11 Environmental Protection
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11. Environmental Protection
Civilization has brought people many advantages but its products also pollute and damage the environment in which we live. Some countries have been implementing policies to protect the environment against pollution from industry and other sources for more than a century, while in the Czech Republic we are only at the beginning. Pollution affects air, water land, forests, people, animals and plants.
Technology has an important role to play in reducing pollution and developing new means for reducing harmful emissions. It can be used to protect the environment in several ways, including basic changes, which result in less waste or pollution, and developing ways to recycle materials. Waste materials, which were previously dumped, can be converted into useful products. “End-of-pipe" systems can be installed to clean up emissions. And cleaner or less harmful alternative products may be manufactured.
Air pollution is the biggest problem in large cities and in areas with concentrated industrial production. Emissions range from smoke, dust, and smells to car and lorry exhausts. What happens? First factories send gases and chemicals into the air, there they mix and are carried for hundred miles by the wind. Trees are vitally important for our life because they are the lungs of our planet. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air and give out oxygen in return. In some parts of the world, such as Asia and South America, trees are not threatened by pollution, but by people. The great rain forests are being destroyed for firewood and building materials. Since the Amazon rain forest covers an area as large as the whole of Europe and contains one third of the world’s trees, scientists believe that it provides 50 per cent of the worlds annual production of oxygen. If we lose tropical forests, it will become more difficult, perhaps even impossible, to breathe. With more carbon dioxide in the air, the temperature will rise; the ice caps at the North and South Poles will melt, and the sea level will rise which wi1l result in the flooding of many coastal cities.
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