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Introduction

 

In the last few centuries, and in particular since the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, scientific and technological advancements have been considerable.  Man has exploited and used mineral resources such as metals, coal, asbestos, oil and many others  but all this activity has started to have negative effects on the environment.

 

Industrialisation caused urbanisation and the expansion of towns and cities to mega-cities, with tens of millions of inhabitants.  The extraction of minerals created big scars on the Earth’s surface as well as large waste dumps and the use of chemicals such as DDT, has caused serious diseases. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil has caused atmospheric pollution as well as climatic changes, also known as the ‘greenhouse effect’.

 

All these negative effects, which happened in the name of progress and development, were not of much concern until the 1980s. Reaction to the negative effects on the environment started only when it was realised that they were also seriously affecting quality of life. In order to minimise further negative developments, it became necessary to predict and assess the impacts on the environment and propose measures of mitigation of these impacts or even prevent certain activities if the impacts were predicted to be catastrophic. For developments that have already taken place, measures have been taken to alleviate the negative impacts on the environment.

 

 

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