7 Biggest Environmental Issues We Are Facing Today
There is a wide range of environmental issues currently impacting the entire globe. From deforestation to overpopulation, all of these factors are manmade and have directly led to a decline in wildlife habitat and species destruction. In our article, we’re going to be covering seven of the biggest environmental issues that we are currently facing.
For starters, one of the biggest environmental issues we are currently facing is overpopulation. Based on the Census website’s population clock, we are averaging one birth every eight seconds and one death every 15 seconds worldwide. This translates to an estimated net population growth rate of one person in the world every 15 seconds.
With these types of numbers, the estimated population count of the world will reach approximately 9.7 billion people by the year 2050. Unfortunately, this type of sustained population growth is not sustainable for us as a species or the environment. With a direct impact on our food production and other important factors, overpopulation is one of the leading causes.
2. Threatened Fresh Water Supply
Access to fresh drinking water is crucial to the ongoing survival of the majority of life on Earth. This is why we are included this in our list of the biggest environmental issues that we are currently facing. Factors that are threatening our supply of fresh water include overpopulation as well as things like pollution.
One of the biggest sources of water pollution actually comes from runoff from agricultural and livestock farms. These nitrogen-rich compounds reach our fresh waterways and disrupt the natural balance that protects them.
In addition, the construction of dams and other manmade structures has a tendency to displace wildlife from freshwater sources and disrupt their natural order as well. To counteract this, it’s important to conserve fresh water whenever possible. It’s also vital to implement development practices that are less harmful to the environment.
Deforestation is another one of the biggest environmental issues as well. Forests cover an estimated 31 percent of the Earth’s landmass. The biggest contributor to deforestation by far is clearing lands for agricultural use. While the exact numbers may vary slightly, it’s estimated that we lose approximately 27 soccer fields of forest area in the world every minute.
With numbers like this, we are quickly destroying the habitats of a variety of wildlife and plants. We owe many of our modern advances in medicine to the discovery of compounds that are only naturally present in these rainforests. In addition, the loss of rainforests quickly leads to soil erosion and other secondary factors that can decimate large areas of land.
4. Global Warming
No list of the biggest environmental issues currently threatening us would be complete without global warming. Global warming quickly leads to a variety of environmental issues that impact people all across the world. One of the biggest issues associated with global warming is related to Arctic sea ice.
Arctic sea ice plays a crucial role in reflecting light back into the atmosphere and regulating the Earth’s overall temperature. Unfortunately, scientists have noticed a recent decline in Arctic sea ice that is likely related to global warming. While it is normal for Arctic sea ice to experience periods of remission, the degree of loss is much more severe recently than almost any point in recorded history.
In addition to sea ice loss, global warming also leads to ocean acidification. This process quickly leads to mass coral deaths that result in the loss of habitat for many protected aquatic species. The melting of sea ice also leads to rising water levels; they can be particularly dangerous to coastal communities all across the world.
Another one of the biggest environmental issues currently facing us is overfishing. Directly tied to overpopulation, our hunger for fresh fish has caused us to tax the supply of wild fish all across the world. In total, the average person eats an estimated 19.2kg of fish each year. This is almost twice the amount we consumed 50 years ago.
This type of mass farming of the world’s oceans has led to a 39 percent decrease in recorded marine species in just 40 years. To further put this in perspective, only ten percent of the world’s fish species are classified as underfished. This type of behavior is not sustainable and will eventually lead to species destruction and loss of a valuable food source.
Pollution comes in many different forms and is another one of the biggest environmental issues. The two largest contributors of pollution are from farms as well as raising livestock. With these types of activities, manure and fertilizer are quickly carried away with rain where it reaches the water table. As it works its way to streams and riverways, it leads to massive algae blooms that quickly consume all of the oxygen in the water.
As the oxygen is depleted, aquatic life quickly begins to die off. Birds and other predators feed on the diseased fishand begin to die off as well. In addition to the loss of wildlife, these types of aquatic algae blooms can be particularly harmful to people with respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
Other sources of pollution include coal and gas power plants. These types of activities release large amounts of toxic chemicals into the air and are some of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases. These gases are one of the core causes of global warming that was discussed earlier.
7. Loss of Biodiversity
The loss of biodiversity is another environmental issue that we should pay careful attention to. In an effort to increase our global food production, humans have developed specific plant and animal breeds that offer increased harvesting yields and improved growth rates. Many genetically modified crops have been developed to be naturally resistant to man-made chemicals like herbicides.
Unfortunately, the widespread use of just a few select species can be particularly problematic. In the event that a disease quickly develops that directly impacts the given species, we could find our global food supplies quickly disrupted.
In addition to biodiversity loss in our food system, the loss of many creatures in the natural environment is problematic as well. Due to mankind’s activities like deforestation, many creatures are dying off and disrupting their local food chains. This can quickly lead to the complete eradication of multiple species in a given environment.
The Bottom Line
By focusing on these issues, we can make sure that the environment all across the globe is better maintained. With just a bit of time and effort, we can all do our part in making sure that the natural beauty around us is preserved for future generations.