There are many environmental issues in India. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage, and pollution of the natural environment are all challenges for India. Let’s understand Environmental Pollution and Degradation in detail.
What is Environment?
The environment is the physical surroundings of a person, a part of which they are, and on which they depend for activities including physiologic function, production, and consumption. The natural resources in his physical environment include air, water, and land as well as plants, animals, and ecosystems.
Pollution and Pollutants
Pollution is any unfavorable alteration in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of our environment, including the air, water, and soil, that may or will have a negative impact on people or other species as well as the life support systems of our biosphere. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash, and can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories.
Categorization of Pollutant
According to the origin, pollutants are categorized as:
- Natural: A natural pollutant is a pollutant created by substances of natural origin such as volcanic dust.
- Anthropogenic: Anthropogenic pollutants are created by human activities.
According to their nature of disposal, pollutants are grouped into:
- Biodegradable pollutants: Biodegradable materials such as human and animal wastes, agro-based residues, and fertilizers can also pose a threat if their quantities or inputs exceed the “assimilative capacity of the environment.
- Non-biodegradable pollutants: The non-biodegradable pollutants such as heavy metals, and pesticides, move through the food chain and may get magnified to dangerous levels in higher trophic level organisms. Some of these combine with other compounds and produce toxic substances.
As per their existence in nature, pollutants are categorized as:
- Quantitative Pollutants: These occur in nature and become pollutants when their concentration reaches beyond a threshold level. E.g. carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide.
- Qualitative Pollutants: These do not occur in nature and are man-made. E.g. fungicides, herbicides, DDT etc.
According to the form in which they persist after release into the environment, pollutants are categorized as:
- Primary Pollutants: Pollutants released into the environment as a result of some natural and/or human activity, e.g., carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, suspended particulate matter, and hydrocarbons.
- Secondary Pollutants: formed by the chemical interaction of primary pollutants with atmospheric gases and moisture, often catalyzed by sunlight are known as secondary pollutants e.g. ozone (O.), peroxy acyl nitrates (PAN), aldehyde, sulphuric acid, and nitric acid.
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment caused by the deterioration of resources including soil, water, and air; the loss of ecosystems; and the extinction of wildlife.
Causes of Environmental Degradation
The main contributors to environmental degradation include modern urbanization, industrialization, population expansion, deforestation, etc. Unplanned urbanization and industrialization have contaminated the water, air, and sound systems. The air is additionally polluted by the smoke produced by automobiles and industries, which includes nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and chlorofluorocarbon.
The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere causes climate change. It mostly results from the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural emissions, and changes in land use brought on by the eradication, clearing, and burning of forests.
The biological and socioeconomic repercussions of climate change are already evident, and its anticipated effects have the potential to significantly alter the global mean surface temperature, sea level, ocean circulation, precipitation patterns, climatic zones, species distributions, and ecosystem function.
The rapid population growth and economic development in the country are degrading the environment through the uncontrolled growth of urbanization and industrialization, expansion and intensification of agriculture, and the destruction of natural habitats.
On just 2.4% of the world’s land, India is home to 17% of the world’s population. Population pressure on the environment is linked to environmental pressures like biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, and increased demand for arable land. Population affects the environment primarily through the use of natural resources and the generation of waste.
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
Because of the pollution caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere, stratospheric ozone is being depleted. It is a serious issue because the absence of protective ozone at high altitudes causes an increase in the amount of harmful solar ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation that penetrates the surface of the earth, leading to a variety of health problems and ecological effects.
Poverty is said to be both cause and effect of environmental degradation. The fast increment of human numbers joined with urgent poverty and rising levels of utilization are draining natural resources on which the vocation of present and future ages depends.
Degraded Air Quality
Worldwide, Approximately a billion people live in areas that mostly comprise industrial cities, and they are said to be the ones who are most affected by air pollution. The deterioration of air quality is caused by a number of air pollutants, but some major ones are particulate matter, such as oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulfur, lead, and other aromatic compounds (such as benzene).
Degraded Water Quality
Impurities brought on by contaminants can also seriously affect water quality, having a variety of negative repercussions on both the environment and human health.
Numerous other human activities, such as mining and industrial processes that may release harmful effluents, contribute to water contamination. Other significant factors contributing to the marine environment’s substantial degradation are oil spills, plastic waste buildup, and biological accumulation of persistent organic pollutants.
It has been estimated that around half of the world’s mature forests have been cleared by humans. Deforestation occurs for a variety of reasons, but the majority of deforestation now occurs when tropical forests are cleared for agriculture and pastoralism; destruction of trees for charcoal production, and the selective logging of forests for timber.
Effect of Environmental Degradation
Environmental pollution and degradation have an impact on several aspects of life:
Public health is clearly threatened by pollution, a lack of fresh water, and population growth. According to the WHO, unhealthful settings are directly responsible for about one out of every four deaths each year.
In accordance with a UNICEF report, 2.1 billion people do not have access to securely managed drinking water services, and 4.5 billion do not have access to safely managed sanitation facilities.
Additionally, diarrheal infections claim the lives of 340,000 children under five years of age every year. Water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people and according to UNISDR, 90% of natural disasters are water-related.
Natural resources are strained by rapid population growth, which causes environmental degradation. Simply said, a growing population increases the need for food, clothing, and housing.
Ecosystems & Endangered Species
Both ecosystems and species are impacted by the long list of environmental problems that exist on this planet. In fact, by 2050, one in ten plant and animal species is predicted to become extinct.
Social Awareness: The need to raise public awareness of the consequences of pollution is urgent.
Population Control: If the environment is to be protected it is essential to check population growth.
Environment Conservation Acts Implementation: The Environment (Protection) Act was passed in 1986 in India with the objective to check the deterioration in the quality of the environment. Such government measures should be strictly enforced.
Control over Industrial and Agricultural Pollution: Controlling the air and water pollution brought on by industrial development is essential for environmental conservation. The use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers should be avoided to prevent agricultural pollution.
Afforestation: Extensive afforestation campaign should be launched in the interest of environmental protection.
Water Management: Provisions should be made to provide rural people with clean drinking water and river water should be made clean.
Management of Solid Waste: Planned management of solid waste is very essential.
Environmental catastrophes can have a disastrous effect on a country or region’s social, economic, and environmental systems as well as the entire planet’s ecosystem. Environmental catastrophes pose a threat to the legacy of a healthy and supportive environment left for future generations. In order to reduce the dangers associated with environmental degradation and its contributing elements, (such as climate change) governments, international organizations, and communities must collaborate at all levels.
Article Written By: Priti Raj