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4.Categorizing Environmental Problems.

TOP > Environmental Activities > The President's Green Column >
4.Categorizing Environmental Problems.

The President's Green Column

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4.Categorizing Environmental Problems.

- Looking at the scale of affected region and duration -

In my previous entry, I wrote about 'What exactly are environmental problems'. This time round, I would examine the scale of damage with reference to 'the size of area affected' and 'duration of damage'.

The size of area affected by Noise Pollution includes all areas that can hear the noise. I think that 'the size of area affected' is much smaller as compared to other problems. Presuming that the noise can be heard from a few hundred meters to 1km away. The damage from noise pollution can be eliminated once the source is removed. At such, the duration of time that damage continues after it had been dealt with is considerably short.

On the other hand, the size of area affected by Rapid Global Warming is of a global scale. The duration of time that damage continues after the problem is being tackled is expected to last at least 10 years. Hence, the duration of damage'ranges from a few decades to a few centuries.

The size of area affected by usage and disposal of radioactive materials depends on the severity of leakage. Although it might not affect the whole world but is most likely to affect a few countries at the same time. Presuming that the damage spreads to a few thousand kilometres away. It usually takes from a few million to a few billion years (E.g. Uranium235 takes about 700 million years and plutonium239 takes about 2.4 million years) for the damage to be halved. The damage and risk can be considered to last for forever.

I have plotted various environmental problems against 'the size of area affected' and 'duration of damage' in Illustration 2, 'Environmental Problems according to scale of damage'. However, please understand that it is only my rough sketch of this global issue.

Upon plotting the environmental problems under the formula of scale of damage = the size of area affected X the duration of damage, the closer the problem is to the top right hand corner of the graph, the larger the scale of damage it is.

In my opinion, it is important to have a long-term plan and to deal with the following 4 problems on a global scale. They are Insufficiency of Resources, Water and Food, Rapid Global Warming, Depletion of Ozone Layer and Usage and Disposal of Radioactive Products.

From the above, strategies to deal with the 'Depletion of Ozone Layer' has already been in action amongst various countries. The Treaty of Vienna (1985) and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987) sets controls on the emission of dangerous substances.

However so, I think that sufficient strategies to eliminate or reduce the other 3 problems have yet to be drawn.

In my next entry, I would to write more about Insufficiency of Resources, Water and Food, Rapid Global Warming and Usage and Disposal of Radioactive Products.

Environment Problems according to scale of damage.

30 Jul 2008 Hironobu Matsui

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