The environment is a hotly debated topic in today’s society. Some of the subtopics that are going to be discussed are going to be those related to the way technology is changing, what industries are doing to help prevent further pollution, some of the methods used in paper recycling, and some discussion of renewable energy sources. For the most part, this section of the research paper, unlike the other sections, is going to attempt to discuss some of the ways the public has been dealing with, and are finding new ways to deal with environmental problems that we are presently facing.
There are currently three main sources of pollution: they are, water pollution, waste pollution, and air pollution. Of these three forms of pollution, the one that affects our health most directly is air pollution. Scientists believe that all cities with populations exceeding 50,000 have some degree of air pollution. 1 Some sources of air pollution include emissions of sulfur dioxide and other noxious gases by electric power plants that burn high-sulfur coal or oil.
Air pollution can range from factory emissions, to auto emissions, and even house hold product emissions such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), once found in abundance in spray containers and has been drastically reduced in these products. Air Pollution has been that target of some of the most complicated legislation ever discussed. In 1970, the United States Congress passed legislation aimed at curbing sources of air pollution and setting standards for air quality. 3 One of the strongest weapons against industrial pollution that many factories are currently using to combat air pollution is a scrubber.
A scrubber is a series of filters placed in smoke stacks and other points of industrial emissions to try and filter out many of the contaminants that tend to be released into the atmosphere. In addition to factory emissions, auto emission pollutants have also been reduced by the use of a tool that has been around for quite some time, the catalytic converter. Because gasoline is not completely utilized upon combustion, many toxic gases are able to escape in the form of exhaust.
A catalytic converter is a box-like device that is placed somewhere in the exhaust system between the point of exhaust release from the engine, to the actual release of the exhaust to the environment. A catalytic converter works by transforming harmful gases through a series of chemical reactions to essentially non-harmful gases. Catalytic converters have been proven to be very beneficial in reducing the amount of harmful gases released into the atmosphere. Instead of just trying to reduce auto emissions, car companies are also researching alternative fuel sources.
The most popular forms of alternative fuels currently are electricity, which can be harnessed directly in the form of solar energy from the sun and stored in batteries, or natural gas which is a much cleaner burning gas. In addition to wanting to know what was being done to prevent the air from becoming more polluted, students also wanted to know something about recycling, and what methods are used to turn old waste into new products. Many reused paper products are normally turned into cardboard boxes and tissue products. Rarely is paper that is collected reused as reading/writing paper again.
One of the largest waste products in the United States today is paper. It has been found that the U. S. is currently collecting between 26 and 30% of all paper wastes for recycling. 4 One astounding fact is that the U. S. also exports 22% of this paper waste, which amounts to some 28. 9 million tons of paper, abroad to European countries and to countries in the Orient. 5 How many trees saved by recycling is still not clearly known.
It has been widely reported that every ton of paper, if made from 100% recycled fibers, saves approximately 17 trees. In reality, the number of trees required to generate a ton of paper depends on many factors including tree size, species, and the type of pulp and paper being manufactured. 7 For a paper to be reprocessed into a new product, many steps must take place during the transformation. A process known as deinking must be utilized. There are many methods of deinking and each uses different physical and chemical properties or sometimes both to make a new white pulp again. Some of these process are discussed and listed below.
Washing is a process whereby detergents, wetting agents, and other chemicals are added to make the ink hydrophilic (attracted to water). Another method used is called Flotation. This process makes the ink hydrophobic (repelled by water). The pulp is continuously aerated and the air bubbles attract the in particles as they rise up to the surface. Dispersion is a process that involves breaking up the ink particles to such a small degree that they cannot be seen by the eye. Theses are just some of the methods used to recycle old paper in to new pulp.
In addition to the recycling of various wastes into new products, another topic that is of great interest to environmentalists is alternative or renewable power sources. Some of Nature’s most cleanest power sources are solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, and geothermal energy. Solar devices now exist that are capable of supplying all the energy needs of a residence, including electricity, water and space heating, and space cooling. 8 Some of these devices are too expensive to be put into use by the average homeowner.
The problem that faces many of today’s researchers is too make this technology competitive with other forms of energy that are already in use. Hydropower cannot be used directly by the homeowner, however, while still a better method of harnessing power in a cleaner manner, it still has environmental drawbacks. Hydropower has the capability of liberating a country such as the U. S. from any foreign power sources such as oil. The process of obtaining energy from water is quite simple because the kinetic energy of water is what is being utilized.
Water is first damned up, and then allowed to flow over turbines which spin and thus form energy. The rate at which water passes by these turbines can be controlled. One of the major drawbacks of this form of energy is the damage it can do to surrounding ecosystems. Lowlands behind damns now become lakes, and fish have a harder time of getting up streams to reproduce. “Nature’s” natural balance can be altered quite severely but new methods of getting around these problems have been, or are currently being developed.