The natural environment Essay

The natural environment, is sometimes commonly referred to as the environment; this is a term that encompass all living and non-living things occurring naturally on earth or some region thereof. This concept of natural environment can be broken down into a few key components (Bailey, Ronald, 2000).

1)            Comprehensive ecological sections that function and work as systems in the natural environment without human contribution. These include all the vegetation of all kinds, living animals and microorganisms, phenomenon like rocks, the atmosphere and the natural regions.

2)            Another component is the natural resources in the universe that are spread everywhere and have very minimal distinction between them. These resources include air, water, various forms of energy, radiation electric charge and magnetic charge. All these things do not originate from human being activities.

The other broad understanding of the word is the build environment, which comprises the areas and components that are strongly influenced by human activity. An example is a geographical area if the human impact on it is kept under a certain limited level. This level depends on certain specific context and changes in different areas and contexts. The term wilderness, refers to earth that has not been modified by human activity (Sayre, April Pulley, 2000).

Maintaining our environment to remain as a wilderness is a key challenge of the works. Hence environmental conservation has remained key issues such as global warming pollution, and climate change.

Global warming

Global warming is the average rise in the temperature of the earth and the oceanic environment near the earth’s surface. This phenomenon was first realized in the 20th century. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 = 0.180C during the 100 years ending 2005. (Intergov4rmmental panel on climate change 2007 – 02 – 05) most of the temperature increase is likely due to the increase in anthropogenic green house  gas concentrations besides natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanic activities (Meister, Mark, Japp, Phyllis M, 2002).

The projections indicate that this pattern would continue for more than a thousand years, even if green house gas levels are stabilized, due to the large heat capacity of the oceans. The increase in the global temperature is the cause of rising sea levels due to the melting of ice and changes in the patterns of precipitation even in the subtropical desert regions.

These changes would translated to effects such as increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, changes in agricultural yields, modifications of trade routes, glacier retreat, species extinctions and increase in the ranges of disease rectors (Committee on Science, 1991).

Green house effect

This is the process by which ascription and emission of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warm a planet’s lower atmosphere and surface. This has been the caused for the observed warming since the start of industrial era. Some of the green house temperatures that are naturally occurring have a mean warming effect of 33 C. If this warming was missing, the earth would not be habitable (Johansen, Bruce E, 2002).

The major green house gases are water vapor which causes about 36 – 70% of the green house effect; carbon dioxide (Co2) which causes 9 – 25%; methane (CH4) which causes 4 – 9 %, and ozone which causes 3-7 percent. Various human activities have worked to harm the environment in various ways. These include deforestation, radio activity issues and cattle keeping. All these activities have worked to increase green house gases like nitrogen, ozone, chlorofluore, nitrogen oxides and methane.

Social ad economic effects of global warning may be exacerbated by growing population densities in affected areas. Temperate regions are projected to experience some benefits, such as fewer deaths due to cold exposure. (IPCC. Working Group” Report).

Economical it has been suggested that extreme weather might reduce global gross domestic product by up to one percent and that in a worst case scenario global per capita consumption could fall by 20 percent. (Stem Review 2006-10-30). According to the United Nations environment programme (UNEO) economic sectors likely to face difficulties related to climate change include banks, agriculture, transport and others. This is likely to have a profound effect on developing countries which depend mostly on agriculture (Blatt, Harvey, 2005).

Another result of the global warming is caller ocean acidification. This comes as a result of increased acidification in the environment caused by dissolving of carbon dioxide in the water. This reacts with water to form carbonic acid, resulting in acidification, ocean surface PH is estimated to have decreased from 8:25 near the beginning of industrial era to 8.14 in 2004 and is projected to decrease by a further 0.14 to 0.5 by 2100 as the ocean absorbs more CO2. Since organisms and ecosystems are adapted to a narrow range of PH, this raises extinction concern directly driven by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. This could disrupt food webs and impact human societies that depend on marine ecosystem services. (Baven of Royal society on ocean acidification due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide)

Ozone layer depletion

This describes a slow, steady deadline of about 4 percent per deaden in the total volume of ozone in earth’s atmosphere since the late 1970’s or the decrease in stratospheric ozone over earth’s Polar Regions which is commonly referred to as the ozone hole. This has been caused by catalytic destruction of ozone by atomic chlorine and bromine. (The science of ozone hole) 2007-03-05) is characterized by emission by photo dissociation of chlorofluorocarbon compounds and bromofluerocarbons (Martens, Willem Jozef Meine, 1998).

Since the ozone layer prevents most harmful ultra-violet radiations of wavelengths 2 to 315 m from passing theory the earth’s atmosphere, its depletion is the cause of a variety of biological consequences such as an increase in skin cancer, damage to plants and reduction of plankton population s in the ocean’s phonic zone.

Another environmental concern is population. Population is the introduction of contaminants in to an environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the physical systems or living organisms they are in (Webster Online Dictionary). This can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light energy. This can be on air, water and soil.

Air population is due to chemicals, particulate matter or biological materials that would cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms or damages to the natural environment in the atmosphere (Mendelsohn, Robert O, 2001).

These pollutants can be classified as either primarily or secondary. Primary pollutants are substances directly emitted form a process, such as ash from a volcanic eruption, carbon monoxide gas from engines and sulfur dioxide released from factories.

Secondary pollution results from the reaction of primary pollutants. These include ground level ozone smog and proxy acetyl nitrate. These have resulted in green house effect, acid rains and a wide range of cancers on humans.

Pollution of water exists in very many ways. This spreads all the way from the rivers, lakes, and even ground water. Water pollution is normally caused by human activities in the environment. These engagements are very harmful to animals and human beings. (Houghton, J. T, 1997).

Water pollution can take place through two major processes:

i.                  Point source pollution which refers to contaminants that enter a waterway through a discrete conveyance such as a pipe or ditch.                                                                                                                                    Examples include discharges from a sewage treatment plant or leaking underground storage tank

ii.                Non-point source pollution which encompasses diffuse contamination that does not originate form a single discrete source. Examples include nutrient run off in storm water, form sleet flow over an agricultural land, metals and hydrocarbons from an area of impervious surfaces and fumes form vehicles.

Soils contamination is another vice that is caused by alteration of the chemical composition in the soil as a result of man made chemicals deposited in the environment. This type of pollution arises from rapture of underground storage tanks, applications of patricides. Percolation of contaminated surface water to the subsurface strata, oil and fuel dumping, leaching of wastes form landfills or industrial wastes (Doyle, Jack, 2000).

Of recent concern is radioactive contamination which is as a result of a spill or accident during the production or use for radioisotopes. This may include the use in medicine, nuclear fuel processing. This may result in radiation poisoning. Others sources include nuclear weapons research, manufacture and deployment (Romm, Joseph J, 2004).

Other forms of population include thermal pollution which is a change in temperature in natural water bodies caused by human influence for example use of water as coolant in a power plant; moist pollution which entrains roadway moist, aircraft noise, industrial noise and scenery and also visual pollution, which refer to the presence of overhead power lines, motorway billboards, scarred landforms and municipal solid waste.

Sources

Bailey, Ronald. Revisiting the true state of the planet. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.

Sayre, April Pulley. El Niño and La Niña weather in the headlines. Brookfield, Conn.: Twenty-First Century Books, 2000.

 Meister, Mark, Japp, Phyllis M. studies in environmental rhetoric. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002.

 Committee on Science, greenhouse warming. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1991.

Johansen, Bruce E. The global warming desk reference. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Blatt, Harvey. America’s environmental report Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Martens, Willem Jozef Meine, 1968- Health and climate change .London: Earthscan Publications, 1998.

Mendelsohn, Robert O., Global warming and the American economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2001.

Houghton, J. T. 1931- Effects of past global change on life Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Doyle, Jack, the politics of pollution .New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000.

Romm, Joseph J. the race to save the climate: Washington, DC: Island Press, 2004.

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