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Contemporary Issues

Environmental threats


Every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more entire species of animal or plant life – at least 27,000 species per year. ZGP July 1999

World population growth peaked at about two percent per year in the early 1960s. Latest population figures indicate that the rate of growth has slowed to 1.33 percent annually, equivalent to 78 million people a year. UNFPA 1999

The highest world population growth rate was 2.04 percent in the late 1960’s. This year, it is about 1.31 percent. NY Times

World population growth is equivalent to around three babies every second. UNFPA ‘99

New inhabitants add the equivalent of a city the size of San Francisco to world population every three day

The world population is growing fast and the effects of this are

 food shortages

 exhaustion of farm land and soil erosion

 insufficient power supplies

 social un-rest and war

 immense pressure on welfare system and national benefits

 crime due to lack of space and jobs

The world in the future will be able to support less NOT more people this is due to carefully farmed areas losing there top-soil (the cause is over farming), but the world needs more and not less food so larger fields are required but these large fields allow soil and wind erosion to happen more quickly. Fertilisers only speed up this erosion e.g. America (Arizona) land is useless and dusty because of the chemicals poisoning the land. Also in places such as Egypt where the water supply is irrigated from underground water supplies, the water contains mineral salts, which will slowly poison the land.

We can say that overpopulation can effect the police in a dramatic way, as the ratio between a police officer and the public is increasing. This can effect the police officers productivity and effectiveness in dealing with crime. We can say that Public services in general are under-funded, this in part can be blamed on the amount of people not paying tax (asylum seeker’s, unemployed, O.A.P’s). I.e. as science grows so do length of years people live as dose the funding which is required to keep these people (pension, benefits) which could be spent on Public services.

The Police Federation’s research found:

London has 25,121 officers, one for every 290 citizens,

New York has 45,535 – one for every 161 citizens.

Berlin has 27,298 police officers – one for every 124 of the city’s population.

Sheffield, with a population of more than 500,000, has 972 officers, one per 545 citizens.

In Greater Manchester there are 6,851 officers, one for every 376 citizens.

Citizens per police officer: -

Berlin: 124

New York: 161

London: 290

Manchester: 376

Sheffield: 545

At the end of September 2000, there were 124,614 police officers in England and Wales.

Although this was a 0.4% increase on six months earlier, there were still about 2,500 fewer police officers than when Labour came to power in 1997.

In 1999, after sticking to two years of Conservative spending plans, the government pledged to fund additional 5,000 officers on top of normal recruitment.

But while the government says that it has now pledged enough cash to deal with the backlog, officers themselves have spoken of a morale crisis in the nations’ police stations. Gordon Brown released 24m specifically to boost recruiting. Coupled with the first national advertising campaign for the police – launched in August 2000 – this extra cash has seen the downturn in recruiting halted.

Millions of pounds are being wasted on ineffective training for police officers

The total annual cost of training the 200,000 police service staff by the 43 forces and seven National Police Training centres in England and Wales is up to 400m. The Chartered Institute of Public Finances & Accountancy (CIPFA) claims that the cost of training is 88 per day per police officer.


Pollution is an environmental threat, which comes from energy making of non-renewable, sources i.e. coal, oil, and gas


 Is used by power stations to create energy by steam turbines, only about 30% of the energy produced is used as the rest is wasted in the cooling of the engine.

 These stations produce coX and other greenhouse gases, which are adding to global warming

 The coal can be mined by a method of open-cast mining, this can ruin large areas of farmland (even after the open cast mine has been filled in) it will take 20 years for the land to recover

 When coal is burnt there is a lot of sulphur produced as waste, sulphur causes acid rain and it is a harmful pollutant


 Oil causes ‘greenhouse gases’ sulphur dioxide is made

 Drilling for the oil damages the environment

 Transporting oil is dangerous as there has been many reported spills and oil slicks, which are extremely dangerous to wildlife


 Contain valuable chemical and its wasteful to just burn them

 Danger of explosion ( Piper Alpha 1988 in north sea killed 167)

The above energy sources are all pollution and are all non-renewable, there are ways in which we can use other methods to gain our energy need

1. Solar power, uses the suns rays

2. Wind power, uses the wind to turn windmills

3. Geothermal energy, uses water to be pumped underground to gain the Earth’s warmth

There are other renewable sources, which can be damaging to the environment but not as much as non-renewable energy sources

i) Wood burning, releases coX but trees can always be planted

ii) Biomass, uses decomposition to create methane to fuel power station

iii) Hydro electric, uses falling water but can cause damage with floods and dams

Pollution effects everybody and some of the effects can been seen in the health services, as recently due to pollution there has been an increase in the amount of people with asthma and other respiratory diseases. This can put a strain on the ambulances and can also decrease the amount of people applicable to join the fire service.

Research into how pollutants such as carbon particles and sulphur dioxide harm people’s cardiovascular health is being taken out by the British heart foundation, because of growing medical evidence that suggest the number of people being admitted to hospital with cardiac disease is directly linked to daily changes in levels of air pollution.

Department of Health research suggests that in London, one in 50 heart attacks treated at its local hospitals is triggered by air pollution. Several decades ago, air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide in smog caused the deaths of thousands of people in cities such as London and Birmingham. There is evidence that substances such as carbon particles are still affecting people’s hearts and in a new survey, scientists from the University of Birmingham are studying the effects of different pollutants on the cardio-vascular system. Researchers believe that the body may respond to damage from inhaled pollutants by affecting the nervous system’s control over the rhythm of the heart and perhaps by causing inflammation in the coronary arteries.

Those people who live in cleaner environments are at lower risk, so reducing levels of particles will reduce people’s risk of these diseases.”

Coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer, with 135,000

Experts have concluded that there are around 380 deaths a year linked to air pollution from transport in the capital – 150 more than die in road accidents.

Their report, commissioned by the NHS Executive in London and backed by the Greater London Authority also concludes that transport-related pollution puts another 1,200 people in hospital every year.

Genetic Modification

Individual characteristics of plants, such as the height to which wheat grows or the colour of petals, are determined by their genes. These characteristics, or traits, are inherited from generation to generation. Genetic modification (GM) involves copying the genes, which govern a particular characteristic from one organism, and transferring them to another.

With conventional breeding, traits can only be transferred between plants or animals of the same or closely related species. GM enables traits to be transferred between different species, and potentially even between animals and plants.

For example, Bt maize has been genetically modified to make it produce a protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. This protein kills the corn borer insect, which, in other countries, is a major threat to maize crops. It is claimed, growing these GM crops can reduce usage of insecticides and herbicides.

Other traits, which could be introduced to crops using GM technology, include disease resistance, improved nutritional value and the ability to survive in drought, flood or frost conditions.

GM crops are widely grown in the rest of the world. In 1998 approximately 27 million hectares of GM crops were grown worldwide (excluding China); three quarters in the US. The other major growers are Argentina, Canada and China and significant expansion is imminent in Mexico and South Africa. GM crops are now being grown either in field trials or on a commercial scale in over 40 countries including Nicaragua, Honduras, Swaziland and Vietnam. In Europe commercial growing of GM ‘Bt maize’ is already underway in Spain, France and Germany.

Although GM crops are not grown commercially in the UK, ingredients from GM soya and GM maize crops have reached the market here. They come from the US, as does the tomato pur e made from GM tomatoes.

GM riots effects the police as recently there have been new fear over these crops, we have also seen the destruction of the farmland, which contains these crops. The pubic service sector could see a rise to a super bug, if this happens then the NHS could be swamped and unable to cope.

Tony Blair has acknowledged that genetically modified foods could be a health risk in a newspaper article, Blair said, he recognised that there was legitimate public concern over GM foods, both in terms of human safety and for the environment.

Genetically modified food (GM) is a new way of producing foods – by taking DNA from one species and inserting it into another. There has been no long-term safety tests carried out and at times safety advice has been over-ruled.

The health effects of eating GM foods are unknown The British Medical Association believes that any conclusion upon the safety of introducing genetically modified materials into the UK is premature, as there is insufficient evidence to inform the decision-making process at present.

There are concerned that consumption of the maize will lead to an increased resistance to antibiotics in human and animal populations. The testing carried out on GM foods is inadequate. Quite often the testing is carried out by the companies themselves that seek to benefit financially from the product.

Releasing genetically modified organisms into the environment represents ‘genetic pollution’. There are long held concerns about the transfer from genetically engineered crop plants to wild relatives to create ’superweeds’, which could out-compete and disrupt the natural biodiversity of an area.

Many GM crops are also able to crossbreed with neighbouring crops. Government research concluded that crossbreeding would be inevitable .

Critics argue that we do not know enough about the way genes operate and interact to be sure of what the outcome of any modification will be. They worry that the alterations could accidentally lead to substances that are poisonous or trigger allergies.


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