Since ancient times, human beings have been persistent in modifying their environment through changes in various natural resources. However, the commencement of Industrial Revolution paved way for much of human activity that has had a strong impact on the global landscape. It is without question that the activities of human affect the composition of the environmental balance. Nevertheless, the unprecedented move of humanity toward industrialization over the past several thousands of years has resulted in serious concerns on the energy balance of the entire planet.
The dramatic changes in the environmental makeup are clearly within humans today, attested by various environmental pollutants and their impact throughout much of the globe (Mayewski). In New England, the environmental pollution influenced by man has brought about extreme conditions recorded in history. Thus, this paper seeks to understand and identify three of the environmental issues in the New England area that existed within the past 10 years and still exist today that negatively affected the environment and the society.
Extreme Climatic Event Due to Human Induced Causes The weather and climate in New England is considered to be the most varied in the globe because they include extremes of temperatures as well as heavy rainfalls, hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes, blizzards, and the likes. The said weather and climate variations in the state are influenced by many factors such as its geographical setting. Hence, the region’s weather is identified as notorious, characterized by its capability to change in a matter of minutes.
However, the said climate changes are not only a result of the region’s geographical location; human-induced causes were also accounted for the dramatic changes in the state’s weather and climate. The continuous emission of airborne pollutants coming from industrial landscapes, metropolitan areas, transportation corridors, and other polluting human activities affect weather patterns on a regional landscape (Zielinski).
As the people of New England incessantly engage in pollution-inducing activities, the past decade in New England history witnessed episodic ozone events, one of which is the recent tornado that struck New Hampshire on July 24, 2008. The tornado traveled through 11 towns from 11:30am to 12:50pm, killing one person, damaging more than 200 homes and structures, and destructing thousands of trees. However, what is puzzling about the occurrence of the said calamity is the fact that tornadoes do not usually happen in New England, since 1950 only 9 tornadoes occurred in the said state.
The cool temperature in the state stabilizes the atmosphere, suppressing the opportunity for the development of tornadoes (Forbes). However, with this recent activity and the increasing number of individuals contributing to the induction of pollution, it can be assumed that the reason behind such catastrophe is associated with the climate and weather altering capabilities of the human-induced pollutions.
Although there are interventions in order to avoid human-induced pollutions that contribute to the series of climatic events in New England, the continuous support of individuals in the use of potentially hazardous environmental materials is still widespread. Air Pollution Air pollution is also another environmental issue in New England. The major metropolitan centers and transportation areas in the region are pointed as the primary contributors for the release of hazardous chemicals in the air. The issue of air quality in New England is notable during the season of summer in the said state.
In a 2002 study, it was noted that every summer, the high temperature in New England raises ozone alerts and poor air quality. To quote Jim Meagher of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s): “A review of air pollution episodes in New England suggests that blobs of polluted air often lurk in the Gulf of Maine during the summer months, causing high pollution levels in coastal areas” (qtd. in McGehan and Seif). Such claim was backed up by the American Lung Association of New England (ALANE) saying that the public is at risk for ozone poisoning every summer in the New England region.
Just last year, it was recorded that New England had 54 days of high levels of ground level-ozone caused by pollutants emitted by cars and the burning of fossil fuels from power plants, refineries, industrial boilers, and other sources that chemically react with sunlight. According to the EPA, if the ozone level lasted for 98 days, the air quality in the said area could have been qualified as unhealthy. It was also found that due to such high levels of ozone in the region, New England was reported the highest asthma rates among the states in the USA.
Studies also show that if such pattern of high ozone levels will remain, not only will it be a danger to the individuals suffering from respiratory diseases, but it can also lead to premature death for children and destruction of nature’s balance through the depletion of ozone layer and the degradation of soil and water. While the people from New England blame the states from the west because of such pollution, ALANE stated that typical New England states like Connecticut creates 40% of air pollution through automobiles and other local sources (qtd in “ALANE says Stronger Air”).
As a response to the ongoing issue of air pollution in New England, the region has adhered to the Clean Air Act, a federal law regulating air emission from both stationary and mobile sources. As a result, the sulfur oxide emissions in the region have reduced. Likewise, most of the companies in the region are permitting air emissions in order to reduce excess smoke and pollution and multi-organization efforts are done in order to continuously test the air quality in New England. Water Pollution
In the recent New England study, it was found that the water quality in the said region has already improved right after the adoption of advanced treatment of municipal and industrial wastes. However, there are still areas in the state experiencing low quality ground and surface water (Foster). Just in 2008, a complaint was filed against Kaler Oil Company Inc. in North Bath, Maine and other oil storage and distribution company when they failed to prepare and fully implement the “Spill and, Control, and Countermeasure” (SPCC) which is required by the federal Clean Water Act.
Without the instant response, the possibility of drinking contaminated water could have lead to poisoning. Kaler Company and the others that failed to comply faced a maximum penalty of $157, 500 (MTBE Staff). Another case was that of the lawsuit filed against the New Hampshire’s regional fuel suppliers who were responsible for contaminating surrounding areas ground water with the use of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). MTBE is a substance added to the gasoline supplies of the nation in order to cut down pollution emissions. However, despite the advantages posited by such substance, MTBE chemically binds with ground water.
Unlike other form of pollutants that can be filtered, MTBE is resistant and can develop into a much harmful chemical overtime. Hence, aside from its risk for the human health, it is feared by the officials that high concentrations of MTBE can go undetected for many years and can be the reason for the deterioration of the region’s bedrock aquifers. The filed lawsuit is said to be still away from the trial, but the citizens and local officials of New Hampshire are lobbying for the case to go on trial (Wacker). Based on the cases aforementioned, it is evident that water pollution is not only a human concern, but also a burden to the environment.
Based on the above perspectives, what New England is experiencing and have experienced during the past years may not be in the same wavelength as that of the impact of Chernobyl incident in Ukraine, an incident that rooted from the desire of humans to amass nuclear power and further urbanization and industrialization, which ended in a tragic way and is continuously affecting the lives of many citizens. However, just like the Chernobyl incident, there is a possibility that the present environmental issues impacting present generation can be carried out in the near future.
Just like what Maryann De Leo’s Chernobyl Heart Documentary presented, the long term impact of present day activities could affect innocent children. Though it can be assumed that the local government in New England is seeking solutions for the ongoing environmental issues being experienced by the state, the continuous support of the citizens to activities that induce environmental pollution should not be disregarded, as it may result in the total degradation of the environment and human health.
The long-term effect of environmental balance destruction should also be safeguarded, as the broad range of nature’s destructive capabilities is still unpredictable to date.
“American Lung Association of New England (ALANE) says stronger air quality standards urgently needed. ” Medical News Today. 26 May 2008. 5 March 2009 <http://www. medicalnewstoday. com/articles/108655. php>. Chernobyl Heart Documentary. 2003. Dir. De Leo, Maryann.
Downtown TV Documentaries Production. Foster, Debra. “New England water is improving but problems remain, says new USGS report. ” Bio-Medicine. 30 April 1999. 5 March 2009 <http://news. bio- medicine. org/biology-news-2/New-England-Water-Is-Improving-But-Problems- Remain–Says-New-USGS-Report-13182-1/>. Forbes, Greg. “Record New England tornado. ” The weather channel. 1 August 2008. 5 March 2009 <http://www. weather. com/blog/weather/8_16563. html>. Mayewski, Paul A.
“New England’s Changing Climate, Weather, and Air Quality: Chapter 1- Global Climate Change Sets the Stage for Viewing Climate Change in New England. ” New England Climate Initiative (NECI). 1998. 5 March 2009 <http://www. neci. sr. unh. edu/neccwaq. html>. McGehan, Barbara and Seif, Amy. “Air quality study focuses on New England. ” U. S. Department of Energy. 9 July 2002. 5 March 2009 <http://www. eurekalert. org/features/doe/2002-07/dnl-aqs071902. php>.