Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement, addresses environmental issues through advocacy, education and activism.
The carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere has already exceeded 400 parts per million (NOAA) (with total "long-term" GHG exceeding 455 parts per million) (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Report). The amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is possibly above the threshold that can potentially cause climate change. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated "Climate change is not just a distant future threat. It is the main driver behind rising humanitarian needs and we are seeing its impact. The number of people affected and the damages inflicted by extreme weather has been unprecedented." Further, OCHA has stated:
Climate disasters are on the rise. Around 70 percent of disasters are now climate related – up from around 50 percent from two decades ago.
These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate related disasters, compared to 1.7 billion in the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008.
Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of local communities in the absence of strong concerted action.
Environment destruction caused by humans is a global problem, and this is a problem that is on going every day. By year 2050, the global human population is expected to grow by 2 billion people, thereby reaching a level of 9.6 billion people (Living Blue Planet 24). The human effects on Earth can be seen in many different ways. A main one is the temperature rise, and according to the report ”Our Changing Climate”, the global warming that has been going on for the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities (Walsh, et al. 20). Since 1895, the U.S. average temperature has increased from 1.3 °F to 1.9 °F, with most of the increase taken place since around year 1970 (Walsh, et al. 20).
Major current environmental issues may include climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion etc. The conservation movement lobbies for protection of endangered species and protection of any ecologically valuable natural areas, genetically modified foods and global warming.
The level of understanding of Earth has increased markedly in recent times through science especially with the application of the scientific method. Environmental science is now a multi-disciplinary academic study taught and researched at many universities. This is used as a basis for addressing environmental issues.
Large amounts of data have been gathered and these are collated into reports, of which a common type is the State of the Environment publications. A recent major report was the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, with input from 1200 scientists and released in 2005, which showed the high level of impact that humans are having on ecosystem services.
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 and scientists from countries around the world. 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.
Environmental disintegration: Environmental degradation is the disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets, for example, air, water and soil; the destruction of environments and the eradication of wildlife. It is characterized as any change or aggravation to nature’s turf seen to be pernicious or undesirable. Ecological effect or degradation is created by the consolidation of an effectively substantial and expanding human populace, constantly expanding monetary development or per capita fortune and the application of asset exhausting and polluting technology. It occurs when earth’s natural resources are depleted and environment is compromised in the form of extinction of species, pollution in air, water and soil, and rapid growth in population.
Environmental degradation is one of the largest threats that are being looked at in the world today. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction characterizes environmental degradation as the lessening of the limit of the earth to meet social and environmental destinations, and needs. Environmental degradation can happen in a number of ways. At the point when environments are wrecked or common assets are exhausted, the environment is considered to be corrupted and harmed. There are a number of different techniques that are being used to prevent this, including environmental resource protection and general protection efforts.
Environmental issues can be seen by long term ecological effects, some of which can demolish whole environments. An environment is a unique unit and incorporates all the living and non-living components that live inside it. Plants and creatures are evident parts of the environment, but it also includes the things on which they depend on, for example, streams, lakes, and soils.
Environmental surroundings get to be divided when technological advancement splits up areas of land. Some examples of this can include streets which may slice through woods or even trails which wind through prairies. While it may not sound all terrible on the surface, there are bad results. The biggest of these results are felt by particular animal and plant groups, the vast majority of which are specific for their bio-region or need a large area in order to make sure that their genetic lines are kept intact.
|“||The only question is whether [the world's environmental problems] will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies.||”|
|— Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive|
Sustainability is the key to prevent or reduce the effect of environmental issues. There is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and that an unprecedented collective effort is needed to return human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits. For humans to live sustainably, the Earth's natural resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished (and by limiting global warming).
Concerns for the environment have prompted the formation of green parties, political parties that seek to address environmental issues. Initially these were formed in Australia, New Zealand and Germany but are now present in many other countries.
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.
- Environmental degradation
- Index of environmental articles
- Human impact on the environment
- Global issue
- List of environmental issues (includes mitigation and conservation)
- Environmental impact of agriculture
- Environmental impact of aviation
- Environmental impact of reservoirs
- Environmental impact of the energy industry
- Environmental impact of fishing
- Environmental impact of irrigation
- Environmental impact of mining
- Environmental impact of paint
- Environmental impact of paper
- Environmental impact of pesticides
- Environmental implications of nanotechnology
- Environmental impact of shipping
- Environmental impact of war
- Eccleston, Charles H. (2010). Global Environmental Policy: Concepts, Principles, and Practice. Chapter 7. ISBN 978-1439847664.
- OCHA. "Climate Change - Humanitarian Impact". Archived from the original on 2016-04-04. Retrieved 29 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- OCHA. "Climate Change - Threats and Solutions". Archived from the original on 2016-04-07. Retrieved 29 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Living Blue Planet Report (PDF). WWF. 2015. ISBN 978-2-940529-24-7.
- "Our Changing Climate" (PDF).
- "National Climate Assessment". National Climate Assessment. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
- "About". IUCN. 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
- Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Penguin Books, 2011, chapter "The world as a polder: what does it all mean to us today?", section "If we don't solve them...", page 498 (ISBN 978-0-241-95868-1).
- Gismondi, M. (2000). Interview of Dr. William Rees. Aurora Online. Retrieved on 2009-03-10
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. Summary for Decision-makers. pp.1-16. Washington, DC.: World Resources Institute. The full range of reports is available on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment web site Archived August 13, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on: 2009-03-10
- Media related to Environmental problems at Wikimedia Commons