Environmental Disasters That Have Been Caused by Humans
The main enemy of ecology is a man. All terrible environmental are man-made disasters, and their consequences will be felt for a long time. We will tell you about the most famous ones.
On 26 April 1986, there was an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that completely destroyed one of the reactors. 31 people died on the day of the tragedy, but the real consequences of this monstrous catastrophe are so immense that they cannot be measured.
The prevention of the devastating consequences of the Chernobyl tragedy was complicated by the desire of the authorities to conceal the fact of the accident and prevent panic in the population, as a result of which tens of thousands of residents of nearby settlements did not take the necessary safety measures. Also, the environment in the entire eastern part of Europe has been severely damaged. Several tens of tons of radioactive substances (plutonium, cesium, strontium, and uranium) were released into the atmosphere.
Desert Instead of Sea
One of the world’s environmental disasters is the significant loss of water in the Aral Sea, the level of which has dropped by 14 meters in thirty years. The Aral Sea, and in fact the lake, was once considered the fourth largest lake on the planet. But the active development of the nearby fertile land began in the 60s of the last century, and most of the Syrdarya and Amudarya began to be diverted through a system of channels for irrigation and economic needs of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan.
Uncontrolled pumping of water for agricultural needs has had tragic consequences. The lake has been almost completely drained in fifty years. Its recharge with fresh water was disproportionate to the volume of pumping. Today, clouds of sand and dust containing pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers that have been in the Aral Sea for decades rise above the dried-up sea bottom and disperse into nearby fields and settlements. Many people have, of course, run away to save themselves and their children. But many had nowhere to go… The problem of the disappearance of the Aral Sea was simply ignored for a long time. The public only learned about it in the 80s during the period of publicity. However, the publicity of the ecological disaster did not contribute to its solution in any way. It is unlikely that it will be possible to fully restore the Aral Sea.
One of the most deadly environmental disasters in the world is the catastrophe in the Indian city of Bhopal. On the third December 1984, an accident occurred at a local chemical plant, which resulted 42 tons of poisonous chemical methyl isocyanate in the release. The immediate cause of the tragedy was the accidental release of methylisocyanate vapor, which heated above the boiling point in the plant tank.
The result is increased pressure and rupture of the emergency valve. A cloud of the poison immediately covered the nearby slums and the railway station. The high population density, the lack of qualified medical personnel, and the wind that was rapidly spreading the chemical throughout the city played a fatal role in the tragedy. Four thousand people died in a few hours. Another 14,000 died in subsequent years from chemical poisoning. The exact cause of the tragedy, despite numerous proceedings, cannot be determined.
Smash of Prestige
One of the biggest incidents causing serious damage to the environment is the wreckage of the oil tanker “Prestige”. The accident took place on November 19, 2002, on the coast of Europe. The ship was hit by a strong storm, which caused a huge hole more than thirty meters long to form in its hull. Every day the tanker lost at least one thousand tons of oil, which was poured into the waters of the Atlantic.
The Spanish coastal authorities refused to allow the vessel to enter the ports near the crash site. An attempt was made to tow the ship to the nearest ports in Portugal, but Portugal banned the entry of the emergency tanker into its waters. The emergency tanker was towed out to sea. Eventually, the tanker broke up into two parts, sinking with all the cargo stored on it. The total amount of oil that entered the Atlantic Ocean was 20 million gallons. The oil slick stretched for thousands of kilometers near the shoreline, causing enormous damage to all marine and coastal fauna, as well as to the local fishing industry.
In the early 1970s, Soviet geologists found large underground gas accumulations in Turkmenistan as a result of exploration work. During the development of the gas field, there was a large collapse, a crater with a diameter of 70 meters filled with gas was formed. The gas that escaped from the crater could pose a real threat to the lives of people and animals who were nearby, so it was decided to set fire to it.
However, the expedition staff underestimated the volume of natural gas. Days, months, years pass but the gas does not stop, and the flame keeps blazing. Since 1971, the natural gas that comes out of the crater has been burning continuously day and night. Such endless gas leaks not only harm the environment but also deplete other fields in the region.
Old TVs, recorders, speakers, telephones, printers, and other equipment from all over the world are gathered at the largest “electronic cemetery” in China. The city of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province is considered one of the dirtiest places on the planet. The giant landfill here covers 52 square kilometers! Many countries send tons of old electronics here to avoid the high costs of building recycling plants.
There are no factories in Guangzhou. People disassemble equipment with their bare hands. The landfill workers simply burn the equipment to make this metal stand out faster. It’s hard to imagine the smell which standing over the province. Substances are continuously released into the air that poison the atmosphere and people’s health. The locals and there are about 300,000 of them, suffer from lung, skin diseases, and oncology.
On the fourth October of 2010, Hungary’s biggest environmental disaster occurred in the west. More than one million cubic meters of highly toxic aluminum waste was spilled as a result of the destruction of a toxic waste reservoir in the town of Ayka, 160 kilometers southwest of Budapest. This waste is called red slam, as it contains a high percentage of iron oxide and other heavy metals that are dangerous for life. Slam has spread over forty square kilometers of land, flooding everything in its path: arable land, roads, railroads, a gas pipeline, and seven settlements. The most affected cities were Kolontar and Dechever. People in the affected communities, unaware of the danger, walked on the melted slam, tried to save their cars, animals, cellars, and houses.
London is famous for its fogs. The locals are so accustomed to them, so the smog that enveloped the British capital on December 5, 1952, did not alert anyone at first. But gradually the weather deteriorated, and the city began to panic. The city traffic was stopped, public places were closed, the “ambulance” stopped working, people stopped seeing each other, could not find their way home. Fog, which consisted of particles of waste coal, dust, sulfur dioxide, exhaust gases, got the city due to adverse weather conditions. In the five days, while the coal smoke stood over the city, four thousand people died in London, another eight thousand died from smog poisoning in the next two months.