It's Your World!
The name "Superfund" comes from the name of the account that funds cleanup of superfund sites when the person or company responsible for the pollution cannot be found. This person is known as the Potentially Responsible Party.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with communities, scientists, contractors and government officials on the state, local and federal levels to clean up Superfund sites.
There are about 1500 sites in the United States that have been identified as areas in need of cleanup; however, cleanup has not finished, or even begun, at all of these and still more hazardous places have yet to be identified.
How do officials clean up hazardous wastes? Each Superfund site is special, and so the approach toward getting rid of pollution varies between sites.
Although the goal is to remove all of the waste, sometimes it may only be possible to reduce the amount of waste present. Some techniques for cleanup include air stripping, capping, precipitation, excavation and incineration.
After the EPA cleans up a Superfund site, officials
will check the site every five years to make sure
that no hazardous wastes threaten the health or safety
of the surrounding environment and community.
To conserve something means to protect it from destruction or harm. So you do not "conserve" electricity by turning out the lights, but you do reduce the amount of electricity that you use, which means that the power plant near your home will need to generate less electricity.
The reduction in production of electricity means a reduction in by-products and damage to the environment. Additionally, alternate methods of producing electricity are vital for the health of our planet. Methods like Wind Energy or Solar Energy are effective ways to help conserve and protect our environment.
So, although you do not "conserve" electricity by turning out the lights, you do practice conservation: protecting the environment from destruction.
But what exactly can we conserve? We can conserve ecosystems, such as estuaries or rain forests, animals, like blue whales, and natural resources, like water or air.
But why do natural resources, land and living things need protection in the first place? Human activities, including hunting and pollution, deplete natural resources, damage habitats and cause populations of tens of thousands of species of plants and animals to dwindle.
The environment is everywhere; therefore, the entire globe
needs conservation. However, some areas, resources or organisms
may need more protection than others because their survival
is threatened. Often, the government may step in on behalf
of the environment. For example, a conservation area is
a place that legislation protects, because it is valuable
or interesting. Such a place may have a scarce natural resource
or provide a habitat for a rare living organism. Laws also
provide for organisms that are in danger or at risk of extinction,
or dying out. These organisms are referred to as endangered.
Find out more, below.
If only we could recycle everything! Unfortunately, only certain materials may be recycled in certain places.
You need to know what your community can and cannot recycle. Why? To ensure the success of the recycling process. For example, plastic is recyclable. However, a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin a recycle process. If that happens, waste collectors cannot recycle these materials, so they must dump them. People often recycle the wrong kind of plastic by mistake. As a result, much plastic collected for recycling lands in a dump.
Even if your local recycling program does not take certain materials, you can recycle them elsewhere.
Some companies may pay you for unwanted toys or electronics! Manufacturers use the parts from these items to construct new products. For example, at Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, students started their own recycling program. They discovered that businesses would buy old electronics and other products. For instance, cell phone providers paid $3 for each phone that the students sent to them.
Also, thrift shops or charities accept donations of old
toys, clothing, books and furniture. Even if you do not
want something anymore, someone else may. This way, your
stuff becomes useful to someone else rather than take up
space in a landfill in your world!
As the population of your world increases, demands for fresh water increase, too... especially in the United States!
Each American uses an average of 400 liters every day, not including drinking water. This is more than four times the amount that most people in other countries use.
Even when water use is low, rainwater does not replenish fresh water quickly enough.
To make up for this, we withdraw water from lakes, rivers, reservoirs and underground sources, like aquifers. Actually, we get 100 times more water from under the ground than we do from surface water, or the water in lakes, streams, ponds, etc.
In order to get the water out of the ground and to the user, we must pump and deliver it. This process requires money, energy and fossil fuels.
In addition, the costs of water treatment and purification continue to increase. Even in highly developed nations, such as the U.S., diseases contaminate fresh water. For example, 40% of fresh water in the U.S. contains pathogens, including tuberculosis, e.coli and helminth, or tapeworm.
What should we do? Conservation, recycling and reducing
waste of water improve the water supply crisis better than
large, expensive projects. This means that you can help
What Is Global Warming?
Many scientists believe that gases in the air are causing Earth's climate to gradually become warmer. This is called global warming. The hottest year on record was 1998. The second hottest was 1997, and 1999 was the fifth hottest. The six hottest years were all in the 1990s. If the climate becomes so warm that a great deal of ice near the North and South Poles melts and more water goes into the oceans, many areas along the coasts may be flooded.
In Earth's atmosphere there are tiny amounts of gases called greenhouse gases. These gases let the rays of the sun pass through to the planet, but they hold in the heat that comes up from the sun-warmed Earth-in much the same way as the glass walls of a greenhouse hold in the warmth of the sun.
As cities have increased in size and population, factories and businesses have also grown. People have needed more and more electricity, cars, and other things that must be manufactured. As industries in the world have grown, more greenhouse gases have been added to the atmosphere. These increase the thickness of the greenhouse "glass," causing more heat to be trapped than in the past. This is called the greenhouse effect.
In 1997, representatives from more than 150 countries met
in Kyoto, Japan, where they adopted a treaty on global warming.
Under the treaty, the countries would reduce the emission
of greenhouse gases an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels
by the year 2012. However, the treaty did not go into force
because industrial nations did not ratify it. The U.S. Congress
and the Bush administration have opposed the treaty. Opponents
of the treaty say it would be too costly for industries.
The Endangered Species Act protects endangered plants and animals, or those in danger of becoming extinct, or dying out.
Organisms become endangered when their habitat disappears. For example, real estate development in Florida has destroyed a large chunk of the Everglades. As a result, many unique species that live there have become endangered or threatened. A threatened species may become endangered in the foreseeable future.
Disease or predation by other, non-human organisms can endanger a species, too. Humans may overuse a species for commercial, recreational, scientific or educational purposes. For example, commercial and recreational fishing have impacted aquatic creatures in the U.S. and all over the world.
People can also introduce exotic species to an area. This means bringing a species to an area that it does not normally inhabit. Sometimes, this new species may compete for similar resources with, or prey upon, a local species. In either case, the local species becomes endangered or threatened due to the dominance of this new, exotic species.
In order for a species to be declared as endangered or threatened, someone must petition the National Marine Fisheries Service. Anyone can do this, as long as they have sufficient biological data (sounds like a task for a scientist or researcher).
After a petition has been submitted, the species is a candidate for the endangered species list.
Once a species is listed, representatives from all levels
of government, academia, NGO's (non-governmental organizations)
and industry, form a recovery team. The group makes a recovery
plan to enable a species to keep itself going with help