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Environment pollution: A threat to sustainability

Published : Sunday, 30 April, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 736

How environmental concerns need to be well incorporated into economic policy decisions is a highly debated topic of all time. Environmental pollution is not a novel phenomenon, per se; it is the most significant problem humankind faces globally. Environmental pollution is entangled by means of unsustainable anthropogenic undertakings, resulting in extensive public health snags and hence the largest cause of premature death and disease in the world.

 If we look at some global statistics, the scary pollution scenario can be seen. The economic impact of pollution is $9 every minute. Toxic air-related deaths have increased by 66% since 2000. The number of deaths from chemical pollutants of 1.8 million is sometimes said to be underestimated. Unsafe drinking water is the cause of 1.4 million early deaths, whereas two billion people lack access to safe drinking water.

It is alarming that 90% of pollution-associated deaths happen in low- and middle-income nations, such as Bangladesh and India. Some countries, i.e., the US and the countries of the EU, could manage the worst form of pollution, and only a few less well-heeled countries could make pollution a priority.
 Environmental pollution is stated as "the contamination of air, water, or soil/land in such a manner as to cause real or potential harm to human health or well-being, or to damage or harm nonhuman nature without justification." If we look back to history, in 1000 CE, the use of coal as energy caused substantial air contamination. From the 17th century to the 19th century, the transformation of coal to coke also intensified the problem.

In the 19th century, pollution problems extended to water bodies as well through piles of solid waste from overcrowded urban areas due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Since the 1960s, polluted air has been a common phenomenon worldwide, especially in developed and developing countries. As a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, the earth is facing irreversible damage through anthropogenic activities like fossil fuel burning, disposal of toxic discharges in water, urbanization, and deforestation causing air pollution and damaging soil productivity.
The ecosystemcomprises various interdependent subsystems,i.e.,air, water, land/soil. There is an interface among air, water, and soil/land pollution, as the contaminants polluting these elements are interconnected. When discharged from a source, a pollutant can be evaporated into the air, dissolved in water, or adsorbed in the soil.

For example, acid rain caused by air pollution also damages the terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) ecosystems. Transfer of pollutants from the air to the soil reduces growth in quality and quantity through soil degeneration. Insecticides, chemical spills, and dumps usually involve air-land crossing points and, henceforward, the transfer of pollutants from land to air.Simply put, when people pollute the air, they also pollute the rainfall that drops into aquatic bodies and soils. All these directly hamper human well-being. Given this, pollution should be reduced at the source or should be controlled if not possible to reduce it at the source.

As we see, environmental pollution has affected the very fundamental human essentials like water, air, and soil in various ways. Environmental pollution poses a danger to both human beings and nonhuman natural surroundings. Therefore, human health, economic growth, and the environment are largely affected by pollution. Human waste products or toxic elements pass into the atmosphere in numerous ways and methods, compromising the quality of elements like water, air, and soil. Consequently, this issue threatens public well-being as these pollutants go to the food chain and sometimes through the direct intake.
Environment pollution is a global phenomenon, and it is predicted that people in the world will endure the most awful consequences than they previously confronted in the days to come. Effective reaction to pollution is essentially grounded on human consideration of the problem. In most cases, pollution control programs depend upon voluntary participation, which needs to be converted to mandatory.

More research, education, advocacy, information, technology, and mitigation strategy must be needed to prevent pollution. In a country like ours, decisions should be based on a set of standards to design a program to avert the socioeconomic impacts of pollution. Adaptation of available knowledge from other settings considering underlying population characteristics and other pollution-related issues must be addressed carefully. Essentially, pollution prevention should include legal, social, economic, and technological measures.

The writer is an assistant professor at Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM)

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