Environmental problems are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Major current environmental issues may include climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, resource depletion, etc.
All over the world, people are facing a plethora of challenging environmental issues every day. Some of these problems are insignificant and only affect a few ecosystems, but others are drastically changing the landscape of the earth we've always known.
We are in a state of planetary emergency, with environmental problems piling up high around us. Unless there is an arousal of our consciousness towards these issues, and a strong desire to rectify the situations as much as is humanely and scientifically possible, the human race will end at only one destination – irreparable disaster.
Below are seven environmental problems that require urgent attention.
Rising population figures are driving the world towards unsustainable levels as it faces shortage of resources like water, fuel and food. Population explosion in less developed and developing countries is straining the already scarce resources. Overpopulation is one of the crucial current environmental problems, and from it springs the issue of Urban sprawl which has to do with migration of population from high density urban areas to low density rural areas; often resulting in the spreading of city over more and more rural land. Urban sprawl results in land degradation, increased traffic, environmental issues and health issues.
The over consumption of resources and creation of plastics are creating a global crisis of waste disposal. Developed countries are notorious for producing an excessive amount of waste or garbage and dumping their waste in the oceans and, less developed countries. Nuclear waste disposal has tremendous health hazards associated with it. Plastic, fast food, packaging and cheap electronic wastes threaten the well-being of humans. Waste disposal is one of urgent current environmental problem.
What is most worrisome here is the issue of water pollution. Clean drinking water is becoming a rare commodity. Water is becoming an economic and political issue as the human population fights for this resource. One of the options suggested is using the process of desalinization. Industrial development is filling our rivers seas and oceans with toxic pollutants which are a major threat to human health.
Pollution of air, and soil are also serious issues that require serious attention. Motor vehicle exhaust is the number one air pollutant; various gases and toxins released by industries and factories and combustion of fossil fuels, heavy metals, nitrates and plastic are also toxins responsible for pollution. Soil pollution is majorly caused by industrial waste that deprives soil from essential nutrients.
Global Warming/ Climate Change
This is perhaps one of the most publicized environmental fears in recent times, due to the grave consequences attached to it. Global warming is the result of human practices like emission of Greenhouse gases, and it results in rising temperatures of the oceans and the earth’s surface causing melting of polar ice caps, rise in sea levels and also unnatural patterns of precipitation such as flash floods, excessive snow or desertification.
Loss of Biodiversity
Human activity is leading to the extinction of species and habitats and and loss of biodiversity. Ecosystems, which took millions of years to perfect, are in danger when any species population is decimating. Closely related to this I the issue of deforestation. Deforestation simply means clearing of green cover in order to make that land available for residential, industrial or commercial purpose. At present forests cover 30% of the land but every year tree cover is lost amounting to the country of Panama due to growing population demand for more food, shelter and cloth, etc.
It is a direct impact of excessive production of CO2. 25% of CO2 produced by humans. The ocean acidity has increased by the last 250 years but by 2100, it may shoot up by 150%. The main impact is on shellfish and plankton in the same way as human osteoporosis.
Ozone Layer Depletion
The ozone layer is an invisible layer of protection around the planet that protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. Depletion of the crucial Ozone layer of the atmosphere is attributed to pollution caused by Chlorine and Bromide found in Chloro-fluoro carbons (CFC’s). Once these toxic gases reach the upper atmosphere, they cause a hole in the ozone layer, the biggest of which is above the Antarctic. The CFC’s are banned in many industries and consumer products. Ozone layer is valuable because it prevents harmful UV radiation from reaching the earth. This is one of the most important current environmental problems.
In conclusion, it goes without saying that this list is not all-encompassing, as we have other issues that also require global attention, e.g, resource depletion, toxicants, genetic engineering, etc.
For the preservation of the earth and all that is in it, for the continuous existence of man, these issues need to be tackled as quickly, aggressively and efficiently as possible.