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Environmental Pollution

The fouling of the world's land, air and water is the fastest - spreading disease of civilization. It probably produces fewer headlines than wars, earthquakes, thunderbolts, and flash floods, but it is potentially one of history's greatest dangers to human life on earth. If present trends continue for the next several decades, environmental poisoning will accomplish what no war to date has: it will make all the world's cities, and most of its countryside, uninhabitable.
In all the world's great cities, toxic airborne gases and acid vapors visibly pit bronze statues and stone buildings façades and cause the paint on autos to peel off. The effect on humans is almost as devastating: each year thousands of people die, gasping and choking, from a pollution-aggravated lung disease called emphysema.
The sharp increase in deadly water pollution is equally alarming: every major river within the developed countries is grossly polluted. Pesticides (principally DDT) and industrial wastes pouring into the rivers killed about twenty million fish. Synthetic detergents pose still another pollution menace. Unlike organic wastes, they cannot be decomposed by bacterial action, and many detergents slip right through "fine weave filters". As a result, in many areas there is scarcely a private well that does not have dangerous amounts of detergent in its water.
Garbage, noise and nuclear fallout stand as other dangerous kinds of pollutions: dumping garbage in rivers or seas, has served mainly to pollute our water; long exposures at much above 100 decibels threaten permanent impairment of hearing; and thrown high into the stratosphere by above-ground nuclear tests, particles of radioactive matter continue to filter down to earth for years afterwards.
So, it may be necessary, in the name of public health, for some industries to phase out – perhaps with the help of government tax inducements – whole lines of pollution-breeding manufacture. Above all, the health and safety of our citizenry – and that of mankind in general-must be placed at the center of our anti-pollution effort and must be made “the measure of all things”.

Adapted from Saturday Review in CURRENT ECONOMIC ISSUES by Daniel DELPORTE, pp 23-26.


1. to pit: piquer, ronger
2. garbage: domestic waste
3. to peel off: to take the skin off
4. to phase out: to get rid of in stages.

Guided commentaries

1) What would make, according to the text, the world uninhabitable in the next decades? (03 points)
2) Referring to the text, give some of the consequences of pollution on humans and the environment. (03 points)
3) What are the main pollutants of water in developed countries, according to the text? (04 points)
4) What ideas are suggested in the text to eliminate pollution in the world? (04 points)
5) Point out some of the major types of pollution in Burkina Faso and suggest possible solutions. (05 points)
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