Thursday, July 08, 2010

Definition of an environmental problem

Sharing some essays from different interesting university classes over the years. This one is from Human Ecology, translated from Swedish-

*An environmental problems, is that a disturbance of the natural balance found in nature?

 How to define an environmental problem is very complicated. Simply said, environmental problem arises when people decide so, especially that kind of environmental problems that affect not only nature but also negatively affects humans. For example it is a problem that the fishes are poisoned, because we would like to eat them if they weren't poisoned, but is it an environmental problem when the sea eagle is poisoned?

 Or is it the way to go there, all fish are contaminated by the environmental problem, because poisoned fishes has a cause from which they were poisoned but still, the bird at the top of the chain was also affected but it didn't affect human.

 The issue is complex because it rise such things as; why should the eagle be protected? But something in most people is saying that we want to keep all the organisms that exist as naturally as possible. Therefore, a poisoned eagle is also seen as a result of an environmental problem but is it the problem?

  The actual outcome or the action in itself which define what and when the environmental problem starts to be a problem, is a different dilemma; is it so that the use of too much manure is the environmental problem or is it the eutrophication or algal blooms like the result, is the environmental problem, or why not: it only become an environmental problem when we can't fish for any longer because of eutrophication.

 The Baltic Sea is a difficult example, eutrophication from human activities around the sea has put the over a limit, eutrophication is now so strong that it reinforces itself. If people around the sea stopped its emissions the sea would continue the process by it selves anyhow. Can we then say that the Baltic Sea is an environmental problem, or is it a disorder? Disruptions could happen at volcanoes, floods and storms, and kills entire populations. But these disorders are called natural, although they also affect humans, it is not man's fault.

 Environmental problems are caused by man and can be called cultural because it is a result of our culture, of our way of life. Environmental problems tend generally to be called global, with some major problems that everyone knows; acidification, eutrophication, ozone depletion and global warming which is both a cause and effect in local and global level. Local problems are normally toxic and acute, easily to see. Some environmental problems comes slowly, and are defuse. Agriculture is one of the main source, when the global population increases. This include both the acidification, eutrophication and greenhouse gas emissions and can also include extinction of species and desertification, and thus climate change. Agriculture can therefore be seen as one of the largest global insidious environmental problem.

Is the definition important for what an environmental problem acually is? Or is it the question about the question that is the importance Why? See also the post; the complexity of environmental problems.