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Five environmental disasters that we should make sure children know about

我们应该让孩子们知道的五个环境灾难

The birth of industrial civilisation in the 18th century meant humans could extract, transport, and process ever more of nature’s bounty, permanently affecting natural cycles. As we navigate the Anthropocene, the much-debated geological epoch that recognises the geological and ecological impact of the industrial age, there are several environmental disasters and crimes that should be taught in schools to educate young people about the human impact on our shared planet.

18世纪工业文明的诞生意味着人类能够提取、运输和加工更多大自然的恩赐,并永久影响自然的循环。当我们在人类世航行时,备受争议的地质世记录着工业时代对地质和生态的冲击,学校应该教导一些环境灾难和环境犯罪,以教育年轻人我们人类对我们共同分享的这个星球的影响。



In choosing a list of five, I have confined my choices to the 1960s and beyond as popular environmental alarmism was born in the decade of cultural revolution that questioned the conventional wisdom of Western civilisation.

在选择五个灾难时,我把我的选择限制在20世纪60年代以后,因为公众关于环境的危言耸听是在十年的文化革命中产生的,该革命质疑了西方文明的传统智慧。

1. Torrey Canyon Oil Disaster, 1967: an early televised warning

1。1967年,Torrey Canyon号石油灾难:早期在电视上播放的警告

This was the first major oil spill of the post-Second World War era. When the SS Torrey Canyon was shipwrecked on a reef off the coast of Cornwall, England, spilling 875,000 barrels of crude oil into the sea, a national event sparked an international debate about the impact of transporting oil, the size of tankers (which had grown dramatically since 1945), and the use of untested chemicals to break down the spilled oil.

这是第二次世界大战后的第一次大规模的石油泄漏。当Torrey Canyon号油轮在英格兰康沃尔海岸外的一个礁石上失事时,875000桶原油溢入大海,一场国内事件引发了国际上关于运输石油,油轮的规模(自1945年以来急剧增长),以及使用未经测试的化学药品来分解溢出的石油的国际辩论。



Millions of litres of the detergent BP 1002 were sprayed into the sea, but it failed to break down the oil and caused more long term damage to birds and the marine environment.

数以百万公升的清洁剂 BP 1002被喷洒到海中,但是它未能分解石油,并对鸟类和海洋环境造成更长期的损害。

Torrey Canyon was one of the first televised environmental disasters. Images broadcast around the world helped fuel the fledgling environmental movement and highlighted the vulnerability of marine ecosystems, the role of chemicals, and the dangers of a new global economy based on consumerism and fossil fuels.

Torrey Canyon号事件是最早的在电视上播放的环境灾难之一。在全世界传播的画面帮助推动了刚刚起步的环境运动,并强调了海洋生态系统的脆弱性、化学品的地位,以及基于消费主义和化石燃料的新全球经济的危险性。

2. Love Canal, 1978: popular protest and environmental protection

2。1978年,拉夫运河事件:民众抗议与环境保护

One of the most significant environmental disasters in American history happened in the city of Niagara Falls, upstate New York. Between 1942 and 1953 the Hooker Chemical Company used the city’s “Love Canal” to dump 21,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals, including 12 carcinogens. It then sold the land to the Niagara Falls School Board for US$1.

美国历史上最严重的环境灾难之一发生在纽约州北部的尼亚加拉瀑布市。在1942年到1953年之间,胡克化学公司利用城市的“拉夫运河”倾倒了21000吨有毒化学物质,包括12种致癌物。然后它以1美元的价格把土地卖给了尼亚加拉瀑布学校委员会。



By 1978, the chemical pollution had caused residents surrounding Love Canal to suffer from birth defects, miscarriages and cancer rates far in excess of national averages.

到1978年,化学污染已经使拉夫运河附近的居民遭受出生缺陷、流产和癌症发病率远远超过全国平均水平。

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Operation Ranch Hand was part of an American herbicidal warfare programme during the Vietnam War, which sought to remove the strategic cover the forest canopy provided for the Viet Cong. Three US administrations – the governments of Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon – sprayed 72m litres of defoliants and herbicides, primarily “Agent Orange” to kill Vietnam’s forests and poison its rice paddies.

“牧场之手”行动是越战期间美国除草战计划的一部分,该计划试图清除森林覆盖物为越共提供的战略覆盖物。三届美国政府——林登·约翰逊、约翰·F·肯尼迪和理查德·尼克松——喷洒了7200万升的落叶剂和除草剂,主要是为了杀死越南的森林以及毒害其稻田的所谓“橙剂“。



The US was condemned internationally and accused of breaking the Geneva Convention which banned the uses of chemical weapons on humans. Though it defended itself by stating that humans were not directly targeted, America’s actions were described as “ecocide” by Swedish prime minister Olof Palme at the UN’s first environment summit in 1972.

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In March 2011, a strong earthquake off the coast of Japan resulted in the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A tsunami unleashed by the quake overwhelmed the Fukushima nuclear plant’s safety systems, disabling the emergency generators and preventing the reactors from being cooled. As a result, reactors one, two, and three suffered meltdowns.

2011年3月,日本沿海发生强烈地震,造成自1986年切尔诺贝利核事故以来最大的核灾难。地震引发的海啸淹没了福岛核电站的安全系统,使应急发电机失效,并阻止反应堆冷却。结果,一号、二号和三号反应堆发生熔毁。



Despite no deaths being directly attributed to the nuclear meltdown, unlike at Chernobyl, it is estimated that the radiation from the many dump sites will last for 300 years. Teaching about the Fukushima disaster in schools encourages children to consider the fuels of the future as we come to legislate for the roles of solar, tidal, wind, and non-renewable energies. With a growing global population and energy demands, how we produce energy and maintain the health of the natural world is a central question for the 21st century.

与切尔诺贝利核电站不同,尽管没有直接导致人员死亡,但据估计,来自许多垃圾场的辐射将持续300年。在学校里讲解福岛灾难,来鼓励孩子们考虑未来的燃料,因为我们要立法规定太阳能、潮汐能、风能和不可再生能源的地位。随着全球人口和能源需求的增长,我们如何生产能源和维持自然世界的健康是21世纪的一个中心问题。

5. Palm Oil plantations: an ongoing ecological disaster

5。棕榈油种植:一场正在进行中的生态灾难

Palm oil is derived from the palm fruit which originates in West Africa but is now largely cultivated in Malaysia and Indonesia. It is found in cosmetics, cleaning products, shampoos and all kinds of food from frozen pizzas to peanut butter.

棕榈油来源于棕榈果实,原产于西非,但现在大部分都种植在马来西亚和印度尼西亚。它存在于化妆品、清洁产品、洗发水,以及从冷冻披萨到花生酱的各种食物中。



Yet palm oil is also a leading cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 300 football pitches are deforested every hour to make way for plantations, while species such as the orangutan are being driven towards extinction as their habitats disappear.

然而,棕榈油也是森林砍伐和生物多样性丧失的主要原因。世界野生动物基金会估计,每小时有300个足球场面积的森林被砍伐,为种植园让路,而像猩猩这样的物种正随着栖息地的消失而濒临灭绝。

It is important to teach about the impact of palm oil production because it forces us to confront the very foundations of our relationship with nature. It is a case study of an unsustainable economic system that elevates short term economic gain at an ecological cost. A discussion about palm oil is a discussion about the future of life on this planet.

在学校讲述棕榈油生产带来的影响很重要,因为它迫使我们面对我们与自然关系的基础。这是一个以生态成本来提高短期经济收益的不可持续的经济系统的案例研究。关于棕榈油的讨论是关于这个星球上生命的未来的讨论。

Author
Brett Sanders
Lecturer in History, Coventry University

作者
Brett Sanders
英国考文垂大学历史讲师