The environment we live is a fundamental natural resource that supports the lives of human beings and animals. It is through the environment that plants and animals acquire basic resources that support their survival, such as air, water and food. Despite this, the present generation rarely acknowledges the contribution and importance of the environment not only in the provision of basic resources, but also for the survival of future generations. This is due to the fact that the environment has been excessively exploited through anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, uncontrolled cutting down of trees, reduction in wetlands, soil degradation, deterioration of coastal ecosystems, and the extinction of species. In this list, cutting down of trees as well as the excessive use of fossil fuels have been the major environmental threats that have been hurting the environment and the climate. The use of fossil fuels has been contributing to the occurrence of global warming, which is the equivocal increase of the average world`s temperatures beyond the normal levels. Global warming occurs as a result of excessive accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018). When these gases are released into the atmosphere, they form a thick blanket which prevents air from escaping into the atmosphere.
Global warming had been posing a number of adverse impacts not only to the present generation of human beings and animals, but also jeopardizing sustainable development. Precisely, global warming has been the major contributing factor for the increase of numerous communicable and non-communicable diseases, emergence and re-emergence of pests, flooding of lowland areas, and destruction of ecological habitats for wild animals, drought and famine, among others (United, Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2013. Currently, the world`s forest level is decreasing with approximately 3.3 million hectares per year, and this is equivalent to twice the area of Japan`s Shikoku island. Considering that we are members of the international community, there is a need for the creation of a society that conserves the environment. This paper pays high attention to the various environmental conservation measures that can be embraced and implemented without further delay.
Considering that the use of fossil fuels has been the major cause for environmental degradation in the present times, there is need to abolish the use of these non-renewable energy sources and instead adopt the use of renewable energy sources. There are numerous alternatives to fossil fuels which can be embraced, including solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity, biomass and geothermal energy. Solar power comes from the sun, and it can be harvested through the use of solar panels. The use of solar power is beneficial both in terms of finances and the environment. After installing the solar panels, no any other costs are needed. Wind energy is also being heavily embraced in numerous developing and developed countries especially for utility-scale applications. Hydroelectricity produces renewable energy when moving water happens to run through turbines, which spins it to produce electricity. Geothermal is the energy that is harnessed from the heat that is generated from the radioactive decay especially in rocks deep beneath the crush (Davidson et al., 2014). Biomass is the energy that is produced from recently living organic matter such as animals or plants. Biomass fuels are perceived to be carbon neutral and this means that they don’t add extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Moreover, due to the increasing rate of climate change due to the excessive use of non-renewable energy sources, most countries, both the developed and the developing ones are increasingly pushing for the use of clean energy. According to a report that was recently released by Allie Astor and Rob Sargent, there is a growing call for 100 percent adoption of clean energy. In this report, more than 150 community leaders across the globe are voicing their support for the adoption of 100 percent clean energy (Astor & Sargent, 2018). The report indicated that most individuals have experienced the threat of climate change in terms of drought, unpredictable weather, increased flooding cases, emergence of wildfires, emergence and re-emergence of communicable and non-communicable diseases and increase of the average earth`s temperatures, and this means that climate change is an urgent problem and teamwork between individuals and the larger entities is urgently needed in order to address it as soon as possible. One of the immediate measures of curbing this menace is shifting to renewable energy, which broadly means moving away from the climate-altering carbon pollution.
However, it is challenging for individuals and nations to adopt clean energy at a go, especially due to the resistance of individuals to embrace change, as well as the numerous resources that are needed in as far as the installation and implementation of clean energy is concerned. However, the advocators of the 100 percent renewable energy argue that the urgency of climate change demands that individuals and environmental agencies from small incremental shifts to a rapid, economic wide shift to 100 percent clean energy. A clean energy transition goes beyond mitigating the impacts of climate change. Precisely, a clean energy transition generates positive net benefits to the society, ranging from economic development, quality of life, public health, and equity. In Canada, numerous programs have been launched to mitigate climate change. For example, the push for the adoption of electric vehicles in order to not only cut environmental pollution but also save drivers money (Sandlos, John and Keeling, 2016). The electricity, in this case, is the use of solar power, which is one of the major clean energy that nations and individuals can adopt and implement.
Reducing the use of resources can also help in conserving the environment. For example, there is a need to reduce the use of electricity especially when it`s not in use. For example, in a five bedroom, the occupants can be advised to reduce electricity consumption by not lighting bulbs and other electrical appliances in rooms that are not occupied. Additionally, the number of vehicles can also be reduced, especially by advocating for the use of public means of transport rather than the use of personal vehicles. Reducing the number of vehicles would significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, especially during the transition period from the use of non-renewable energy to renewable energy sources. In Canada, the traditional public housing is being upgraded in order to cut energy bills as well as reducing environmental pollution (Clean Energy Canada, 2018).
Moreover, there is also the need for reducing the production of solid and liquid wastes into the atmosphere. In most cases, wastes such as polythene bags and industrial effluents into the water bodies, and this does not only jeopardize the lives of the aquatic animals, but also the health of plants, animals and human beings. Wastes come in many forms, and all of them affect the well-being of human beings and the environment in one way or the other. However, the non-bio-degradable wastes and this is due to the fact that when they enter the food chain, they potentially cause diseases, illness or even death. Non-biodegradable wastes do not decompose, and this means that they accumulate in the environment for decades. Biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes harm biodiversity and the environment both directly (for example the consumption of plastic microbeads by marine wildlife) and indirectly (for example the bad odors from landfills). Landfills provide favorable breeding grounds and conditions for bacteria that produce methane, which is one of the greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming and climate change (Freeman, Herriges & Kling, 2014).
In addition, industrial effluents contaminate water quality, and this contributes to the outbreak of communicable and non-communicable diseases such as cholera, cancer, diarrhea, among others. Moreover, the release of industrial effluents into the water bodies contributes to the eutrophication, and this stimulates the overgrowth of phytoplankton, which in the long run results in various challenges including the landscape deterioration, mustiness, and filtering failures at water purification plants. As an environmental conservation measure, there is a need to reduce the production of wastes as well as treating wastes before discharging them into the water bodies. Consecutively, non-biodegradable wastes such as polythene bags should be abolished and instead adopt the use of plastic bags which can be reused or recycled to other forms (Government of Canada, 2018). The environment can also be conserved through the aspect of recycling and re-using of resources. Recycling and re-using of resources help in the reduction of the amount of wastes which could have potentially been disposed of in the environment.
Water bodies need to be protected from the threat of being polluted from various anthropogenic activities. Various nations have failed to adhere to the commitment of conserving water bodies by implementing measures that would prevent the exploitation of water bodies. For example, Canada is among the numerous nations that have failed to maintain its commitment towards the conservation of wetland basins. Precisely, three major wetland basins, Big Quill Lake, Little Quill Lake and Mud Lake (also known as the Middle Quill Lake) have been rising for more than a decade (Stitt, 2018). It is important to note that Quill Lakes are terminal basins and this means that they don’t have outlets and reserved areas where the excess water can be diverted to. For this reason, there has been widespread flooding that is wreaking havoc on the local infrastructure, the surrounding land, and to the worst, the lives of numerous individuals who live in the proximity of these lakes.
Figure 1: Flooding around Quill Lakes (Stitt, 2018).
Flooding is a major issue when it comes to environmental pollution, especially due to the fact that it erodes the vegetation cover and topsoil, leaving the ground bare. In addition to this, the water in the Quill Lakes tends to have a high concentration of total dissolved solids which are naturally occurring inorganic salts. When flooding happens, the saline water tends to flow to freshwater bodies and this is detrimental in as far as the life of aquatic animals and wildlife habitat is concerned. One of the lakes that are at the danger of being affected by the overflow of the salty water from the Quills Lakes is the Last Mountain Lake which is situated near Regina.
Planting of trees is one of the best environmental conservation measures that nations, individuals and environmental agencies can adopt. It is estimated that forests cover a third of the earth`s, but this has greatly been affected through the increasing level of deforestation, an increase of the world`s population, fire, burning of charcoal, and the high level of urban expansion. Planting of trees helps in environmental conservation in numerous ways. For example, trees help in reducing climate change, especially by reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide, which is the major contributing factor to the occurrence of global warming. Precisely, trees use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and in return release oxygen into the atmosphere. This means that trees take up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and in return substitute it with oxygen. It is anticipated that an acre of trees tends to absorb an amount of carbon that is equal to driving a car 26 000 miles every year (Mattea, 2018). In addition, trees tend to be our main survival tool, and scholars stipulate that one tree can release enough oxygen that can support the lives of four individuals. Moreover, planting trees helps in saving water or preventing water from evaporating, and this is due to the shade that they provide. It is estimated that trees require approximately 15 water gallons every week in order to survive, and they produce nearly 200-450 gallons of water every day (Mattea, 2018). This is the major reason why most of the springs and rivers originate from areas that have a high concentration of trees. Moreover, trees help in preventing water pollution, and this achieved in a number of waters. For example, trees help in reducing the speed of raindrops before they hit on the ground, thereby preventing splash erosion. In addition, trees filter storm water before flowing into the oceans, thereby eliminating phosphorous and nitrogen pollutants.
Moreover, planting trees helps in boosting biodiversity especially due to the fact that they are not only a source of food for wild animals but also a natural habitat for them. It is estimated that one apple tree can produce nearly twenty fruit bushels per year which can nourish numerous insects, birds, and wildlife (Mattea, 2018). The apple tree can be planted on a very small surface but its environmental benefits are enormous. Consecutively, planting trees helps in controlling erosion, especially due to their ability to reinforce soil structure in a way that wind and water cannot manage to easily carry away soil particles.
In order to conserve the environment, it is important for the governments to advocate for effective agricultural practices that promote the health of the environment. For example, there is a need for farmers to be sensitized concerning the importance of using organic fertilizers such as manure from animal wastes and decomposed manure. These fertilizers do not have chemicals which alter the soil PH like for the case of inorganic manure (Hudson, 2015). The use of inorganic fertilizers are also among the main factors that have been increasing the risk of developing numerous health conditions such as cancer, and this is due to the various chemicals that are associated with. In addition, cultivation along the riparian land should be abolished, as this tends to loosen the soil structure to an extent that soil is carried away by water during the rainy seasons. In areas where the topography of the land is sloppy, farmers should be encouraged to dig terraces and dykes in order to prevent the erosion of topsoil.
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