Civilization has brought people many advantages but its products also pollute and damage the environment in which we live. Pollution affects air, water, land forests, people, animals and plants.
Air pollution in cities
The greatest problem is smog. This word was formed from two words – smoke and fog. Many plants release a lot of smoke with harmful substances such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, fly ash and soot. There must be installed filters on smokestacks. These smokestacks are these days very tall, so they don’t affect the city as such but the polluted air is driven by the wind faraway and thus it pollutes a larger area. It is evident that the air pollution doesn’t respect the borders between countries; therefore it affects all the continent.
Another burning problem is heavy traffic in the very centre of the city. It is the worst during peak-hours. Cars pollute the air with exhaust fumes, especially if the roads are jammed (congested). Cars must be compulsorily equipped with catalyzers. This traffic must be diverted and there must be built a ring road.
Municipal transport is not so bad. There are trolley buses and trams in Pilsen.
Another problem concerning the city environment is sewage. In some places there are not sewage works and sewage is released into watercourses. Many factories released their waste into the rivers.
We produce a lot of litter in our households. We should select our litter. In housing estates there can be found special containers for different kind of garbage (glass, paper, plastic). The idea of this is that these materials can be recycled. Recycling is a process when old materials can be used again. Unfortunately it is very expensive but now we are used to seeing recycled paper in books and textbooks.
Cities very often lack vegetations, sport fields, landscape parks, trees and bushes.
Trees are vitally important for our life because they are the lungs of our planet. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air and give out oxygen in return. In some parts of the world, such as Asia and South America, trees are not threatened by pollution, but by people. The great rain forests are being destroyed for firewood and buildings materials. If we lose tropical forests, it will become more difficult, perhaps even impossible, to breath. With more carbon dioxide in the air, the temperature will rise; the icecaps at the North and South Poles will melt, and the sea will rise, which will result in the flooding of many coastal cities.
Several gases have been identified as contributing to the “greenhouse effect”, which can also cause climate change. Manmade atmospheric emissions, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), methane and water vapour prevent the heat from escaping. The result is a rise in the Earth’s temperature, the melting of artic ice and the flooding of areas situated near sea level.
The hole in the ozone layer
The ozone layer in the atmosphere serves as a filter for the sun. Due to the damage to this layer there is an increase in skin cancer. The hole was caused by the industrial and technical way of life and it is getting larger. It is caused by the use of gas Freon, as well as the vast amount of carbon dioxide released from cars, power plants, and homes.
Animals and plants
Environmental protection should also include animal and plant protection because the balance of species of plants and animals has also been affected by human activities. The establishment of National Parks and nature reserves provide protection, and also provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.
What can we personally do to protect the environment?
· Save water (have a shower rather than a bath)
· Save energy (switch off the light when leaving)
· Sort out waste and put in into containers, compost kitchen garbage
· Use deodorant sprays without CFC gases
· Put litter only into litter bins, not in the street
· Not be noisy in the woods, not pick flowers
· Not use fertilizers in the garden
· Use public transport, bike when possible
Ř Greenpeace: An international organization which fights against pollution, often by organizing various action against nuclear power plants and the use of nuclear energy in industry.
Ř The Green Party: A world wide political party that is independently represented in the Czech Republic.
Ř Eyfaa: European Youth Forest Action Alliance, a network of European environmental grassroots organizations, with headquarters in Prague.
Ř GEN: Global Ecovillage Network, a network of environmentally aware communities, creating an alternative ecological way of life for families and individuals.