Many environmental issues face the planet, from climate change and ocean pollution to farm expansion and the burning of fossil fuels. World organizations and activists try their best to combat them. These issues damage the world ecosystem, threaten species, and increase greenhouse gasses.
These issues constantly appear in world media and are a subject of much debate. But several environmental problems seem to fly under everybody’s radar. They may not seem as important, but their impact on the planet can’t be underestimated. In fact, they might be more harmful than the popular pollutants.
Mobile Phone Production
Smartphones are essential devices for millions of people. Some use them to watch movies, look for things that “do my assignment for me,” or chat on Facebook. While this is a great technology, some of its components are made from rare materials. They damage the environment when being created and disposed of.
Almost all phones need a mineral called coltan to work. Most of it comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its mines are under the control of rival armies. They use dangerous mining techniques and kill the local gorilla population.
Most smartphones aren’t properly recycled. The toxic elements in batteries, electronics, and plastics leak into landfills. They can contaminate the soil and the groundwater. That’s according to an environmental specialist from Columbia University called Steven Cohen.
Experts suggest that users keep their smartphones for as long as possible. This can considerably reduce their carbon footprint. If you don’t need a new phone, there’s no need to mine materials for it. This doesn’t cost a dime and makes less profit for the illegal miners from the African republic.
Concrete is a popular building material for homes, curbs, and roads. But concrete production is far from being environmentally friendly. During its production, there’s a lot of carbon dioxide being produced. This highly contributes to the greenhouse effect.
What’s even worse is that concrete prevents rainwater from entering the soil. Without enough drains for the excess water to leave, the areas can get flooded. The extra water can overwhelm the processing systems. As a result, local waterways are overwhelmed with pollutants and human waste.
Cement production is the 3rd highest producer of CO2. The only things worse are energy generation and traffic. It’s responsible for 4-5% of all emissions. The greenhouse gas is generated at two points.
- The byproduct of burning coal is to generate heat during the cement-making process.
- The thermal decomposition of calcium carbonate. It happens when a cement clinker is produced.
The situation is so bad that making 1 tonne of concrete produces 780 kg of CO2. 70% of emissions happen due to decarbonization, while the other 30% are from energy use. This shows the significant role concrete has in the construction industry.
Biofuels were supposed to replace traditional energy resources. There were high hopes for them, along with green energy. But they may actually be just as bad for the planet. Farmers often grow crops that include
Biofuels extracted from them make farmers leave arable land. They have to resort to cutting down forests. The treas that could store carbon monoxide are killed in the process. This makes the greenhouse effect even stronger. There’s also the problem of fertilizer production required for biofuel farming.
It releases a greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide. At this point, the use of biofuels makes reduced carbon emissions pointless. Some experts believe that biofuel products cause more problems than diesel and petrol. In particular, one of the greatest threats comes from corn-based ethanol.
But there’s hope that the next generation of biofuels will come from organic waste. Perhaps, researchers can come up with a way to produce them from plants that don’t need agricultural land.
People use various devices that work on batteries. Everything from cars and flashlights to smart devices and laptops requires them. Some people fail to dispose of them properly. That’s why they end up in landfills instead of recycling. This practice causes several issues for the environment and the human population.
As time passes, the batteries corrode, and their chemicals leak into the soil. They contaminate both surface and groundwater. This compromises the ecosystems that are inhabited by hundreds of animals and plants. Chemicals can also transfer into the water that comes from faucets.
Poorly disposed lithium batteries can cause landfill fires that go on for years. Toxic chemicals get into the air with the smoke. This doesn’t just contribute to global warming. It can affect breathing. Pollutants can travel large distances and end up in streams and lakes when it rains.
Another danger is posed by cadmium and nickel, which are carcinogens. Their presence in the soil and water can greatly increase the chance of developing cancer. Lead is also a common battery component. It can cause congenital disabilities and developmental and neurological damage.
Electric Car Manufacturing
Tesla and other electric car producers may have a way to turn transportation greener. But it doesn’t mean that their products are completely environmentally friendly. One of the major concerns is about their batteries. Without an alternative source of energy, they have to get bigger. For every 1 kWh of battery capacity, there’s 150 kg of CO2 produced.
A car that can go around 300 miles without charging needs a battery that’s at least a 60 kWh capacity. 9 tonnes of greenhouse gas will be produced as a result. On average, the creation of a single electric car produces from 16 to 19 tonnes of CO2. This can hardly be considered environmentally friendly.
Some of these issues can’t be fixed without an alternative solution. But most of them can be if people were more conscious of the environment. All they have to do is recycle better and keep their devices safe for longer use. There’s no need for an environmental organization to tell them about this. Check out recycling facilities near you today.