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3. What Kind of Environmental Problems Do We Face?

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3. What Kind of Environmental Problems Do We Face?

The President's Green Column

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3. What Kind of Environmental Problems Do We Face?

In my previous entry, I concluded that Environmental Problems refers to results of human activities that leads to changes in the environment, which either directly or indirectly jeopardize the lives and health of humans and destroy the balance of our ecosystem to a large extent.

So, what are environmental problems?

  • 1.Extensive killing of animals and destroying of plants
  • 2.Pollution of the air, water, soil and others by chemicals
  • 3.Usage and abandon of radioactive materials
  • 4.Increase of UV rays due to depletion of the Ozone Layer
  • 5.Rapid Global Warming
  • 6.Flood, drought, increased number of typhoons, rising sea level due to global warming
  • 7.Subsidence
  • 8.Acid Rain
  • 9.Desertification, lost of forest
  • 10.Salinization
  • 11.Insufficient energy, water, food and other resources
  • 12.Waste problem
  • 13.Danger of health due to electromagnetic waves
  • 14.Other pollutions (noise, vibration, smell, radio wave damage, light pollution)

All of the above results from human activities, threaten well being of human and destroys the balance of our ecosystem.

Global Warming (written here as rapid global warming), has been concluded during the IPCC Working Group 1's 10th Conference (29th Jan ~ 01st Feb, 2007) that there is no doubt about the presence of global warming and the increase in average temperature around the world in the late 20th century is mostly due to human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. At such, global warming is the result of human activities and can be understood as an environmental problem.

However, how significant is the amount of CO2 due to human activities to the occurrence of global warming? If it fasten the rate of global warming, what after-effects and at what scale will it be? It is essential to base our understanding with scientifically proven explanations. Or we might put ourselves in the danger of believing in problematic sayings such as that the melting of ice in the Artic Ocean is the cause for rising sea level.

Floods, droughts, increased number of typhoons and rising sea levels are not only due to global warming but also human actions.

Our waste products, if burned will emit carbon dioxide and other toxic gases. If they were to be buried, there is the danger of leakage of poisonous materials and hence, can be classified as an environmental problem.

Subsidence occurs due to human's action of excessive drawing of water from the ground. Despite the fact that environmental changes occurs and is due to human activities, this does not threaten human's lives and health and neither can we say that it destroys the balance of our ecosystem. Under my definition, subsidence is in the grey area between is and is not an environmental problem.

Salinization, is something that we do not hear very often about. As it literally suggest, refers to damages caused by excessive salt concentration. When we draw water from the ground, salt contents that settles at the bottom surface and when after water evaporates, salt density accumulates over time. Salinization makes the soil unsuitable for plants and agriculture.

Light pollution refers to side effects on animals due to excessive light in the nighttime as a result of human activities. However, it might be an overstatement to conclude that this actually destroys the balance of our ecosystem.

As you might have already noticed, there is a wide range of environmental problems with different causes, in different areas, involves different people, happening at different rates, poses different dangers and of different severity. Both looking at a single problem and looking at all problems with same severity are unlikely to be able to resolve this crisis.

Upon drawing up a plan, I think that it is essential to list these problems according to severity and as much as possible, put into consideration all causes and effects.

In order to come up with such plans, I would write about effects of these environmental problems in differing areas and the duration of these effects in my next entry.

15 Jul 2008 Hironobu Matsui

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