The Earth is the only planet in the solar system where there is life. If you look down at the Earth from a plane you will see how wonderful our planet is. You will see blue seas and oceans, rivers and lakes, high snow-capped mountains, green forests and fields. For centuries man lived in harmony with nature until industrialization brought human society into conflict with the natural environment. Today, the contradictions between man and nature have acquired a dramatic character. With the development of civilization man’s interference in nature has increased. Every year the world’s industry pollutes the atmosphere with millions of tons of dust and other harmful substances. The seas and rivers are poisoned with industrial waste, chemical and sewage discharge. People who live in big cities are badly affected by harmful discharge from plants and city transport and by the increasing noise level which is as bad for human health as lack of fresh air and clean water.
Among the most urgent problems are the ozone layer, acid rains, global warming, toxic pollution of atmosphere, disappearance of forests, contamination of underground waters by chemical elements, destruction of soil in some areas, threat to some flora and fauna representatives, etc.
One of the most important pollution problems is the oceans. Many ships sail in the ocean water- fishing ships, some ships carrying people, some carrying oil. If a ship loses some of the oil in the water, or waste from the ships in put into the ocean, the water becomes dirty. Many sea birds die because of the polluted water. Many fish are dying in the sea, others are getting contaminated. Fishermen catch contaminated fish which may be sold in markets, and people may get sick from eating them. Lakes and rivers are becoming polluted, too. Some beaches are dangerous for swimming.
Another important problem is air pollution. Cars and factories pollute the air we use. Their fume also destroys the ozone layer which protects the Earth from the dangerous light of the Sun. Aerosols create large "holes” in the ozone layer round the Earth. Burning coal and oil leads to global warming which may bring about a change in the world’s climate.
The other problem is that our forests are dying from acid rains. Deforestation, especially destruction of tropical forests, affects the balance of nature in many ways. It kills animals, changes the climate and ecosystem in the world.
A person can do some damage to the environment but the greater part of pollution certainly comes from industry. Modern industry production is the main threat to nature.
There are a lot of places on our planet that need immediate help. Our country is not exception. The nuclear accident at Chernobyl, which took place on April 26, 1986., has seriously aggravated the ecological situation in Belarus. That catastrophe can be considered as the largest disaster of the 20th century. As the result of that accident 18% of territories of our republic were contaminated by radioactive elements. The agriculture of our country suffered great losses. More than 20% of the population has also suffered. A death rate among children has increased considerably. The wide researches are carried out, but health state of the people living in polluted areas, is worsened. The level of thyroid gland cancer has increased, the immunity of children and women is weakened, many diseases appear out only a few years later. Everyone understands that this catastrophe is a threat to health of our nation, and though years have already passed, the results will be shown on the future generations.
I’d like to say a few words about animals in danger of extinction. The blue whale is the largest animal which has ever lived. Once there were over 200000 of these creatures living in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Since the seventeenth century they have been hunted for their oil and meat. In fact, so many of them were killed that by 1963 their population had been reduced to just 1000. Today it is even less that that. The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal. Today there are fewer than one million of these animals left. Even though they are now protected, they are still being hunted because of their tusks, which are used to make ornaments and jewellery. There is only one way to save wild animals and wild habitats –conservation. That means protecting animals in danger by law, opening more national parks, building fewer new roads, planting more new forests, cutting pollution. It this doesn’t happen, many wild animals will soon have just one habitat- the Zoo.
Ecological problems have no borders. European states solve these problems together: the necessary measures are taken, congresses and conferences on these questions are organized, and these questions have already the reflection in the legislation of many countries.
The activity of many public organizations is directed to protect environment. One of the most known organizations is "Greenpeace”, whose purpose is prevention of environment degradation. This organization was founded in 1971 by the activists from the USA and Canada and it has representations in 25 countries of the world. "Greanpeace” acts against nuclear tests, radiating threat, pollution of the environment by waste industrial products, to protect the animal world, etc. This organization influences public opinion through mass media, under its aegis manifestations and protest actions are carried solutions for concrete ecological problems.
For example, the "Greenpeace” sent its boats to protect whales, and today commercial whaling is banned. In the North Sea Greenpeace swimmers turned back dump ships carrying chemical waste, and a new laws to protect the North Sea have been considered.
When I look around I realize that not all people understand the importance of nature protection. On fine summer days a lot of people go out of town. They have picnics on the shores of lakes and the banks of rivers or on beautiful forest glades and they often leave behind a lot of rubbish- plastic bags and bottles, tins and paper. It makes me feel sad when I see people returning to town with huge bunches of forest or meadow flowers. Many of these plants are included into the Red Book which contains the names of rare plants and animals. Some of them have become extinct and others are on the verge of disappearing. If we don’t realize that we are all responsible for what’s happening around us we will never feel secure about the future of the world we live in.
What can be done to protect nature? I believe that environment disasters can be avoided if people broaden ecological education and every person understands that the beauty of nature is extremely fragile and people must obey the unwritten laws of nature. Governments must be prepared to take action against pollution. Air pollution could be reduced if plants and factories were made to fit effective filters on chimneys and car exhausts. Green zones around big cities must be protected and extended. Natural resources should be used economically because their stocks are not unlimited.
The ecology is a science studying interaction of organisms among themselves and an environment.