Mother Nature is a treasure for all living beings, so it is our duty to protect Her. But, unfortunately, we have failed to do so. Pollution – the accumulation of unwanted things in our environment – is on the rise. If those unwanted objects are harmful gases, it will cause air pollution; if they are unwanted solids, it will cause soil and water pollution; or, if it is unwanted loud noise, it will cause noise pollution. So, the unwanted objects are pollutants. Now, we can categorise the unwanted objects as biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.
Biodegradable waste can be decomposed with the action of some microorganisms like fungi and bacteria. These microbes help in recycling the inorganic components in the environment like carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, etc. But, increased levels of biodegradable waste can be hazardous to the environment – if it gets disposed off into a water body, it can increase the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) for decomposing them, which will decrease the level of dissolved oxygen in the water body and can also kill the organisms living in the water body. If the biodegradable waste is disposed on land, it can house many vectors like mosquitoes and flies, and pollute the ecological environment.
Non-biodegradable wastes have long-term impact as they do not get converted to the simplest form. Non-biodegradable wastes include plastics, tin, harmful heavy metals mixed in the industrial effluents, fertilisers, pesticides, etc. The impact of the most common non-biodegradable waste is known and seen by every one of us, that is, plastic. If plastics are dumped into the soil, it causes blockage, which stops the growth of the roots under the ground and prevents the process of absorption of water by the plant and can also cause waterlogging as they do not allow seepage of water under the ground, thereby, depleting the level of underground water. Dumping plastic in the water body is very hazardous; the most common example being artificial floods due to blockage of drains and tributaries in Guwahati’s Bharalu River, and in the Yamuna in Delhi. Nowadays, these two rivers are considered dead as they do not support any aquatic life due to the depletion of dissolved oxygen in the water and increased level of nutrients to support some groups of algae. Such degradation of a water body is called eutrophication. When plastics are burnt, it releases harmful gases which can cause cancer and respiratory problems. The heavy metals which are released from industries are mostly lead, arsenic, and mercury, which can cause various health issues, including bone deformities, hindrance in proper mental development, and physical growth, and can also be carcinogenic. The inorganic gaseous waste like chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), which is used in different aerosols, perfumes, and refrigerators as coolants, are depleting the ozone layer.
Due to burning of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, the amount of some gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, etc., are increasing in the atmosphere, and, as a result, the infra red radiation of the sun is entering the earth, but is unable to reflect into space, so those radiations get trapped and increase the warmth of our globe. This is known as global warming or green house effect.
The hazardous impact is the melting of glaciers which are the source of various oceans, seas, rivers, etc. As the Himalayan glaciers are melting, it is causing a rapid increase in the water level in many rivers, thereby causing floods both near the river bank and in the coastal areas.
Therefore, it’s our turn to think of Mother Earth, or else, when Nature decides to retaliate, the picture is not going to be pretty.