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> STEM Centre > Les mots de la science en anglais > Chemistry > The Environment
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PolutionIn today's world, environmental issues are very important. The burning of fossil fuels is increasing the amount of carbon dioxyde in the atmosphere and causing the Greenhouse Effect. Most of the pollution caused by fossil fuels are coming from the combustion of gasoline in cars. Some of it is also coming from the burning of charcoal for energy. The combustion of fossil fuels also releases nitrous oxides in the air which come down as acid rain and destroy habitats such as forests. Lead and mercury from batteries, industries and other sources is contaminating groundwater supplies. In addition, the detergents that we use end up in water systems. The nitrogen contained in the detergents are responsible for the eutrophication of many lakes.

In the 70's and 80's, free radicals from refrigeration systems and air conditioners were responsible for making a hole in the ozone layer by provoking chain reactions. They broke down the oxygen bonds that constitute the ozone.

By using radiocarbon dating on ice sample collected in Antarctica, scientists have determined that the Earth is warming up faster than any other time in its history, as a direct consequence of human civilization!

Clean EnergyWe can all play a part in protecting the environment. By walking or biking, we depend less on petroleum products. This will improve the quality of the air and reduce global warming. We can ask our local politicians to ensure that we use clean energy, like hydroelectricity and natural gas, instead of charcoal. Some people propose the use of nuclear energy but it has its own problematic issues. For now, we should recycle as many products as possible. By re-using metal products, we can insure that new high-polluting mines are not opened up. Together, we can make a difference for our future.