Contaminating Our Oasis – The Manitoulin Expositor

Manitoulin High School students clean up the trails near their school.

MSS Share/Go Green Presents… A Manitoulin Eco-Hero

by Anika Smith and Daphne Carr

Pollution is a vast and very relevant subject because it affects the whole planet, including Manitoulin Island. We may have a very green environment compared to other places, but that does not mean that we are invulnerable to the impact of various types of pollution: air, light, land and water.

Air pollution is caused by excessive amounts of greenhouse gases released into the air due to human activity. You may notice that in big cities the air quality is not as good as the air we breathe here. People who constantly breathe polluted air are at a higher risk of contracting lung diseases such as bronchitis and lung cancer. Polluted air also threatens nearby ecosystems, where the fragile shifting balance could lead to a significant loss of wildlife. Carbon and other greenhouse gases also act as a blanket for the Earth. This is contributing to the warming of our Earth at an alarming rate. To help keep the Earth as we know it, avoid contributing to air pollution by walking, biking, or carpooling, if possible.

Light pollution is more common in urban centers, but it still affects us here. Light pollution strongly disrupts migration patterns and algal blooms, among other things. Artificial lights can distract migrating birds and insects from their path and even blind them. Light pollution is one of the many causes of the rapid decline of monarchs and some songbird populations. Non-migratory animals are also impacted. Artificial light can make habitats unlivable for animals like bats that use darkness to hide from predators, or it will attract animals like moths to dangerous spaces. This leads to an unbalanced ecosystem.

Soil pollution is also detrimental. Landfills are a great way to keep trash in one concentrated place, but it’s still pollution. The plastic takes at least 450 years to decompose, while harming the surrounding habitat. It moves many animals and plants. Reducing your personal waste will bring us closer to habitat conservation. Land pollution also seeps into aquatic systems.

Water pollution is a major concern: oil spills, farm runoff, sewage, waterfront factories and the estimated 363,762,732,605 pounds of trash in the ocean in 2021. The ocean is the lungs of this world, and without it, we wouldn’t be here. Fifty to eighty percent of our air comes from ocean creatures, and it also regulates global temperatures. The ocean may be far away, but there are plenty of local waters to protect around us. Forty percent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water, Canada has a fifth of the world’s fresh water, but about 758 communities have been issued boil water advisories. Many are due to careless human actions that poison the water. The fight against water pollution must be a priority.

We hope this article has opened your eyes to pollution and its effects on our lives. We are very privileged to live in such an environment without smothering pollution due to urbanization. However, that means we all need to take action to protect this oasis.

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