There was a time when people thought of the environment, they thought of its beauty; but now as the natural beauty of the earth that disappears, many people around the world have awoken to the realities of just how fragile our earth actually is. Central to this issue is pollution, which involves the introduction of harmful substances into the air, land, and water. Although pollution has been occurring throughout the earth’s history, the rate by which the human species have contributed to the amount of pollution that has entered our environment over the past several hundred years far exceeds the earth’s inherent ability to heal itself.
Along with pollution, the mass deforestation of the world’s old growth forests has also posed a growing problem to the health of our environment. The clearance of forests without sufficient reforestation has gradually wore down nature’s natural defense against air pollution, desertification, and soil nutrient loss to the point that we are now facing a future world without trees, which would ultimately mean a world without people.
Experts and advocates of environment-centered reforms to policies, laws, and harmful corporate and social practices currently make up the global environmental [protection] movement, which seeks to consolidate individual efforts to improve upon the ways human beings interact with the planet.
The global issue of the Environment encompasses many diverse matters of interest some of which will be discussed throughout these Global Issues pages, which include: Animal Rights, Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Sustainable Development, Biodiversity, and Green Spaces.
The Alberta tar sands are the largest oil reservoir of crude bitumen in the world, located in Northern Alberta, Canada, Treaty 8 area, beneath 4.3 million hectares of boreal forest. Bitumen is a semi-solid mixture of crude oil, sand, clay, and water; it is mined and processed in order to separate and extract the oil. About two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil (Oil Shale & Tar Sands) and for every barrel of oil produced, 3-5 barrels of water is used in the separation process. At the end of the day, for every barrel of oil produced there is one barrel of un-recyclable water waste. Canada has a large-scale commercial tar-sands industry, with more than one million barrels of synthetic oil produced per day (Oil Shale & Tar Sands).
Continual expansion of open-pit mining and Tar sands contribute to negative environmental impacts, such as the destruction of the Boreal forest, muskeg, and wildlife, and high greenhouse gas emissions that increase global warming. Water-waste is drained into the Athabasca/McKenzie River, causing the connected waterways to become poisonous or to dry-up. Many First Nations in the Treaty 8 area are directly affected by the oil industry. There are high levels of bile and colon cancer, lupus and a variety of illnesses within each community attributed to polluted water reserves, air pollution, and contaminated natural food sources. An Indigenous environmental movement is bringing to light the continuous destruction to First Nations people and communities.
Water is fundamental to life. We are made of water; we consume water; we depend on water. Crops grow because of water and oil is extracted with the help of water. Computers, cars, paper, pots, cosmetics and more are manufactured using water. There is no way to escape the fact that we are utterly, and ultimately, dependent on this resource.
For generations, we have been able to find clean, abundant sources of freshwater. With growing populations and increased agricultural and industrial demands, we are beginning to see this formerly bountiful resource becoming scarce. As source waters become polluted and weather patterns shift, communities are placed at the mercy of droughts, water diversion projects and political maneuvering.
As citizens, we must work to ensure that everyone, everywhere, has access to clean, safe water. It is in our best interest to know what is in our water and how we can ensure that it is safe to drink and use. Metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other wastes often find their way into our drinking water and can have serious health effects ranging from toxic poisoning to hormone disruption to cancers.
Where does your water come from? What does your water treatment plant test for? What are the drinking water regulations and guidelines in your area? Where do your wastes go? These are all pieces of your water puzzle and the more you know, the better off all of our water resources will be.