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Pollution is the primary way in which humans have caused drastic changes of wildlife habitats. For too long, man has behaved with little regard to the ecological consequences of his habits. Nature and wildlife populations are confronted with a bewildering array of pollutants that we intentionally or by accident release into the environment.

Pollution can be viewed as the negative alteration in the chemical or physical characteristics of the environment due to human activities. On the global scale, this is evident in the melting of the ice-caps, both at the poles and in mountain tops, and also in global warming with the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

After World War II, the use of synthetic chemicals to control insect pests, weed and fungi became an integral part of agriculture. The Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Paul Mueller, a Swiss chemist, for discovering the insecticidal properties of DDT. By 1964, the annual production of DDT in the US reached 90 million kilograms. By then, scientists were already discovering the disastrous side effects DDT. In the 1970s, most industrial countries banned the use of DDT because of its unacceptable side-effects on wildlife, humans and the food chain.

Modern society heavily relies on the use of fossil fuels. It is not just a source of energy, but also a raw material for synthetic chemicals, plastics and Styrofoam. Half the global use of petroleum is in North America and Europe. Because of this, massive quantities of oil are transported around the globe each year. An inescapable consequence of this is the accidental spillage of oil at the point of extraction, in transit and even after delivery to refineries.

When a spill occurs, the most obvious effect on wildlife is that animal furs and bird feathers get covered with oil which naturally has high concentrations of toxic components. In the long term chemicals on beaches, in the water and in the food chain may throw up a variety of impacts. These may include impaired reproduction, reduced resistance to diseases, neurological damage and birth defects in creatures that exist in that environment. These can easily lead to the extinction of species.

The Exxon Valdez spill that occurred in March of 1989 adversely affected three national parks, four national wildlife refuges and a national forest. Eventually, the spill spread over an estimated 1400 miles of shoreline blackening every bay, beach and estuary in California. Nature's recovery from this may takes hundreds of years. A total of 36,466 dead seabirds, 1015 dead sea otters and 144 bald eagles were recovered from the area. This excludes animals that sink into the water when they die and fish.

The human population is extremely large. The advance of technology meets the demands of this population. Not all technology is about human comforts. Much of it is a response to basic human needs, like food, clothing and shelter. Every morning, 7 billion humans have breakfast. Can you imagine the amount of work involved in manufacturing just this one meal?

For the orderly existence of humans, disorder has to happen in the lives of other creatures of the world and to the world itself. The total destruction of wildlife habitats, human encroachment into existing habitats, and alteration in climatic balance can directly be related to the existential needs of humans. It may be impossible to stop this effect. At best, it can be mitigated.

   

Answer the following questions using complete sentences

 

1.

From paragraph 1, what is the basic way in which man affects the environment ?

 

2.

(a) From paragraph 2, how can pollution be defined ?

(b) From paragraph 2, give two negative effects of pollution.

 

3.

(a) From paragraph 3, why was the Swedish scientist Paul Mueller awarded the Nobel Prize ?

(b) From paragraph 3, what was the peak production of DDT in the US ? How did DDT affect man and nature ?

 

4.

(a) Why is petroleum transported in large quantities ?

(b) Where do spills occurs ?

 

5.

Without using data from the passage, mention two forms of pollution that you are aware of.

 

6.

Based on the passage, write a summary of :

The crisis that the environment and nature faces due to human activity.

 

 

 

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Answers
 

1.

It is pollution with a bewildering array of pollutants that we intentionally or by accident release into the environment.
 

2.

(a) Pollution can be defined as the negative alteration in the chemical or physical characteristics of the environment due to human activities.

(b) The melting of ice-caps and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 

3.

(a) He discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT.

(b)

(i) The peak production was 90 million kilograms.

(ii) It produced disastrous side-effects in man, wildlife and the food chain.

 

4.

(a) It is because half of all petroleum extracted is used in Europe and the US.

(b) Spills occur at the point of extraction, in transit or after delivery to refineries.

 

5.

(i) Plastic bags that are discarded randomly and are carried to the oceans through drains, streams and rivers are an example of pollution. ( Any suitable answer )

(ii) Waste that is not separated and ends up in landfills. ( Any suitable answer )

  6. The size of the human population produces inevitable changes in nature and the environment. The negative effects cannot be totally eradicated. It can at best be reduced. Manufacturing and technologies are necessary for human survival. Man extracts natural resources and produces many synthetic things that do not exist in nature. In the process, he also produces many toxic things that adversely affect the health and balance of the environment. Creatures that survive in different environments suffer due to the physical and chemical alterations that result from human activity. Many have also become extinct. The crisis in nature can be directly related to man's need to produce things on a massive scale. There is no easy way to stop pollution.
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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