Public awareness of air pollution has increased progressively in recent years because of the smoke pall seen frequently over larger cities. What is generally meant by pollution is the paper plastics, scraps, ash, soot, dust, sludge, slag, sewage, pesticides and fertilisers thrown into the environment by modern man. Radioactive wastes are an important addition, as well as noise, to the list of pollutions.
One broad definition of pollution is the placing of solid, liquid or gaseous matter into the land, water and air so that their physical, chemical or biological composition is altered.
Pollution can take place naturally. For example, when a dead leaf decays it uses up oxygen. However, modern man is making most of the mess. He pollutes during his energetic activities such as living, moving, building, farming and manufacturing. As a result modern man has reduced the purity of the waters and the air immeasurably. Many creeks, rivers and estuaries are so polluted that the variety of life has and is being severely reduced. It is also the usually forgotten cause for hampering fishing in Australia's streams and beaches.
Awareness of a problem is one of the first steps in solving it. Pollution certainly can be combatted and this is already being done by education programmes, the outlawing of certain processes and careful siting of hazardous facilities. The Commonwealth Government has yet to step into the field of pollution control. It has played a relatively unimportant role to date. People are now realising that the conservation effort must be on a broader scale. Indeed, many people now believe that the exploding population and new technology are consuming resources so fast that man must take drastic action even to survive to the end of the century. Even so the community is now demanding a clear environment and no longer tolerates heavy smoke emissions, dust fall or gaseous emissions.
It is man's nature to advance and the high degree of technological development he has achieved, must be used to benefit the environment, rather than be discarded in a retreat to primitivism. There is much technology available today and man has the capacity to develop even better technology which will enable both production and consumption to increase and at the same time, our environment to improve. We are now within reach of a practical attack on pollution of the environment.
U. Schulze 54