POLLUTION: A THREAT TO OUR ENVIRONMENT
Ecologymeans the study of the relationship of plants and animals, or people and institutions, in their natural surroundings. But for all practical purposes it means you in your environment — and what you think of the world you live in.
Environment includes everything that affects the quality of your life: the air you breathe, the water you drink or swim in, your apartment or house, the numbers of people, the traffic, the noise, the streets, shops, parks, countryside, seashore, wildlife, factories, farming, mining. All these are in some way designed, controlled or ignored by the people in charge.
The different kinds of pollution are all connected. What happens to the air affects the land. What happens to the land affects the water around us. And what happens to the water affects the air.
Man has been polluting the Earth from the time he first lit his first fire, washed his clothes in the river and threw his trash on the ground. When land was used up or the river dirty, man moved on to another place. At first, the Earth could handle this problem because there was plenty of fresh air, land and water. This is no longer true. The rise in population and the spread of industry have changed that. New kinds of waste, such as plastics, will not rot into the soil. New chemicals will not dissolve in water. Our environment is becoming overloaded with waste. Every year about 150,000,000 tons of dirt, sprays and gases are released into the air over the USA. Polluted air damages paint and metal, makes your clothes dirty, keeps plants from growing and can also cause lung diseases — and death. There are two main causes of air pollution: fumes from cars, trucks and buses; fumes from industrial plants.
Motor vehicles cause most of our air pollution. They release more than 60 per cent of the dangerous gases into the air. In large cities cars are responsible for about 80 per cent of the air pollution. Gasoline engines give off a colorless, odorless gas called carbon monoxide (formula CO) that will make you sleepy, give you a headache and finally kill you. Scientists say that breathing the air of New York is like smoking forty cigarettes a day.
1. How is your immediate environment being harmed? Look at the beginning of the text to see what environment includes.
2. What can you do, personally, to fight pollution?
3. Are the problems of pollution and over-population linked or even, to some extent, the same problem?
4. If you were to advise someone about the importance of preserving the environment, what would you say?