The impact that humanity is having on the environment is becoming increasingly important to society. We are destroying habitats and putting the lives of future generations in danger as a result of our activities.
There is no denying the fact that our environment is changing at this point in time. Hundreds of studies have been conducted to demonstrate that this is occurring and that it is having an impact on the lives of those around us.
Many people, on the other hand, may be completely unaware of the specific issues that have led to these changes. Although terms such as “climate change” and “genetic modification” are commonly heard, it is difficult to understand why they are important without additional information.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, many of these concerns are interconnected. The important thing to remember is that they are all significant challenges that must be addressed.
Here, we’ll look at some of the most serious environmental issues facing our planet today, as well as why they should concern you.
The Biggest Environmental Issues
- Genetic Modification Of Crops
- Waste Production
- Population Growth
- Water Pollution
- Urban Sprawl
- Acid Rain
- Ozone Layer Depletion
- Ocean Acidification
- Air Pollution
- Lowered Biodiversity
- The Nitrogen Cycle
- Natural Resource Use
- Polar Ice Caps
- Climate Change
17. Genetic Modification of Crops
The environmental damage caused by man-made chemicals is becoming increasingly obvious. For example, there has been a 90 percent reduction in the Monarch butterfly population in the United States, which can be attributed to the use of glyphosate-containing weed killers in the area.
Another theory is that genetically modified plants may release chemical compounds into the soil through their roots, potentially affecting the communities of microorganisms in the soil.
16. Waste Production
In the United States, the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, with the country producing 220 million tons of waste per year in total. A large portion of this waste ends up in landfills, where it contributes to the release of enormous amounts of methane.
Because of its high global warming potential, methane not only poses an explosion hazard, but it also ranks among the most harmful of the greenhouse gases, ranking among the worst of the worst.
15. Population Growth
Many of the problems listed here are the result of the unprecedented population growth that the Earth has experienced over the last century. The world’s population is increasing by 1.13 percent per year, which equates to an additional 80 million people.
As a result, a variety of issues arise, including a scarcity of fresh water, habitat loss for wild animals, overexploitation of natural resources, and even the extinction of species. The latter is particularly harmful, as the planet is losing 30,000 species per year at the current rate of extinction.
14. Water Pollution
Despite the fact that fresh water is essential for life on Earth, human activities are polluting more and more water sources every year. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage, agricultural waste, and industrial waste enter the world’s waterways, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Water pollution can have negative consequences that extend beyond the contamination of the water we drink. It also has a negative impact on marine life, sometimes altering reproductive cycles and increasing mortality rates, among other things.
The needs of an ever-growing population have resulted in an increase in the amount of forest being destroyed. According to current estimates, the world is losing 80,000 acres of tropical forest every day.
Consequently, many species’ habitats are being lost, putting many at risk of extinction and potentially leading to widespread extinction on a large scale. Furthermore, it is estimated that deforestation contributes to 15 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
12. Urban Sprawl
Although the continued expansion of urban areas into traditionally rural regions is beneficial, it is not without its challenges. Urban sprawl has been linked to environmental issues such as an increase in air and water pollution, as well as the formation of heat islands, according to research.
Space agency satellite images have also demonstrated how urban sprawl contributes to forest fragmentation, which in turn leads to increased deforestation.
We’ve written an article that explains what urban sprawl is and how it can be avoided. the problems that it causes, as well as possible solutions to the problems that it causes
It is estimated that 63 percent of the world’s fish stocks are now considered overfished, according to experts. Because of this, many fishing fleets have moved to new waters, which will only serve to further deplete fish stocks.
Overfishing results in an imbalance in the ocean’s life, which has a detrimental effect on natural ecosystems as a result. Also negatively affected are coastal communities that rely on fishing for the majority of their revenue to support their economies.
10. Acid Rain
In the case of acid rain, it is caused by air pollution, which is primarily caused by chemicals released into the environment when fossil fuels are burned. In aquatic ecosystems, where increasing acidity in the water can cause animal deaths, the effects of acidification are most visible.
It also has a negative impact on trees in a variety of ways. Despite the fact that acid rain does not directly kill trees, it does cause them to become weaker by damaging their leaves, poisoning the trees, and limiting the amount of nutrients they can absorb.
9. Ozone Layer Depletion
It is thought that chlorine and bromide are responsible for ozone depletion due to the release of chemicals into the atmosphere. A single atom of either substance has the potential to deplete the atmosphere of thousands of ozone molecules before it leaves the stratosphere altogether.
As a result of ozone depletion, more ultraviolet B radiation reaches the Earth’s surface. It has been shown that ultraviolet B radiation causes skin cancer and eye disease, as well as affecting plant life and contributing to the reduction of plankton in marine environments.
8. Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification is a term that refers to the continual depletion of the pH levels of the Earth’s oceans as a result of the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If nothing is done to slow the acidification of the oceans, it is predicted that the acidity will increase by 150 percent by 2100.
This increase in acidification has the potential to have devastating consequences for calcifying species such as shellfish. This has ramifications throughout the food chain and may result in a reduction in aquatic life that would otherwise be unaffected by the acidification of the ocean.
7. Air Pollution
Particularly in densely populated areas like cities, air pollution is becoming a more and more dangerous problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 percent of people who live in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that the organization deems unfit for human consumption or health.
It is also intimately linked to other environmental problems such as acid rain and eutrophication, among others. Animals and humans alike are at risk of developing a variety of health problems as a result of pollution in the air.
We’ve written a separate article that delves into the 6 Causes of Air Pollution, their consequences, and some potential solutions to this growing problem. Read it here. As a result of our extensive research, we were able to determine how these issues might affect our future.
6. Lowered Biodiversity
The continuation of human activities and expansion has resulted in a reduction in biodiversity. In the absence of biodiversity, future generations will be forced to contend with growing plant pest susceptibility and diminishing sources of fresh water.
Some studies have discovered that decreased biodiversity has an impact on ecosystems that is comparable to that of climate change and pollution, particularly in areas where there has been a high rate of species extinction.
5. The Nitrogen Cycle
Due to the overwhelming amount of attention paid to the carbon cycle, the consequences of human nitrogen consumption are frequently overlooked. Agriculture, primarily through the use and production of man-made fertilizers, is thought to be responsible for up to half of the nitrogen fixation on the planet, according to some estimates.
Excess nitrogen levels in water can cause problems in marine ecosystems, primarily because they stimulate the growth of plants and algae to an excessive degree. This can result in clogged intakes and less light reaching deeper waters, which can be detrimental to the rest of the marine population in the area.
4. Natural Resource Use
Recent studies have revealed that humanity consumes so many natural resources that we would require nearly 1.5 Earths to meet all of our energy and resource requirements. As industrialization continues in countries such as China and India, this is only expected to grow in importance.
In addition to increasing resource consumption, increased resource use is associated with a number of other environmental issues, including air pollution and population growth. It is expected that the depletion of these resources will result in an energy crisis over time. In addition, many natural resources emit chemicals that are significant contributors to climate change.
With an ever-growing population comes the need for transportation, which is fueled in large part by natural resources that emit greenhouse gases, such as petroleum, which is becoming increasingly scarce. Approximately 26 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to transportation in 2014.
A variety of other environmental issues, such as the destruction of natural habitats and the increase in air pollution, are exacerbated by transportation.
2. Polar Ice Caps
The issue of the melting of the polar ice caps is one that has generated considerable debate. Even though NASA studies have revealed that the amount of ice in Antarctica is actually increasing, these increases only account for a third of the total amount of ice that is being lost in the Arctic.
There is strong evidence to suggest that sea levels are rising, with the melting of the Arctic ice caps being a major contributor to this phenomenon. Over time, this could result in widespread flooding, contamination of drinking water, and significant changes in ecosystems.
1. Climate Change
In addition to contributing to or being linked to climate change, the vast majority of the issues previously listed do as well. Since 1880, according to NASA’s statistics, global temperatures have increased by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which has been associated with an average decrease of 13.3 percent per decade in Arctic ice cover.
The consequences of climate change will be felt worldwide, as it will have an impact on deforestation, water supplies, oceans, and ecosystems, among other things. Each of these has widespread ramifications of its own, establishing climate change as the most serious environmental problem the world is currently facing today.
The Final Word
Unquestionably, human activities have an impact on the environment around us, and more studies are being conducted each year to demonstrate the scope of the problem.
Climate change, as well as the numerous factors that contribute to emissions, has the potential to cause catastrophic problems in the future.
More needs to be done in order to address the major environmental issues that are currently affecting us. If this does not occur, there is a possibility that large swaths of the planet will become uninhabitable in the not too distant future.
The good news is that many of these issues are within our grasp of control. Humanity has the ability to have a direct and positive impact on the environment by making adjustments.
To participate in the discussion, please use the comments section below or engage your friends in environmental discussions on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Ian Burt @ Flickr