Environmental Pollution Essay

Environmental pollution concerns come to forefront in this essay which tells of the importance of the environment.

Environmental pollution concerns come to forefront

Reports that the state finds El Dorado Irrigation District’s drinking water system primitive, outdated and an avenue for hazardous pollutants sent El Dorado County residents scrambling for more information Wednesday.

The message that pregnant, elderly and sick residents should boil their water or buy it bottled was buried in fine print in the 28,000 notices mailed in September to EID customers. Dozens of residents called EID offices Wednesday after The Bee obtained a copy of a state report showing photographs of manure piles, animal carcasses, mats of algae and other contaminants in and near EID’s open reservoirs.

“That article made me a firm believer that I’m not crazy,” said Sue Reimer, who was seven months pregnant in 1996 when she was diagnosed with giardia, a water-borne virus that causes intestinal problems. The El Dorado engineer said she was drinking only EID water — and lots of it, at her doctor’s suggestion.

There’s no confirmed connection between EID’s water and illness in El Dorado County, county officials say.

The problem at EID, state health officials say, is that after the district filters water drawn from the American River, it stores the water in small reservoirs open to the elements.

Most other water districts use closed steel or concrete tanks. Only a few other California water districts currently store treated water in open reservoirs, including those in McCloud, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria and Los Angeles. None of those has as many as the 11 used in EID.

The El Dorado reservoir water consistently meets state health standards on bacteria, EID officials say, because the district constantly bubbles chlorine from nearby tanks into the reservoirs and sends the water on to homes. But they admit their open reservoirs expose the water to contamination by disease-causing agents for which there are no health standards or required testing in small water districts: giardia, viruses and cryptosporidium.

“We are more vulnerable because they are not covered,” said Marjie Lopez Read, EID water quality superintendent, “even though the treatment is complete at the water plants.”

William Hetland, EID general manager, said the district hasn’t ignored the problem of covered reservoirs. Several years ago, he said, it began buying rubberized membrane covers for the reservoirs. Seven had already been installed when, in July, the California Department of Health Services ordered the district to either build steel tanks or put concrete lids on all of its reservoirs. The rubber covers, the state decided after a 1997 investigation, allow too much contamination of treated water by animals, vegetation and rain.

“We’ve been addressing this problem,” said Hetland. “Maybe not as fast as they’d like, but we have been addressing the problem.”

Until 1990, he said, the district didn’t even filter its water. It simply pumped American River water to the reservoirs and treated it with chlorine.

The state put EID on a four-year schedule to cover its reservoirs, a job that EID board member Raymond Larsen estimated would cost $30 million to $40 million and force the district, with an annual water supply budget of $10 million, to raise rates 50 percent.

The state also ordered the district to advise customers that if they’re elderly, pregnant, ill, HIV-positive, undergoing cancer therapy or otherwise suffering from a compromised immune system, they should either use bottled water or boil their water.

A flier titled “EID News from the Water Front” was mailed to all customers and sent home with school children, Hetland said.

But several residents said they either didn’t notice it or didn’t realize its significance. The warning about boiling water appeared on the third page.

“I never saw this notice,” said resident Reimer. “I always look.”

To back up its enforcement order, the Department of Health Services prepared a vividly photographed report that didn’t circulate much beyond the EID board of directors. It shows bird droppings, dead frogs and birds, beer bottles, the footprints of human swimmers, runoff from horse and cattle pastures and animal skeletons in the reservoirs.

“If an infected cow, while grazing, defecates into the drinking water stored in this reservoir,” states the caption to one photo in the report, “the water becomes contaminated with literally millions of Cryptosporidium organisms.”

Water quality experts say chlorine does not kill cryptosporidium, an intestinal parasite that was responsible for an outbreak that infected 400,000 people in 1993 in Milwaukee. Chlorine generally kills viruses but does not completely kill giardia.

El Dorado County health officials say that so far this year they documented six cases of giardia and two of cryptosporidium, some of them from Lake Tahoe, which is not in the EID service area. Those numbers are no higher than documented in previous years, they said, and investigations usually show that victims have been swimming in rivers or drinking from streams while backpacking.

But Reimer said she hadn’t been backpacking in five years when she got giardia. It made her “sicker than a dog,” too sick to even care for her 2-year-old for two weeks.

“I lost 10 pounds and I got to the point where I was having contractions,” she said. “I called EID and said the only water I drank is your water. How did I get giardia? They said we treat all our water. … They told me I was crazy.”

Other EID customers say they’re regular drinkers of bottled water.

“We haven’t drunk any of that water for four or five years,” said Wave Baxter of Diamond Springs, whose groceries at a Placerville Lucky store included a large bottle of water. “The last time I set a glass on the container and turned around to look the bottom was full of sand.”

But board member Larsen, who lives in Camino, said he drinks the water with no qualms.

“I know the pictures are rather graphic but if you go out to most of these reservoirs it looks nothing like the pictures,” said Larsen. “We have fences around these things. We can’t keep ducks out, of course, but there are precautions taken so that if e coli (bacteria) does get into the system, the chlorine is added as it leaves the reservoir to solve that potential threat.”

EID’s water system, centered around Sly Park Reservoir, was built in the 1950s by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for drinking water and agricultural use.

The polluter pays principle and its implementation in the UK and EC law


The polluter pays principle can be identified as one of the most significant principles that guide Environmental Law. Although it is complicated and sometimes diverse, it appears to be a main requirement for the regulation of pollution prevention and pollution control. However, many difficulties have risen in its application to both national and international fields, therefore a detailed explanation and identification of the principle is essential to be done.

“If anyone intentionally spoils the water of another…let him not only pay damages, but purify the stream or cistern which contains the water…” (Plato) . This is in a very general way the meaning of the polluter pays principle, more likely the origins of the principle. It applies to any kind of pollution and it has been discussed for many years, or centuries as one may say. But currently it is relevant as a principle of the latest developments of environmental law, mostly related to the European Community Law.

It was the OECD which suggested the policy that the person who was responsible for creating the pollution shall be charged with the cost of the pollution prevention, control and restoration measures, and the UN/ECE one of the first that began to take into account such principle. The OECD defines the polluter pays as a means of “ensuring that the polluter (or resource consumer) should be charged with the cost of whatever pollution prevention and control measures are determined by the public authorities” .

The PPP was gradually adopted in the legislation of the UK, as it was embedded in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environment Act 1995 . But before that, it has been in the political agenda since 1990, in particular in a White Paper called “This Common Inheritance” . However, the exquisite development occurred when the principle was enshrined into the Maastricht Treaty in 1997, in particular in Articles 174-176 , although it had been around in the Community Law for years.

2.Definitions – Identifying the polluter.

But who is the so called “polluter” that the principle is all about? Before we examine the application of the principle through legislation in detail, it is important to define, what the contexts mean when referring to a polluter and what implications may incur because of the unclear and very broad definition of the PPP.

Looking only in the European Community Law, it is obvious that there are different linguistic versions of the principle. Six languages assert that the “polluter pays”, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Danish. The French call it the “polluter-payer principle”, the Germans causation principle and the English believe that the “polluter should pay”.

An excellent example of the difficulty of giving a specific meaning to the polluter is air pollution by the gas emissions of cars. Who is to be considered as the polluter? Is it the car manufacturer, the oil distillers, or the vehicle drivers? “Many people and corporations may have some role to play in the production and consumption cycle that leads to some form of pollution” . Therefore the meaning of the polluter may vary not only geographically but also in any given case.

The indicative case that illustrated the flexibility of the word polluter was R v. Secretary of State for the Environment and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte Standley , where a distinction between significant polluters and others was accepted. Nevertheless, in cases of intentional pollution it is clear that the polluter is the person who permits or creates pollution.

Obviously there can be many disputes when trying to identify the polluter, though it is clear that there are circumstances where the polluter cannot be identified at all or is extremely hard to be spotted. “In cases such as groundwater or coastal water, contamination, forest decline, soil erosion, desertification, climate change, smog in urban agglomerations and numerous pollutions from past activities” , it is obvious that there are several factors that must be taken into account for such an identification to be made. Particularly, when historic pollution is involved, it is impossible to point the finger at someone and name him polluter.

Even though the polluter can be identified in some cases, there is another obstacle that this environmental law principle has to overcome. The damages that the polluter is supposed to pay for are also not outlined or mentioned sufficiently. The principle states that the polluter has to bear the costs of pollution, without explaining what kind of costs a polluter will have to pay.

There are generally four categories of costs. The capital costs, the operating and maintenance costs, the external costs “associated with the environmental damage caused by the construction and operation of these environmental infrastructures” , and finally, the resource costs “associated with the use of the resource that may impinge on other users” . It is also unknown whether the polluter has to cover the whole amount of these costs or pay only a part of them, with the State adding the rest of it.

Problems may also arise in cases where the definition of pollution is not expressed apprehensively. There is a notorious difficulty to prove pollution which sometimes weakens the PPP. That is why it is important to look at the legal aspects of the principle, determining whether it can reasonably be enforced, so that it can make the real polluter pay for the environmental damage.

3.Legislation – National and International – Case law.

The first and most significant thing that should be mentioned about the PPP and its relationship with legislation is that it “is only a principle, it has no legal force and there is no agreed definition that has anything approaching the precision of a statute” . However as we have seen there are plenty of national and international legal documents that have implemented the polluter pays principle and even accepted it as a policy.

As we have seen the principle had been endorsed by the OECD, but it was not binding that all the Member States will have to adopt it. In 1973 the EEC accepted a programme of action which implemented the principle . The Single European Act 1986 was another context that referred to the PPP: “action by the Community relating to the environment shall be based on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that polluter should pay” .

“The principle has been implemented by a numerous of European states, using a variety of tax measures, charges, and liability provisions of national law” but in other countries of the world the principle is not spread widely as in Europe. The 1992 Rio Declaration tried to give the PPP a more international meaning by encouraging the states to take into account that the polluter should bear the costs of pollution.

Nevertheless, there are states other than in Europe that have accepted in their legislation the PPP. One recent example is that of Thailand , which has now put the PPP into its legal science. The Kyoto Protocol had also provided regulations which impose some taxes on different industries which pollute the environment, mostly by air pollution, implementing the PPP in a way.

A variety of cases in UK and European Community Law has also referred to the PPP, when considering applications for damages as a result of environmental pollution. The starting point of the PPP in the UK common law can be easily traced in the foundations of tort law , in particular, in cases of nuisance. The well-known rule of Rylands v. Fletcher established strict liability for all damages in nuisance. Pollution is obviously a type of nuisance, therefore the rule applies in some way the PPP into pollution law.

Cambridge Water Company v. Eastern Counties Leather can be described as a key case as regards the connection of environmental law and tort law. Specifically, it involved a tortious liability for the pollution of a watercourse, where the assumed polluter was a corporate entity. The application was made on grounds of Directive 80/778 on quality of drinking water but the defendants were not liable as the damage was considered as historical pollution.

Many other cases could be used as examples of the PPP, but it is significant to draw a line between cases discussed in the courts and cases of pollution that never reach publicity. The difference between prosecutions and incidents of pollution in the UK seems extremely big . It appears that the cases concerning waste disposal are dominating the prosecutions with very little other kinds of pollution being around. That can be explained at the basis that it is not very easy to trace a polluter who will pollute the air rather than one disposing waste.

But again the prosecutions in comparison to the incidents are very limited. This might mean that the PPP is not achieving its objective, which is to reduce pollution, as polluters remain unpunished because there is no prosecution against them.

Clearly the PPP is not a legal norm that has an absolute meaning and needs to be interpreted in a specific way. Within its flexibility the PPP managed to enter into the legislation and gain a legal value. However, could that principle, even if it is well established, be applied and used as a legal rule? The impact of that question shall be evaluated in detail.

4.Application of the PPP – Can it really be enforced?

The real intention for applying the principle is to prevent or reduce environmental harm. But it appears that the PPP is more likely an economic measure rather than an environmental one. As we have discussed, it is not always possible to identify the original polluter and even when you do he may not be able to pay. This means that the area that has been polluted, will be orphaned with no party claiming responsibility.

Another difficulty is that the polluter may understand the extra costs that he needs to pay as an additional charge to the production costs of the process, which may result these costs to be consequently added to the overall price of the product, therefore the costs of the pollution will be borne to the consumers, who buy the product. The polluter in that case, will continue polluting the environment taking into account that he has a profit from using this kind of tactic and that he is paying what he is supposed to pay for the protection of the environment.

In fact, there are situations where the polluters had been benefited from the polluter pays principle, rather than prevented from polluting the environment. This applies to “Community environmental aid which is given to Member States under the Structural Funds, LIFE, the Cohesion Fund or other budgetary titles, and frequently help to clean up or repair environmental damage” . Especially the Cohesion Fund Countries are an exception to the PPP as it is recognised by the OECD definition of PPP .

In cases of contaminated land the developer will naturally not be willing to pay for the both the land and the necessary corrections for the clean-up of the contaminated site. The cost of such an operation could be huge and logically not beneficial. Some kind of financial banking for the redevelopment which is useful, may be given. Obviously, it is another example where the polluter does not pay for all the damage he had caused, but some aid is provided.

But in circumstances of waste disposal there is the landfill tax which applies to polluters and implies the PPP. It has two main objectives: The reduction of the amount of solid waste disposed to landfill and the reduction of the organic waste which will result the decrease of methane of the waste in landfill. That could be very useful as long as the amounts paid by the polluters are enough to make them reconsider what they are doing.

Generally, there is no exact application of the principle as the polluter pays principle implies the obligation that the polluter will be liable for all the costs of the pollution, without any assistance by the state. Eventually the costs of pollution will be borne by the public purse via taxes, and so the main goal of the PPP, that is the reduction of pollution, is not possible to be completed.

Because the PPP has been implemented in a very weak sense into law, its enforceability is limited. It can be seen as a tortious liability that has either a corrective effect or an economic efficiency. Either way, the principle’s application when possible is a helpful tool always at the services of environmental law.

On the other hand there is another principle, more likely to be called as a legal norm, which can be described as the natural successor of the PPP: The “environmental liability” . It contains many aspects and has been based upon the application and development of the PPP. In particular the definition of the environmental liability includes reference to the PPP. It is “a means by which those who cause damage to the environment are made to pay for putting it right, consistent with the long established polluter pays principle” . However environmental liability is only a policy accepted in the European Union and does not have a worldwide effect.

5.Conclusion – The true value of the principle.

It had been described as a principle, although it has actually earned by its application some legal value, even very limited, but quite important. The polluter pays principle is around and has a great importance if seen from a certain perspective. It is apparently the basis for every legal context that includes a provision for liability for pollution.

It has affected the laws considering the pollution of water, air and land providing the legislators with the appropriate feedback in order to establish norms that can protect the environment from abuse. Although it is doubtful whether its influence had been spread to customary international law, it has clearly been implemented in states of the EC.

The main problem that appears to be holding back the principle, is the financial relief given to many polluters and the lack of identification of the polluters, which results that the public has to bear the costs of pollution. “Unless polluters are heavily taxed or the penalty in terms of costs is loaded with a deterrent sanction, there is little prospect of the polluter pays principle achieving the goal of preventing environmental harm” .

Finally, we can accept that even though there has been a difficulty in relation to the application of the principle or the identification of the polluter, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the PPP had played a significantly vital role within environmental law, therefore its true value shall be appreciated. The goal of the PPP may never be achieved, but the relief that the principle has provided to the environmental law could be seen as a success.


Part I

11.9 Prosecutions1 for pollution incidents, 2001





Environment Agency Regions3

North East722403099

North West7334122112





South West393401175



Northern Ireland..6800…

1 Figures are for the total numbers of defendants (companies and individuals) prosecuted in 2001 by type of prosecution.

2 Northern Ireland water pollution figures are for 1999. Includes two cases which are pending.

3 In England and Wales. The boundaries of the Environment Agency Regions are based on river catchment areas and not county borders. In particular, the figures shown for Wales are for the Environment Agency Region for Wales, the boundary of which does not coincide with the boundary of Wales. See Notes and Definitions.

Source: Environment Agency; Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland)

Part II

Summary of the main cases referred to in the essay.

i)Cambridge Water Company v. Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264.

The Cambridge Water Company bought a piece of land which was previously used as a paper mill. The Company began to abstract water from a borehole on the site for public consumption. However, the water was contaminated by a solvent which had leached into the aquifer from a nearby tannery operated by Easter Counties Leather. In 1976, the EC issued Directive 80/778 on quality of drinking water and the water abstracted was found to exceed the limits imposed. Action was brought against Eastern Counties Leather on grounds of nuisance, negligence and the rule of Rylands v. Fletcher. The case went through the High Court and the Court of Appeal, eventually reaching the House of Lords. The HL held that foreseeability in this case is to be determined by reference to the time of the original escape and not the time of the ongoing dispersal. Therefore liability in situations of historical pollution was removed. Eastern Counties Leather were not held to be liable.

“Critics of the judgement say that only very rarely will it impose liability for pollution cases such as this one. However, many commentators feel that the judgement was the only reasonable and practicable step to be taken in the circumstances, because it is unfair to penalise anyone for operations which were considered perfectly normal and effective at the time.”(Wolf, S. & White, A., Principles of Environmental Law, Cavendish Publishing Limited, Second Edition, 1997, p.102)

ii)R v. Secretary of State for the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte H.A. Standley and Others and D.G.D. Metson and Others [1999] Env.L.R. 801, [1999] ECR I-2603.

The UK authorities identified the rivers Waveney, Blackwater and Chelmer as water that had been affected by nitrate pollution and designated the surrounding areas of East Anglia as vulnerable ones in accordance to the Directive 91/676. Farmers from the region challenged the decision on grounds that it had to be established first that the pollution was actually caused by nitrates coming from agricultural sources. They argued that they were not the only source that contributed to the pollution therefore the PPP principle should not apply. The European Court held that the polluter pays principle reflects the proportionality principle, and that it is up to each state to implement a Directive and that difference in the Community principles cannot be used to declare another principle void.

Part III

List of legislative documents that implement the PPP.

This Common Inheritance (Cm 1200), 1990, para 1.25, p.13

The 1992 Rio Declaration, Principle 16

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Environment Act 1995

Treaty of Amsterdam 1997, Articles 174-176

Declaration on Environmental Action Programme, 1973.

EC Council Recommendation on the Application of the polluter pays principle, 1974.

Single European Act 1986, Article 25.

Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Co-operation Preamble 1990.

Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Report of the Meeting of the Mediterranean, CSCE/RMP.6, 1990.

UNCED Conference 1992.

OECD Recommendation C(81) 32 (Final)

Kyoto Protocol 1997, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes.

Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992, Article 1.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage adopted under the auspices of the IMO in 1969.

Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for the Compensation of Oil Pollution Damage 1971.

Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy 1960

The Brussels Supplementary Convention of 1963.

UN/ECE Convention on the protection and use of tranfrontier rivers and lakes, Article 2.5.

Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the north-east Atlantic 1992, Article 2.2b.

Fourth Community Action Programme on the Environment [1987] O.J. C 328/1.

Part IV

Some useful definitions and quotations.

“Environmental liability”, a form of civil liability, is a means by which those who cause damage to the environment are made to pay for putting it right, consistent with the long-established “polluter pays principle”. House of Lords.Selected Committee on the European Union.

“… the person who for his own purposes brings onto his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape…”. Rylands v. Fletcher.

“States should endeavour to promote the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in practice, bear the costs of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without unduly distorting international trade.” The 1992 Rio Declaration, principle 16.

Polluter pays principle is a way of “ensuring that the polluter (or resource consumer) should be charged with the cost of whatever pollution prevention and control measures are determined by the public authorities, whether preventive measures, restoration or a combination of both…Exception will only be valid if they form part of transitional arrangements whose duration has been laid down in advance and do not lead to significant distortions in international trade and investment.” OECD, Paris, 1975.

“…to make those who cause environmental damage face the costs of control in full, without subsidy.” This Common Inheritance (Cm 1200, para 1.25, p.13).

“The dominant interpretation of the PPP is that it is an economic principle based on utilitarianism, which aims to create a uniform and fair world trading system.” Alder & Wilkinson MacMillan.

It must be taken into account that “…environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay.” Treaty of Rome, Article 174(2)(ex. Art. 130(r)).

Environmental Impact Essay (global warming and the like)

The Environment The impact of people on their environment can be devastating. This is where the respective role of governments can make decisions that shape environmental policy and responsibilities. These governments can be broken up into four different levels: local, state, federal and international. Air quality and biodiversity are two current issues that can be related to the role of governments. Global warming is also another implication that has a devastating effect on the environment. Current examples include the rise in sea levels, polar meltdowns, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and human deaths due to disease from the effects of global warming. Firstly the environment can be defined as the natural features of our surroundings such as plant and animal life and their habitats, water, soils and the atmosphere. A local government named Rockdale Municipal Council has implemented certain actions to deal with the quality in that region. They have recognized that the main source of poor air quality originates from air pollution sources such as motor vehicles, industrial premises and aircraft emissions. The solutions to these problems include improvements to Ryde and Botany Bay cycle way, integration of land use and transport planning strategies, production of “Air Quality – the Facts” booklet for community, investigation of complaints regarding odors and dust, tree planting and preparation of a Local Air Quality Management Plan in 1999. Air quality is a major issue in most states within Australia that affects our greenhouse, to tackle the implications state governments have created policies and responsibilities. For instance Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) is a program that enables mainly state governments to take action on greenhouse. CCP provides these state governments with a strategic framework to diminish greenhouse gas emissions by helping them identify and recognize the emissions of their council and community, set a reduction goal and develop and utilize an action plan to reach that goal. State actions include: capturing the methane from landfill sites and public and non-car transport into urban planning. On a federal or national basis Australia has employed policies to increase the air quality. For example the Commonwealth Government will guarantee that Australia carries its fair-share of the burden in worldwide efforts to combat global air pollution through policy development and implementation. They have also supported the National Greenhouse Strategy (NGS) which began in late 1996. The government will also support the development of a national strategy to observe and manage “air toxics”. The air toxics strategy will monitor, establish the levels of community exposure to, and manage emissions of selected air toxics. The federal government will even consider the inclusion of air toxics in a future National Environmental Protection Measure. Further measures include the leading of the development of national ambient air quality standards through the National Environmental Protection Council and the assistance of the establishment of a National Pollutant Inventory which will require large companies to publicly report their emission of 90 pollutants. Local government Rockdale Municipal Council has introduced responsibilities and policies to reduce the loss of biodiversity. This local government has learned that the cause involves the introduction of species, pollution of land and water, weed invasion and urban encroachment. Their solutions to these problems comprise of the planting of over 3500 plants and shrubs in Bardwell Valley and Scotts Reserve, bush regeneration and planting in Scarborough Reserve, involvement in Cooks River Foreshores Working Party and preparation of a flora and fauna study in 2000. Policies towards the community include controlling noxious weeds on your property, planting native trees indigenous to the area and applying to the council prior to removing any trees. The Labor Tasmanian Government has created a new Environment Policy on biodiversity that hopes to preserve native plants and animals. The policies commit the government to encourage community involvement in biological diversity programs, proclaim the Tasman National Park, establish a State Biodiversity Committee with community representation to arrange a Tasmanian Biodiversity Strategy, support the development of a State Policy on the protection of remnant native vegetation, examine the possibility of incorporating the Biodiversity Strategy into legislation and seeking the co-operation of local government and the community in including and enforcing biological diversity guidelines in development criteria. The federal government has enabled several policies to deal with conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. The government will support the National Reserve System program to expand Australia’s National Parks, support off-reserve biodiversity conservation including the planting of trees and the protection of vegetation through the Bushcare program and work with the States to reduce unsustainable land clearing, develop an “alert list” of introduced plants and animals that pose a risk to our environment. The government will also maintain a ban on the export of live fauna; support research into Australia’s floral and fauna assemblages as well as biodiversity conservation methods and ratify the Desertification Convention. An international conference held in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 discussed issues on how best to reduce global warming. Kyoto Protocol negotiations have reached a legally binding agreement limiting the amount of gas emissions all industrialized countries. The protocol also included provisions for emission trading between industrialized countries. The overall nominal effect of the Kyoto protocol is for a reduction of 5.2% of emissions by 2010. However the agreement has many flaws and could lead to emission rising above 1990 levels. The protocol specifies that Japan must reduce emissions by 6%, USA by 7% and the European Union by 8%. The chairman of the conference negotiators, Raul Estrada said that further discussions were needed to find a way of implementing a system of trading in emissions. Trading allows countries that produce high levels of greenhouse gases, such as the USA, to buy the right to retain or even increase emissions.

Global warming refers to an expected rise in global average temperature due to the continued emission of greenhouse gases produced by industry and agriculture; which trap heat in the atmosphere. Higher temperatures are expected to be accompanied by changing patterns of precipitation frequency and intensity, changes in soil moisture and a rise of the global sea level. To assess current examples relating to global warming, an examination is first needed on these examples. Sea levels could rise six feet and up in future centuries. The entire Amazon rainforest will be lost if the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases by more than 50%. But no matter whatever action the world takes to stop global warming, sea levels are set to rise and wipe out several island nations. The worst news is that whatever governments do to cut emissions, sea levels will rise by at least 2 metres over the next few hundred years, devastating Tuvalu and Kiribati in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Low-lying farmland and cities occupied by hundreds of millions of people will also be engulfed. Robert Nicholls of Middlesex University in London stated that “thermal expansion of the ocean will continue for many hundreds of years after CO2 is stabilized, due to the gradual penetration of heat deeper and deeper into the ocean. All around the world ice sheets and glaciers are melting at a rate quite remarkably since record keeping began. A worldwide institute, based in Washington DC says that glaciers and other features are particularly sensitive to temperature shifts, and that “scientists suspect the enhanced melting is among the first observable signs of human induced global warming. Some of the effects of global warming are as follows: arctic ocean sea ice shrunk by 6% since 1978, with a 14% loss of thicker year round ice, Greenland ice sheet has thinned by more than a metre a year on its southern and eastern edges since 1993 and 22% of glacial ice volume on the Tien Shan mountains has disappeared in the last 40 years. Worldwatch declared that the Earth’s ice cover reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space and the loss of much of it would affect the global, raise sea levels, and threaten water supplies. They also stated that the land and water left revealed by the retaining ice would themselves retain heat, creating a feedback loop that would speed up the warming process. The institute pronounced that the world’s glaciers, taken as a whole, are now shrinking faster than they are growing. Worldwatch also warns of the outcomes of retaining ice on wildlife. In northern Canada reports of hunger and weight loss among polar bears have been associated with ice cover changes. And in Antarctica, sea loss, rising air temperatures and increased condensation are altering the habitats and the feeding and breeding patterns of seals and penguins. Cornell University ecologists believe that global warming may account for millions of human deaths from disease. David Pimentel a professor of ecology at Cornell stated and assumes that “Most of the increase in disease is due to numerous environmental factors, including infectious microbes, pollution by chemicals and biological wastes and shortages of food and nutrients. Global warming will only make matters worse.” Global warming will produce a favorable climate for disease producing organisms and plant pests. Global climate change will result in a net loss of obtainable food, for example the decline in rainfall (due to global warming) causes crop and plant production to die out. Infectious disease and environmental factors are to blame for more than 75% of all deaths in the world. Environmental disease may comprise of organic and chemical pollutants, including smoke from tabacco and wood sources. More than three billion people are malnourished. Malnutrition increases vulnerability to pollution-related illnesses and diseases such as diarrhea. Therefore Pimental concluded, “we’re seeing the first signs that global climate change can influence the incidences of human disease”. And that “this change combined with population growth and environmental degradation, will probably intensify world malnutrition and increases in other diseases as well.” Melting is taking on vast and unprecedented level in the Arctic sea ice, the Antarctic and in dozens of mountain and sub-polar glaciers, and the rate has accelerated immensely in the past decade. The Earth’s ice cover could have intense changes on the global climate and rising sea levels could start regional flooding. Melting of mountain glaciers could also endanger urban water supplies and the habitats of plant and animal species in fragile environments. Within the next 35 years, the Himalayan glacial area is expected to shrink by one-fifth, to just 100, 000 kilometres. A prediction forecasts that the remaining glaciers could disappear in 30 years. The melting has been especially noticeable in the past three decades, and scientists believe that it is the result of human behavior and the build up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. All current examples of global warming are significant due to the effects that it has on the environment and people. For people, it can cause infectious diseases and pollution-related illnesses that in turn, affect our standard of living. Some examples can be more significant than others. For example diseases amongst people is more so important than the rise in sea levels and melting of glaciers since peoples existence are endangered.

The main cause of environmental degradation is the size of the human population.

Fast population growth and global environmental transformation is two subjects that have received considerable public thought over the past several decades. Population boost become a global public policy issue during the mind twentieth century as mortality declines in many developing nations were not matched with reductions in fertility resulting in unprecedented growth rates.

Since Population size is naturally linked to the environment as a result of individual resource needs as well as individual contributions to pollution. As a result, population increase yields heightened demands on air, water, and land environments, because they offer essential assets and act as sinks for environmental pollutants.

Concern with environmental change has come to forefront primarily since 1970, with discernible levels of environmental degradation fuelling public concern with the scope of contemporary environmental transformations and the advent of satellite imagery aiding environmental research (Colombo B. et all 1996).

At the present date are estimated roughly 6.5 billion people in the world and the figure continues to multiply. In contrast there are a restricted number of natural resources. On the worldwide root the human population has revealed a J shaped pattern (fig 1 and 2) of escalation over the past years, while the availability of natural funds are mandatory for human survival is in slow decline (Cohen J.E.1995).

Fig 1 Human population growth till 2000 (2)

Population policies which gears to reduce future growth represent logical responses to the environmental implications of population size (Stern et all 1995) although fertility diminution cannot be seen as sufficient response to contemporary human induced environmental change. A decrease in human numbers does not necessarily suggest a decrease in environmentally significant behaviours.

In addition, supposition that each further individual has an equal impact on resources is too simplistic. Factors related to both the individual and to the social and environmental contexts will determine the ultimate nature of the relationship. For instance, the cultural context into which an individual is born will influence that individual’s relationship with the environment empirical evidence suggests that a child born in the United States will produce 10 times the pollution of a child born in Bangladesh (Stern et all 1995). Much of this is the product of consumption patterns where income focused life routine changes increase the amount of energy and materials consumed. One study suggests that, on average the Environmental Implications of Population Dynamics age, each American devour more than 50 kilograms (approximately 110 pounds) of material per day, excluding water. The vast majority of this includes the materials required for the production and distribution of consumer goods (1).

Fig 2 Estimated world population growth according to main fertility scenario (UNFPA 1997)

The trends in fertility and mortality combine to yield the population projections presented in Figure 2. According to medium-fertility projections by the United Nations Population Division, world population could reach 8.9 billion in 2050 and may ultimately stabilize at nearly 11 billion around 2100. This represents a near doubling of the current world population (UNFPA1997).

The alarming ecological effects of population size are certainly not new. British economist Thomas Malthus (2) presaged of the “sustainability” of unrestricted population growth more than 200 years ago, arguing that human population has a tendency to exceed the ability of the environment to provide subsistence. In particular, Malthus suggested that unrestrained population growth would exceed the ability of the Earth to provide sufficient provisions (2). Although this viewpoint has been criticized for its simplistic focus on population size as the sole driving force in resource change. Malthus initiated a debate on carrying capacity and his influence maintains today (2). Many contemporary population oriented interest groups focus on population size as the determining factor in environmental degradation (Campbell, M.M. 1998).

Fig 3 Land requirement estimation for food production (Meadows et al., 1992)

Global population size is inherently connected, through development, to land, air, and water environments as I said previously. While the scale of resource use and the level of wastes produced vary across individuals and across cultural contexts, the fact remains that land, water, and air are necessary for human survival.

As for resource consumption, two commonsense points can highlight the implications of population size and growth. First, each person evidently requires food, the production of which typically requires land for agriculture or other forms of nourishment production. Globally, about 1.5 billion hectares are cultivated for agriculture, representing the most suitable of an estimated 2 billion to 4 billion hectares characterized as cultivable (Southwick, 1996). To consider future land requirements in the face of increasing human population, Figure 3 above presents the hectares required to meet the food demands of projected global population, assuming constant per capita production. Although there has been an excess of potentially cultivable land throughout human history, the exponential growth of human population has accelerated the pace of land use change. Hectares required for global food production now fall near the lower limit of estimated cultivable hectares (Meadows et al., 1992), which implicates in deforestation.

In recent years, there has been a focus on the relationship between population and land use change. For example, Allen and Barnes (1985) surveyed population and deforestation data for 76 tropical countries using statistical correlation. They also examined multiple regressions of deforestation against other variables such as arable soil, round wood production, and gross domestic product. Their analysis suggested a low, but significant, correlation between population growth rates in the period 1970 to 1978 and deforestation reported for the period 1975 to 1980 from the FAO Forest Assessment (Lanly 1982). They concluded that population growth was the cause of deforestation globally.

Water represents a second commonsense link between population size and resource use. It is central to the ecological cycles on which we depend and is used by humans for consumption as well as agricultural and energy production. Global water use has tripled since 1950, now standing at between 3,500 and 4,500 cubic kilometers per year (Goudie et all 1997;). Global water consumption raised six fold between 1900 and 1995, more than double the rate of population growth. In the United States, daily per capita water consumption is currently about 185 gallons for domestic tasks (drinking, cooking and washing) (Sherbinin A. d. et all 1998).

Population size relates not only to the consumption of environmental resources, but also to the environmental pollutants associated with contemporary production and consumption processes (example of this is use of gas in U.K.). Air, water, and land environments all act as sinks, or repositories, for the pollution generated by production and consumption. To toll this, migration could be part of Population size as well as large movement of people from rural to urban areas or international migration in most developing countries has led to a growing number of mega cities that have in many cases overwhelmed the environmental resources.

The many dimensions of industrial processes make it impossible to generalize about the exact relationship between global population size and pollution. However, researchers have estimated the effect of population size for particular types of pollution in particular locales. Consider air pollution in London. Automobiles, factories, landfills, and airports contribute to local air pollution levels. In a simple sense, population can be related to each of these factors: more people, for instance, means more demand for the consumer goods produced by emission-generating factories. Yet the underlying relationships are not so simple–climate, pollution control legislation, and the technology used to produce goods all combine to determine air quality. To monitor some of these interactions, Cramer (1998) determined level associations among emissions, population size, and regulatory efforts in California, and other associated factors. Results suggest that a 10 percent raise in population produces an increase in emissions of 7.5 to 8 percent, although population growth has different effects on different types of pollutants (Cramer, 1998). Local population growth is important mainly as a determinant of the volume of consumption. More people, for instance, typically mean more vehicles in the road, which raised concentration of pollutants, such carbon dioxide in the atmosphere giving evidences of global warming. Average global temperature rose by 0.6 per cent in the 20th century and the 1990s was the hottest decade since records began and 2002 the second hottest year on record.

We know that the population growth will not stop globally the trick is to channel growth in such a way that it becomes a vehicle to protect the environment, build better communities, address air quality and congestion issues as we see in London on rising road toll taxes. Not just rising toll taxes but also empowering technologies to advance to improve environment in the edge of falling. And also there is a need of international community to come together to solve this big issue.

To conclude the human population size implication in environmental are obviously complicated and can sometimes be controversial. While some view population growth in developing regions as the primary culprit in environmental decline, others focus on the expensive environmental effects of consumption among the developed nations. Such differing emphases can lead to a disagreement about the most effective and equitable policy solution slow population increase in less-developed nations or lessen destructive production and consumption patterns of the more-developed nations. Such a debate, however, presumes that a one-step solution to the complex realities of the relationship between population and the environment exists. As demonstrated by the foregoing discussion, both population growth and consumption play a role in environmental change and are among the many factors that should be considered and incorporated in realistic policy debate and prescriptions.

In the end, many causes underlie contemporary environmental degradation, and only some are demographic in nature. Yet population does matter, and increased attention to the environmental implications of demographic dynamics can improve policy capacity to respond to contemporary environmental change.

Pollution and prevention

I would like you to try to visualize our future on this planet. Imagine the dark clouds hanging over every town. The oceans swallowing our coasts, and deserts eating up our heartland. All of these things are caused by pollution, and that’s what’s in store for us if we don’t change our ways.

There are many forms of pollution, but most of them can be divided into two groups: air and water pollution. Air pollution is one of the more obvious forms of pollution. It is caused by the traffic that clogs the roadways, the burning of garbage, and the release of toxic gases into the air by industries. Every year millions of tons of gases and particulates are poured into the atmosphere. Normally, small amounts of particulates would dissipate in the air, but we constantly overload it. Every time some sort of fuel is burned, a pollutant is released into the air in forms ranging from colorless, odorless, yet poisonous gases to the thick, black, smog, which hangs over our cities.

The burning and deforestation of the Earth’s forest is also contributing to the problem. Every year, the clearing of forests released 1 billion tons of CO2. Throughout its history the earth has lost over 2/3 of its original forest area. This year, we’re fighting the fires in Southeast Asia and the Amazon River Valley. The World Wildlife Federation has recently released a special report on the effects of the fires. So far this year almost two million acres in Southeast Asia have burned. There is an average of 599 fires a day, and according to CNN correspondent Margaret Lowrie, “the Brazilian fires have increased by 28% this year alone.”

Not only are the massive amounts of smoke being added to the air causing a problem, but also we are destroying our most effective method of fighting air pollution. As the WWF’s Francis Sullivan said, “We like to think of the Amazon as the global air conditioner. It cools and cleans the planet and rejuvenates oxygen levels in the atmosphere.”

There are many dramatic effects of air pollution. One is the health problem it causes people. The gases in the air irritate eyes and lungs. Particulates settle in the lungs and worsen asthma and bronchitis. It has been proven that particulates cause cancer, emphysema, and pneumonia.

Another effect of air pollution is acid rain. Acid rain is made up primarily of nitric and sulfuric acids which fall to Earth as rain and snow. Acid rain has killed off many of North America’s lakes and rivers. It can also erode many metals and stones. It has been responsible for the destruction of many historic buildings and works of art.

Another equally serious form of pollution is water pollution. It is steadily reducing the amount of clean, fresh water that is necessary for life. Water pollution mainly comes from industrial plants, farms, and sewage systems. When too much waste is dumped into a body of water, the aerobic bacteria that would naturally break it down into less toxic substances are overwhelmed. The energy to break down waste requires oxygen, and the bacteria use too much oxygen breaking down the surplus waste, eventually robbing the water of its oxygen supply. This, of coarse, is death for any life the water might have contained. Industries illegally dump tons of toxic waste into our water supply, and authorities are slow to act. Farmers who use pesticides are also contributing to the problem. The pesticides reach rivers through runoff where they are absorbed by fish and then carried to humans. The U.S. Council on Environmental Quality says that runoff affects more than half of our rivers. Wastes can also directly enter our drinking water by seeping into the groundwater supply. J. Gumbas, the author of the essay “Water Pollution in Lakes and Rivers” stated that U.S. drinking water contains over 2,000 chemicals that are linked to cancer, cell mutation, and Alzheimer’s disease. In New Jersey, every major aquifer is contaminated, and 40% of the nation’s groundwater is contaminated by gasoline. Even treated water is not safe. Many cities use chlorine to treat contaminated water. However, when chlorine combines with some organic materials it forms dangerous byproducts, which are proven carcinogens.

Water pollution is also a major cost to our government. According to Peter Miller and John Moffett of the Natural Defense Council, the cleanup on underground storage tanks will cost billion over the next ten years. All of these effects can also lead to an increase in health care costs.

As impossible as it may seem, pollution control is not a lost cause. There are several effective methods which involve government, corporate, public, and school cooperation. To end the problem, we must start at the top with our government. Even with the support of such organizations as the EPA and Green Peace, important environmental issues are ignored, pushed aside, or simply overlooked by the government. Of the total expenditures spent in the last decade on pollution control the government contributed only 21%. Public support of such issues is the best way to get them recognized. People need to contact their representatives and let them know that we consider the environment a major part of politics today and for the future. We must also encourage the government to pass and enforce laws concerning industries and their waste disposal techniques. The government and these corporations should also finance research dedicated to solving these problems.

Then there is control on the local level. That is where the Future Homemakers of America comes into the picture. We can help by participating in clean-up activities in our communities. My chapter and other local groups took a day last spring to clean up the land and water of the bayou. Chapters could also begin recycling programs in their towns. Members could set up a drop off station in their town and then take material to the nearest recycling center. This could be used to raise money that the chapters could use or give to charity. As you can see, each of us can contribute something.

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with this thought. Five hundred years ago, there was an entire new world to be explored and settled, but today there’s nowhere else for us to go. We have to live with what we have, and we can’t let it go to waste because we don’t have the time to care. We have to act now so that we will have a future worth saving.