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Benefits and Harmful Effects of Using Pesticides

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Pesticides are chemical substances used in the destruction or alleviation of pests. Use of pesticides has both merits and demerits. The merits of using pesticides are:

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1. Increase in yield of produce: The use of pesticides leads to production of high yields as they reduce crop loses.

2. Cost effectiveness of produce: The use of pesticides ensures that large areas are treated within a short time and require less labour reducing cost of production. Their use ensures high produce leading to lower costs of purchasing the crops produced.

3. High quality produce: Pesticide use allows consumers to get high quality produce free from pest damage or attack.

4. Maintaining human and pet health: Pesticides do away with pests like mosquitoes that cause diseases to both human and pets maintaining good health.

5. Environment conservation: Use of cultivation to do away with weeds increases chances of land degradation and this can be avoided by the use of herbicides to kill weeds.

6. Household pest control: Pesticides sanitize drinking water and do away with pests like termites that damage furniture.

 Disadvantages of using pesticides

1. Accumulation in food products: Pesticides residues may remain in food products having chronic impacts or even leading to consumers’ death.

2. Killing of non-targeted species: This may lead to biological imbalance and change in biodiversity.

3. Poisoning: Those applying the chemicals are affected if not well protected and poisoning can lead to death.

4. Crops become resistant: Continuous use can lead to the targeted pests becoming resistant rendering them ineffective.

5. Water contamination: Constant use may lead to contamination of underground water and rivers.

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6. Drift of sprays affects wildlife and marine life reducing income from these two areas. Alternatives to synthetic pesticides

1. Soap sprays: used for soft bodied insects and act by disrupting the cuticle.

2. Insect derived pheromones: attract and lure insects preventing them from causing harm to crops.

3. Nicotine: used to kill Lepidoptera larvae and other pests.

4. Physical barriers like use of aluminium mulches to avoid aphid attacks.

5. Biological control: this includes the use of parasitoids and predators that feed on the pests.

6. Inter cropping: helps reduce pest outbreak.

7. Insect sterilization: helps reduce the insect population.

Mining Methods and Their Harmful Effects

Mountaintop mining: This involves removal of the mountain top land to expose underlying minerals and is an example of surface mining. The overburning, deposited on nearby valleys, is a process that may lead to burying of streams. Coal is mined using this method. The process starts with scraping of the top soil together with the vegetation. This destroys habitats for wildlife and can lead to landslides. Explosives are used to expose the coal and may result to destruction of nearby homesteads. During the mining process, toxic byproducts are dumped into river sources causing harm to people using this water.

Open pit mining: It involves removal of minerals or rocks from open burrow or pit. It is used when minerals are near the earth surface. Waste dump is piled near the pit and stepped to avoid degradation. This method is relatively cheap and easy to carry out. The exposed ore when containing sulfides is covered with clay to minimize oxidation; then it’s covered with soil and reused. Open pits can also be used to dump garbage.

Strip mining: It’s an example of surface mining used for ores near the surface but have an overlying rock. The overlying rock is removed by use of explosives and dumped in the nearby. The ore is broken by blasting and mining which is done using narrow strips. The material, dumped in the nearby, is carried by rain water blocking streams and causes flooding and water contamination. Vegetation at the mining area is destroyed leading to erosion.

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Subsurface mining: It involves digging of tunnels to get to ore deposits. The ore is brought out through these shafts for processing. The method leads to erosion and the land above the tunnels can sink leaving holes.

Solutions for the harmful effects of mining (Miller & Scott)

1. Increase the efficiency of manufacturing to reduce the need for new minerals.

2. Improve mining methods to reduce wastes and toxics.

3. Enforce regulations to reduce environmental impact.

4. Carrying out clean up of abandoned mine sites.

5. Using recycled materials like tins.

Extracting Oil from Tar Sands and the Effect on the Environment

Tar sands are a mixture of bitumen, sand, clay and water. Oil sands are found in large deposits in Russia, Canada, in the US and Kazakhstan. In Russia the main mines are in Tunguska, Volga-Urals and Timan-Pechora basins. In Canada the major amount of resources is in Alberta and Melville Island. Bitumen is very viscous and heavy, and can flow only after dilution with less viscous hydrocarbons or after heating. Producing liquid fuels from tar sand requires a lot of energy and the process leads to high amounts of greenhouse gases.

Oil sands are extracted by strip or made to flow by use of in-situ methods. The oil sand is taken to a processing plant and bitumen is separated from the other material. In-situ methods reduce the viscosity by injecting hot air, solvents or steam.  The process of separation requires large quantities of water and releases carbon dioxide to air leading to global warming. Extraction of sand oils also concentrates heavy metals found together with it. Mine areas are left bare as trees are cut during the process and may lead to erosion. Nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are released during extraction leading to air pollution. Oil spillage leads to water and soil pollution affecting animals.

Keystone XL pipeline is to be build 2000 miles from Alberta to Texas’ Golf Coast. The pipeline will lead to water pollution, affect ecosystems and public health.  Obama government has rejected the permit of Keystone XL pipeline on January 18, 2012 even after more than two years of campaign by Friends of the Earth. After the rejection Keystone XL was to be split to a southern segment from Oklahoma to Texas and a northern segment from Alberta to Steele City. Keystone XL possesses environmental risks and has faced a lot of rejection even after TransCanada sliced it.

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