English Health

Let’s Value the Environment : We only have one planet to live on part – 1

Welcome to the 1st weekly episode of the series Let’s Value the Environment. In this series, an educational approach has been adopted to present and detail the most important environmental topics in the contemporary world and to find the related vulnerabilities. Today, we speak of the paramount importance of the environment.

One of the topics of significance which has captured the attention of people in the contemporary world is the issue of environment and its related problems. Environment forms the bedding for the existence of living creatures and a source which meets the needs of mankind. However, currently, this divine blessing grapples with many plagues. The rapid destruction of the environment and the related global figures are rather shocking, leading national and international organizations to focus on the environment. Given the importance of this issue, this series has been presented in order to study each of the environmental elements and the pollutants and contaminations which threaten them.
Environment is referred to all places, in which life is underway. A collection of outside physical factors and living creatures which interact with each other form the environment and impact the growth and behavioral patterns of creatures. In other words, environment can be considered as a collection of elements of nature on Earth such as air, water, atmosphere, soil, plants, and animals which surround humans. Meanwhile, the definition of environment can differ in different countries based on the importance which each country attaches to the specific elements of the environment. For instance, in a country which attaches significance to seas and fishing, the environment is defined on this basis, or in a country which attaches importance to protection of forests and meadows, the environment is naturally defined with emphasis on forested regions and meadows. No matter how we define the environment, one should bear in mind human life is so dependent on the environment that the continuation of man’s life would be impossible in its absence. This is because the elimination of environment leads to elimination of mankind. In fact, the environment can exist in the absence of mankind, but, mankind cannot survive in the absence of the environment.

Scientists have divided Earth into four sections; which are namely lithosphere, consisting of stones and sand; hydrosphere; consisting of water which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface; atmosphere, which is comprised of gases which cover Earth; and finally the biosphere, which is the habitat of living creatures. Moreover, the role of the sun should also be mentioned. Earth absorbs 70% of sunrays. One percent of these sunrays are absorbed by plants and algae via the photosynthesis process. The 30% of remaining sunrays are reflected across the atmosphere. The biosphere would be wiped out in the absence of sunrays. Each part of the planet includes different ecosystems which in general form the environment. Meanwhile, the point of importance in definition of the environment is the role played by mankind in it.
Meanwhile, unfortunately, mankind, wittingly and unwittingly, has changed the natural process of the environment. According to a reliable report, which was released in the year 2001, all of the factors, which form the environment in the contemporary world, have been impacted by human activities. The 20th Century, as the result of mankind’s major technological and industrial achievements, was concurrent with the utmost domination of the nature by mankind. In fact, that century was named as the century of environmental crises. The devastating and catastrophic World War I , and World War II; a never-ending arms race in the aftermath of these wars; nuclear explosions; mounting growth of the population; the swift industrial growth; utilization of natural sources and environmental pollution were part of the destructive activities of mankind in that period of time. Hence, experts opine that mankind highly contributes to destruction and pollution of the planet. In fact, man claims to advance and develop the culture but concurrently pollutes his living environment. Some of the problems which have plagued the world due to inappropriate usage of the environment include the global warming; destruction of the ozone layer; deforestation, expansion of deserts; acidification of pure water and shortage of water sources, erosion of soil, a surge in usage of poisons and disinfectants, and most importantly, mounting environmental pollution.

This fact has been verified in the latest study carried out by the UN. The related UN report partly reads the impact imposed by mankind on the diversity of global biological sources has reached an all-time high. If this process is not halted, mankind would lose all of its major global interests.

Currently, 3.5 billion people in the world are dependent on seas, oceans, and their living environment for provision of food. Meanwhile, as the result of changes which mankind has made in the recent years, aquatics have decreased by up to 9% in numbers in some regions.
Undoubtedly, the pollution of the environment is one of the most important challenges which the contemporary mankind faces. Most certainly, mankind would not be able to continue its natural existence in the absence of a safe and healthy environment. Hence, in the recent years, protection of the environment has drawn the attention of mankind as one of the most important needs of humans.
Fortunately, the right to maintain a healthy environment is no longer an inaccessible aspiration. The Stockholm Declaration (1972), Global Charter of Nature (1982) and Rio Declaration (1992) are some of the documents which emphasize the right to maintain a healthy environment. Meanwhile, the 50th Tenet of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution identifies and points out this right.

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