Climate change is the biggest existing threat to wildlife, wild places and American communities across the country. Communities are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Right now, our externalities are generating very real financial costs for those who are experiencing amplified natural disasters (droughts, floods, hurricanes), suffer health problems due to air pollution, are displaced by rising sea levels and many other things. The amount of food lost is equivalent to approximately 1.3 billion tons, which is enough to feed 3 billion people.
Considering that there are 690 million people suffering from malnutrition, it's clear that we have more than enough for everyone to eat their fill. Beyond the human tragedy, the damage caused by the production of this food is one of the greatest environmental problems on our planet, which we will analyze later in the agriculture section. After the First World War, improvements in chemistry allowed the start of mass production of plastics. By the 1950s, around 2 million tons of plastic were produced every year, and the popularity of this wonderful material has increased ever since.
Of the 270 million tons of plastic produced each year, a small portion (that is, 8 million tons) ends up in the ocean. It then sinks to the bottom or breaks down into progressively smaller pieces called microplastics on the surface. Microplastics act like toxin sponges, binding many of the chemicals we let carelessly seep into our oceans, before being ingested by marine life. They can move up the food chain to reach us.
According to the WRI, last year we lost a primary rainforest soccer field every 6 seconds, equivalent to 3.8 million hectares, or an area roughly the size of Switzerland. Air pollution is one of the worst causes of death in the world and approximately 10 million deaths are attributed to it each year, making it one of our biggest problems. This is much more than previously thought and, as the world continues to industrialize, it is not expected to decline anytime soon. Over the past four decades, China went through a highly polluted period due to its rapid development, but it has made tremendous progress in the past decade.
Most of its major cities are now just above the levels recommended by the WHO for fine particulate matter (PM2,. Most of its growth occurred after the Industrial Revolution, around 1780, and expansion only recently slowed down. The amount of environmental destruction needed for this land change could be one of our biggest environmental problems alone, but there's more. It also emits about one-third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
At the time of publication, the shares of CO2 per million (ppm) are at 417.55 and the global average temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius. This phenomenon is fundamental to climate change, with a myriad of knock-on effects, and makes it one of the greatest environmental problems of our time. The Earth has a series of carbon emission and capture mechanisms that interact to create patterns over long periods of time. Despite the great fluctuations of the past, the past 12,000 years have been unusually stable and temperate, allowing humans to thrive.
Most of the world's fresh water is trapped in the form of ice at the North and South Poles, and in glaciers around the world. If everything melted, sea levels would rise about 70 meters. Of course, that won't happen soon, but the world as we know it could change quite a bit with just 1 or 2 meters of sea level rise, which is expected to happen by the end of the century. While the world has warmed by an average of 1 °C, the North Pole is now 2.8 °C hotter than it was 100 years ago.
Mountain glaciers and Antarctica are also warming faster than average and, as a result, ice melting has accelerated globally. This visualization by Iman Ghosh illustrates the situation admirably. An article recently published in Nature tripled previous estimates of global vulnerability to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Most previous sea level rise projections fell below 1 to 1.5 meters, but now it seems that 2 meters are possible.
If that were to happen, the study authors estimate that 680 million people would be displaced, leading to a gradual but inexorable reorganization of the coastal world. Up to 3 billion people depend on the ocean and its ecosystems and, as a result, an enormous amount of infrastructure and operations have been established in low-lying coastal lands. Little attention has been paid to rising sea levels, meaning that adaptation will be difficult and costly. Rising sea levels also make storm surges more powerful, increasing the potential for flooding in places susceptible to storms, such as Bangladesh, USA.
UU. In fact, more than 70% of all natural disasters since 2000 were water-related, so their intensification means problems for people around the world (Germany experienced an unexpectedly strong flood just a few days before publication). As the fourth most populous city in the world, it could be so vulnerable to flooding that the entire area would have to be evacuated or massively designed to withstand before the end of the century. Sea level rise, although slow, is undoubtedly one of the biggest environmental problems we face and we must prepare ourselves.
If you want to see more, we've created similar coastal flood projection maps for 70 different locations around the world. While the number of undernourished people has been declining, there are more than 650 million left worldwide. As explained above, we have a surplus of food that is going to be wasted and we need to do a better job of directing it to places in need. The numbers of malnourished people have stagnated since the early 2000s and there is no real reason to think that they will fall again soon.
In fact, they're more likely to start rising again due to climate change. Climate change is the great environmental problem that humanity will face in the next decade, but it is not the only one. We'll look at some of them, from water scarcity and biodiversity loss to waste management, and discuss the challenges that lie ahead.
environmental issuesand human progress are inextricably linked.
The incredible progress of the Industrial Revolution gave humanity the best health, wealth and security in world history. It has also caused irreparable damage to our natural environment. These are some of the biggest environmental problems we face today. There are two types of air pollution.
Outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution. Air pollution is an environmental problem because it affects our health and well-being. Outdoor air pollution (also known as ambient air quality) is a major environmental problem. Emissions from coal plants, factories, wildfires and cars that run on fossil fuels cause air pollution.
Around 70,000 people die prematurely in the United States due to outdoor air pollution. Animal welfare is an environmental issue for several reasons. One of the first environmental protection agencies was called The Society for the Protection of Birds. Emily Williamson founded the organization in 1889 in response to the killing of birds to obtain their feathers and use them as decoration on women's hats.
Biodiversity loss is the extinction and reduction of plant and animal species and ecological diversity. Extreme weather caused by climate change, deforestation, the use of pesticides and pollution cause the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is an environmental problem because when ecosystems change, the entire natural system changes. Changing any part of a natural system leads to changes in the entire system.
Coral bleaching is an environmental problem today caused largely by. Coral discoloration occurs when environmental conditions, such as temperature, light and nutrients, cause the algae that live in the coral to die. Up to a quarter of marine life depends on coral reefs, so when coral reefs die, biodiversity is lost and species become extinct. If you're interested in learning more about coral bleaching, the Netflix documentary “Chasing Coral” is inspirational, emotional and essential to understanding this important environmental problem.
You can also watch the full documentary for free on YouTube. Climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and methane prevent heat from leaving the atmosphere. When these gases are trapped, they cause the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect keeps warm air trapped inside the Earth's atmosphere. Global warming is responsible for changes in weather patterns, such as warmer summers, shorter winters, and extreme weather. Fossil fuels used for electricity and transportation, deforestation, landfills and fertilizers contribute to climate change. Deforestation is a major environmental problem today and many environmentalists are calling for massive reforestation as a possible solution to climate change.
Deforestation occurs when forests are cleared to create space for agriculture, raising livestock, and building roads and cities. Deforestation leads to habitat and biodiversity loss and contributes to climate change. Trees contain carbon dioxide and, when cut down, carbon dioxide passes into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF): When forests are cleared, burned, or mismanaged, they release the carbon they had.
The way in which forests are managed is a major environmental problem because it affects the capacity of forests to absorb carbon. Therefore, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change monitors land use, land change and forestry so that land and forests can be sinks. In developing countries, close to 1 billion people still live without access to modern energy. This is also a major environmental problem because energy allows children greater access to education, computers and light for reading and studying.
Households with access to modern energy have better health and more financial opportunities. It is essential that all children and mothers have access to energy so that they can learn, have healthy children and provide food for their families. Everyone on Earth has the right to modern energy and electricity in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Turning off our lights will not provide light to people in developing countries who desperately need it.
Therefore, we need massive investments in clean and renewable energy innovation that will help the United States make the transition to a clean economy and also raise the living standards of people around the world. While environmental problems related to energy production may seem insurmountable, they are not. Every day for the past 24 years, 262,600 people have had access to electricity, according to Our World In Data. This is tremendous progress for humanity and social justice.
Now we just need everyone to use renewable, low-carbon energy sources. If you're interested in learning more about why modern energy is so important, read Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Over the past two decades, three-quarters of emissions were caused by fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal for energy are one of the biggest environmental problems we face today because they contribute to climate change.
Today, 80% of energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels, 11% from renewable energy and 8% from nuclear energy, according to the U.S. Energy Administration. The Energy Policy Act of 1992, passed by the United States Congress, was enacted to reduce the United States' dependence on fossil fuels and improve. The law set goals for energy efficiency and clean energy.
Hunger and food insecurity may increase with global warming. This is also an environmental problem, because when crops don't grow due to drought caused by climate change, farmers may need to sell other natural resources, such as trees to cut them down, and burn forests to make room for livestock and earn money. A hundred years ago, I doubt that many people imagined the progress that humanity has seen or the destruction of the environment. Today we have the opportunity to create a world in which people and the planet thrive together.
Today's environmental problems can be solved through a circular economy, clean and renewable energy sources, regenerative agriculture, conscious consumption and sustainable living techniques. This situation requires an energy transition to a cleaner, more accessible and efficient model based on the use of renewable energy sources to build communities that are more sustainable, inclusive and resistant to environmental problems such as climate change. Global warming due to CO2 emissions, which according to the UN has increased by almost 50% since 1990, is accelerating climate change and threatens the survival of millions of people, plants and animals by causing weather events such as droughts, fires and floods, which are becoming more frequent and more extreme. It will probably require the authorities to intervene and regulate the system rather than letting the market do it, but this issue is very low on its list of priorities, if at all, bringing us back to the first major environmental problem on the list: poor governance.
And while the world has been plunged into a deadly pandemic, scientists are once again sounding the alarm that climate change remains the greatest threat to human health in recorded history. Meanwhile, scientists and environmental activists have proposed solutions that can help people adapt to the health effects of climate change. Population growth is an environmental problem because it puts pressure on the environment, since more land needs to be used for agriculture to grow food. The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) states that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must ensure that all pesticides used on food in the United States comply with safety regulations.
This complex system constitutes one of the world's biggest environmental problems, but it will mainly affect people in crisis areas. 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. . .