factory pollutionPoisoning the Environment, Animals and Man

Man lives amidst his own trash. In so-called developed countries and some parts of the developing world, efforts are made to try to keep the living environment relatively clean. Mostly this is an effort to hide or dump the waste out of sight.

According to a Blacksmith Institute survey, it is best to avoid living in Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia if you value your health. Levels of pollution in parts of these countries are so bad, it’s in your face, your lungs and the food and water you consume, leading to illness and birth defects. But even in the United States or countries in Europe, serious pollution can be found all around. Toxic air and water pollution is obvious around many industrial sites. But even for those who believe they live in clean neighborhoods, chemicals infiltrate lives.

Annie Leonard, the author of “The Story of Stuff,” sought to find out how far pollution spreads. (See one of her great cartoons above) When she had her blood analyzed, she found it had high levels of toxins, chemicals that doctors believe can lead to illness and cancer. But for parents living in North America or Europe, the threat to their children is hidden and frightening. Toxins in the air, food and water, and toys and other household products, are in the bloodstream of young children, and their affects long-term are hard to gauge.

Killing the ecosystems

Since early man discovered fire, there has been pollution. But since the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, the negative effects on the environment have been growing. Today, the level of air, land and water pollution is so high, it is affecting not just local areas. Air and water pollution is being carried around the world. It is also negatively affecting our climate due to the release of carbon dioxide and other gases.

Awareness is growing.Bad bouts of local pollution, accidental spillages, and scientific studies and news reports have all contributed to a slowly growing recognition that man is killing himself and the natural habitat. “Development” and “progress” have often come at a cost. Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” for example, highlighted the damage being done by fertilizers and pesticides in the “Green Revolution” that allowed countries to industrialize their agricultural production.

Some lessons have been learned. But modern-day man appears locked into the cycle of capitalism and consumerism on such a grand scale that damage to the environment continues to run out of control, particularly in developing countries.

health effects of pollution

(Sources: UN reports, The Story of Stuff, Blacksmith Institute)