Taking account of environmental costs
People have become concerned by a number of environmental problems in recent years. These include: The greenhouse effect. This is caused by carbon dioxide and other gases emitted again by power stations, various industries and cars. The fear is that these gases will cause a heating of the Earth's atmosphere. This will lead to climatic changes which will affect food production. It will also lead to a raising of sea levels and flooding as part of the polar ice caps melts. Acid rain. This is caused by sulphur and nitrogen emissions from power stations, industry and cars. It has been blamed for 'Walsterben' (forest death) in Central Europe and the contamination of many lakes and streams, with the death of fish and plant life. Depletion of the ozone layer. This is caused by the use of CFC gases in aerosols, refrigerators and the manufacture of polystyrene foam. The ozone layer protects us from harmful ultra-violet radiation from the sun. A depletion of this layer could lead to increased skin cancer. Nuclear radiation. The fear is that accidents or sabotage at nuclear power stations could cause dangerous releases of radiation. The disposal of nuclear waste is another environmental problem. Land and river pollution. The tipping of toxic waste into the ground or into rivers can cause long-term environmental damage. Soils can be poisoned; rivers and seas can become polluted. It is not just industry that is to blame here. Sewage pollutes rivers and seas. Nitrogen run-off and slurry from farming are also major pollutants.
It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that the 'environment' became more firmly part of the political agenda in most European countries. It was largely a response to the spectacular growth of not only the Western economies, but also the continued and extensive industrialisation of the Eastern bloc countries such as Poland and the USSR.
'Green groups' sprang up round the...
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