"Human survival will depend on effective measures to cope with ecological problems". Discuss.
In the world we live in today, there has been an increasing frequency of environmental threats. Take for instance the highly polluted air in Hong Kong, which has killed two times the number of people who died from the SARS outbreak in Singapore or the aluminum spill in Hungary, which resulted in six deaths and left hundred over people injured. These problems are no doubt caused by human activities. Effective measures when put in place, will serve to inhibit humans from continuing these environmentally destructive activities or educate the people to deal with the circumstance. However, it is also important to note that these measures do have their limitations and cannot be fully depended on to guarantee human survival. Hence, human survival will depend on effective measures to cope with ecological problems to a certain degree only.
As most ecological problems are caused by human activities, effective measures can play the role of inhibiting these activities. During the industrial revolution in the 1800s, many products containing chlorofluorocarbons were produced. For example, they were used in aerosol propellants and refrigerants. Since then, there have been a huge amount of CFCs emitted into the atmosphere. These compounds reacted with the ozone layer, depleting it and allowing more UV rays to enter the Earth, causing an increased number of people contracting skin cancer and having eye cataracts. As such, the Montreal Protocol which was an international agreement between countries to phase out CFCs was created in 1989. CFC containing products were banned in the participating countries and it has been recently shown in research the ozone hole had become smaller. Subsequently, the number of people suffering from skin cancer and eye cataracts has also decreased. The inhibition of the manufacturing of CFC containing products has decreased the number of people suffering from skin cancer and cataracts. This shows that measures which stop human activities that cause environmental degradation will increase chances of human survival.
Education is a crucial measure for human survival against ecological problems. Through education, the people will learn to look out for signs if there is an impending disaster or learn how to react to the situation. This has been proven successful in saving human lives from the example of Tilly Smith, a 10 year old British girl. She remembered from her geography lessons on the warning signs of a tsunami. Seeing the water moving away from the shore in Phuket, she recalled her teacher explaining that there are about 10 minutes from the moment the ocean draws out from the shore before a tsunami will strike. Tilly told her mother, who in turn alerted other tourists. Hence, the people there managed to escape from the tsunami in the nick of time. Drills are also conducted regularly in earthquake-prone countries, such as Japan, to familiarize the people on what to do in the event of an earthquake. Thus the people will remain vigilant and not panic when an earthquake strikes, which is an important factor for their survival as they are knowledgeable about the situation.
However, all these measures are not fully effective and cannot be fully depended on. Take for instance the channelization technique, river alignment, which is a measure taken to prevent floods. Meanders are cut from the river so that there will be less friction between the river bed and the river. This will result in the water draining out of the area at a faster rate, which in turn decrease the instances of floods. This measure may be considered effective in preventing floods in that particular area, however there are loop holes. When this method is carried out upstream, the large amount of water being received downstream is too much for the river channel to contain, thus causing floods and still is a threat to humans.
Conclusively, the effective measures used to combat ecological problems cannot be fully relied on to guarantee human survival.
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