Archive for the Category ◊ Environment and Biodiversity ◊

• Monday, May 10th, 2010

Today when we talk about sustainability the first thought that comes to the mind is the environment and biodiversity. It is remarkable here to have a quick look at what  biodiversity means and what is defined to be a clean environment, what are the pollutants, how they are measured and what are today’s main global concerns.

Biodiversity is “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ‘inter alia’, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (UN Earth Summit, 1992).

Biodiversity is a very important part of environment that today, in order to have a sustainable approach; we need to consider the process Life Cycle Assessment (LSA). For example the global warming and pollutions endanger biodiversity and therefore having the least impacts on biodiversity must be one of the priorities in choosing alternatives.

A clean environment is the one that is free of pollutions or at least has a controllable pollution that does not harm the biodiversity and the ecosystems. Environmental impacts are:

●health & safety



●visual impact

●resource depletion

●global warming

●ozone depletion

●acid rain formation

●depletion of oxygen in natural waters

●toxicity to humans

●toxicity to other organisms

Most of the environmental impacts are caused by pollutions. Receptors of the harm of the pollutants are human, animals, plants, ecosystems, agrisystems, monuments and buildings. The sources are contaminated air, water and soil.

Main pollutants and problems:

●   Carbon monoxide (CO): toxic (binding to hemoglobin impairs oxygen delivery)

●   Oxides of nitrogen (NOX): formation of acid by a series of reactions involving sunlight: Acid rain & Smog

●   Sulfur dioxide (SO2): formation of sulfurous and sulfuric acid: Acid rain & Smog

●   Carbon dioxide (CO2): implicated in climate change.

●   Ozone (O3): respiratory problems (oxidizing agent)

●   Lead (Pb)

●   Particulate Matter (PM, PM10)

●   Trace metals

  1. Cadmium
  2. Arsenic
  3. Nickel
  4. Mercury

●   Hydrocarbons (HC)

  1. Benzene
  2. 1,3-butadiene

In terms of air pollution; air quality is defined to be clean if it contains an acceptable amount of each of the pollutants that has been noted earlier. The concentration of pollutant is measured in ‘parts per billion (ppb) which is more commonly used’ or μ g/m3.

Emissions are measured in terms of the following and again an acceptable amount is defined by environmental agencies based on different factors in different regions.

●   grams

●   grams/kilometer traveled

●   grams/liter of fuel consumed

●   grams/kilogram of fuel consumed


A sustainable society is the one that in its developments considers the life cycle assessment (LSA) as well the futurity. It is crucial that in decision making, other than finance, factors such as environment and biodiversity be taken into account or otherwise the capitals of the society will be endangered. The world today is facing many challenges such as global warming and it requires the attention of political systems all over the world to change and update their regulations based on sustainability and a greener life.