Environmental Responsibilities

Every living being has a deep relation with its environment. We exchange air water and energy with the environment in our metabolic activity. We all are dependent on our environment for most of our activities. But, due to our ever growing materialistic lust and search for physical comfort is destroying the environment. We have contaminated air, water, soil and food products. Helen Keller has said “As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill”.We have to protect our environment if we want to protect ourselves as change in environment directly affects our lives.

Pollution: Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The Blacksmith Institute issues an annual list of the world's worst polluted places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, and Zambia.

Pollution is a global problem and every country is facing it. It is with us from a very long time. King Edward I of England banned the burning of sea-coal by proclamation in London in 1272, after its smoke had become a problem. But the fuel was so common in England that this earliest of names for it was acquired because it could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Air pollution would continue to be a problem in England, especially later during the industrial revolution, and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952. This same city also recorded one of the earlier extreme cases of water quality problems with the Great Stink on the Thames of 1858, which led to construction of the London sewerage system soon afterward.

It was the industrial revolution that gave birth to environmental pollution as we know it today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immense quantities of coal and other fossil fuels gave rise to unprecedented air pollution and the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load of untreated human waste. Chicago and Cincinnati were the first two American cities to enact laws ensuring cleaner air in 1881. Other cities followed around the country until early in the 20th century, when the short lived Office of Air Pollution was created under the Department of the Interior. Extreme smog events were experienced by the cities of Los Angeles and Donora, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s, serving as another public reminder.

Types of Pollution: The major forms of pollution are listed below along with the particular pollutants relevant to each of them: • Air pollution, the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere. Common gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor vehicles. Photochemical ozone and smog are created as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons react to sunlight. Particulate matter, or fine dust is characterized by their micrometer size PM10 to PM2.5.

• Light pollution, includes light trespass, over-illumination and astronomical interference.
• Littering
• Noise pollution, which encompasses roadway noise, aircraft noise, industrial noise as well as high-intensity sonar.
• Soil contamination occurs when chemicals are released intentionally, by spill or underground leakage. Among the most significant soil contaminants are hydrocarbons, heavy metals, MTBE, herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.
• Radioactive contamination, resulting from 20th century activities in atomic physics, such as nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons research, manufacture and deployment.
• Thermal pollution, is a temperature change in natural water bodies caused by human influence, such as use of water as coolant in a power plant.
• Visual pollution, which can refer to the presence of overhead power lines, motorway billboards, scarred landforms (as from strip mining), open storage of trash or municipal solid waste.
• Water pollution, by the discharge of wastewater from commercial and industrial waste (intentionally or through spills) into surface waters; discharges of untreated domestic sewage, and chemical contaminants, such as chlorine, from treated sewage; release of waste and contaminants into surface runoff flowing to surface waters (including urban runoff and agricultural runoff, which may contain chemical fertilizers and pesticides); waste disposal and leaching into groundwater; eutrophication and littering.
Pollutants: A pollutant is a waste material that pollutes air, water or soil. Three factors determine the severity of a pollutant: its chemical nature, the concentration and the persistence.

Sources and causes: Air pollution produced by ships may alter clouds, affecting global temperatures. Air pollution comes from both natural and manmade sources. Though globally man made pollutants from combustion, construction, mining, agriculture and warfare are increasingly significant in the air pollution equation.

Motor vehicle emissions are one of the leading causes of air pollution. China, United States, Russia, Mexico, and Japan are the world leaders in air pollution emissions. Principal stationary pollution sources include chemical plants, coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, petrochemical plants, nuclear waste disposal activity, incinerators, large livestock farms (dairy cows, pigs, poultry, etc.), PVC factories, metals production factories, plastics factories, and other heavy industry. Agricultural air pollution comes from contemporary practices which include clear felling and burning of natural vegetation as well as spraying of pesticides and herbicides.

About 400 million metric tons of hazardous wastes are generated each year. The United States alone produces about 250 million metric tons. Americans constitute less than 5% of the world's population, but produce roughly 25% of the world’s CO2, and generate approximately 30% of world’s waste. In 2007, China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of CO2. In February 2007, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), representing the work of 2,500 scientists, economists, and policymakers from more than 120 countries, said that humans have been the primary cause of global warming since 1950. Humans have ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the consequences of global warming, a major climate report concluded. But in order to change the climate, the transition from fossil fuels like coal and oil needs to occur within decades, according to the final report this year from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Some of the more common soil contaminants are chlorinated hydrocarbons (CFH), heavy metals (such as chromium, cadmium–found in rechargeable batteries, and lead–found in lead paint, aviation fuel and still in some countries, gasoline), MTBE, zinc, arsenic and benzene. In 2001 a series of press reports culminating in a book called Fateful Harvest unveiled a widespread practice of recycling industrial byproducts into fertilizer, resulting in the contamination of the soil with various metals. Ordinary municipal landfills are the source of many chemical substances entering the soil environment (and often groundwater), emanating from the wide variety of refuse accepted, especially substances illegally discarded there, or from pre-1970 landfills that may have been subject to little control in the U.S. or EU. There have also been some unusual releases of polychlorinated di-benzo-di-oxins, commonly called dioxins for simplicity, such as TCDD.

Pollution can also be the consequence of a natural disaster. For example, hurricanes often involve water contamination from sewage, and petrochemical spills from ruptured boats or automobiles. Larger scale and environmental damage is not uncommon when coastal oil rigs or refineries are involved. Some sources of pollution, such as nuclear power plants or oil tankers, can produce widespread and potentially hazardous releases when accidents occur.

In the case of noise pollution the dominant source class is the motor vehicle, producing about ninety percent of all unwanted noise worldwide.

Effects: Overview of main health effects from some common types of pollution.
On Human: Adverse air quality can kill many organisms including humans. Ozone pollution can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, throat inflammation, chest pain, and congestion. Water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water by untreated sewage in developing countries. An estimated 700 million Indians have no access to a proper toilet, and 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhoeal sickness every day. Nearly 500 million Chinese lack access to safe drinking water. 656,000 people die prematurely each year in China because of air pollution. In India, air pollution is believed to cause 527,700 fatalities a year. Studies have estimated that the number of people killed annually in the US could be over 50,000.

Oil spills can cause skin irritations and rashes. Noise pollution induces hearing loss, high blood pressure, stress, and sleep disturbance. Mercury has been linked to developmental deficits in children and neurologic symptoms. Older people are majorly exposed to diseases induced by air pollution. Those with heart or lung disorders are under additional risk. Children and infants are also at serious risk. Lead and other heavy metals have been shown to cause neurological problems. Chemical and radioactive substances can cause cancer and as well as birth defects.

On Environment: Pollution has been found to be present widely in the environment. There are a number of effects of this:
• Biomagnification describes situations where toxins (such as heavy metals) may pass through trophic levels, becoming exponentially more concentrated in the process.
• Carbon dioxide emissions cause ocean acidification, the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans as CO2 becomes dissolved.
• The emission of greenhouse gases leads to global warming which affects ecosystems in many ways.
• Invasive species can out compete native species and reduce biodiversity. Invasive plants can contribute debris and biomolecules (allelopathy) that can alter soil and chemical compositions of an environment, often reducing native species competitiveness.
• Nitrogen oxides are removed from the air by rain and fertilise land which can change the species composition of ecosystems.
• Smog and haze can reduce the amount of sunlight received by plants to carry out photosynthesis and leads to the production of tropospheric ozone which damages plants.
• Soil can become infertile and unsuitable for plants. This will affect other organisms in the food web.
• Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can cause acid rain which lowers the pH value of soil.

Vasundhara – A Salaam Bharat Area of Operation: Vasundhara aims to fight against pollution and save the environment. It includes both environmental awareness and grass-root level activity for environmental conservation. It aims to provide a healthy environment to the coming generations rather than an oxygen mask. The best way to conserve the environment is plantation as trees not only produce oxygen to purify air, but help the rain water to penetrate through ground thereby decreasing the contamination level in underground water. They stop soil erosion and trees with big stem absorbs noise up to 10% thereby decreasing the level of sound pollution. To stop the contamination of rivers, along with cleaning of river a protest against drain of industrial waste in rivers is important. Events and Activites of Vasundhara: Vasundhara underwent following activities in the past. • Plantation at sector 62, Noida: On 6th December, 2009 a plantation was organized at Sector 62, Noida. A total of 117 plants were planted in the event. A number of young and dedicated volunteers of the organization participated in the event with great zeal and not only helped to clean the environment, but also lead an example to the society. This event was lead by Mr. Harshit Gupta, National Executive General Secretary, Salaam Bharat.
• Environmental Awareness Seminar at Trident ET Group of Institutions: A seminar was organized on 7th September’ 2010 at Trident ET Group of Institutions, Meerut road, Ghaziabad to aware the students of Engineering and Management courses about the Environmental Responsibilities. The seminar was delivered by Mr. Anubhav Akhileshwar Srivastava, National General Secretary, Salaam Bharat and Mr. Shailendra Kumar. The seminar had a great impact and around 200 students registered themselves to volunteer the upcoming plantation event.
Plantation at Trident ET Group of Institutions: A plantation was organized on 7th September’ 2010 at Trident ET Group of Institutions, Meerut road, Ghaziabad on 14th September, 2010. A total of 350 plants were planted and about 200 students of the institution volunteered the event with great enthusiasm and dedication. The event was lead by Mr. Raman Mohan Satyarthi, National Vice-President, Salaam Bharat.
Renewable Energy Fair: Salaam Bharat also promotes the use of renewable sources of energy as the thermal and nuclear power plants are a threat to the environment. Use of renewable energy also enables us to cope up with the upcoming energy crisis.
On 12th February, a renewable energy fair was organized by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Management Centre, Department of Environment, Government NCT of Delhi at Raja Park, New Delhi. This fair was aimed to promote the domestic use of renewable energy to avoid forth coming energy crisis. Salaam Bharat participated in the fair and joined hands with the mission as it is not only related to the requirement of energy in modern days, but it has its impact over environment also.
Salaam Bharat is continuously spreading this awareness among the people of India to promote the use of renewable sources of energy.
Leher Leher Kabir for clean Ganga: Ganga has a special place in Indian Culture. She has both cultural as well as physical importance for the people of India. She is a very big source of water and pilgrimage to Northern part of India and it is hence, very necessary to protect her.
With this idea in mind Leher Lejer Kabir for clean Ganga was organized by Yogi Arwind Foundation on 9th April 2011 at Shatrughn ghat, Hrishikesh under the devine guidance of Yogi Arwind. Kabir is a symbol of communal harmony. It was a soul stirring musical representation of Kabir’s preaching by internationally acclaimed virtutuosos in a heavenly setting – the flowinmg ganga and prestine Himalaya including Padmbhushan Pt. Channulal Mishra, Padmshree smt Vasundhara Komkali, Smt Kalapini Komkali, Padmshree Smt Shobh Mudgal, Padmshree Prahlad Singh Tipaniya and Modern dance exponent Padfmshree Astad Deboo. Salaam Bharat Supported this event by 100 volunteers
Seminar on Earth Day: On 22nd April, 2011 Salaam Bharat organized a seminar for awareness of Earth Day at Sector 58, Noida. Mr. Lokendra Pal Singh, National President, Salaam Bharat informed people about the steps taken by the organization to protect the environment. Mr. Deepak Kumar Singh, Director – Deptt of Planning, Research and Development, Salaam Bharat provided facts and figures about the actual scenario of pollution and contamination in India and world. Mr. Rudra Prasad Nag, Head – Deptt of Marketing and Communication, Salaam Bharat focused over preventive measures and real time execution.
Mera Vrindavan Meri Yamuna: A huge movement was carried out at Vrindavan to spread the awareness of cleaning of Yamuna by Prayas, a supporting organization of Salaam Bharat. Salaam Bharat supported this event voluntarily. The event carried out from 24th April, 2011 to 1st May, 2011. A video, focusing over the root cause of Yamuna pollution, was played at importance of Yamuna by the means of folk songs. A total of 8000 people were connected to this movement.