Environmental issues

Environmental issues are effects of human activity on the biophysical environment, most often of which are harmful effects that cause environmental degradation.[1][dubious ] Environmental protection is the practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Environmentalism is a social and environmental movement that addresses environmental issues through advocacy, legislation education, and activism.[2]

Water pollution is an environmental issue that affects many water bodies. This photograph shows foam on the New River as it enters the United States from Mexico.

Environment destruction caused by humans is a global, ongoing problem. Most scholars think that the project peak global world population of between 9-10 billion people, could live sustainably within the earth's ecosystems if human society worked to live sustainably within planetary boundaries.[3][4][5] The bulk of environmental impacts are caused by the most wealthy populations in the globe consuming too much industrial goods.[6][7][8] The UN Environmental Program, in its "Making Peace With Nature" Report in 2021, found addressing key planetary crises, like pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, was achievable if parties work to address the Sustainable Development Goals.[9]


Major current environmental issues may include climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. The conservation movement lobbies for protection of endangered species and protection of any ecologically valuable natural areas, genetically modified foods and global warming. International frameworks for environmental issues focus on three key issues as the "triple planetary crises": climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.[10]


Eighty-plus years after the abandonment of Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), mosses remain the only vegetation at some spots of the site's grounds.

Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as quality of air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.[11]

Environmental concerns can be defined as the negative effects of any human activity on the environment. The biological as well as the physical features of the environment are included. Some of the primary environmental challenges that are causing great worry are air pollution, water pollution, natural environment pollution, rubbish pollution, and so on.[2]

Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the high-level PaneI on Threats, Challenges and Change of the United Nations. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as "the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs".[12] Environmental degradation comes in many types. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, the environment is degraded. Efforts to counteract this problem include environmental protection and environmental resources management. Mismanagement that leads to degradation can also lead to environmental conflict where communities organize in opposition to the forces that mismanaged the environment.


Hambach Forest protest against coal mine expansion

Environmental conflicts are social conflicts over environmental degradation and management of environmental resources.[13][14][15] Usually several parties are involved, including environmental defenders who want to protect the environment, and those who want to or are using the environment for something else, typically extractive industry.[13] The manager of the environmental resources may be causing overuse or extraction of a renewable resource (such as overfishing or deforestation), causing overstrain on the ability of the environment to respond to pollution and other inputs, or degrading the living space for humans and nature.[16]

Frequently these conflicts focus on environmental justice issues related to the rights of indigenous people, the rights of peasants or threats to other livelihoods, such as those of fisherfolk or communities dependent on the natural resources of the ocean.[13] Environmental conflict, especially in contexts where communities have been displaced to create environmental migrants or geopolitical disputes, can amplify the complexity of other conflicts, violence or response to natural disaster.[17][15][16]

Ecological distribution conflicts (EDCs) are caused by the unfair distribution of environmental costs and benefits. These conflicts arise from social inequality, contested claims over territory, the proliferation of extractive industries, and the impacts of the industrialization of the economy over the past centuries. Oil, coal, mining, and agriculture industries are focal points of environmental conflicts, which involve actors such as locally affected communities, states, companies and investors, and social or environmental movements.[18][19]

The terms socio-environmental conflict, environmental conflict, or EDCs are sometimes used interchangeably. The study of EDCs is related to the fields of ecological economics, political ecology, and environmental justice.




Environmental justice is a social movement to address the unfair exposure of poor and marginalized communities to harms associated with resource extraction, hazardous waste, and other land uses.[20] The movement has generated hundreds of studies establishing this pattern of inequitable exposure to environmental harms,[21] as well as a large interdisciplinary body of social science literature that includes theories of the environment and justice, environmental laws and policy, sustainability, and political ecology.[20][22] The environmental justice movement began in the United States in the 1980s and was heavily influenced by the American civil rights movement.

The original conception of environmental justice in the 1980s focused on harms to certain marginalized racial groups within rich countries such as the United States and was framed as environmental racism. The movement was later expanded to more completely consider gender, international environmental discrimination, and inequalities within disadvantaged groups. As the movement achieved some success in developed and affluent countries, environmental burdens have been shifted to the Global South. The movement for environmental justice has thus become more global, with some of its aims now being articulated by the United Nations.


Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment.[23] A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.


Levels of air pollution rose during the Industrial Revolution, sparking the first modern environmental laws to be passed in the mid-19th century

The environmental movement (sometimes referred to as the ecology movement), also including conservation and green politics, is a diverse philosophical, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues. Environmentalists advocate the just and sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behaviour. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in (not enemy of) ecosystems, the movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.

The environmental movement is an international movement, represented by a range of organizations, from enterprises to grassroots and varies from country to country. Due to its large membership, varying and strong beliefs, and occasionally speculative nature, the environmental movement is not always united in its goals. The movement also encompasses some other movements with a more specific focus, such as the climate movement. At its broadest, the movement includes private citizens, professionals, religious devotees, politicians, scientists, nonprofit organizations, and individual advocates.


Environmental issues are addressed at a regional, national or international level by government organizations.

The largest international agency, set up in 1972, is the United Nations Environment Programme. The International Union for Conservation of Nature brings together 83 states, 108 government agencies, 766 Non-governmental organizations and 81 international organizations and about 10,000 experts, scientists from countries around the world.[24] International non-governmental organizations include Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and World Wide Fund for Nature. Governments enact environmental policy and enforce environmental law and this is done to differing degrees around the world.

Film and televisionEdit

There are an increasing number of films being produced on environmental issues, especially on climate change and global warming. Al Gore's 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth gained commercial success and a high media profile.

See alsoEdit


Specific issues


  1. ^ "The Effects Of Human Activity On The Biophysical Environment | Bartleby". www.bartleby.com. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  2. ^ Eccleston, Charles H. (2010). Global Environmental Policy: Concepts, Principles, and Practice. Chapter 7. ISBN 978-1439847664.
  3. ^ Alberro, Heather. "Why we should be wary of blaming 'overpopulation' for the climate crisis". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  4. ^ "David Attenborough's claim that humans have overrun the planet is his most popular comment". www.newstatesman.com. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  5. ^ "Dominic Lawson: The population timebomb is a myth The doom-sayers are becoming more fashionable just as experts are coming to the view it has all been one giant false alarm". The Independent. UK. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  6. ^ Nässén, Jonas; Andersson, David; Larsson, Jörgen; Holmberg, John (2015). "Explaining the Variation in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Between Households: Socioeconomic, Motivational, and Physical Factors". Journal of Industrial Ecology. 19 (3): 480–489. doi:10.1111/jiec.12168. ISSN 1530-9290.
  7. ^ Moser, Stephanie; Kleinhückelkotten, Silke (2017-06-09). "Good Intents, but Low Impacts: Diverging Importance of Motivational and Socioeconomic Determinants Explaining Pro-Environmental Behavior, Energy Use, and Carbon Footprint". Environment and Behavior. 50 (6): 626–656. doi:10.1177/0013916517710685. ISSN 0013-9165.
  8. ^ Lynch, Michael J.; Long, Michael A.; Stretesky, Paul B.; Barrett, Kimberly L. (2019-05-15). "Measuring the Ecological Impact of the Wealthy: Excessive Consumption, Ecological Disorganization, Green Crime, and Justice". Social Currents. 6 (4): 377–395. doi:10.1177/2329496519847491. ISSN 2329-4965.
  9. ^ Environment, U. N. (2021-02-11). "Making Peace With Nature". UNEP - UN Environment Programme. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  10. ^ "SDGs will address 'three planetary crises' harming life on Earth". UN News. 2021-04-27. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  11. ^ Johnson, D.L., S.H. Ambrose, T.J. Bassett, M.L. Bowen, D.E. Crummey, J.S. Isaacson, D.N. Johnson, P. Lamb, M. Saul, and A.E. Winter-Nelson. 1997. Meanings of environmental terms. Journal of Environmental Quality 26: 581–589.
  12. ^ "ISDR : Terminology". The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. 2004-03-31. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  13. ^ a b c Scheidel, Arnim; Del Bene, Daniela; Liu, Juan; Navas, Grettel; Mingorría, Sara; Demaria, Federico; Avila, Sofía; Roy, Brototi; Ertör, Irmak; Temper, Leah; Martínez-Alier, Joan (2020-07-01). "Environmental conflicts and defenders: A global overview". Global Environmental Change. 63: 102104. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102104. ISSN 0959-3780. PMC 7418451. PMID 32801483.
  14. ^ Lee, James R. (2019-06-12), "What is a field and why does it grow? Is there a field of environmental conflict?", Environmental Conflict and Cooperation, Routledge, pp. 69–75, doi:10.4324/9781351139243-9, ISBN 978-1-351-13924-3, S2CID 198051009, retrieved 2022-02-18
  15. ^ a b Libiszewski, Stephan. "What is an Environmental Conflict?." Journal of Peace Research 28.4 (1991): 407-422.
  16. ^ a b Mason, Simon; Spillman, Kurt R (2009-11-17). "Environmental Conflicts and Regional Conflict Management". WELFARE ECONOMICS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – Volume II. EOLSS Publications. ISBN 978-1-84826-010-8.
  17. ^ "Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  18. ^ Cardoso, Andrea (December 2015). "Behind the life cycle of coal: Socio-environmental liabilities of coal mining in Cesar, Colombia". Ecological Economics. 120: 71–82. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.10.004.
  19. ^ Orta-Martínez, Martí; Finer, Matt (December 2010). "Oil frontiers and indigenous resistance in the Peruvian Amazon". Ecological Economics. 70 (2): 207–218. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.04.022.
  20. ^ a b Schlosberg, David. (2007) Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature. Oxford University Press.
  21. ^ Malin, Stephanie (June 25, 2019). "Environmental justice and natural resource extraction: intersections of power, equity and access". Environmental Sociology. 5 (2): 109–116. doi:10.1080/23251042.2019.1608420. S2CID 198588483 – via Taylor and Francis.
  22. ^ Miller, G. Tyler Jr. (2003). Environmental Science: Working With the Earth (9th ed.). Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole. p. G5. ISBN 0-534-42039-7.
  23. ^ Phillipe Sands (2003) Principles of International Environmental Law. 2nd Edition. p. xxi Available at [1] Accessed 19 February 2020
  24. ^ "About". IUCN. 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2017-05-20.

External linksEdit