From air pollution to the depletion of non-renewable resources, the nation is beginning to recognize and address environmental problems within its borders, deforestation. The population grows by more than 1, 700, 000 people. There are 7 key types of pollution: air, water, soil, noise, radiation, light and thermal, and these are the main causes that affect our environment in many ways. All of these types of pollution are interrelated and mutually influence.
Therefore, we must address them all together. Air, water and soil pollution requires millions of years to recover. Exhaust gases from industry and motor vehicles are the pollutants. Heavy metals, nitrates and plastic are toxins responsible for pollution.
While water pollution is caused by oil spills, acid rain, urban runoff, air pollution is caused by various gases and toxins released by industries and factories and the combustion of fossil fuels; soil pollution is mainly caused by industrial waste that deprive the soil of essential nutrients. Globally, food security depends on the factor of whether or not soils are in good condition to produce crops. According to UN estimates, around 12 million hectares of agricultural land are severely degraded each year. Climate changes, such as global warming, are the result of human practices, such as the emission of greenhouse gases.
Global warming causes ocean and land surface temperatures to rise, causing natural disasters including floods, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels and also unnatural precipitation patterns, such as flash floods, hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, excessive snow or desertification. Intensive agriculture practiced to produce food harms the environment through the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Overpopulation is also one of today's crucial environmental problems. Another crucial environmental problem today is the depletion of natural resources.
Human beings use so many natural resources that we would need almost 1.5 Earths to cover all our needs. This will increase even more in the future due to massive industrialization in Asian countries such as India and China. The increased use of natural resources leads to a number of other environmental problems, such as industrialization, population growth and air pollution. Over time, the depletion of natural resources will cause an energy crisis.
Chemicals emitted by many natural resources contribute to climate change. The consumption of fossil fuels causes the emission of greenhouse gases, which are primarily responsible for global warming and climate change. The enormous production of waste due to our hyperconsumption is a major threat to the environment. According to the study, the average person produces 4.3 pounds of waste per day, and the United States alone accounts for 220 million tons per year.
When this waste ends up in landfills, it generates enormous amounts of methane, which is considered one of the worst greenhouse gases due to its high global warming potential. Our forests are natural sinks of carbon dioxide and produce fresh oxygen, in addition to helping to regulate temperature and rainfall. Today, forests cover 30% of the land, but every year tree cover is lost, which the country of Panama represents due to the population's growing demand for more food, shelter and clothing. Deforestation simply means clearing green cover and making that land available for residential, industrial, or commercial purposes.
Climate change is another environmental problem that has emerged in the past two decades. It occurs due to the increase in global warming, which occurs due to the increase in the temperature of the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels and the release of harmful gases by industries. A process by which it is converted or “fixed” to a more usable form is called fixation. Fixation occurs biologically and through lightning, or it can be done industrially.
People have learned to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia (NH3-) and to use nitrogen-rich fertilizers to supplement the naturally fixed amount of nitrogen. It is estimated that agriculture may be responsible for approximately 50% of nitrogen fixation in the soil by cultivating nitrogen-fixing crops and producing artificial fertilizers. When nitrogen is used more than plant demand, it can seep from soils into waterways and contribute to eutrophication. The problem can also occur during nitrification and denitrification.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) can form when the chemical process is not complete. N2O is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The ozone layer is an invisible layer of protection around the planet that protects us from the sun's harmful rays. The depletion of the crucial ozone layer of the atmosphere is attributed to pollution caused by chlorine and bromide found in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Once these toxic gases reach the upper atmosphere, they create a hole in the ozone layer, the largest of which is located above Antarctica. Overfishing seriously affects natural ecosystems and leads to an imbalance in ocean life. It is estimated that around 63% of the world's fish stocks are overexploited. Overfishing caused fishing fleets to migrate to new waters, further depleting fish stocks.
These five megatrends represent major global threats to planet Earth's problems that must be resolved if the world is to remain a favorable habitat for humans and other species. DW analyzes the causes and possible solutions. The good news is that clean energy is abundant, you just have to harvest it. Many say that a 100 percent renewable energy future is feasible with existing technology now.
Today, about 30 percent of the planet's land surface is covered by forests, which is about half that before agriculture began, about 11,000 years ago. About 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest are destroyed each year, mainly in the tropics. Tropical forests used to cover about 15 percent of the planet's land area; now they've shrunk to 6 or 7 percent. Much of this rest has been degraded by logging or burning.
While the top 10 environmental problems facing the planet may be, at best, “subjective”, we've tried to add and prioritize the list to put things in perspective. The most controversial and political of the 10 major environmental problems is climate change. Recently, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that human activities are currently affecting the climate and that the tipping point has already been passed. In other words, it's too late to undo the damage that climate change has caused to the environment.
At this stage, the best we can do is to regulate the greatest impact on the environment by developing more environmentally friendly methods of energy production, reducing the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Although the effect of human activities on the carbon cycle is better known, the lesser-known effect on the nitrogen cycle actually has a greater impact on the environment. The use and abuse of nitrogen by the human race has been one of the most beneficial technologies for our own species for decades. Every year, humans convert approximately 120 million tons of nitrogen from the atmosphere into reactive forms, such as nitrates, mainly in the production of nitrogen-based fertilizers for crops and in the use of food additives.
Crop runoff into our oceans has a negative effect on phytoplankton, which is responsible for producing most of the oxygen in our air. The depletion of our ozone layer has been mainly attributed to the release of chemical pollution containing the chemicals chlorine and bromide. Once chemicals reach the upper atmosphere, they cause ozone molecules to break up and form a hole, the largest of which is located above Antarctica. The atmosphere blocks many of the sun's harmful UV rays that can damage living tissue.
In an effort to reduce this process, CFCs have been banned in many manufacturing processes and products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a chlorine atom can decompose more than 100, 000 molecules of ozone. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be no fish left in the sea. The extinction of many fish species is due to humans overfishing the oceans to meet the population's growing demand for seafood.
The collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery is one such example of how humans have exploited the planet's natural resources to the brink of extinction. Since 1990, half of the world's tropical forests have been destroyed. Forest clearing continues at an alarming rate. To increase concern, a recent phenomenon has been added to the list.
Trees are now dying around the world at a rate never seen before. Acid rain is a known environmental problem that can have a serious effect on human health, wildlife and aquatic species. Contaminated water also causes significant health problems and five million deaths a year, according to Oxfam Intermon. In addition, there are other serious environmental problems related to the oceans, such as damage to ecosystems due to global warming, pollutant dumping, wastewater and fuel spills.
Environmental problems are addressed at the regional, national or international level by government organizations. However, as our environment changes, so does the need to become increasingly aware of the problems that surround it. The growing demand for land displaces the natural environment composed of flora and fauna, rather than being replaced. The metropolises of the future will have to be compact, safe, inclusive, environmentally friendly and energy efficient, with more green space, more environmentally friendly buildings and more sustainable methods of transportation that put the needs of pedestrians before those of traffic.
The growth of cities, which must accommodate about 5 billion people by 2030, will be another major environmental challenge of the decade. Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources such as air, water and soil quality; the destruction of ecosystems; the destruction of habitat; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. Climate change is the great environmental problem that humanity will face in the next decade, but it is not the only one. By raising awareness in your local community and in your families about these issues, you can help create a more environmentally friendly place for you and your future generations to live in.