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Exploration of the Oil: Effects on Our Natural World Essay

Table of Contents The Process of Oil Exploration

Air Pollution

Noise pollution

Destruction of Water ecosystems

Destruction of Soil Ecosystem

Effect on Biodiversity; Flora and Fauna



The exploration of resources is important for generating and sustaining economic growth, particularly that of refinery outputs like natural gas and oil. Petroleum is mined from sedimentary deposits comprising an intricate mixture of hydrocarbons that exist naturally beneath earth’s surface in gaseous, liquid, and solid states, as natural gas, crude oil, and coal, respectively.

The rapidly increasing demand for oil has necessitated increased production efforts, which include exploration, drilling, extraction and treatment of the hydrocarbons, leading to greater levels of environmental hazards and degradation (Madduri, 2003). This paper examines the various effects of oil exploration on the natural world.

The Process of Oil Exploration Madduri (2003) refers to oil exploration activities as “scientific gambling” since it entails a series of steps that may eventually lead to complete abandonment of the project.

The oil exploration business is technology and cost intensive, and involves multiple stages including: a geological survey, a seismic survey, exploratory drilling, further drilling to assess the extent of the reservoir, preparation of a feasibility report, and additional drilling of wells and establishment of supporting infrastructure.

After exploration, the oil is produced and transported for refining. Exploration efforts take about five years, and the entire project can be abandoned if the reservoir is found to have limited natural resource to cater for the cost of production.

Air Pollution Most air emissions are a result of controlled flaring and venting, which is a necessary precaution for safe oil exploration activities. There are some instances when accidental emissions from well blowout emit massive quantities of hazardous gases like sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), and a variety of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that interfere with vegetation growth, human settlement and wildlife.

Some of the offshore and onshore operations that release air emissions include fire protection systems, incomplete combustion processes, fugitive gas loses, generators and pump engines, dust from cementing operations, and flaring, venting and purging gases.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Air pollution is associated with the greenhouse effect and global warming, which interferes with climate patterns; acid rain, which destroys water catchment areas, soil and vegetation; and hydrocarbons in water, which contaminates underground water, leads to bio-degradation, and poisons marine life (Collins Center for Public Policy, 2010).

Noise pollution There are many sources of noise during exploration including drilling activities and vehicular movements that affect both human and wildlife populations. The huge amount of noise associated with seismic exploration is particularly detrimental to marine life depending on the proximity of operations to aquatic life. Seismic survey operations usually involve explosions of approximately 250 decibels, which 100db higher than the human threshold of 140db.

Madduri (2003) claims that different animal species have different levels of sensitivity to sound frequencies, with whales and grouper fish like cetaceans that depend on sound for navigation and communication being more susceptible to acoustic disturbances than other sea creatures. Such disturbance can cause the whales to be grounded or fish to be displaced, which disturbs their feeding mechanisms. Madduri (2003) states “loud blasts can also damage tissues like guts, lungs and ears for the mammals, and swim bladders in fish”.

In light of the harm caused by acoustic disturbance on marine life, there are various mitigation measures in place. In the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, explorer vessels are fitted with lookouts to inform operators when to cease testing the moment mammals are spotted. Another measure is the requirement of explorers to begin their tests using low-volume air blasts that cause marine life to disperse, before switching to higher volumes.

Destruction of Water ecosystems Exploration activities disturb normal functioning of water systems, interfering with the manner in which local communities, wildlife populations and fisheries make use of the water.

Activities such as excavation and infill interfere with existing drainage patterns, which causes significant changes in both flora and fauna that has become accustomed to the environment. Additionally, exploration activities can lead to contamination of the marine environment. Avenues of sea pollution include waste water produced from the operations, fluids used for drilling and well treatment, and water used for drainage, process and washing.

The damage caused by oil spills and other contaminants starts from the moment they get in contact with sea water, and may extend for days, months, years or decades. Collins Center for Public Policy (2010) suggests that “progression of contamination is dependent on the composition of the oil, amount of oil spillage, and environmental conditions like wind, currents and temperature”.

We will write a custom Essay on Exploration of the Oil: Effects on Our Natural World specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Other effects of exploration on water ecosystems include: altered drainage patterns caused by changes in topography; establishment of water and pool dominated landscaped caused by changes in topography; establishment of drier landscapes on higher altitudes caused by introduction of fill material into surface water overlaying permafrost; interference with water supplies owing to cleared vegetation; contamination of ground and surface water by drilling fluids, operational discharges, leakage, site drainage and accidental releases; and disruption of surface water drainage by vehicle tariff, impounding, and removal of vegetation (Collins Center for Public Policy, 2010).

Destruction of Soil Ecosystem While soils are generally vulnerable to alterations in temperature and chemical composition, the level of degradation is also dependent on the soil type and geology of the region. Some of the major effects of exploration activities on soil include: alteration of drainage patterns; compaction; contamination from operational leakages, discharges, accidental releases and site drainage; and erosion caused by alteration of the landscape (Madduri, 2003).

Effect on Biodiversity; Flora and Fauna Exploration activities impact both flora and fauna at different levels. One of the primary characteristics of oil exploration sites is the loss of flora, caused by disturbance of the ecosystem coupled with prolonged development periods.

The initial loss of vegetation causes further deterioration of the land through the removal of organic litter, interference with nutrient cycles, rapid soil erosion, and reduced habitat for wildlife. Further loss and alteration of vegetation can be due to construction activities like drilling and production sites, access roads, borrow sites and support infrastructure. In some cases, prolonged disturbance of vegetation cover can permanently destroy the stability of the ecosystem (Madduri, 2003).

The cumulative changes in soil, water, flora and noise levels interfere with the habitat, food supply, breeding areas, migration routes and camouflage patterns of animal populations.

These activities tend to remove vegetation and expose the soil to erosion, alter topology and hydrology, and limit access to animal habitats through construction works, resulting in irremediable loss of bio-diversity. In some cases, interference with the number and dispersion of particular wildlife species can have considerable effect on the livelihood of local people (Madduri, 2003).

Conclusion The entire process of oil production is intricate, leading to both direct and indirect effects, risks and unprecedented impact at different stages including exploration, production, transportation, and refining. However, there has been a reduction of adverse oil exploration effects from the 1990s following the adoption of strict legal regulations and increased environmental concern. With better assessment technologies and management practices, the impact of exploring energy resources on the environment should continue to diminish.

References Collins Center for Public Policy. (2010). Potential Impacts of Oil and Exploration in the Gulf. A report to the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, 17-26.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Exploration of the Oil: Effects on Our Natural World by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Madduri, V. (2003). An Environmental Assessment of Oil and Gas Exploration. Industrial Pollution and Policy: EERC Working Paper Series, 8, 18-37.

Sustainability and Waste Management in the Australian Construction Industry Essay

Nursing Assignment Help Waste management involves collecting, transporting, processing, and disposing of waste. The sustainability aspect helps in enhancing maintenance of aesthetic, healthy, and ecologically sound environs. Effective waste management practices within the construction industry reduce environmental degradation, which affects both fauna and flora (Waste n.d.). There are numerous waste materials in the construction industry, especially solid wastes, which still lack a strong policy for disposal.

Therefore, construction managers ought to device suitable disposal techniques that can make the processes within this industry sustainable. Waste management strategies should be sustainable in order to create a cleaner environment, as well as conserve resources of nutrients, raw materials, energy, and water. Large construction projects produce wastes that construction managers must devise ways of mitigating.

Construction, demolition, and land clearing debris (CDL) that comes from the mentioned project require salvaging, recycling, and complete prevention (Ma 2011). Removing valuable and reusable construction resources prior to demolishing structures constitute salvage. In large construction projects, wood, cardboard and gypsum wallboard are highly likely to be the main eco-friendly materials that remain after work completion.

The reduction strategy identifies potential wastes at the constriction designing stage and devises effective and efficient prevention processes. After identifying how to prevent waste, a contractor goes further to identify salvageable wastes for donation, or reuse in the current or another scheme (Reducing Waste – Waste Management 2013).

These techniques are effective in reducing costs at which contractors will dispose waste materials. Besides, firms that give priority to waste management market themselves to numerous clients who have great interest in participating in programmes that keep the environment green. By recycling and preventing waste materials, contractors are reducing depletion of natural resources, reducing greenhouse gases and creating less pollution due to reduced manufacturing emissions (Ma 2011).

Most of the products in the constriction industries are solid in nature, and with the growth of urban centres, there are limited spaces to use as disposal sites. At the same time, energy is currently more expensive and raw materials are becoming meagre day-in, day-out. Notably, the aforementioned changes result in rise in pollution on water, air and soil, thus bringing into fore the need for modern systems of waste disposal, which are cost effective in the long-term perspective.

Climate change has forced all sectors to employ approaches that tend to minimize harm to the environment. In Australia, there is the National Waste Policy that the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) together with the government has put forth to responsibly manage wastes in the country.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More In its responsibilities, the WMAA ensures that all the approaches to waste management within all sectors are sustainable in order to keep waste production at minimum levels and encourage reuse of such resources several times. Australia aims to protect the environment from harm that can emanate from industrial products.

For example, in 2001, the country introduced the Product Stewardship for Oil Program (PSO) that aimed at encouraging environmental sustainability. PSO encouraged sustainability by offering incentives to oil firms to re-refine their used oil and re-use them, instead of disposing (Product Stewardship for Oil Program (PSO) n.d.).

The concept of sustainability remains a key topic in the 21st century, as nations grapple with different strategies to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases, reuse, or recycle wastes. Sustainability intends to facilitate the use of waste management processes and techniques that ensure that the current generation fully meet their objectives without compromising on the objectives of the next generation.

For instance, if a sugarcane company in Australia like Bundaberg Sugar uses bagasse to produce electricity that can run its internal operations, it reduces consumption of energy that is produced from fossil fuels (Bremner 2012). Therefore, in producing their own energy from sugarcane wastes, the company minimizes the amount of wastes that it disposes to the surrounding, as well as conserves energy by using energy produced from environmentally friendly components.

In Australian Capital Territory (ACT), construction and demolition activities produced close to 310,000 tonnes of waste consisting of dirt, asphalt, concrete, and timber (Sustainability: Think Green Every Day n.d.). In 2008/2009, the ACT was able to recycle over 90% of the demolition and construction wastes using numerous Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). Notably, of the 310,000 tonnes of waste in 2008/2009, only 27,500 tonnes went into landfills, with the rest turned into valuable resources streams for local and regional use.

The ACT Government has worked towards reducing the amount of wastes that go to landfills with the aim of attaining zero net emissions by 2060 (Bremner 2012). The current resource recovery techniques intend to enhance sustainability. Wood and paper wastes, for example, are ideal resources for generating energy since they have high-energy content. Clearly, the waste management approach does not deprive the future generation of using the same form of energy given that it does not cause harm to the environment.

The ACT Government came up with the Sustainable Waste Strategy 2010-2015, aimed at achieving full resource recovery and a carbon neutral waste in all areas (Bremner 2012). In understanding that waste generation has been on the rise, the waste management legislation encourages reuse and reduce as ways of avoiding waste. In addition, recycle and recover form the aspect of alternative use of waste, while safe and appropriate disposal of waste becomes the last resort.

We will write a custom Essay on Sustainability and Waste Management in the Australian Construction Industry specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Sustainable waste management approaches are cost effective in cutting on the cost of disposing such waste products. Moreover, the fact that they do not harm the environment reduces involvement of firms in corporate social responsibility of conserving the environment. If the environment is highly degraded, companies in all industries will have to use more funds in restoring the environmental dynamics both at present and in future.

For example, recycling a tonne of plastic materials saves two tonnes of CO2 that could have gone into the atmosphere (Bremner 2012). Environmental sustainability has a direct link with waste management, as the process, if not managed well jeopardizes safe food, clean air, and clean water, which are basic human needs. In the end, improper waste management causes harsh effects for public health. If wastes are not managed properly, they pollute the environment, thus making it unsafe for human life.

Waste management techniques must inculcate the aspect of sustainability in their solutions. Development continues to be the main objective in all parts of Australia, but the development process must be sustainable in the manner in which they manage wastes.

There is need to create awareness among communities about the essence of recycling and recovering waste materials, as well as minimise landfill option in order to achieve a sustainable waste generation. As evident from the essay, generation of renewable energy from waste is a sustainable approach that the entire world should adopt to create a cleaner environment.

List of References Bremner, A. 2012, A study into commercial