The main environmental issues humanity is facing today are global warming, overpopulation, natural resources depletion (deforestation, Aquifer depletion, overconsumption, defaunation), natural disasters, unsustainable waste. Scientists and governments all over the world are looking for solutions to create ecological approaches to production and renewable resource utilization. The negative environmental effects put at risk human safety and stagger economic costs of the consequences.
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Industrialization, urbanization and population growth have caused tremendous environmental changes during the last century. The increased energy demand of the modern lifestyle is making the climate change effect obvious with extreme weather and severe droughts. However, global warming is not the only ecological problem, which affects the planet drastically and should be considered seriously. The road to sustainability has become the task not only for responsible organizations and companies but also for every individual. Becoming aware of the essential environmental issues and understanding approaches to their solution is an important step to the foundation of a better future.
The world’s greatest environmental threats to be considered today are:
- Climate change. When burning fossil fuels for energy, greenhouse gases become released. Among the main gases, we could name carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide. The gases increase results in a planet-warming and climate changes causing extreme weather conditions. Ocean’s temperature and Earth’s surface rise leading to polar ice caps melting, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and other unpredictable weather changes. Such effects influence human safety and economic processes.
- Overpopulation. At the beginning of the 20th century, the world’s population was 1.6 billion people and is reaching 7.5 billion now, expecting to become 9.7 billion by 2050. Population growth puts a great strain on essential natural resources, like water, food, and fuel. Population explosions are more common in African countries and southern and eastern Asia. Raising the educational level and the possibility to access social services help in controlling reproduction.
- Unsustainable waste. Production and consumption at a high rate without realizing environmental effects exhaust natural resources and result in large amounts of non-biodegradable trash. Plastic, chemicals and toxic waste taking centuries to degrade leach into our waterways. For instance, of all plastic with a decomposition time of about 400 years only about 90% is recycled. Innovations bring new solutions to recycling methods and technology creates an opportunity to reduce consumption and buy fewer things. Careful consideration of purchases and choice of durable and reusable products slows are becoming the new trends of consumption today.
- Resource depletion. The amount of the natural resources used by the human exceeds what the Earth is able to provide and industrialization even pushes this process further. The most common types of resource depletion are deforestation, Aquifer depletion, some agricultural practices, overconsumption, mining, defaunation. The efforts of scientists all over the world are dedicated to finding alternatives to replace the depleting resources with renewable alternatives and shift to solar, wind, biogas, and geothermal energy sources.
- Natural disasters. The existence of the whole ecosystems, flora and fauna is jeopardized when it comes to natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other severe conditions. With global warming, the negative impact constantly worsens and economic costs are staggering. The line between natural and man-made disasters becomes quite subtle, as many of them are caused by human choices in resource management and architecture.
The basic solutions for solving environmental problems are:
- using renewable resources,
- reduction in consumption,
- composting and garbage separation,
- support environmentally-conscious businesses and producers,
- check information about the green initiatives and innovations, share and apply this knowledge.
Environmental issues - video