We are increasingly conscious of the effects of our activities on the natural environment. Man has always affected the environment to some extent, but this has become a serious matter of public concern during the last century. These effects may be classified according to the area used or affected by the energy generators, and by the pollution they produce. This pollution may be local or global, and includes not only poisonous chemicals, but also visual and aural pollution, and affects the atmosphere, the land and the sea.

When considering man-made pollution it is useful in appropriate cases to put it in perspective by comparing it with the natural sources of pollution that are beyond our control. Thus bush fires due to lightning strikes have always occurred, and are even necessary for the germination of some plants. Volcanic eruptions throw huge amounts of poisonous chemicals into the atmosphere, and this falls on land and sea. The earth has great natural recuperative powers and, once the source of the pollution is removed, the land, lakes and seas return to their previous state.

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