First thing which came to my mind before I sat to write on this topic was ‘Are we extravagant?’
Yes, of course, the way which we have used our limited resources and contributed to its loss. On your way to movie theater or activity, it’s easy to grab a cold from the shop, right?
Have you ever imagined the fossil fuel used to make bottle utilizes almost so much of fuel that can be used to cook food for three days? And for every seven water bottle we use, only one make to recycle bin according to the study by National Geographic Channel.
Several other small examples can be set to define us extravagant. Water we let go off in our house hold work mindlessly can contribute to several to several lakh gallons of water a year. Mere wasting of extra food we order in a party takes several acres of cutting down of forest to fill the lands with such waste. Every one of us acts as a ‘point-source’ of pollution in terms of environmental science and measures are mandatory from every citizen on earth to control this.
Environmental pollution is a serious menace to our existence. India has been ranked at the 125th spot in terms of tackling pollution and natural resource management challenges.
There are various ways in which our environment is getting polluted, such as, Industrial pollution, deforestation, urbanization, domestic wastes, sewage, plastics, radioactive elements etc.
Land pollution, in other words, means degradation of earth’s surface and soil, directly or indirectly as a result of human activities are conducted citing development, and the same affects the land drastically we witness land pollution; by drastic we are referring to any activity that lessens the quality and/ or productivity of the land as an ideal place for agriculture, forestation, construction etc. The degradation of land that could be used constructively in other words is land pollution. This has lead to a series of issues that we have come to realize in recent times, after decades of neglect. The increasing numbers of barren land plots leads to soil erosion for they can never be made fertile again. Forest cover is also decreasing at an alarming rate. The effects of land pollution are very hazardous and can lead the ecosystem to a jeopardy. When land is polluted, it directly or indirectly affects the climatic patterns which take a heavy toll on us.
Water bodies are being constantly polluted all over the worlds by various dangerous chemical and biological wastes. Water pollution is a major concern in the third world countries. The most common factors that contribute to the contamination of water would be sewage, radioactive wastes, improper disposal of waste on land, and many more. For example when sewage and fertilizers are released into the water, the nutrients from these waste leads to an abnormal growth in water organisms like the algae and water plants this blocks the waterways and create a layer at the top surface of the water thus blocking the oxygen in the water which would harm the other fauna in the water bodies, who too requires oxygen just like we humans do. Another example is the Minamata disease sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease is a neurological disease caused by severe mercury poisoning. Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methyl mercury in the industrial waste water from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bio accumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which, when eaten by the local populace, resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig and human death continued for thirty-six years, the Government and the Company did little to prevent the pollution symptoms. Another source of water pollution is radio active substances found in oils and factory sewages. They damage the water eco system as the temperature in water rises when factory wastes like coolants are disposed into water and this rise in temperature leads to total discomfort to water life. If this present scenario of polluting water is not considered seriously, then it would lead to great danger in the future.
Air pollution affects a far larger number of people than does water or land pollution. It is an unwanted change in the quality of earth’s atmosphere caused by emission of gases due to burning of fossil fuels, out pouring of ashes and gases from the particulate matter due to soil erosion. Polluted air contains CO2 , CO, NO2, SMP, SO2 and oxides of lead. Excessive rise of gases and chemical pollute air. These are all poisonous gases which cause incurable diseases like lungs cancer, pneumoconiosis, etc.
A great tragedy took place in Bhopal in December 1984 with the accidental escape of forty-five tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide Factory. The cool night time north wind spread this poisonous cloud over nearly all of Bhopal. But the concentration was densest in the 1.5 km radius of the factory, resulting in the death of about three thousand people, and lifelong debilitation and untold suffering for sixty thousand more. Another major disaster which took place was a catastrophic nuclear accident on 26th April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. An explosion and fire released more than a hundred times the radiation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the atmosphere which spread over much of western USSR and Europe. Thirty-one people died shortly after the explosion.
There are seventy thousand different types of chemical entering our mother earth as a point source or continuous source. It is rather impossible to control every of these chemicals. We have to work categorically and take small steps in day-to-day activities to control such hazards. Scientific studies are on going to determine the global burden of such environmental imbalance, but policies employed to cut down these waste loads are not proving beneficial. To say, Government is responsible or to say individual, is absolutely wrong. It is our duty collectively to go green and make people aware about the 3R’s i.e. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Measures are being taken to control the rate of pollution and studies are being done to calculate the indices of pollution. But the paradox lies in the fact that with developing society the average pollution rate has increased. Nature is in no mood to stand any more abuses and excesses. Thus man must realize the continual growth can lead only to destruction.
Aditi Das, pursuing B.A. (Eng. Hons.) from Calcutta University, can be contacted at email@example.com.
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When designing Firefly newborn phototherapy with East Meets West Foundation and Vietnamese manufacturing partner MTTS, we used the human-centered design process to create environmentally friendly products that also benefit people living in poverty. Human-centered design (HCD) is a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users and other stakeholders of a product are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. During the Firefly design process, Design that Matters used HCD techniques including interviews and observations to understand the needs of healthcare providers, parents and newborns as well as our manufacturing and implementation partners. Especially for entrepreneurs focused on lifting people out of poverty in developing countries, the environment can seem like a luxury consideration in the face of meeting basic necessities like food, water, and energy. We enabled our partners to put saving newborn lives at the center, and in doing so, yielded a device that lasts longer, has no disposable parts, and uses 20 times less energy than the most popular overhead LED phototherapy lamp used in the United States. Our Firefly partners found using human-centered design was a natural process to simultaneously consider many requirements including environmental sustainability.
Avoiding the Medical Equipment Junkyard
Through interviews with healthcare providers and observations of the hospital environments in Vietnam, India, Nepal, Indonesia, and the Philippines, we noticed every hospital had a junkyard of broken medical equipment. Most anyone working in global health has seen this phenomenon.
At one hospital, a physician may show you a donated anaesthesia machine that worked once before it broke (true story); at another, an administrator will open the door to a spare room dedicated to storing broken and inoperable equipment: the “medical device graveyard” of the hospital.
- Mike Meisen, Gradian Health Systems, posted on Why.Dev
In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 80% of donated medical equipment in the developing world is never even turned on. Most equipment that reaches developing countries is designed for a Western context which presupposes air-conditioned facilities, filtered air, no bugs, easy access replacement parts, and surge-protected wall power. Staff we interviewed in low resource hospitals reported the most common phototherapy lamp failures are: burnt-out halogen light bulbs (which are expensive and not locally available), power surges (which fry the electronics), and other unknown malfunctions that render the devices useless. As we began the Firefly design effort, we also used HCD techniques to gather feedback from our manufacturing partner who has over a decade of experience designing, manufacturing, installing, and repairing newborn health equipment in low resource hospitals. We asked them to tell stories from the field while giving us a tour of the inside and outside of their existing equipment, a classic HCD technique that helps people remember past experiences. One of the most striking observations was that the electronic cooling fan is often the first thing to break, causing devices to overheat and burn out.