Pollution and destruction. Resource exploitation and ideas to protect the environment

Pre-University Paper, 2018

8 Pages, Grade: 2



1 Pollution and destruction
1.1 Clean drinking water
1.2 Traffic pollutes the air
1.3 Fertilizer and garbage - poison for the soil

2 Resource exploitation
2.1 Use of natural resources
2.2 Environmental consequences along the entire value chain
2.3 The social side of resource use

3 Ideas to protect the environment

Environment and Energy

Pollution and destruction, resource exploitation, and ideas to protect the environment

Over the past centuries, man has irretrievably destroyed parts of nature. In the meantime not only many animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. The whole ecosystem earth is endangered. And although the first international conference on nature conservation took place in Berne as early as 1913, the state of the environment has continued to deteriorate globally

1 Pollution and destruction

1.1 Clean drinking water

The former German Minister of the Environment Klaus Töpfer once jumped in a diving suit in the Rhine. He wanted to prove that the river is clean enough to bathe in. Although this action chased many a contemporary at the end of the 80s, many European rivers, including the Rhine and even the Elbe, which was once heavily contaminated, are cleaner today. Decades of reminders from environmentalists and water experts have contributed to the fact that many waters have been salvaged with state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants and forward-looking legislation.

By contrast, it does not look that good for other rivers, lakes and seas. Especially in the poorer countries of the world, water is often so badly polluted that its enjoyment is life threatening. Lack of environmental awareness, corruption, but also the need to produce as cheaply as possible in order to compete on the world market, are literally poison to the rivers.

Water is the basis of existence for all life on this planet. More than two-thirds of its surface is covered with water, but only a tiny fraction of it can be used by humans. Useful, clean water is getting scarcer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 around 783 million people did not have sufficient access to clean drinking water.

In any case, the handling of water cannot be called sustainable. The straightening of rivers hurts the ecosystem enormously. The ability to pump water through man-made piping systems and thereby use dry soils as arable land has harmed nature extensively. Both the Aral Sea and the Dead Sea, from whose tributaries water is drained, are gradually drying up.

1.2 Traffic pollutes the air

The breathing air in the Ruhr area is no longer carbon black and even in the immediate vicinity of large industrial plants can now breathe. But clean air is out of the question, because the daily incineration of household waste as well as industry and traffic are still polluting the environment.

While in the past smoking smokestacks and gas emissions were among the biggest problem drivers, today it is, among other things, increasing traffic. Emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide or hydro fluorocarbons not only harm the environment and the climate, but also humans. Anyone who is constantly exposed to traffic jams has an increased risk of getting respiratory problems or even cancer.

1.3 Fertilizer and garbage - poison for the soil

Over-fertilization and the deposition of toxic contaminated sites and heavy metals significantly pollute the soil of the world and contaminate the groundwater. One problem that has long been underestimated is the increasing sealing of the soil. More and more roads are being built, more and more landscape is being converted into building land. The soil is sealed, which means that precipitation can no longer seep away. The result: the groundwater level drops. As the groundwater level drops, however, not only wells and waters dry up. The vegetation also damages the seal, because tree and plant roots no longer reach the water supply. The landscape is desolate.

The world community has long recognized the problem of environmental pollution. However, despite many conferences and decisions, it has not yet been possible to sufficiently improve the global environmental situation. The preservation of the environment and the fight against pollution thus remain on the agenda of the international community.

2 Resource exploitation

The use of natural resources is associated with emissions and other environmental impacts - along the entire lifecycle of products. In addition, scarce resources and volatile commodity prices can lead to severe economic and social disruption. Resource use thus has some not inconsiderable consequences.

2.1 Use of natural resources

Natural resources are the material, energetic and spatial basis of our standard of living. In addition to abiotic and biotic raw materials, we use water, soil, air, biodiversity, land and the flowing resources such as wind, solar or tidal currents, we use as an energy source and raw materials as a habitat and recreation. But we also need these natural resources as a sink for emissions and to absorb our waste and as an important production factor for agriculture and forestry.

The use of resources across the entire value added chain is always associated with environmental burdens. And the use of natural resources is steadily increasing worldwide.

2.2 Environmental consequences along the entire value chain

Our resource use is changing our ecosystems, often permanently. The extraction and processing of non-renewable raw materials are often energy-intensive, associated with significant interventions in the natural and water balance and leads to emissions of pollutants in water, soil and air. The production and production of renewable raw materials is often associated with high energy, material and chemical use, sometimes water intensive and is associated with a variety of pollutant emissions. In order to gain new production areas, areas are being converted and some entire ecosystems destroyed.

In principle, every extraction and processing of a raw material has an impact on the environment: soil degradation, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, impairment of ecosystem functions or intensification of climate change can result. However, the use of products made from raw materials is usually associated with the release of greenhouse gases, the emission of pollutants or the degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity. Products require energy, water or space for transportation, distribution and use. If used improperly, pollutants can escape and get into water, soil or air. The infrastructure for our accommodation and diverse activities is often material intensive, leads to soil sealing, strong interference with the natural balance and affects the landscape. Even at the end of the value chain, environmental damage can hardly be avoided. For example, energy is needed for recycling, greenhouse gases and other pollutants are emitted when waste is recycled, or land is permanently used for landfilling.

Here, the use of natural resources already exceeds the regeneration capacity of the earth. Because natural resources are limited and often not available in high quality. Global population growth and the associated increasing pressure on natural resources is steadily increasing and can increasingly lead to competition for use.

2.3 The social side of resource use

In addition to its impact on the environment, the use of natural resources also has many social implications. For example, it is linked to questions of the distribution of raw materials, the secure access to fresh water or the food security of people worldwide.

Currently, per capita consumption of raw materials in developed countries is estimated to be four times higher than in less developed countries. However, while much of the added value of resource use is in developed countries, less developed countries are often disproportionately affected by the environmental and social impacts of resource extraction.

For example, people from affected regions report serious human rights violations or permanent environmental damage. Often associated with the extraction of raw materials is the contamination of the drinking water and the respiratory air, the result is damage to health. In addition, there are land transfers, forced relocations and an increasing impoverishment of the local population. Sustainable development impulses for the areas directly affected by mining, raw material extraction and processing are so far rare. In addition, in some countries, the profits of mining and processing of raw materials are used to finance armed conflicts. According to the United Nations, natural resources play a key role in 40 percent of all domestic conflicts.


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Pollution and destruction. Resource exploitation and ideas to protect the environment
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pollution, resource
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Besnik Ramadani (Author), 2018, Pollution and destruction. Resource exploitation and ideas to protect the environment, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/412796


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