The environment means surroundings in which people, animals and plants develop and exist. The branch of biology investigating relationships between living beings and their environment is called ecology. It is a relatively new science which reflects the concern about the balance of nature. Ecologists and environmentalists are very well aware of the bad sate of environment and of the necessity of its protection. The most serious ekological problems of today are the pollution of air, water and soil, the destruction of ecosystems, disappearance of many species of animals and plants, the weather changes, acid rains, the warming up of the Earth´s surface, the destruction of tropical forests and the breaking of the ozone layer. Most of this damage, which proceeds faster and faster, has not been caused by natural catastrophies, such as earthquake, floods or tornadoes but by the man himself. The technical progress, which enables him a more comfortable life, leads on the other hand to the degradation of the quality of the environment, which he lives in.
The growing number of cars on roads and highways contribute much to the air pollution. Factories produce large quantities of carbone dioxide, lead poisons, radioactive particles, dangerous compounds of sulphur and nitrogen, which get into the air. Some of them in combination with water make sulphuric acid in the clouds. These dangerous clouds are then blow by the winds and later fall acid rain. Acid rains kill trees, then they get into the soil and make it infertile. The polluted rain water is carried to the rivers and all life disappears from them. Factories directly increase water pollution because many of them are built near rivers into which they put their chemical waste.
Farmers use amounts of pesticides to kill certain insects that can be killed by other less dangerous means. They also use fertilizers which pollute the soil and most of them may have the worst effects on human health, too. The bulding of dams causes flooding of large areas of nature and the disappearance of many typical animals, birds and plants of the region. Amounts of industrial and city waste are placed near the lakes and rivers. They pollute the soil, water and air, and spoil the natural scenery.
If the destruction of the environment continues the life on this planet will be endangered. People, animals, birds and plants can´t exist without air, water and soil.
But the man certainly has the intelligence and the means to solve ecological problems and to save this planet for future generations.
In recent years many environmental organizations have been founded, some of them on international basis, such as the Green Peace. The strongest movement for protection of the environment can be observed in the most developed countries where the people can see and feel the negative consequences of civilization, too. Environmentalists point to the most serious ecological problems and try to give their warnings the greatest popularity possible through the mass media and public campaigns.
Many of their activities have been successful and the wide public attention made the governments pass various useful laws aimed at the improvement of the environment. E.g. the use of DDT was banned by law all over the world, catalytic converters and unleaded petrol in cars are compulsory in many countries, the use of phosphates in soaps is forbidden, most industrial countries have agreed to stop using ozone-destroing chemicals in aerosole sprays, smoking in public or work is restricted by law in many countries. All over the world there are clean air acts, water pollution acts and endangered species acts. Governments of all countries have ministries or departments concerned with environmental problems. Their aim is to see that the economical planning considered ecological factors.
The concern for the environment and the environmental activity should be a part of the people´s lives. Therefore there is a great need for the environmental education. Children of all ages should be taught about the man´s relationship to nature. They should be educated to a much better understanding of the fact that this planet, weather, climate, water, air, soil, people, animals, birds and plants create one ecosystem. No part can exist separately. They are all mutually dependent.The destruction of any of them can negatively influence the functioning of the whole system.