You are here now : UOB eNetwork > Environment research center > Basic concepts in the environment and its problems and the extent of pollution

logo Environment research center  University of Babylon
Basic concepts in the environment, problems and pollutions
air pollution and environment The environment is connected with some concepts that we should know in order to understand the environmental subjects. The most important subjects are:


Man awareness to the destruction happened in the environment because of the arrogance and selfishness of modern civilization. This leads to the emergence of environmental movements call for ending this destruction, spreading the culture of respect and defending the environment. Defending the environment is one of the first concepts in these movements. The concept of protecting the environment can be named as " ecology". The term was elicited by the German scientist Ernest Haeckel in 1866 from two Greek words "Oikes" and " Logos". The first word means residence or environment, the second word means science. The definition of the term is " the science studies the relationship between the livings with the medium they live in it, the science takes care of the livings ' logos' their nutrition and way of livings" . the science also studies the factors affecting and forming the environment like climate ( heat, humidity, rays, gases, water, and air).

Pollution of the environment

dirty water
align="left" style="margin-left: 30px" />Best definition of this concept is: Everything caused by the environment ( materialistic) that might harm the health of humans physically and psychologically. This psychological and physical harm affects humans through the five senses of human beings ( smelling, tasting, looking, hearing, and touching): breathing harmful smells, drinking harmful liquids, hearing noises, seeing harmful views, touching harmful materials. This health harmfulness for the body and soul of humans is caused by distorting the environment and the natural balance. For example, cars, though useful, yet have many affects. Car accidents cause death and injuries, cars smoke causes pollution, cars sounds cause noises, cars also cause traffic.

Sustainable development

The word ( development ) means using the resources of earth to improve the life of humans. As for the word (sustainable), it means putting under consideration the rights of next generations in getting natural resources. This means that it’s a permanent not temporary development. Sustainability respects the needs of the community and the terms of environment without thinking by the profits. It also ensures the rights of next generations to have decent living. The most prominent example about the bad use of sustainability is what happening in the world, the brutality used against nature and humans. People of industrial countries constitute 20% of the world population. Yet they consume 80% from the resources of the earth. In addition, they are considered as the source of pollution for 80% of the earth

Renewable energy

consumed eventually.

Sustainable tourism

It means the kind of tourism that respect the environment, the privacy and the dignity of the community. It does not give enjoyment for tourists on the expense of nature and the legacy of the community. It is unlike the trade tourism which seeks only profits by building tourism complexes. These complexes might harm the nature, pollute the earth and water, and change the nature of the community into cheap business. This also makes the society submissive; live on the incomes of tourism only.

In the recent years, especially in the advanced countries, with the increased awareness of pollution, three types of food spread in the market. The types of food are trade, organic and natural food. Here is a summery about these types starting with trade food. Simply, trade food is the type known today in the market which is treated chemically. This type of food involves vegetables, meat, and fruit planted, raised, and made with the latest chemical means. The chemicals used in growing this type of food are fertilizers, vaccines, genes and antibiotics. In addition to the chemicals added to this type of food after the production for the purposes of preservation, taste, and attractive colors. The second type of food is the natural food, just like the trade food in the process of manufacturing but it is considered natural because no chemicals added to them for preservations, taste and natural colors. For example, you might find sweets made from only sugar and fruits derivatives; no chemicals added for nice smell, taste, and colors. The chemicals added to food are poison, they are added to deceive the consumer by capturing his attention to the taste and look without considering the harmful effects on health. Other example is the chicken and the eggs, some animals domesticated in healthy places respect the natural needs of chicken, like exposing to the sun, providing food, and giving enough time for growing. Others do not respect these factors, put the animal in small places, expose them to industrial lights, and polluted air.

Finally, organic food, it is considered 100% natural and chemicals free. If we take the previous examples: the ( natural sweet) though no chemicals added to it, yet it contains chemicals. The chemicals came from the sugar and fruit that were not grown naturally. They were grown depending on the trade way by using fertilizers, pesticides, and others. These chemicals transmitted from the fruit to the sweets, so, natural sweet should be made also from natural grown food. Same thing with the second example, the chicken grown in places respect domestication conditions like air, time, and the light of sun. This do not prevent the owners from adding chemicals to the food to breed faster and protect them from diseases. As a result, the chemicals will be transmitted to the consumer without being noticed. The organic chicken does not only live in a well prepared environment, but also fed chemicals free food. There are three degrees of food, their price changes relatively with the degree:

  • Trade food: it is the cheapest degree because it is easily produced, easily sold and attracts the attention of buyers. This type of food depends on chemicals to improve the taste, and color.
  • Natural food: it is more expensive than the trade food because it costs more and chemicals free.
  • Organic food: it is the most expensive type, made from raw materials ( plants) planted and domesticated naturally.

It should be noted, organic and natural food not only involve food , but also involve most of the products, like clothes, cosmetics, cleaners, cars, and fuels. In addition to the other products the humans need in everyday life and can affect his life and health. Polluting and poisoning the environment because of the industrials developments in the previous two centuries exceeds thousands of years of civilizations.
environment unhealthy

Environmental problems

The reason behind environmental problems is the imbalance relationship between humans and their environment in addition to other reasons out of humans control. Like the continuous increasing of population in the world which is considered as a huge problem affects developing countries. This problem is the main reason behind other problems might happen to humans. The rising population does not suit the industrial, nutritional, commercial, educational, and social developments in the environment. In addition to the weak production rates that do not suit the rates of consuming.

The problem of biodiversity extinction

Involves all types of living organisms plant or animal in addition to microorganisms. All these organisms represent the natural resources like: plants, marine organisms, birds, animals ( marine and wild). Many species extinct because of these reasons:

  • Incorrect methods of farming.
  • The barriers built by humans like electricity and sea lighthouses had the major effect on the life of living organisms especially birds.
  • The destruction of humid places that fish and birds use as a shelter. These lands were dried and transformed into farms.
  • Illegal hunting, it is performed as a kind of sport and as a source of food.
  • The use of pesticides that harm not only pests but also humans and birds.
  • Herding in an incorrect ways which lead to the deterioration of natural pastures.
  • Petrol exploration by using explosives, the cleaning of petrol ships in the sea.

We should protect biodiversity from extinction by putting ( NO) in front of the reasons mentioned earlier. What is pollution? Many people ask about pollution, the simplest explanation is something not clean that results in health problems to humans and living organisms and the whole world if we look to pollution more scientifically. Pollution is making change in the environment that surrounds living organisms because of the activities of humans. These activities results in the emergence of things that do not suit the environment of living organisms and causes imbalance. Humans controls these pollutants and make them either good or bad for the environment. For example, the biological wastes of animals are considered useful resource for the soil, and if they are thrown in the in the sewage will lead to the spread of diseases. The main reason behind this is humans, we will represent this as follows:

Humans=industrial expansion- technological advancement- misuse of resources-increasing population

Types of environmental pollution

Pollution means making change in the environment that surrounds living organisms. This change leads to the emergence of some resources that do not suit the environment of the organisms live in it and causes imbalance.

Air pollution

Air pollutionAir pollutants causes the death of 50,000 people yearly. ( this percentage represent about 2% of the total percentage of death reasons). The most annoying factor is the smoke coming from cigarettes which kills 3 million people yearly. It is expected that this percent will rise to 10 million people yearly in the coming four decades. Air pollution means the existence of harmful materials for the health of humans and the environment. Air pollution can be classified into natural pollution( humans not responsible about it) like the dust…. And other factors. The other pollutant is industrial ( humans cause it) like the inventions of technological means. These means are supposed to facilitate the life, but the truth is the opposite. Automobiles exhausts, and generating electricity release gases spread in the ear and harm the nature. We find that the industrial cities are the most exposed places to pollution in addition to the developing countries lacking the means of preventing pollution.