Pollution in the Ocean and the Atmosphere

By EMILY DAVIS

Pollution in the atmosphere and ocean has gotten significantly worse over the past decade. In the atmosphere, the major contributors to pollution are refineries, cars, and aerosols while the major contributors in the ocean are sewage draining and non-recyclable material. 

Refineries

The first major pollutant towards our atmosphere are refineries. While refineries turn crude oil into useful products such as petroleum, gasoline, and diesel fuel, they hurt the environment much more than they are helping it. As the refineries are working, they emit gases into our atmosphere, such as sulphur oxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and many others. These chemical gases can cause short-term and long-term health problems ranging from respiratory problems to severe brain damage from the inhalation of the fumes.

Cars

The second major pollutant in our atmosphere is cars. Since so many people in our world have gasoline cars, there is constantly carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide going into our world’s atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline causes the greenhouse emissions to increase dramatically, which is one of the leading causes of global warming. The effects of global warming include an increase of global temperature and rising of sea levels. Scientists predict that the average global temperature will rise by eight degrees by 2010. As more greenhouse gases are being emitted, they are being trapped inside of earth’s thick layered atmosphere. Each decade, the temperature rises approximately 0.23 degrees. This  may not seem like a lot, but with the population increasing at an exponentially high rate, this will most likely speed up the process of increasing temperature globally. The increasing sea levels aren’t a current problem, but in the long run it is a problem. With the global temperature rising it can cause the polar ice caps to melt. This would increase sea levels about four feet all around the world. If the ice melts in the north and south, that would disrupt many ecosystems and cause many species that live there to go extinct. 

Aerosols

The third and last major pollutant affecting Earth’s atmosphere are the use of aerosols.  Aerosols contain chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs, which is the main reason of why the ozone layer of the atmosphere is getting destroyed. CFCs are made up of fluorine, chlorine, and carbon bonded together. The ozone layer is what absorbs the harmful ultraviolet light that the sun emits, and when CFCs interact with ultraviolet light, they get broken up. As the CFCs enter into the stratosphere, they are no longer protected by the ozone layer. Therefore, they get broken up and release chlorine atoms among the ozone molecules. The chlorine molecules then take an oxygen molecule to create chlorine monoxide and it comes into contact with another oxygen atom. It breaks it back up and this is the process that destroys the ozone layer. One molecule of chlorine atom can destroy up to 100,000 ozone molecules. This is posing threat to humanity because without the ozone layer, ultraviolet radiation is exposed to us and can damage the skin, eyes, and immune system. 

Sewage 

The first major pollutant in the ocean is sewage. Sewage draining to the ocean can include bath and shower water, laundry machines, toilet flushing, and sink draining. These can harshly affect the environment because the chemicals that are used in all of theses actions harm the ecosystems in the water. Some of the main types of chemicals that are typically drained into the ocean are oil. Oil is one of the most destructive chemicals that are spilled or drained into the ocean because when it comes in contact with fur-bearing animals or bird feathers, it takes away the ability for that animal to repel water, therefore, the animal will die of hypothermia. 

Plastic

The second and last major pollutant in the ocean is plastic. It is the most major factor of ocean pollutants because of how many animals are affected by it. Approximitaly 60% of species in the ocean are affected by the plastic in the ocean. The animals may think that it is food, and as they ingest it, their digestive system cannot process it and they die. Each year, over one million marine animals die due to plastic ingestion. There are about 296,000 tonnes of plastic floating in the ocean and it makes up about 90% of all of the oceans debris. In the Pacific Ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch exists. It is an offshore plastic accumulation with a surface area of 1.6 million kilometers and it contains approximately 80,000 metric tons of trash.  More technology is being produced to clean the trash out of the ocean. One of the machines is a U-shaped device with a net that goes below the surface of the water. The machine moves with the current of the water so it follows where the current of the trash moves. The machine has already successfully cleaned out over 1.5 billion pounds of trash and it is still cleaning more out.

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