Environmental Issues in Developing and Developed Countries

Introduction

Inequality between developed and developing countries is quite high and keeps widening, there are many reasons for this, which includes: poor governance and government policies, lack of individual responsibility among others (Anonymous, 2010). The major global issues of concern today include: Energy, population growth, war and conflict, Environmental pollution, sustainable development, Natural disasters among others. Today’s global issues of concern are interconnected and should be studied that way; population growth will increase poverty which determines the types of energy adopted, it will cause resource conflicts as the demand for natural resources will be higher than the supply, urbanization, industrialization, and waste production is bound to increase leading to increased environmental pollution which will affect sustainable development (Global energy network institute, 2010). This paper therefore discuses some of the global issues of concern today, how they characterize in developed countries as opposed to developing countries, common interests of the two regions and how issues of pollution from carbon and other green house gasses can be addressed.

Energy

Energy is a basic necessity for manufacturing, heating, cooking, and transportation. Oil, gas, coal, hydroelectric power, nuclear power, Geothermal, Wind and solar energy are the primary sources of energy worldwide. There is a loose correlation between energy consumption and the gross national product. Today, about 40% of the world population lack access to modern energy of whom about 80% are from Africa. Developing nations have serious and widespread energy problems; about 90% of their population is affected by lack of sustainable and sufficient energy about 2 million people lack access to electricity and about the same number depend on fuels like charcoal, wood, crop residues, and animal dung for their indoor energy. Hence, developing countries face two serious problems in the energy sector which are lack of sufficient production and supply of traditional energy sources like wood, crop residue, charcoal, animal dung among others that expose them to health risks, environmental issues like pollution and deforestation, and economic threats. The second problem faced by the developing countries in the energy sector is inadequate production and uneven distribution of modern energy like liquefied gas, electricity, and petroleum products which produce lesser pollutants and improved quality of life (Barnes and Floor, 2010). Africa has a great potential of exploiting renewable energy sources like wind energy, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy. However, due to underdevelopment, lack of or limited technology, and high population, Africa largely relies on traditional sources, partially on renewable sources and limited non renewable energies.

The developed or industrialized countries however heavily rely on non-renewable energies like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power which are more expensive and environmental friendly hence lower health risks are associated with them. Most developed countries consume energy on large scale mainly for manufacturing purposes compared to the developing countries that are less industrialized (Suslick and Machado, 2010).

Population

In the last half a century the world human population has doubled to reach 6 billion by 1999, it is expected that by 2050, the world population is bound to rise up to 9.1 billion. Most of this growth occurs in the poor urban areas of the developing countries. Most of the populations in developed countries are ageing and were it not for migration from the developing countries, populations of the developed countries would actually decline (UNFPA, 2009).

High population growth rates in the developing countries can be attributed to poverty where more children are required to provide labor for the family, lack of education and family planning knowledge for the parents, lack of health care leads to high child mortality hence parents give birth to more children to compensate the loss, inadequate health facilities in the developing nations also means lack of facilities for family planning, traditions most of which still prevail in some parts of developing countries encourages large families, having many children is a form of old age security for the parents among others. Fast growing populations in the developing countries are associated with many negative impacts that include; inadequate food to feed the large population, environmental degradation due to over-exploitation of resources which may lead to wars and conflicts, widespread poverty et cetera.

Developed countries have almost an opposite scenario compared to the developing countries; they have access to medical facilities and family planning facilities hence their population growth rates are far much lower. They are however characterized by an aging population; developed countries therefore face a problem of lack of labor source.

Resource use

Natural resources include air and the atmosphere, wildlife, forests, soils, range and pasture, coal, water bodies, minerals among others. Developed countries utilize most of their resources compared to the developing countries which sell off most of their natural resources to the developed world because developing nations lack adequate capital to utilize most of their resources hence selling them off to the developed countries who have the technology, they also sell to acquire the capital they require for their economic development. The current nature of trade does not give the developing nations an opportunity to develop by utilizing their resources but encourages them to sell to the developed countries and hence continued inequality and higher debts of the developing nations. There is therefore a need for the developed world to introduce measures necessary to increase the power of developing countries in organizations like IMF, remove trade barriers, debt relief among others (Anonymous, 2009).

Sustainable development

With time, the world’s natural resources are becoming depleted hence the need to control their consumption so as conserve for the future generations; this is so especially for the non renewable resources. Sustainable development is achievable though in the developing countries there are major challenges limiting this, they include; overpopulation hence an increase demand for natural resources like forest land for human settlement and agriculture, increase exploitation of minerals to provide for the growing population. Sustainable development requires not just the knowledge but financial input as well. Unlike the developed nations, developing countries experience high levels of poverty which can limit them from achieving sustainable development by adopting unsustainable methods of resource exploitation because the more sustainable one are much more expensive hence unaffordable (Bean, 2008). The developed countries however have lesser populations and are free from poverty hence can achieve sustainable development though being much more highly industrialized they over utilize their resources and those of the developing nations in an unsustainable manner.

Common interests

Beside all the differences in the nature of the developed and the developing countries, there are many common interests between the two regions, these include; reduction of environmental pollution and climate change, sustainable development where both the regions have a desire to control the population growth rates, to adopt more environmental friendly energy sources among others. Basically, everyone wants to make the world a better place to be in although the cost of this is the issue as developed countries are highly industrialized and may not be willing to reduce the amounts of pollution they contribute whereas developing countries do have adequate technology to adopt sustainable development (Bean, 1998).

The carbon cycle and the different environments interfere with the balance

Carbon dioxide, Methane, water vapor, and ozone are the major green house gasses in the atmosphere and have been increasing with industrial revolution depending on the type of energy used; the amounts of these gasses in the atmosphere have also increased with the land use activity changes like clearing of forests, population increase, burning of coal, oil and natural gas. It is important to come up with ways of reducing the amounts of these gasses in the atmosphere by ensuring they are either absorbed back into nature through such processes as photosynthesis in plants absorption by water bodies or reduction in the production so that the earth temperatures do not keep increasing due to the trapping of heat in the lower atmosphere which interferes with agricultural productivity, increased or high sea level, drought and famine and in extreme cases it will make the earth inhabitable.

From the given pictures, the first one depicts a large smoke stack besides a large water body bordered by a forest. The smoke stack interferes with the carbon cycle by emitting large amounts of carbon which are however absorbed by the water body and the forest, however the smoke stack will produce more oxygen than the one absorbed by the trees and the water body hence interfering with the balance.

The second picture depicts a parking lot with vehicles surrounded by trees or maybe a forest. In this case the vehicles release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere that are utilized by the trees through photosynthesis however the vehicles parked are bound to produce less carbon and because the trees are many they will utilize more carbon than what the vehicles emit reducing the amount in the carbon cycle.

The third picture depicts a modern house with a car outside a large forest surrounding the homestead, in this case carbon is produced by the cart and from the house depending on the type of energy utilized this carbon is however utilized by the trees surrounding the homestead but since it is a rich neighborhood we assume there is less indoor pollution hence trees utilize more carbon than what is produced lessening the amount in the carbon cycle.

The last picture shows a large forest with a homestead inside and a large water body with many people who probably live nearby. These people produce carbon from their homes that is used by the trees in photosynthesis and some absorbed by the water body, considering that the forest is so thick, it is probable it absorbs more carbon than is produced reducing the amounts of carbon in the carbon cycle.

Green house gas reduction

The sun emits heat that reaches the earth’s surface, these heat is supposed to be reflected back into the atmosphere which however is not the case as a layer of gasses surrounding the earth prevent the heat from flowing back into the atmosphere which then leads to a general increase of temperatures across the earth lower atmosphere, this temperature increase is referred to as global warming. The green house gasses include methane, carbon dioxide, ozone, and water vapor. It should be noted however that they are an important part of the atmosphere as they keep temperatures higher than they could have been without their being, however, the problem develops when their amounts are increased or rise beyond the required hence leading to extreme temperature increase. The earth could have been inhabitable without their existence but it is also inhabitable when they are produced or are much increased in the atmosphere hence there is a need to regulate the amounts of green house gasses in the atmosphere. Their sources are many, they include fossil fuels which when used (for energy) produce large amounts of carbon, transport systems where vehicles produce large amounts of green house gasses especially when they use gasoline as a form of fuel to run their engines, waste material and water in the process of decay release methane and other gasses that contribute to global warming. Considering the effects, there is a dire need to reduce the production of green house gasses into the atmosphere. This can only be achieved through taking into consideration the concerns of both developed and developing countries. Some of the measures would include: introducing penalties and fines to any person or industries releasing levels of green house gasses that would be considered adverse by an international agreement, this will force people to consider more environmental friendly method of production to reduce global warming.

Legislation where all countries should introduce laws limiting the amount of green house gasses they produce as a country in general and that individual factories release in the atmosphere, this will drive them into considering options so as to save themselves from breaking law and protecting the globe from global warming (Suslick and Machado, 2010).

If a form of carbon trade is introduced where organizations producing carbon are forced to plant trees to utilize this carbon maintaining the carbon cycle balance then the amount of destruction from green house gasses would reduce considerably. Those not able to accomplish this limitations will then have to trade with organizations with lower production of carbon and larger utilization like those with trees absorbing more carbon than they are producing.

In the effort to reduce green house gasses in the atmosphere it is important for the various stakeholders to develop ways of reducing water pollution as water bodies play a major role in regulating the atmosphere by absorbing most of the carbon release in to the atmosphere, providing a surface for increasing water vapor in the atmosphere hence reducing the impact of increased temperature.

Conclusion

The globe today is under a threat from the amounts of pollution caused everyday by both the developed and the developing countries; this therefore raises a worldwide concern where measures need to be put in place to check the levels of pollution from our development and industrialization. Besides environmental pollution, other issues of concern today include; types of energy adopted, population growth and poverty, resource availability & utilization, and sustainable development.

Sometimes development takes place so fast that we assume the impacts it may have on the atmosphere. Sustainable development is therefore called for so as to check the resource utilization rates which should not interfere with the needs of the future generations and types of energy under utilization which should not contribute much to pollution. The developed nations need to lend the developing nations a hand in their development plan so that they adopt eco-friendly methodologies. The most important part however is to ensure measures are adopted to reduce the amount of pollution by developing global agreements by all countries so as to ensure the environment remains a safe place to dwell in.

Reference

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Barnes D. F. and Floor W. M., (2010). Rural Energy In Developing Countries: A Challenge for Economic. New York: Prentice Hall

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