If you thought today’s pollution and environmental damage was just as old as the coming of industrial factories, smoke and chemical waste, you were wrong. A recent report in the journal ‘Science’ says that environmental pollution is as old as human existence itself, though industrialisation certainly hastened the process.

The report is based on a study consisting of the combined research of 19 scientists across four continents, who found that the diversity of marine life was among the first to be affected. Entire species of animals were killed. This created an imbalance in the ecological chain as certain species decreased rapidly while some other species increased their numbers.

The list of hunted sea creatures as far back as 10,000 years ago, is impressive: sea turtles in the Caribbean, sea cows off the Australian coast, and sea otters near Alaska. Since the sea animals came ashore regularly to lay eggs, they were an easy catch.

Pollution - an old ancestral legacy
Pollution – an old ancestral legacy

While there’s no getting away from the fact that “modern” forms of waste and pollution have led to much higher levels of environmental degradation, today’s generation can take heart from the fact that they are only following in their ancestors’ footsteps – and learning to be a step ahead of them!

The extent to which we have overtaken our predecessors becomes evident from these alarming facts:

  • Over India, dust particles are found at a height of over 20,000 feet above the ground.
  • In the bodies of Indians, DDT is present in almost twice the quantities present in those of Americans, which in turn is twice the level found in those of the British.
  • Lead is present in the Pacific Ocean as well as in the air above it, in amounts many times the pre-industrial level.
  • It is impossible to take a 50-gallon sample of water from the sea anywhere in the world without finding measurable amounts of man-made radioactivity.