The impact of people on their environment can be devastating. This is where the respective role of governments can make decisions that shape environmental policy and responsibilities. These governments can be broken up into four different levels: local, state, federal and international. Air quality and biodiversity are two current issues that can be related to the role of governments. Global warming is also another implication that has a devastating effect on the environment. Current examples include the rise in sea levels, polar meltdowns, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and human deaths due to disease from the effects of global warming. Firstly the environment can be defined as the natural features of our surroundings such as plant and animal life and their habitats, water, soils and the
A local government named Rockdale Municipal Council has implemented certain actions to deal with the quality in that region. They have recognized that the main source of poor air quality originates from air pollution sources such as motor vehicles, industrial premises and aircraft emissions. The solutions to these problems include improvements to Ryde and Botany Bay cycle way, integration of land use and transport planning strategies, production of “Air Quality – the Facts” booklet for community, investigation of complaints regarding odours and dust, tree planting and preparation of a Local Air Quality Management Plan in 1999.
Air quality is a major issue in most states within Australia that affects our greenhouse, to tackle the implications state governments have created policies and responsibilities. For instance Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) is a program that enables mainly state governments to take action on greenhouse. CCP provides these state governments with a strategic framework to diminish greenhouse gas emissions by helping them identify and recognize the emissions of their council and community, set a reduction goal and develop and utilize an action plan to reach that goal. State actions include: capturing the methane from landfill sites and public and non-car transport into urban planning.
On a federal or national basis Australia has employed policies to increase the air quality. For example the Commonwealth Government will guarantee that Australia carries its fair-share of the burden in worldwide efforts to combat global air pollution through policy development and implementation. They have also supported the National Greenhouse Strategy (NGS) which began in late 1996. The government will also support the development of a national strategy to observe and manage “air toxics”. The air toxics strategy will monitor, establish the levels of community exposure to, and manage emissions of selected air toxics. The federal government will even consider the inclusion of air toxics in a future National Environmental Protection Measure. Further measures include the leading of the development of national ambient air quality standards through the National Environmental Protection Council and the assistance of the establishment of a National Pollutant Inventory which will require large companies to publicly report their emission of 90 pollutants.
Local government Rockdale Municipal Council has introduced responsibilities and policies to reduce the loss of biodiversity. This local government has learned that the cause involves the introduction of species, pollution of land and water, weed invasion and urban encroachment. Their solutions to these problems comprise of the planting of over 3,500 plants and shrubs in Bardwell Valley and Scotts
Reserve, bush regeneration and planting in Scarborough Reserve, involvement in Cooks River Foreshores Working Party and preparation of a flora and fauna study in 2000. Policies towards the community include controlling noxious weeds on your property, planting native trees indigenous to the area and applying to the council prior to removing any trees.
The Labor Tasmanian Government has created a new Environment Policy on biodiversity that hopes to preserve native plants and animals. The policies commit the government to encourage community involvement in biological diversity programs, proclaim the Tasman National Park, establish a State Biodiversity Committee with community representation to arrange a Tasmanian Biodiversity Strategy, support the development of a State Policy on the protection of remnant native vegetation, examine the possibility of incorporating the Biodiversity Strategy into legislation and seeking the co-operation of local government and the community in including and enforcing biological diversity guidelines in development criteria.
The federal government has enabled several policies to deal with conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. The government will support the National Reserve System program to expand Australia’s National Parks, support off-reserve biodiversity conservation including the planting of trees and the protection of vegetation through the Bushcare program and work with the States to reduce unsustainable land clearing, develop an “alert list” of introduced plants and animals that pose a risk to our environment. The government will also maintain a ban on the export of live fauna; support research into Australia’s floral and fauna assemblages as well as biodiversity conservation methods and ratify the Desertification Convention.
An international conference held in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 discussed issues on how best to reduce global warming. Kyoto Protocol negotiations have reached a legally binding agreement limiting the amount of gas emissions all industrialized countries. The protocol also included provisions for emission trading between industrialized countries. The overall nominal effect of the Kyoto protocol is for a reduction of 5.2% of emissions by 2010. However the agreement has many flaws and could lead to emission rising above 1990 levels. The protocol specifies that Japan must reduce emissions by 6%, USA by 7% and the European Union by 8%. The chairman of the conference negotiators, Raul Estrada said that further discussions were needed to find a way of implementing a system of trading in emissions. Trading allows countries that produce high levels of greenhouse gases, such as the USA, to buy the right to retain or even increase emissions.
Global warming refers to an expected rise in global average temperature due to the continued emission of greenhouse gases produced by industry and agriculture which trap heat in the atmosphere. Higher temperatures are expected to be accompanied by changing patterns of precipitation frequency and intensity, changes in soil moisture and a rise of the global sea
To assess current examples relating to global warming, an examination is first needed on these examples.
Sea levels could rise six feet and up in future centuries. The entire Amazon rainforest will be lost if the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases by more than 50%.
But no matter whatever action the world takes to stop global warming, sea levels are set to rise and wipe out several island nations. The worst news is that whatever governments do to cut emissions, sea levels will rise by at least 2 metres over the next few hundred years, devastating Tuvalu and Kiribati in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Low-lying farmland and cities occupied by hundreds of millions of people will also be engulfed. Robert Nicholls of Middlesex University in London stated that “thermal expansion of the ocean will continue for many hundreds of years after CO2 is stabilized, due to the gradual penetration of heat deeper and deeper into the ocean.
All around the world ice sheets and glaciers are melting at a rate quite remarkably since record keeping began. A worldwide institute, based in Washington DC says that glaciers and other features are particularly sensitive to temperature shifts, and that “scientists suspect the enhanced melting is among the first observable signs of human induced global warming. Some of the effects of global warming are as follows: arctic ocean sea ice shrunk by 6% since 1978, with a 14% loss of thicker year round ice, Greenland ice sheet has thinned by more than a metre a year on its southern and eastern edges since 1993 and 22% of glacial ice volume on the Tien Shan mountains has disappeared in the last 40 years.
Worldwatch declared that the Earth’s ice cover reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space and the loss of much of it would affect the global, raise sea levels, and threaten water supplies. They also stated that the land and water left revealed by the retaining ice would themselves retain heat, creating a feedback loop that would speed up the warming process. The institute pronounced that the world’s glaciers, taken as a whole, are now shrinking faster than they are growing. Worldwatch also warns of the outcomes of retaining ice on wildlife. In northern Canada reports of hunger and weight loss among polar bears have been associated with ice cover changes. And in Antarctica, sea loss, rising air temperatures and increased condensation are altering the habitats and the feeding and breeding patterns of seals and penguins.
Cornell University ecologists believe that global warming may account for millions of human deaths from disease. David Pimentel a professor of ecology at Cornell stated and assumes that “Most of the increase in disease is due to numerous environmental factors, including infectious microbes, pollution by chemicals and biological wastes and shortages of food and nutrients. Global warming will only make matters worse.” Global warming will produce a favorable climate for disease producing organisms and plant pests. Global climate change will result in a net loss of obtainable food, for example the decline in rainfall (due to global warming) causes crop and plant production to die out. Infectious disease and environmental factors are to blame for more than 75% of all deaths in the world. Environmental disease may comprise of organic and chemical pollutants, including smoke from tabacco and wood sources. More than three billion people are malnourished. Malnutrition increases vulnerability to pollution-related illnesses and diseases such as diarrhea. Therefore Pimental concluded, “we’re seeing the first signs that global climate change can influence the incidences of human disease”. And that “this change combined with population growth and environmental degradation, will probably intensify world malnutrition and increases in other diseases as well.”
Melting is taking on vast and unprecedented level in the Arctic sea ice, the Antarctic and in dozens of mountain and sub-polar glaciers, and the rate has accelerated immensely in the past decade. The Earth’s ice cover could have intense changes on the global climate and rising sea levels could start regional flooding. Melting of mountain glaciers could also endanger urban water supplies and the habitats of plant and animal species in fragile environments. Within the next 35 years, the Himalayan glacial area is expected to shrink by one-fifth, to just 100, 000 kilometres. A prediction forecasts that the remaining glaciers could disappear in 30 years. The melting has been especially noticeable in the past three decades, and scientists believe that it is the result of human behaviour and the build up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
All current examples of global warming are significant due to the effects that it has on the environment and people. For people, it can cause infectious diseases and pollution-related illnesses that in turn effect our standard of living. Some examples can be more significant than others. For example diseases amongst people is more so important than the rise in sea levels and melting of glaciers since peoples existence are endangered.