This study surveys the current status of environmental degradation in Korea due to energy consumption, and explores ways to better conserve environmental resources.
The waste products of energy consumption includes the emission of various atmospheric pollutants, such as carbon monoxides (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Carbon monoxides, in particular, are odorless and invisible and it is therefore difficult to gauge, visually, in what quantities these compounds have been discharged into the air. The prevailing theory holds that the in-air ratio of carbon monoxide today reaches approximately 15:1. The ratio, however, significantly differs from area to area, depending on the presence or absence of CO-emitting facilities. Sulfur oxides are byproducts of the combustion of oil or coals. While the amount of SOx emissions into the air is inversely correlated to the height of the factory chimney from which they are emitted, the normal level ranges between 0.3 parts-per-million (ppm) and 0.5 ppm. Hydrocarbons may not be toxic to the human body, but compromise visibility by causing smog. Nitrogen oxides, released by cars in exhaust, are the primary cause of the depletion of the ozone layer. According to a recent study from the Seoul Public Health Research Institute, the level of these atmospheric pollutants in industrial areas ranged between 0.015 ppm and 0.042 ppm in 1968, but rose to the range of 0.024 ppm to 0.060 ppm by 1975.
Substances that pollute waters can be divided into degradable compounds, non-degradable compounds, and persistent pollutants. Degradable compounds naturally dissolve away in water thanks to aquatic bacterial activity. The discharge of wastewater into water sources, however, generates methane gas and other toxic byproducts that decrease bacterial activity. Non-degradable compounds, such as cadmium, discharged into water are even more toxic to life forms, causing such debilitating conditions as Minamata disease and Itai-itai disease. Persistent pollutants, such as the extremely toxic phenol compounds and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloto-ethane (DDT), can eliminate bacterial activity completely.
In 1973, the least polluted part of the Han River in Seoul showed a pollution reading of 1.8 ppm, while the part of the Han River nearby the highly industrialized Yeongdeungpo area read at 7.0 ppm. Five years later, in 1978, the two areas reported pollution readings ranging from 2.2 ppm to 11.5 ppm.
It is impossible for Korea to maintain its trajectory of economic growth without consuming significant amounts of energy. Energy consumption, however, will inevitably worsen the problem of environmental degradation. We therefore need to find new sources of energy and new modes of energy consumption in order to conserve our environmental resources better and minimize environmental pollution. We can make substantial improvements in environmental conservation only when we, as energy consumers, begin to recognize the true significance of environmental resources.
에너지사용과 환경자원보전(Energy consumption and the conservation of environmental resources)
|Journal Title; Vol./Issue||한국개발연구:vol. 1(no. 2)|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Industry and Technology < Energy
Territorial Development < Environment
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|