Present ecological situation on the Earth
Description Ecologcal situation on the Earth. Ecological Problems. Measures of the protection of atmosphere. Greenhouse effect, and his influence to climate. Acid rains and water pollution. Radiation Nuclear waste. Аgency agreement. Moskow environment.
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Present ecological situation on the Earth
1. Description Ecologcal situation on the Earth
We live on a very beautiful planet - on the Earth. Our planet has very rich resources: the bright blue of the sky, fresh, crystal-clear mountain lake water, the rich green of the mountains slopes, wild flower, picturesque views - all these sceneries of nature fill us with admiration.
Ecology is the study of the ways in which organisms (plants and animals) depend upon each other and upon their surroundings. Each organism requires conditions in order to be able to live and breed. These conditions are its environment by changing the ecological conditions.
Ecology is a very popular word today. But what does it mean? Ecology is a since which studies the relationship between all forms of life on our planet and the environment. This word came from Greek “oikos” which means home. The idea of home includes our whole planet, its population, Nature, animals, birds, fish, insets and all other living beings and the atmosphere around our planet.
Since ancient times Nature has served Man giving everything he needs: air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, wood for building and fuel for heating his home. For thousands of years people lived in harmony with the environment and it seemed to them that the resources of nature had no end or limit. With the industrial revolution our negative influence on Nature began to increase. Large cities with huge population, polluting plants and factories can be found nowadays all over the world. The by-products of their activity pollute the air we breathe the water we drink the fields where our crops are grown.
So, pollution is one of the most burning problems of nowadays. Now millions of chimneys, cars, buses, trucks all over the world exhaust fumes and harmful substances into the atmosphere. These poisoned substances pollute everything: air, land, water, birds and animals. So, it is usually hard to breathe in the large cities where there are lots plants. Everything there is covered with soot and dirt. Every year the atmosphere is polluted by about 1000 tons of industrial dust and other harmful substances. Big cities suffer from smog. Cars with their engine have become the main source of pollution in industrial countries. Vast forests are being cut down for the need of industries in Europe and USA. The loss of the forests influence at the oxygen balance. As the result some species of animals, birds, fish and plants have disappeared and keep disappearing.
Water pollution is very serious, too. Ugly rivers of dirty water polluted with factory waste, poisoned fish are all-round us. And polluted air and poisoned water lead to the end of the civilization. So, nowadays a lot of dead lands and lifeless areas have appeared. Because our actions and dealings can turn the land to a desert.
So, we see that our environment offers an abundance of subject matter for discussion. The problems and prospects of the blue planet interest not only scientist, but also politicians, industry, the public - and above all, young people! To recognize environmental problems and master them, to reduce and avoid environmental pollution, to discover and develop ecologically sound technologies - there are the essential building blocks for our future.
Whether scientist or politicians, bankers or student, whether Greek, Norwegian, Hungarian or Finn … all are encouraged to make a contribution towards protecting the environment. Dedication and the courage to change one's way of thinking are called for.
We are to stop pollution. So, we can grow plants and trees, to purify waste, to start urgent campaigns in order to preserve environment For example, in 1989 in Australia, Sydney. In a year the same kind of action was held all over Australia and it was called “Clean up Australia” the following years 110 countries hold the similar actions within the ecological program of the UNO.
Nowadays there are many different pressure and interests groups in British, which try to find solutions to the problems of pollution at the national and international level. So they are groups of people with a common interest in trying to draw the public attention to environment problems, to influence the government decisions.
Greenpeace is a very famous pressure group. It started functioning in 1971. Its headquarters are at Amsterdam, but it operates in 25 countries worldwide. The aim of Greenpeace is to protect wildlife of toxic wastes, nuclear tests.
“Friends of the Earth” is one of the British pressure groups with an international reputation. Its general aim is to conserve the planet's resources and reduce pollution. FoE was established in 1971 and now it operated in 44 countries worldwide. It campaigns among other things, for recycling and renewable energy, and the destruction of wildlife and habitat. The main campaigning issues of the FoE are:
The protection of all animals and plants in danger of extinction.
An end to the destruction of wildlife and habitats.
A program of energy conservation measures, etc.
So, a number of campaigns resulted in:
The ban or other hunting in England and Wales
And indefinite delay in the construction of the Commercial East Breeder Reactor, etc.
But not only great groups can influence the problem of pollution. So, different people have their own opinions on this problem:
The continued pollution of the earth, if unchecked, well eventually destroys the fitness of this planet as a place for human life. (B. Commoner).
The Earth has enough for every man's need, but not for man's greed. (Ganlui).
And I agree with them because it is really so. And terrible examples prove them.
The Baltic Sea is a special case. Because it is such a small sea and it becomes dirty very easily. Its water changes slowly through the shallow straits. As many as 250 rivers run into the Baltic. There are hundreds of factories in these rivers and millions of people live along them. Quite a lot of big cities lie on its coast. All these combined with the active navigation of the sea naturally affects the state of the sea water and the shore line flora and fauna. People suffer from the water pollution; cancer deaths increase people's concern.
And there is no escape from this ecological crisis without organizing a single body dealing with the environmental problems, developing and carrying out a nationwide program of environmental protection and co-operating with international schemes.
Ecology Scientists now predict that by the year 2050 the population will be doubled what is today. The fact remains that the rate of food production fell behind population growth in many of developing countries. The annual fish catch already exceeds what the world `s oceans can successfully sustain. If we going on using our natural recourses at today's rates, we will have used up the intire reserves of cooper, natural gas and oil by the year 2054.
But the problem ahead lie not so much in what we use but in what we waste. What faces us is not so much a recourse crisis as a pollution crisis. The only solution is to try to change the areas of consumption, technology and population. Changes in technology must be baked by slower population growth. And it can be achieved by education in health and women's rights. And there is a little hope of reducing consumption over the next half century.
2. Ecological Problems
20th century have closed. Global volumes of polluted air seriously threatens the ozone layer. It means the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases and increased ozone depletion. This threatens to lead to dramatic climatic changes or global warming. To reduce these threats, the scientists of the various countries of the world say that global emissions must be sharply curtailed.
A number of gases contribute significally to the stock of greenhouse gases. For example, CO2 has the greatest impact. The burning of fuels by automobiles and industries are main sources of greenhouse gases.
Less damaging sources include deforestation, animal husbandry, wet rice cultivation, decomposition of waste, and coal mining.
Because incomes and consumption are higher in the wealthiest countries, per capita emissions in the United States is more than twice bigger than that in Europe, 19 times higher than that in Africa and 25 times higher than that in India. Though Third World countries account for a relatively small proportion of industrial CO2, they produce practically all of the CO2 in the secondary category. Together all developing countries with roughly three-quarters of the world's population produce less than one-third of industrial CO2.
A study jointly sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program shows that global warming is growing. Is says that if current emission trends continue, the mean global temperatures may rise 3° C by the end of the 21st century.
The potentially catastrophic consequences of climate changes have caused widespread cries for joint preventive policy to combat environmental pollution, concentration of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion.
Statesmen and scientists stress that responsibility for reducing emissions must be divided across the members of the international community. The share of responsibility may be remarkably different depending on industrial development, income, social structure and political orientation of a country. There is great controversy over the extent to which each government must control the emissions produced by its local population, industry and agriculture.
2.1 Air pollution
Air pollution is one of the main problems all over the world. Millions of chimneys, buses, cars, plants, factories and other industrial enterprises exhaust fumes and harmful substances into the atmosphere. Poisoned air is the main reason why it is hard to breath in large cities with big amount of plants and transport (example - Nijnii Tagil in the Urals).
Human activity has been increasing the concentration of such gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor in the atmosphere. Scientists expect to see a doubling of carbon dioxide over pre-industrial levels around the year 2065.
Every year the atmosphere is polluted by about one thousand (1000) tons of industrial dust. Among industries especially toxic wastes are made by enterprises of colour metallurgy, chemical, petrochemical, black metallurgy, woodworking, pulp paper industry etc. Big cities suffer from smog.
«Leaders» of wastes of harmful substances in an atmosphere in Russia during three last years are Krasnoyarsk region, the Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Kemerovo area and it is necessary to attribute these areas to a zone of the ecological catastrophe. The most contaminated regions are economic centers of Russian Federation and most populated. Now 2/3 population of Russia continues to live in conditions of dangerous air contamination.
Various chemical elements are intensively absorbed by our organism during breathing, it is harmful for our health. Air pollution is especially harmful for quality of genofond.
Scientists understand that air pollution is the cause of acid rains, global warming and of greenhouse effect.
2.2 Measures of the protection of atmosphere
Measures of the protection of atmosphere are subdivided into three large groups:
· First group: decrease measures of gross amount of contamination, thrown out into atmosphere. This is the improvement of the quality of fuel, using of special liquids in fuel etc. Same group of measures includes perfecting of technological processes including development of the closed cycle production without making of harmful substances into atmosphere.
· The second group includes measures of protection of atmosphere by dispersion, processing and neutralization of harmful wastes.
· The third group of measures assumes prevention of the air contamination by rational placing of the «dirty» enterprises - sources of harmful wastes with consideration of natural conditions and potential possibility of the air contamination.
For realization of atmosphere protection measures the strict state control of air environment, economic and legal stimulation of measures for control of its pollution are also important.
2.2.1 What is the greenhouse effect, and is it affecting climate?
The greenhouse effect is unquestionably real, and is essential for life on Earth. It is the result of heat absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere (called greenhouse gases because they trap heat) and re-radiation downward of a part of that heat. Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas, followed by carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18°C) instead of its present 57°F (14°C). However, the concern is not with the fact that we have a greenhouse effect, but it is with the question regarding whether human activities are leading to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect.
2.2.2 Are greenhouse gases increasing?
Human activity has been increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil, and gas; plus a few other trace gases). Pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide (prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution) were about 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), and current levels are about 370 ppmv. According to the IPCC "business as usual" scenario of carbon dioxide increase (IS92a) in the 21st century, we would expect to see a doubling of carbon dioxide over pre-industrial levels around the year 2065.
2.3 Is the climate warming?
Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.6°C (plus or minus 0.2°C) since the late-19th century, and about one half degree F (0.2 to 0.3°C) over the past 25 years (the period with the most credible data).
The warming has not been globally uniform.
Some areas (including parts of the southeastern U.S.) have cooled. The recent warmth has been greatest over N. America and Eurasia between 40 and 70°N. Linear trends can vary greatly depending on the period over which they are computed. Temperature trends in the lower troposphere (between about 2,500 and 18,000 ft.) from 1979 to the present are small and may be unrepresentative of longer term trends and trends closer to the surface. Furthermore, there are small unresolved differences between radiosonde and satellite observations of tropospheric temperatures, though both data sources show slight warming trends. If one calculates trends beginning with the commencement of radiosonde data in the 1950s, there is a slight greater warming in the record due to increases in the 1970s. There are statistical and physical reasons (e.g., short record lengths, the transient differential effects of volcanic activity and boundary layer effects) for expecting differences between recent trends in surface and lower tropospheric temperatures, but the exact causes for the differences are still under investigation (National Research Council "Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change").
An enhanced greenhouse effect is expected to cause cooling in higher parts of the atmosphere because the increased "blanketing" effect in the lower atmosphere holds in more heat.
There has been a general, but not global, tendency toward reduced diurnal temperature range (the difference between high and low daily temperatures) over about 50% of the global land mass since the middle of the 20th century. Cloud cover has increased in many of the areas with reduced diurnal temperature range.
Relatively cool surface and tropospheric temperatures, and a relatively warmer lower stratosphere, were observed in 1992 and 1993, following the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The warming reappeared in 1994. A dramatic global warming, at least partly associated with the record El Niсo, took place in 1998. This warming episode is reflected from the surface to the top of the troposphere.
Indirect indicators of warming such as borehole temperatures, snow cover, and glacier recession data, are in substantial agreement with the more direct indicators of recent warmth.
Arctic sea ice has decreased since 1973, when satellite measurements began.
2.4 Acid rains
First of all I should say that the only place on earth where pure water is found is in a laboratory. Rainwater always contains small amounts of impurities. These impurities come from dust particles or are absorbed from the gases in the air. If pure water is exposed to the air it absorbs carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid and becomes slightly acidic, dropping from pH 7 i.e. neutral, to pH 5,6. Even in remote, unpopulated areas rain can reach a pH of 4,5. However, a pH of less than 4,5 in rain is almost certainly caused by air pollution.
Acid rain is caused by the release of the sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides. The main sources of sulphur dioxide are coal-fired power stations and metal working industries. The main sources of nitrous oxides emissions are vehicles and fuel combustion.
Sulphur dioxide reacts with water vapor and sunlight to form sulphuric acid. Likewise nitrous oxides form nitric acid in the air. These reactions take hours, or even days, during which polluted air may move hundreds of kilometers. Thus acid rain can fall far from the source of pollution.
When mist or fog droplets condense they will remove pollutants from the air and can become more strongly acid than acid rain. Even snow can be acid. Gases and particles, not dissolved in water, with a low pH can also be deposited directly onto soil, grass and leaves. It is possible that even more acidity is deposited in this way than by rain!
There are some undoubted effects of acid rains:
· Acid rains can increase the acidity of lakes, dams and streams and cause the death of aquatic life.
· Acid rain can increase the acidity of soil, water and shallow groundwater.
· Acid rain has been linked with the death of trees in Europe and North America. In spite of a great deal of research, no one yet knows exactly how acid rain harms forests. Most of the forests of Europe consist of huge areas of one tree species. This encourages the spread of plant pests and diseases. It seems likely that acid rain weakens the trees, perhaps helped by other pollutants such as ozone, and then leaves the trees open to attack by disease. Acid rain also disrupts the availability of soil nutrients. The final death of a tree may result from a combination of stresses such as heat, cold, drought, nutrient disruption and disease.
· Acid rains erode buildings and monuments.
· Acid particles in the air are suspected of contributing to respiratory problems of people.
Scientists have many ways to solve this environmental problem. We need to use energy more efficiently at home, in our vehicles and in industry. We will have to think hard about alternative energy sources. It is possible to remove acidic emissions from coal burning, but this is very expensive. It may be possible to breed crops and trees that resist pollution, but this would only be a partial solution. In practice we will probably need a combination of all these ideas and innovations.
2.5 Water pollution
Comprising over 70% of the Earth's surface, water is undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. Without the seemingly invaluable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is essential for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although we as humans recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently, we are slowly but surely harming our planet to the point where organisms are dying at a very alarming rate. In addition to innocent organisms dying off, our drinking water has become greatly affected. In order to combat water pollution, we must understand the problems and become part of the solution.
2.5.1 What are the sources of water pollution?
There are many causes for water pollution but two general categories exist: direct and indirect contaminant sources. Direct sources include effluent outfalls from factories, refineries. That emit fluids of varying quality directly into urban water supplies. In the United States and other countries, these practices are regulated, although this doesn't mean that pollutants can't be found in these waters.
Indirect sources include contaminants that enter the water supply from soils/groundwater systems and from the atmosphere via rainwater. Soils and ground waters contain the residue of human agricultural wastes. Atmospheric contaminants are also derived from human practices (such as gaseous emissions from automobiles, factories and even bakeries). Contaminants can be broadly classified into organic, inorganic, radioactive and acid.
2.5.2 What are the effects of water pollution?
The effects of water pollution are varied. They include poisonous drinking water, poisonous food animals, river and lake ecosystems that can no longer support full biological diversity, deforestation from acid rain, and many other effects. These effects are, of course, specific to the various contaminants.
2.5.3 What are the ways we can take to decrease this problem?
Science provides many practical solutions to minimizing the present level at which pollutants are introduced into the environment and for remediating (cleaning up) past problems. All of these solutions come with some cost (both societal and monetary). In our everyday lives, a great deal can be done to minimize pollution if we take care to recycle materials whose production creates pollution and if we act responsibly with household chemicals and their disposal. Additionally, there are choices we make each day that also can affect the quantity of pollutants our actions will introduce into the environment. Heavily packaged foods, for instance, contain boxes, cartons, bottles etc. made with polluting dyes, many of which are released from groundwater at municipal land fills. Whether we choose to drive to the corner store rather than walk or ride a bicycle will determine how much we personally contribute to acid and hydrocarbon emissions to the atmosphere (and ultimately to global fresh water supplies).
In the end, there are many choices on the personal and societal level that we must make (consciously or not) that affect the amount of pollution our town or country will be forced to live with. Our standard of living and very way of life is based upon practices, which are inherently "dirtier" than those of our distant ancestors, although they too polluted their environment to some extent. Without taking a step backward in terms of our standards of living, the answer seems to lie in a combination of many small changes in our daily practices and paying more for goods and services, so that manufacturers of various materials and drivers of automobiles (for instance) will have cleaner devices with which to conduct their activities.
The tropical rainforests in Amazonia, Southern Asia and West and Central Africa is the world's greatest resource - the most powerful and bio-actively diverse natural phenomenon on the Earth. Yet still it is being destroyed just like other rainforests around the world. It is hard to believe that every day over 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned on our planet. That means that over 150 acres are lost every minute.
Once I have heard a horrible idea. One of my classmates told me: «I have never seen the rainforest you are talking about, so why should I protect it? I don't find it interesting!» I don't agree with this point of view.
There are some reasons why does the tropical rainforest so important for people from all over the world:
· The tropical rainforest is natural recycle, provider and protector for our planet.
· The tropical rainforest supports the ecosystem in the world.
· The tropical rainforest provides us with oxygen we breathe.
· The tropical rainforest is the richest biological incubator on the Earth. It supports millions of plant, animal and insect species - a virtual library of chemical invention. Maybe the new drugs are still awaiting discovery - drugs for AIDS, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Many secrets and untold treasures await discovery with the medicinal plants used by shamans, healers and indigenous people of the Rainforest Tribes. So alluring are the mysteries of indigenous medical knowledge that over one hundred pharmaceutical companies and even the US government are currently funding projects studying indigenous plant knowledge and the specific plants used by native shamans and healers.
The problem and the solution to rainforest destruction are both economic. The destruction is caused by slash-and-burn agriculture, cattle ranching, building of dams and highways, and mining. So, if landowners, governments and people living in the rainforest were given a viable economic reason not to destroy the rainforest, it could and would be saved. Thankfully, this viable economic alternative exists.
Many organizations have demonstrated that if the medicinal plants, fruits, nuts, oils and other resources like rubber, chocolate and chicly were harvested sustainably, rainforest land has much more economic value than if timber were harvested or if it were burned down for cattle or farming operations.
2.7 Nuclear energy
Nuclear energy is often called the energy of the future because of a great amount of advantages, but millions of people are afraid of radiation. On the one hand using nuclear power gives us more variety in fuel sources. On the other hand is the remembrance about Chernobyl tragedy. Different countries use nuclear energy even now, but people from all over the world suppose that using nuclear energy is a big mistake.
There are some advantages of using nuclear:
· Nuclear is the cleanest and least damaging to our environment. Since the energy released from splitting the uranium atom is so much greater than the energy released from combustion, the amount of land, materials, and fuel used, and wastes produced, are very much smaller.
· Using nuclear power gives us more variety in fuel sources. It helps us avoid being dependent on other countries for only one or two types of fuels.
· Nuclear isn't limited by location and natural conditions (for example, the need for regular winds or sunshine).
· Nuclear generation of electricity provides savings over coal generation because of lower fuel and transportation costs for nuclear.
· Nuclear energy is the cheapest kind of energy.
All mentioned above are «pluses» of nuclear energy. And now let's talk about minuses, about radiation.
Radiation is a natural energy traveling in the form of waves or particles. Some everyday examples are: the microwaves we use to cook food, radio waves for radio and television, radar, X-rays used in medicine and dentistry, and sunlight. We also receive radiation as a result of the natural process of radioactivity. Materials that are radioactive are made up of atoms that contain excess energy. These radioactive materials give off their excess energy as radiation.
The three kinds of nuclear radiation that come from the radioactive materials are alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. All three types are present in nature. The natural radiation from soil, water, and cosmic radiation (the Sun) is called "background radiation."
Alpha particles are the nuclei (centers) of helium atoms. They can be blocked by a sheet of paper. Beta particles are high-speed electrons. They can be blocked by a thin sheet of aluminum. Gamma radiation, like the medical X-ray, consists of photons (electro-magnetic radiation), except that gamma radiation comes from the atomic nucleus. X-rays are lower in energy and come from the electrons around the nucleus. Gamma rays can be blocked by several inches of lead, several feet of concrete, or a large amount of water (for example, the 45-foot deep pools of water in which spent fuel is stored).
The health effects of very high doses of radiation are serious. They also are better understood than those of non-radiation hazards. Health effects of the extremely low doses of normal background radiation that we receive are so small that they can only be estimated. In fact, some studies show that low doses of radiation may be beneficial to life.
Radiation at higher levels may have two kinds of health effects: somatic and genetic. Somatic effects of radiation include a slightly increased chance of cancer and life-shortening in the person exposed. Genetic effects are those that may be passed on to the exposed person's offspring by changes in the genes.
The units used to measure radiation are the rem and the millirem (1/1000th of one rem). Individuals receive an average exposure from all sources of about 360 millirems per year. This includes natural sources (such as rocks and cosmic radiation) and man-made sources (such as X-rays). At less than 1000 millirem (or 1 rem), health effects on test animals are so small that conclusions cannot be made. Radiation doses in excess of 25,000 to 50,000 millirem (25 to 50 rem) are typically required to cause minor blood changes detectable only by laboratory examination. There are no other clinically observable effects until a dose of more than 50,000 millirems (50 rems) is received.
Radiation treatments are widely used in medicine to help cure patients with some kinds of cancer. Doses of 5,000 rems are common. Much smaller doses of radioactive materials are used as diagnostic tools. The health effects of these levels of radiation help us more than they hurt us.
From all sources, a usual person receives an average exposure to radiation of about 360 millirems per year. Most of this comes from the natural radiation in soil, water, rocks, building materials, and food. For example, potassium is a common, naturally occurring radioactive element found in many foods.
Radiation exposure from all commercial nuclear energy power plants has averaged 0.01 millirem per person annually. Those who live near a nuclear power plant receive less than 5 millirems per year. The federal limit for people who work in nuclear power plants is a maximum of 5,000 millirems per year. Utilities themselves normally have set their own limits even lower than that.
The guiding principle for releases from nuclear power plants is ALARA, As Low As Reasonably Achievable. Plant operators pay continuous, careful attention to assure themselves and the public that any radiation releases are well below the levels of significant environmental or human health effects. These levels are set by law and are based on data collected for more than 50 years. The current exposure level is 5 millirems per year at the plant boundary.
It is impossible to operate a nuclear plant with absolutely no release of radioactivity. The releases are normally not critical as far as human health is concerned, and, in fact, contain fewer radioactivities than the releases from comparable coal-fired plants.
The amount of radioactivity released by a nuclear power plant is monitored continuously to be sure it doesn't go above allowed levels. This same monitoring equipment provides exact information about any accidental release. More monitoring equipment and personnel are on hand for emergency use. Teams practice environmental/radiation monitoring several times a year in emergency drills with independent governmental agency personnel, who also practice and participate.
The greatest potential hazard from an operating nuclear power plant is from the radioactive products created in the fuel. These come from the fission process that generates the heat to make electricity. Plants are designed to keep these fission products inside the plant.
Every operating plant has plans in place to alert and advise the residents as necessary in and emergency. These are local government plans and are practiced each year with local civil authorities. These plans often have been used for emergencies that have had nothing to do with a nuclear plant. Such plans have never had to be used to evacuate the public in a nuclear plant emergency.
Before any nuclear plant can be built and go into service, the utility must obtain many different licenses and operating permits from federal, state and local agencies. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that its conditions be met and allows for public hearings to be held before the Commission issues a construction permit. After construction is done, the NRC issues an operating license, again after a public hearing. During and after construction, the Commission stations full-time inspectors at the plant. Other visiting inspectors are sent to do on-site inspections. This assures that the plant is operated according to its license.
Each utility checks its plants for radioactive releases. The records are sent to and examined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. Abnormal conditions or operations are reported to these agencies.
2.9 Nuclear waste
Since the first commercial nuclear power plant began producing electricity in 1957, the total amount of accumulated spent fuel (classified as high-level waste) is 9000 tons. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 1982, 46 million tons of poisonous waste (that is, not nuclear) were disposed of. In comparison the amount of nuclear waste is very small.
Nuclear wastes are, for the same power output, some 3.5 million times smaller in volume than the wastes from coal plants. High-level nuclear wastes can be disposed of by diluting them with twice their own volume of neutral materials as they are changed into glass or ceramic form. The reprocessed waste volume form a 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant would fit easily under a typical dining room table. A coal plant of the same capacity (1,000 megawatts) produces some 10 tons of waste per minute.
After changing it to stable form, the volume of all nuclear waste produced until the year 2000 (including low-level waste from the entire U.S nuclear power industry) would fit into a cube 250 feet on each side. The high-level waste portion would fit into a cube 50 feet on each side within the 250-foot block.
Low-level wastes contain little radioactivity. They require little or no shielding, and no cooling. They are the discarded used, disposable protective clothing from the medical facilities and nuclear power plants, water-treatment resins and filters, compacted trash, contaminated lab equipment, plastics, metals, and liquids. They are the result of good housekeeping practice in which non-radioactive waste is separated from slightly contaminated waste.
Most low-level wastes are solidified, put into drums and buried at a commercial disposal site. There they are placed at the bottom of trenches (about 20 feet deep). At the Barnwell, SC, site, for example, trenches are back filled with sand and covered in clay each day to keep moisture from getting in. When full, trenches are mounded and capped with clay, and finished off with a foot of topsoil. Grass is planted to help prevent erosion. The collection, transportation and burial of low-level radioactive wastes are all closely monitored and controlled by the Department of Transportation and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
When properly managed, these low-level wastes do not pose a hazard. The industry now has 30 years of experience in handling and shipping these materials. There never has been an accident with these wastes that had serious health results due to radioactivity.
3. Prospects of improvement of ecology in Russia
The ecological politics spent for Russia is objectively determined by an available level of economic, technological, social, political and spiritual development of a society and as a whole is not capable to prevent increase of ecological intensity in the country. Therefore -- even despite of acceptance of set of the programs providing inclusion of ecological needs in plans of economic and social development of the country, creation legal systems of ecological regulation - to expect shortly for carrying out of an effective policy(politics) of ecological safety it is not necessary.
This is interfered by a number of the reasons -- absence of public interest to an environmental problem, weak technical base of manufacture and shortage of necessary investments, backwardness of market attitudes(relations), absence of formation legal and civil societies. Russia meets difficulties of development typical for the Third world resources effective industrial manufacture which overcoming is complicated, in particular, that the opposition to a present rate of the reforms has ideologically amplified, combined nowadays with mass aversion of processes of globalization, ассоциируемых with threat of national safety.
The script of development of an ecological situation in immediate prospects does not encourage. And still she does not look gloomily catastrophic first of all because of internationalization of environmental problems of our society. The aggravation of ecological crisis in Russia threatens global ecological safety, and it strengthens interest of the world community in stimulation of nature protection actions in our country. Consequences of globalization of environmental problems of Russia are not reduced for it only to reception of the financial and technical help for realization of nature protection projects. They open a way to development of tendencies on protection of an environment economic activities through participation in the international ecological agreements and attraction of foreign investments. They advance also development of tendencies of protection of ecology in consciousness of public Russian through their integration into the international ecological movement. Interest of the Russia in maintenance of global ecological safety is shown now up to a minimum and the compelled character has basically. Attempts of increase of national prestige in opinion of the world community do not communicate at all, as against many countries, with an active role in the decision of global environmental problems. Guards also occurrence of ecological contradictions between Russia and less developed countries.
Advantage of Russia in comparison with other states that formation of ecological culture in it occurs in conditions when environmental problems get priority international sounding and solid world experience of ecological activity of which Russia could take advantage is saved up. But whether will want? An exit from ecological crisis and creation of conditions for improvement of an ecological condition economic activities communicate at us with economic stabilization. But world experience shows: it is not necessary to wait for rise of economy for the subsequent transition to a politics of ecological safety. The level of economic development necessary for carrying out of an active ecological politics, - concept rather conditional. Japan has started it at the income per capita no more than 1600 dollars On Taiwan it has taken place already "later" - at 5500 dollars., When, by calculations of its government, also there were real conditions for realization highly затратных nature protection programs. Certainly, the modern economic and political situation does not favour to deducing of ecological needs in number priority. But ignoring of an ecological imperative of development will lead to inevitable subsequent backlog of Russia. Remains still while extremely is limited the realized reserve -- social movement "green" which can change essentially redistribution political forces for the benefit of not ecologically the adjusted figures and to initiate activization of the state ecological politics.
04.06. 2003г. acting on session of presidium of the State Council in the Kremlin devoted, to ecological questions, the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has declared necessity " seriously to update and order legislative base ", operatively to finish work above the bill of a payment for negative influence on an environment and to direct it to the State Duma, and also to build up complete system of the government in nature protection sphere.
3.1 Moskow environment
We are living in the century of the technological progress trying to open all new and unknown, each day brings us new ideas, each month brings us new technological solutions, people go strait in development new invents and do not look back, do not stop, do not think of the act… All they think about is making their life more convenient for them self. That is why the have forgotten one of the most valuable things- the environment. You see we are living in the symbiosis with nature and we strongly depend on it. I will try to tell in my research work about its problems in my native city Moscow.
It was founded in1147by Jury Dolgoruky. During its history it was roughly all developed, and became more beautiful. Now it is one of the largest cities in the world with the population more than 9'000'000 of people. It is obvious, that in Moscow there are environmental problems as radioactive pollution, toxic pollution, air pollution,… just like in other cities. In my research work I shall try to meet you with the ecology of Moscow. And I will also tell you my point of view on it.
All figures and data given in my work present as it was taken from the official site of Moscow administration.
3.2 Pollution of Moscow environment
3.2.1 Air pollution
The main problem of Moscow is the pollution of air. Each year atmosphere gets 1.8 million tons of harmful substances 90% from them is due to motor transport, and it is very clean because in my native city 35% of automobiles are more than 10 years old. There motors have fulfilled there term. 94% of all machines are not equipped with special filters to protect environment from harmful gases.
The number of automobiles in Moscow is growing from year to year, and ecologists predict that in some years it will plunge in smoke. Whether there is an exit from this situation?
The Moscow government has developed the new program. According to it in Moscow new roads and high ways will be constricted. It should solve the problem of transport circulation. On public transport there will be filters putted. And we will come to euro-1 euro-2 standards. It is also planned to develop the electric transport like monorail trains. In November of 2000 year the program “Strategy of struggle against motor transport emissions in Moscow” was accepted by Moscow government. But of course the process will not pass quickly.
3.2.2 Condition of flora and fauna.
A major component of urban terrain is the green massive (parks, urban forests and gardens), birds and animals inhabiting them. The greenery as well as the environmental system, provide comfort of living conditions for people in the city, adjusts to definite limits the gas composition of air and the degree of its pollution, climatic characteristics of urban territories, reduces the influence of noise factor and is a source of aesthetic perception.
3.2.3 Urban forests.
In the territory of Moscow there are not less than 36 wood missives. The largest woods massive of Moscow are Лосиный остров - in the city limits, Узкое and Измайлово. In old part of the city, within the boundaries of the Moscow Circular rail road, kept only two relevantly large woods massive: Сокольники and Останкино. The condition of forests as a whole can be described as loosened, that first of all determined by the site of the city limits and, accordingly, level of techno genetic loads.
Kept within the Moscow boundary other natural components (moors and rivers) are also in a bad condition, as well as forests they have undergone definite changes as a result of effect of the complex of anthropogenic factors and have lost those or divers qualities and properties, characteristic for natural eco system. These natural components more than woods are subjecting to threat to a full degradation because of their unattended development.
The city of Moscow includes green plantations parks (urban specialized), districts and children's parks, squares and boulevard. The gardening of the streets takes the special place in improvement of an ecological condition of the city. The green plantations should execute one more function protection of terrains of a housing estate against a transport noise.
Since 1961 from a structure of a fauna of Moscow 23 kinds have vanished, first of all, by availability in borders of the city large forests and park of missives, bound with forests and parks by a protective belt.
3.2.5 Thermal pollution
The analysis of thermal anomalies has shown, that the areas with positive highly and medium contrast by thermal anomalies (temperature rise above background more than 10?C) are connected to industrial objects and intensive thermal outflow from underground of the water carrying communications.
Out come of outflow of ardent water from underground water carryings of the communications, in particular, is the change of a temperature schedule of underground waters.
3.2.6 Condition of health of the Moscow citizen
The ecological analyses have shown that 80% of illnesses have arisen in a result of the bad ecological situation in Moscow. Now days in big cities oncology death rate in age grade 40 years; maximum rating the rate of mortality gains in an age-grade of 80-90 years, the oncology death rate of men in age after 45 years exceeds death rate of the women in the same group in 2 times.
The most unfavorable situation in the city on a children's morbidity was added up in central, Eastern, Northwest and Зеленоградском district. The high level of illnesses of respiratory organs is also reiterated there.
3.2.7 Processing of waste products
An important problem of a big city is the recycling of waste. Who enjoy living in dump? This problem recently began to get huge values because the development of his industry is accompanied by growth of industrial wastes, and it is not possible to dump all waste products in one big heap, that is why this problem has to be solved somehow.
For that in Moscow special factories were built. For example in 1998, factories on processing dust was advanced 423'000 tons of waste products, buried 980'000 tons of waste products. For processing waste we use advanced technologies. The new factory in Чертаново and Котляково is constructed, these factories can process on 40'000 tons per one year, the factory in Рудникого is constructed, but the level of the processed waste is still very low. For example in 1998 at factories it was advanced 6% of waste products, 35%
were buried. Others sent to dumps of the Moscow area. In 1998 it was liquidated 13'000 cases of illegal dumps of the Moscow area.
As for me I can see that more and more factories are built and we are not going to sink in a heap of waste products.
3.2.8 How can a contradiction between the technological progress and ecology be solved?
My survey research claimed that 100% of Moscow citizen want there streets to be cleaned, but only 29.8% of them are ready to pay more taxes to deal with the problem. Next problem is that every third person in the street will through away different kind of liter just in the street for different reasons. From that fact the conclusion is that we should not only think of cleaned streets, we must work on saving them cleaned. That is what we must teach our children if we are not going to live like pigs.
The next kind of pollution that we can easily feel on our self is the air pollution. It is not a new for any one that cars, which all we like, are the main cause for it.
Some people say that we should better use bicycles, not to pollute the environment; I advise them to live in caves with out electricity and other technological conveniences, to protect the environment. But there are much more useful ideas of saving our planet and there is one thing which sums them up: - The main idea is that technology must help us to protect the environment which has already suffered from it. From that idea recycling factories were maid, different filters invented, people even started to invent alternative kinds of fuel, which are nearly harm less to the planet, and at least we think so at the moment. There are even cars maid, which are working on new fuel elements, this is how we have called these kind of fuel.
Surely we will not be able to use these cars tomorrow and even in the next 10 years, that is why our government must continue working on pollution problems in our country at real time, and we will have to come to euro-3 standard. We must also use special filters in our cars and other last developments in this area.
What do you think must be done to make the ecological situation of Moscow better? That is the question which was told to people on line.
RESULTS (24 - 25march) 2004. Total number of people voted : 7178
1. To get the plants and factories out of the city- 2439 (36%)
2. There must be much more green plants in the city-1788 (24%)
3. The traffic must be limited- 1463 (20%)
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