How to Wreck the World
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God gave humankind the role of manager over the natural world. This task includes the care of all life on the earth, not just human life. It requires thought for future generations, as use of earth’s resources can do irreparable damage.
Power stations and some other industries discharge sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. At certain concentrations this returns to the earth in acid rain, which may fall hundred’s of miles from the point of discharge. Trees begin to die and rivers are poisoned.
Densely populated areas with many industries suffer a reduction in the quality of the air people breathe. This is not good for people or for natural life. Petrol fumes in some countries also have a high lead content that may damage children’s mental health.
Chemical factories are often built in populated areas where labor is plentiful. Relatively small mishaps can have disastrous consequences, as when a gas explosion in Mexico City, or a cloud of poisonous gas in Bhopal, India, killed many hundreds of people.
The urgent need for wood products, especially for the paper industry, tempts countries shot of cash to allow excessive tree-felling. It takes years to replace a tree. Deforestation has catastrophic effects on soil fertility, and on the rich natural life of the forests.
The soil can be used for short-term gain so as to impoverish its future fertility. This can happen through over-intensive farming and fertilization; or through burning manure and trees for domestic fuel, as in many poor countries.
In the early days of testing nuclear weapons (1950s & 1960s), remote areas such as the Pacific Islands and Australian deserts were badly affected by fallout. Test ban treaties have improved things, but what could be the results of extending conflict into space?
As nuclear fuels are increasingly used for energy, the radioactive by-products have to be disposed of. Sometimes they are dumped at sea. No disposal method has yet been found that is guaranteed harmless in the long-term and radioactive long-term is very long indeed.
Rivers, lakes, and seas are sometimes poisoned by industrial waste, and sometimes polluted by oil spillage. Seabirds, fish, and other marine life are gravely affected, and the balance of nature disturbed.
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