming"
or the "greenhouse effect". Some of the chemicals that are believed to
contribute to the greenhouse effect are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide,
halogen gases and CFCs. These chemicals cause the climate of the world to
increase by trapping the suns heat in the atmosphere and can last anywhere from
one decade to one century. Although chemicals released by man only account for
one third of the greenhouse effect, it is our contribution to this problem that
will set the world off balance. It seems now that by the year 2100, carbon
dioxide will double, causing global temperatures to rise to anywhere in between
one point five to four point five degrees Celsius. Many people may wonder why
global warming is such a problem as humans can easily adapt to their environment.
If this global warming causes global temperatures to rise, we as humans will be
able to cope with this change, however plants and animals may not be able to
adapt to this change and as a result they may die and become extinct, resulting
in a break in the food chain. The ocean levels will also continue to rise as
they have been at a pace of two to eight centimeters a decade for several more
decades. In fact, if Antarctica melts slightly the ocean level can rise up to
sixty meters. As the global temperatures rise, the world will become drier and
therefore there will be more droughts, and heat waves possibly causing more
fires and again producing more CO2 and further contributing to the problem.
Ocean temperatures, currents and fish habitats will also change with the climate
of the world. Chemicals however, are not only believed to heat up the world in
the process of