Pollution: A Warm Warning

“Pollution” an uncommon word of the past seems to be a recurrent expression today. It is a matter of global concern and all forms of media seem to publicise it as we realise the harm done and the  need to do something before things go out of hand. All forms of pollution whether water, air or land deteriorate the environment and affect our daily lives in some form or the other. They cause significant changes to the environment we are living in and pose as a threat to not only our existence but also to that of the Earth. Virtual scenarios of garbage filling up the little land left after the seas submerge low lying areas haunt us, and taunt us to take action to save ourselves from self-destruction.

Global Warming is the major issue of concern and threatens our survival. Release of effluents from industries and emission from vehicles and burning forests are perhaps the source of green house gases that settle in the atmosphere. The earth’ s natural greenhouse effect is retained in a sense but the  gases stop some of the ensuing heat radiate back into space. Thus, we not only hold the high possibility of the melting of the polar ice caps but also the increased risk to life due to the exposure to these rays. The average temperature of the Earth has augmented more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in the 1900 ‘s and increased 3 folds the century long average since the 1970’s.As mentioned , the emission of green house gases like carbon di oxide, sulphur di oxide and methane  are the major contributors to the effect . CO2 is released from the burning of fossil fuels and the power plants. Even the burning of gasoline in vehicles contribute hugely (about 20 percent of total CO2 emission).SO2 again is a major effluent from industries. The loss of the white lustre of Taj Mahal is due to the deposition of this gas released from the industries present in the vicinity. Methane is again released from burning of fossil fuels. Another cause of global warming is the destruction of forests by cutting and burning for the purpose of industrialisation. Also the use of chlorofluorocarbons depletes the ozone thus exposing us to the harmful rays of the sun.

All of these call for measures to be taken to reduce the emission of such gases by moving towards favourable alternatives. One of them involves moving towards sustainable energy such as solar energy. This is possibly most easily interpreted as a term and simpler to apply even in our households. If the sun s energy could be channelized efficiently and more effectively into electricity they could feed our power hungry thermal power plants not only our households. This could be coupled with use of the new age fuels “The biofuels” which seem to hold a  promising future. Biofuels can be extracted from corn and recently discovered from tobacco. So, tobacco may finally contribute to the betterment of the environment, after proving to be a menace to the society for decades. These fuels may one day eventually power our vehicles. As the use of plastic has increased over the yearsso has the concern over its disposal. As a non-biodegradable resource, it remains in the environment even years later. But recently it has been found that there is a possibility of extracting hydrocarbons from them and distilling gasoline that could fuel our cars in the future.

Major  research today revolves around developing sustainable alternatives to help sustain all forms of life on earth. But , as an individual we can contribute immensely. Small yet important actions like planting trees, recycling paper, carpooling, reducing plastic and water usage would make a huge difference and can reduce the workload we all have upon us. Plastic bags could be replaced by cloth ones and they could be reused time and again and also prove to be a comfort to the wallet. Recycling papers help reduce the cut down of trees. Planting a tree in the neighbourhood tends to increase the aesthetic value and also prove to be environment friendly. Installing dustbins at appropriate places and choosing not to litter will help to direct waste into correct places from where they could be discarded in the right manner. The use rechargeable batteries help to reduce the release of toxic (when they are broken down) either into the soil or air. Even plugging in the computer in the sleep mode adds unnecessarily to the green house gases. These actions contribute in a small way but make a huge difference. It is thus, time to switch on to these alternatives in order to turn down the earth’s rising temperatures and avoid any catastrophe.

The extinction of dinosaurs has been attributed to severe climatic changes It looks like many species of animals and plants may suffer the same fate due to the sudden alterations in temperatures due to this warming.  Glaciers are receding at unprecedented speeds and storms are becoming more frequent and severe. Global warming seems to take charge now and threatens us with more dust storms and brown days as the ones seen in Australia recently which were a result of particle pollution. As the Earth dangerously warns us of warmer days to come, we cannot afford to turn a cold shoulder and portray our indifference. We need to bring about a change in the brown-grey pictures which envelope the environment today and paint them all green- lets all GO GREEN!

Varsha Srivatsan