When you have a drink of water, you probably don’t think twice about it. You should consider how valuable the water resource is, how lucky we, as Canadians, are to have so much freshwater and how quickly the resource is running out. What we do affects our freshwater resource.
Freshwater consists of four water bodies: Earth’s lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. As technology improves, scientists are able to detect more things that we are polluting the freshwater with in all these water bodies. There are traces of contaminants ranging from sunscreen and birth control pills to pesticides and petroleum that are damaging our freshwater.
In developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into the water which pollutes the freshwater that is available to us. Every day 2 million tons of human waste is disposed of in waterways all over the world. That’s 1.8 billion kilograms of human waste being dumped into our freshwater. Rivers are oftentimes the endpoint for most of our industrial and urban pollution and runoff. Whenever it rains, chemical fertilizer and animal waste in residential areas and on farmland is swept into local rivers, lakes and streams.
On average, 99 million pounds (45 million kilograms) of fertilizers and chemicals are used each year. Most of those chemicals and fertilizers end up in our freshwater and polluting it. When the surface runoff, human sewage and animal excrement reach the freshwater, the nutrients will make their way to the oceans and sometimes create coastal ocean zones without oxygen, therefore taking away the aquatic life that live in those areas. In the developed world, some industry and agricultural operations have been restricted from dumping pollutants into our freshwater water bodies. Technology has offered a solution by using expensive filtration and treatment plants that make our drinking water safe to consume.
How we handle the disposition of chemicals, garbage and waste affect our freshwater. If we realized how valuable our freshwater is, we probably would be more careful with it.
Do you know the worth of your water?
Climate change hasn't always been the huge concern that it is now. Changes in the past can be explained by natural factors such as changes in the Earth's orbit, in the sun's intensity, in the amount of explosive volcanic activity, by changes to the surface of the Earth, and farther back in time, to the position of the continents. In the 21st century, humans have sped up the climate changing process. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. All the factories pumping chemicals into the atmosphere are contributing greatly to this problem. Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.
There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm. A layer of greenhouse gases – mainly water vapor, and including much smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – acts as a thermal blanket for the Earth, absorbing heat and warming the surface to a life-supporting average of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Around 31 % of the incoming radiation from the sun is reflected back to space by the earth's atmosphere and surface (particularly by snow and ice), and another 20 % is absorbed by the atmosphere. The rest of the incoming radiation is absorbed by the earth's oceans and land, where it is converted into heat, warming the surface of the earth and the air above it.
Scientists have very high confidence that global temperatures will keep rising for decades to come, mostly due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. "Taken as a whole," the IPCC states, "the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time." 1
On average, Earth will become warmer. Some regions may welcome warmer temperatures, but others may not be affected. Climate change results primarily from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Burning these fuels generates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Deforestation also contributes to climate change. A stronger greenhouse effect will warm the oceans and partially melt glaciers and other ice, increasing sea level. Ocean water also will expand if it warms, contributing further to sea level rise. Rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, where in many places, there are humans living there.
We need to make good decisions when it comes to what we do. It all affects the environment. Climate change is a serious problem and if we don't start changing our ways, the problem is going to get worse.
Climate Change: Truth or Myth?
- drive less or carpool
- reduce your use of hot water
- avoid products with a lot of packaging
- turn off the lights
- plant a tree
- use clean fuel
- replace filters on your air conditioner and/or furnace
- conserve water
- use a clothesline to dry your clothes
- reuse towels
- spread the awareness of climate change
- don't leave the tap water running for no reason
- never throw water away
- take shorter showers
- set up a rain barrel for your garden
- fix leaky faucets
- eat a bit less meat
How Can We Save Our Earth?
World Nature Organization
World Nature Organization
Organizations You Can Help
Friends of the Earth have been campaigning since 2003 for a global warming law that would make it a legal requirement for the government to cut the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by 3% every year. 200,000 people have signed this campaign so far. The UK government has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050.
Everyone is starting to become more careful with how they dispose of waste and chemicals. This will greatly help the freshwater and prevent it from getting into a worse condition of pollution.
What Has Been Done To Help?