- ECOLOGY | Our Planet -
Climate Change & Global Warming
The greenhouse effect has always existed and is very simple. The earth receives energy from the sun and reflects a part of that into space. However now with the INCREASE OF GASES surrounding the earth this HEAT GETS TRAPPED IN THE ATMOSPHERE resulting in a RISE IN TEMPERATURE. As the planet becomes warmer, CLIMATE CHANGE occurs.
World agriculture is being affected by these changes. The polar ice caps are melting, producing a rise in sea water levels which in turn is affecting marine life to begin with. Something must be done to control Global Warming because floods caused by water rising, could make entire coastal cities disappear underwater. Tropical storms will be more and more frequent and cities like Rio de Janeiro for example could have very serious problems. On the other hand, droughts in warmer areas are starting to be more severe, causing an even bigger effect on the problem of famine. FOREST FIRES, CARBON COMBUSTION AND PETROL ARE LARGELY TO BLAME FOR THIS.
What is Ecology?
ECOLOGY IS THE BRANCH OF BIOLOGY THAT STUDIES THE EXISTING MUTUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LIVING THINGS AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THEY LIVE. The terms Ecological and Environmental form a part of our daily vocabulary now and our children and the generations to come are already learning to value the importance of caring for our planet and the environment.
What is the Ozone Layer?
THE OZONE LAYER is a PROTECTIVE SHIELD for human life, as well as for the FLORA and FAUNA found on planet earth. It is situated in the second layer of the atmosphere, called stratosphere. Animal and plant fife depend on the delicate balance between filtration, absorption, reflection and radiation emissions. The sun radiates light and heat, and the ozone layer filters toxic rays. Without the ozone layer we would have no life on earth; a minimum reduction in ozone permits highly dangerous radiation to filter through to the earth causing, skin cancer and blindness to man. Toxic rays accumulate and the sun’s dangerous rays can provoke skin cancer to people who sunbathe regularly now, or have done so in the past. Everyone exposed to the sun for short or long periods should use specialized products with high SPF’s to protect skin.
Every time a forest is set on fire it has the following environmental effects:
Serious risks of erosion of the land which provokes pollution in rivers, lakes and cause floods.
Disappearance of the flora and fauna which depend on the forests for survival.
Millions of particles of carbon monoxide accumulate in the atmosphere, affecting the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect.
Supposing that there exists a reforestation program in the area, it would take at least 20 years for the forest to return to its normal state.
Despite the measures that local authorities assure us are taken each year, serious forest fires occur all over the planet. The usual causes are provoked by man, or human carelessness by throwing away little, bottles, cigarettes or matches.
TROPICAL RAINFORESTS are among the world’s most IMPORTANT ECOSYSTEMS FOR THE ROLE THEY PLAY IN SUSTAINING LIFE ON OUR PLANET. The tropical rainforests are in most danger of disappearing because of man. Every year, enormous areas of the forests are cut down and turned into furniture or other products, without repopulating or protecting the zone. Also during the dry season, between July and September, thousands of hectares of jungle are set alight in order to make the ground apt to raise livestock and later sell the meat to the U.S.A. or countries such as the E.U. The effect is devastating for the indigenous people that inhabit the land and for the fauna and flora of these enclaves. Hundreds of animals lose their homes and thousands of plants are destroyed. Despite being more aware of the importance of the tropical rainforests to the planet and mankind and despite the decrease in deforestation, each year thousands of square kilometers of forests and trees still disappear. During 2013 and 2014 in the Amazon alone, almost 5000 km2 were cut down. 5000 km2*
Man has already burnt half of the tropical rainforests that existed in the world. We don´t realize how important the tropical rainforests are. For example, one in 4 products that are purchased in pharmacies derive from tropical plants that come from these areas. It could be an antibiotic, a painkiller, a tranquilizer or simply a throat tablet. The contraceptive pill for example, came originally from a plant, the wild yam, which grows in the Mexican forests. Plants are used in research for cures such as cancer, leukemia and other fatal illnesses. There are still thousands of plants that scientists would like to research, but there is a risk that the jungles will be burnt before the scientists even get there. Just over a thousand years ago, the tropical rain forests covered 12% of the Earth´s surface, now the cover less than 5%; however, they are the home to possibly up to 50% of the planet´s species. As the rainforests are destroyed, the species disappear. Dozens of them disappear on a daily basis.
Another important role that rainforests play, is in climate control. Tropical forests are full of large trees and other plants that store massive amounts of carbon, when they are burnt down much of that carbon monoxide is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide which speeds up the greenhouse effect, causing even more damage to the ozone layer. The progressive disappearance of green areas creates two major problems. On one hand, as the rain forests near the Equator are wiped out, an increased “brightness” on the earth´s surface is produced which can change the direction of the winds and affect rainfall, not only in the tropical areas but also in other parts of the world.
Acid rain is a term that is difficult to define but in principal we can say that it is a chemical ‘cocktail’ created from different forms of pollution in the air. Contaminated air destroys trees and whole forests, lakes, rivers, crops and human health in general. The main cause of acid rain is TOXIC GAS EMISSIONS from electric power generators, oil refineries and carbon dioxide from vehicles. There have been overall improvements regarding issues surrounding acid rain, however it could be the problems we don’t or cannot foresee DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE, that may produce the longest -term impact to our ecosystem in the future.
Chemicals, Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Water Pollution
Effects on Humans and other Life Forms
A PESTICIDE is a toxic chemical which eliminates, prevents or controls pests that attack crops, plants, flowers and trees. It is lethal to targeted pests but not to non-targeted species, including man. Rampant use of toxic chemicals has played havoc with human and other life forms. Unfortunately Pesticides also kill beneficial organisms living in the soil and pose serious health risks to wildlife.
A CHEMICAL FERTILIZER feeds crops, plants, flowers and trees with required nutrients. To maximize a crop yield, nitrogen-based Fertilizers are spread on the land but excess usage and erosion for example, allows Fertilizers to escape and contaminate waterways. This causes pollution in the waters and has a negative effect on fish and other water wildlife. Chemicals are often released into the atmosphere by crop spraying, others seep into groundwater….ALL CONTAMINATE!
THE BEST WAY TO MINIMIZE TOXIC CHEMICALS IS TO ELIMINATE THEIR USE AND TO EMBRACE ORGANIC AND DOMESTIC GARDENING AND FARMING.
‘Contaminants of emerging concern’ are being dispersed into lakes, streams and rivers causing a potential or direct threat to environmental and human health. Many of these contaminants such as cleaning products are produced industrially, yet they are dispersed into the ecosystem from domestic, commercial and industrial uses. Other toxic chemicals are commonly derived from municipal, agricultural and industrial wastewater sources and pathways.
Entire communities in many different parts of the globe are suffering from breathing problems, skin problems and diseases from ground or water contamination. These people must be protected.
Excess of Vehicles
The estimated number of lightweight vehicles (passenger cars, buses, vans and lorries) on the world’s roads in 2016 are roughly 1.2 billion, with an expected staggering increase estimate, of 2 billion or more in the year 2035. Unfortunately, experts say only 2.5% will be battery, electric, plug in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles. In 2010 there were approximately 800 million vehicles on the roads and needless to say the increase in Carbon Dioxide emissions from these vehicles, has given rise to global warming, affecting human health on many levels.
In some areas the effect has been devastating, as people inhale contaminated gases. In Greater Mexico City for example, – 22 million population – it is not uncommon for ‘a state of emergency’ to be declared during some summer months in areas where it is impossible to breathe. Birds die due to the high levels of pollution and contamination, schools close and the elderly are obliged to stay indoors. It is often mandatory for people outdoors to wear protective face masks.
Water & Health
Water is our most precious asset on the planet Earth and indispensable for life itself. Its use directly affects nature and for this reason WATER IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE OF TREMENDOUS MAGNITUDE. Water is not created, nor is it destroyed it simply transforms or degrades with contamination. Water belongs to no one in particular it is a national and global resource for present and future generations. Unfortunately only 2.5% to 3% of all water on earth is fresh non-saline water. Most of that water lies frozen and inaccessible in icecaps in Greenland therefore only 1% OF FRESH WATER IS ACCESSIBLE ON OUR PLANET, FOUND IN LAKES, RIVERS AND UNDER GROUND.
2.3 billion people do not have access to fresh water. 3.4 million (mainly children) die annually due to the lack of a basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene. WATER IS A GREAT CONTRIBUTOR TO GOOD HEALTH. GOOD HEALTH IS THE ESSENCE OF DEVELOPMENT. Three out of every four citizens of the world have access to only 11 gallons of water per day. It is estimated that a minimum of 22 gallons per capita is required for a reasonable quality of life. In the USA the estimated amount consumed per person, per day is over 100 gallons.
WATER in many countries is a LIMITED and SCARCE natural resource and has to be rationed. During the past two decades countries such as Africa, India and Morocco have experienced the worst droughts ever, which has convinced experts that we are already under the influence of CLIMATE CHANGE. It is VERY IMPORTANT THAT EACH AND EVERYONE OF US BE VERY CONSCIOUS NOT TO WASTE WATER.
Safe and Eco-friendly today,
for a better world tomorrow
WHAT WE KNOW …
THE SITUATION: We know the damage that we have done to the Earth, all in the name of progress: we have polluted the environment, destroyed the forests and jungles, poisoned the rivers and we have caused the extinction of species which in some cases, we didn´t even know existed! We know that we have to change our attitude with regard to natural resources, such as water we consume and forests we spoil etc. We know that even though the technology applied to agriculture has advanced, everyday it is increasingly more difficult to feed the world´s population.
In spite of our awareness, all the signs show that these destructive tendencies (which have accelerated dramatically during the last 40 years) are going to continue in the future if we are complacent and do nothing!
AND NOW …
THERE IS HOPE: The prospect is very sad, but WE MUST BE OPTIMISTIC. All it takes is for us to make TINY EFFORTS and change some aspects of the DAILY ROUTINES IN OUR LIVES. Fortunately, the majority of the damage that man has caused to nature IS REVERSABLE. Rivers can be cleaned, forests can be replanted and endangered species close to extinction can be saved and even returned to their origins. However all this REQUIRES THE EFFORT AND COLLABORATION OF EVERYONE. In developed countries, it is essential that everyone understands that the smallest details such as not throwing away rubbish in the countryside, sea or on the streets, disposing of cardboard, paper, plastic and glass in their appropriate containers absolutely helps to solve many of the environmental problems that we suffer today.
Of course there are many problems to be solved but each and every one of us should make an effort and START TODAY with the right tiny gestures. We all have responsibilities towards our children and we have to think of the planet that we will be leaving to future generations. If we all collaborate and commit, we can improve the quality of present day life for ourselves and those who surround us, and for future generations to come.
Take a step towards change! It's not too late to make a difference
How You Can Help…
There are a many different small gestures we can do on a daily basis to help preserve our planet and make it a better place for ourselves, our children, all fauna and flora.