Rushikesh Rajendra Sankpal who is a microbiologist by profession with more than eight years of experience (research and lectureship) in the fields of Life and Environmental Sciences. At present, he is working as an Assistant Professor– Microbiology at Sinhgad College of Science, Pune. Mr Sankpal, our guest blogger writes about environment, pollution and much more in his blog in Polluted Planet: the Point to Ponder…………

Human race with their astonishing and inexplicable brains are stepping towards the techno-advanced world so fast that we have created an enigma which has to be solved and taken care of , failing which we may lose our pristine planet.

Pollution is a broad term. It means that any act of ours that contaminates the environment Types of pollution include; water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, land (soil) pollution, and thermal pollution. Waste can be described as a wrong material at a wrong place at a wrong time in wrong proportions, adding to pollution of the environment. These can be categorized as; biomedical waste, e-waste, biodegradable waste, synthetic and non-biodegradable waste, nuclear waste, industrial waste, agricultural waste, solid waste, domestic waste, heavy metals, etc.

The rate of pollution can be associated with following activities: human overpopulation and overcrowding, deforestation, excessive use of limited resources, urbanization, construction, warfare, industrialization, faulty research and development experiments, mining, transportation, poverty, illiteracy, misuse of technologies and inventions, lack of awareness, faulty regulations, implementation of laws, passive public participation, government schemes, policies and economy, ethics and social responsibility.

Pollution is an outcome of many direct and indirect activities of natural and anthropogenic borne. It may affect the system at moderate to a greater level. Many living organisms are suffering from the detrimental and life-threatening effects of pollution. This adds to the 6th mass extinction that we are witnessing today. As a result, incidences like bioaccumulation, biomagnification and various associated diseases are recorded and reported. The global atmospheric alterations are turning lethal, they include ‘global warming’ (the change in the temperature of the earth, it is a rise in temperature which was not recorded before in such a small duration of time) causing melting of polar ice and glaciers and accelerating the rise in sea level, acid rain (acidic pH of rainwater causes ill effects on other systems, due to sulphur and nitrogen oxides), ozone-depleting substances are depleting ozone layer in stratosphere (which blocks the harmful ultraviolet rays and protects us). Water quality management is an additional big affair as we have finite freshwater resources. If the general characteristics of water like physical parameters (including colour, viscosity, odour, temperature etc.), chemical parameters (like pH, salt and ion concentration etc.), and biological parameters (like microbial load, pathogens and other living entities, eutrophication rate etc.) are altered, the system no longer will sustain the stability and will hamper all the linked processes. The improper soil and land management is a major problem (fast deforestation and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are making the soil infertile). Nowadays we can see the acceleration in the formation of desert, barren lands and salted soil. Noise levels are going elevated causing the nuisance to living beings (associated ill-effects are hearing damage or deafness, and other health complications). Concerns associated with the nuclear pollution including its effects on systems are under study. (however, careless handling of nuclear materials could be very unsafe to the living cells, being a potent mutagen it can cause cancer to an organism if exposed for a long time)

Overall pollution is detrimental to the ecosystem. Every living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) thing is associated with each other directly or indirectly (by food chain, food web and as a part of the ecosystem). So any minor change anywhere in the system may alter the entire ecosystem, and to save this we should act very wisely.

Modern fields like Restoration Ecology, Environmental Management, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Sustainable Development (SD) are focusing on the salvage. In general; formal and informal education, environmental awareness, reduce-reuse-recycle approach, use of eco-friendly and biodegradable products, use of bio-based products (like bio-pesticides, bio-fertilizers, bio-fuel and bio-energy sources) instead of chemical or synthetic ones , afforestation, controlled and well-governed use of nuclear material; genetically modified organisms and newly invented technologies under the proper guidance of the expert, careful use of clean energy and renewable energy sources, zero-waste policies, the wise use of local and traditional knowledge when possible, strong rules and regulations (laws and government policies) all these approaches will help us attain the sustainable development.

As an environmental steward; we should collectively work towards achieving balanced biosphere.

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