No matter how hard you try, you will hardly be able to give a definite answer on the first try. Of course, only if you are not aware of all the latest research in the field of ecology and mortality statistics. Therefore, if you’re wondering what inflicts more damage to the Earth, go on reading.
How many lives has Chernobyl taken?
The premiere of the TV series “Chernobyl” at the American channel HBO in May 2019 stirred up the events from 33 years ago and increased the popularity of tours to the town of Pripyat. For others, it was an occasion to intensify research and understand the consequences to operate with facts, not with someone’s fantasies.
Many things were attributed to the disaster in Chernobyl in history: children-mutants, barren women, premature deaths… However, there was no more truth in it than in the myths about Hercules. It was all because of the eccentric attitudes in the media, low level of knowledge about nuclear power generation and the hieratic apocalyptic movies.
In fact, according to research, 31 people died immediately after the accident. And 20 years after the disaster the World Health Organization (WHO) made the conclusion that the total number of Chernobyl victims due to cancer and leukemia will be less than 4,000 people for all their lives. At the same time, almost the same number of victims – 4500 in the airplane crashes was recorded only for the period from 2010 to 2018. And these statistics applies only to the crashes of air transport.
Why is fast food not only fun and tasty, but also scary?
Speaking about “McDonald’s”, we, of course, mean any fast food. Italian pizza with fragrant sweet basil and mozzarella, juicy shawarma and even harmless (at first glance) thin pancake with cheese and ham are all examples of unhealthy fast food, which together with a sedentary lifestyle leads to adiposity. And this list of XXXL size includes already for a long time not only Americans, but also Russians and even Africans.
According to the WHO data, the number of obese people has more than tripled worldwide from 1975 to 2016. More than 1.9 billion adults over the age of 18 were overweight in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese. This is almost 13% of the adult population of the planet.
In 2017, the WHO cited new statistics, according to which about 2.8 million people die each year as a result of overweight or obesity. At the same time, 1.35 million people died in road accidents in 2018. Pulitzer Center predicts that this figure will increase almost threefold in 2030 – up to 3.6 million victims per year.
What is a car? Luxury, means of transportation or threat to life?
According to JATO, 44 million cars were sold in the world in the first half of 2018 alone, which is 3.6% more than in the same period of 2017. Analysts of the World Bank have estimated that at this rate there will be twice as many cars as today on the world’s roads by 2050. This means that, about 1.2 billion cars will be added over the next 30 years.
What is the threat of such an increase? On the one hand, the growth of population mobility may seem quite promising. After all, it will have a positive impact on the development of the world economy. On the other hand, such dynamics will entail serious problems.
Analysts at the World Bank suggest that the growth rates they have announced can create serious inequality in the economic and social spheres. In addition, the need for fossil fuels will increase. The environment will deteriorate, the number of deaths in traffic accidents and the level of air pollution will increase.
According to the annual “Statistical review of the world energy 2018”, prepared by British Petroleum, oil reserves should be sufficient approximately until 2070 taking into account the current situation. However, this figure may change if we take into account the forecasts of the World Bank regarding the growth rate of the number of cars.
However, not only vehicles are responsible for the state of the world’s ecology. Aviation, railway and shipping companies cause it no less damage.
Impact of cars on the environment
- atmospheric pollution;
- creation of greenhouse effect;
- noise pollution;
- electromagnetic pollution;
- emission of toxic waste; water,
- land and soil pollution.
Impact of water transport on the environment
- release of soot, dust, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons into the air;
- intrusion of sulphur dioxide, domestic, bilge and wastewater into natural water;
- environmental disasters associated with accidents on ships that transport toxic products.
Air transport and its harm to the environment
Travel by plane is one of the few ways for an ordinary person to throw into the atmosphere tons of harmful substances contained in the gases of aircraft engines at a time. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, water vapor and sulfur oxides, carbon oxides and solid particles enter the air.
One transatlantic flight increases your carbon footprint by 3.5 – 5 tons of CO2e. It is equivalent to 1,000 McDonald’s burgers eaten or a small forest burned. CO2e is the global warming potential of any greenhouse gas, the amount of which is equal to the amount of CO2 with the same global warming potential.
Comparison of air flights with burgers is given not by chance. According to the research of environmental organization Environmental Working Group, 1 kg of lamb will emit 39 kg of CO2-equivalent into the air for the entire production cycle. This corresponds to the exhaust of a new car for 130-140 km. The same mass of beef will emit 27 kg of CO2, pork and chicken – 12 kg and 7 kg of CO2e.
Now consider how much you need to keep a meatfree diet to reduce the impact of air transport on the environment.
Threat to the environment from rail transport
No matter how environmentally friendly the trains may seem, they still pose a threat to the environment, which is pollution of air, water and land during the construction and use of railways. Water sources suffer in the areas where carriages are washed and prepared. Cargo residues, mineral and organic substances, salts and a variety of bacterial pollutants get into it.
What can be done in this situation?
Major corporations that damage the environment by their activities introduce various measures to reduce environmental damage. This is largely due to government programs. Significant amounts are spent on the following actions:
- to reduce the negative impact on the atmosphere;
- to reduce wastewater discharge into the environment;
- to prevent surface and groundwater pollution;
- to reduce the negative impact of waste on the environment;
- to restore local ecosystems;
- to implement measures in the field of conservation and restoration of natural resources in specially protected areas.
Another way to save the ecology of the Earth can be development of technologies and creation of new types and methods of arranging passenger traffic and cargo transportation. However, unfortunately, not so many companies are ready to invest in new developments to change the future for our planet.
It is worth noting that not only transport is involved in air pollution. The industry, which participates actively in burning of fossil fuels, is also responsible for this disaster. According to the WHO, 7 million people die each year from air pollution in this way.
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, a famous German scientist, openly claims that 7.7 billion people are too many for our planet. They consume excessive amounts of energy. And, since the idea of reducing the population has not yet found a large number of followers, von Weizsäcker proposes to stop trading quotas for CO2 emissions, to multiply the tax on these emissions, both for cars and for industry, without reducing the prices for electricity. Otherwise, the same thing will happen as in Poland, where for the sake of saving citizens’ money for electricity generation, tons of environmentally harmful brown coal are burned up.
In addition, humanity has been living “in debt” to the planet since July 29. It’s because we have managed to spend the entire reserve of natural resources allotted for 2019. If we do not take actions, we are at risk of deforestation, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity. As a result – climate change, hunger, diseases.
A policy recommended by the WHO for implementation in all countries of the world, is aimed at the development of investment and support for cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing construction, energy production and industry. This will contribute significantly to the reduction of the main sources of air pollution in cities.
There is another solution proposed by the Belarusian engineer and inventor Anatoly Yunitski, a member of the USSR Cosmonautics Federation, the inventor of the SkyWay string transport technology; dozens of countries around the world are now showing interest in this technology, including the UAE, where the project is included in the infrastructure development strategy. He spoke about his SpaceWay space program, the essence of which is to bring all harmful production into Earth orbit and begin the industrialization of space. Then the biosphere will be freed from the negative influence of the technosphere, and humanity will have unlimited space resources at its disposal. However, the traditional methods of space exploration are not suitable for this task.
If humanity does not manage to achieve a crucial reduction of harmful emissions, rational use of earth resources, development of an environmentally friendly transport system, climate change can become irreversible, which, combined with obesity and mortality in road accidents, will call the survival of people into question.