Chemical and radioactive waste materials and fossil fuels affect biological diversity in the environment in many ways. Let us look at some of these ways.
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First, radioactive waste remains active for thousands of years (Oort & Peixoto, 2005). There is a proposition of burying the waste in far off lands. However, there is the possibility that the wastes may leak and, thus, have disastrous effects on living things. For instance, radioactive waste material may cause fever, nausea, loss of white blood cells, cancer bleeding and death.
The disposal of radioactive wastes requires large amounts of land. This is because disposal of this waste is by burying. The filling up of the current disposal grounds will call for new areas for the disposal. In fact, now that many countries are considering venturing into nuclear power, there will be a need for additional land for disposal of radioactive waste products. Obtaining this land will entail destruction of plant and animal habitats. Besides, this will lead to the death of plants and other living things dwelling on such land.
Chemical waste products, like chromium, can cause death, injury, illness, in addition to destroying the environment. Fluoride wastes from phosphate fertilizer production can dissolve into groundwater and cause health problems to the consumers of such water. Polluted rivers and lakes can kill animals and plants.
Besides, fossil fuels produce large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Fossil fuels, for instance oil and coal, directly produce carbon dioxide through combustion. Large quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere bring about the green house effect that has adverse effects on biological diversity. The green house effect occurs when green house gases like carbon dioxide absorb thermal radiation from the earth surface (Oort & Peixoto, 2005). The gases then reradiate the thermal radiations in all directions. Because some of this reradiation gets back to the surface of the earth, it brings about an increase of the average temperature of the earth that is above the normal average in the absence of the greenhouse gases. This brings about global climate change, which can destroy biological life, such as trees, human beings, wild animals and marine life.
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