Date of publication: 2017-08-23 21:16
Take oil spills, for example. They can happen if tankers are too poorly built to survive accidents at sea. But the economic benefit of compromising on tanker quality brings an economic cost when an oil spill occurs. The oil can wash up on nearby beaches, devastate the ecosystem, and severely affect tourism. The main problem is that the people who bear the cost of the spill (typically a small coastal community) are not the people who caused the problem in the first place (the people who operate the tanker). Yet, arguably, everyone who puts gasoline (petrol) into their car or uses almost any kind of petroleum-fueled transport contributes to the problem in some way. So oil spills are a problem for everyone, not just people who live by the coast and tanker operates.
Photo: Pollution means adding substances to the environment that don't belong there like the air pollution from this smokestack. Pollution is not always as obvious as this, however. Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE/NREL) (image id 6867698).
Photo: Invasive species: Above: Water hyacinth crowding out a waterway around an old fence post. Photo by Steve Hillebrand. Below: Non-native zebra mussels clumped on a native mussel. Both photos courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service Photo Library.
When rain falls through polluted air, it can pick up some of the pollution and turn more acidic producing what's known as acid rain. Simply speaking, the air pollution converts the rain into a weak acid.
In modern industrialized societies, fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) transcended virtually all imaginable barriers and firmly established themselves in our everyday lives.
The World Health Organization defines air pollution as 8775 the presence of materials in the air in such concentration which are harmful to man and his environment. 8776
Not all of Earth's water sits on its surface, however. A great deal of water is held in underground rock structures known as aquifers, which we cannot see and seldom think about. Water stored underground in aquifers is known as groundwater. Aquifers feed our rivers and supply much of our drinking water. They too can become polluted, for example, when weed killers used in people's gardens drain into the ground. Groundwater pollution is much less obvious than surface-water pollution, but is no less of a problem. In 6996, a study in Iowa in the United States found that over half the state's groundwater wells were contaminated with weed killers. 
Of course, there are other natural resources whose exploitation is a cause of serious pollution for example, the use of uranium for nuclear power generation produces extremely dangerous waste that would take thousands of years to neutralize.
Where, then, does modern air pollution come from? By far the biggest culprit today is traffic, though power plants and factories continue to make an important contribution. Before we start laying the blame for air pollution, let's remember one very important thing: most of us drive (or travel in) cars, use electricity , and buy goods made in factories. If we're pointing fingers, ultimately we're going to have to point them at ourselves.
If you've ever taken part in a community beach clean, you'll know that plastic is far and away the most common substance that washes up with the waves. There are three reasons for this: plastic is one of the most common materials, used for making virtually every kind of manufactured object from clothing to automobile parts plastic is light and floats easily so it can travel enormous distances across the oceans most plastics are not biodegradable (they do not break down naturally in the environment), which means that things like plastic bottle tops can survive in the marine environment for a long time. (A plastic bottle can survive an estimated 955 years in the ocean and plastic fishing line can last up to 655 years.)