Global warming, nuclear waste, pollution, extinction of species ... the list of environmental issues, which is already quite long, continues to grow in length. Most of us have become quite involved in our personal lives and hence, are not at all aware about these issues. As for those who are aware of them, they prefer to carry on with their it-won't-affect-us attitude. So the list of issues is just growing, while we run out of time to solve them.
Environmental Issues Threatening Our Planet
Beyond global warming and energy crisis, there exist several other environmental problems of global concern―each equally hazardous. More importantly, all these issues are interconnected and thus, it is difficult to tackle them one by one.
Climate change has become more than obvious over the past decade, with nine years of the decade making it to the list of hottest years the planet has ever witnessed. The rise in temperature has also ensured that the equations on the planet have gone for a toss. Some of the most obvious signs of this include irregularities in weather, frequent storms, melting glaciers, rising levels of sea, etc. Going by the prevailing conditions, it is not difficult to anticipate that the planet is heading for a dramatic climate change, somewhere in the near future.
Conservation of Species
Species conservation basically deals with conservation of flora and fauna to curb the extinction of species. Extinction of a single species of plant or animal results in a dramatic imbalance in the ecosystem, as a number of other species dependent on it are also affected―directly or indirectly. Over the last century or so, several plants and animals have become extinct, thus resulting in a major loss for the biodiversity of the planet.
The fact that we are largely dependent on fossil fuels for our energy requirements has made us significantly vulnerable to severe energy crisis. Though quite a few renewable energy sources have been identified, none of them have been promising enough to replace fossil fuels as the major source of energy for mankind. Scientists are attempting to tap the full potential of these sources. Our future by and large depends on these attempts, as fossil fuels are on the verge of exhaustion.
Exploitation of Natural Resources
Our greed for more has left us empty-handed in terms of natural resources in various parts of the world. Several human activities, including the likes of mining, agriculture, and fishing, have resulted in drastic degradation of our natural resources. While mining and agriculture have triggered large-scale deforestation, overfishing has brought about a decline in the number of marine species. If the trend continue, we are bound to exhaust those natural resources on which we are dependent and thus, dig our own graves.
Land pollution, owing to human activities, and desertification, due to loss of vegetation has left the surface of the planet unsuitable for human use. Land degradation can be attributed to our laid-back attitude when it comes to preservation of the nature. Improper soil use, haphazard waste disposal, large-scale deforestation, and other such human activities are on a rise, which is invariably taking a toll on our natural surroundings.
Environmental problems pertaining to the land are not just restricted to haphazard waste disposal or large-scale deforestation, but also to improper use of land. Natural environment is being destructed to make way for urban sprawl, which is indirectly resulting in loss of habitat for several species. Fragmentation of land owing to construction is also a major factor when it comes to improper land use. All these factors together result in several problems, including soil erosion, degradation of land, and desertification.
Nuclear power does have high potential, but the problems associated with it are no less. Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants is one of the major problems we are likely to face, especially if safety regulations are not followed properly. Chernobyl tragedy has set an example of how nuclear waste can lead to disaster for mankind. No one would like to see another Chernobyl happening. It doesn't just end here though. The threat of some nation diverting its nuclear power to produce nuclear arsenal is far from over. And it won't take an Einstein to imagine the amount of damage these nuclear weapons will cause.
Yet another global issue is that of overpopulation. As the population of the world continues to soar at an alarming rate, the pressure on the resources of the planet is increasing. The problems associated with it range from food and water crisis, to the lack of space for natural burial. Overpopulation also results in various other demographic hazards. Incessant population growth will not just result in depletion of natural resources, but will also put more pressure on the economy. After all, sustaining a huge population requires quite a mammoth effort for a nation, as far as finance is concerned.
The term 'pollution' in itself have several other aspects, prominent ones among which include air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution. Air pollution can be attributed to the large amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by industries and vehicles, water pollution and land pollution are caused as a result of waste disposal from factories, oil-carrying vessels, etc. Basically, mankind is to be blamed for this issue as our activities tend to hamper the environment at an alarming rate. If this trend continues, very soon we will be left without fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink.
As the population increases, human activities increase, which eventually increases the amount of waste produced. This waste doesn't just include those harmful gases let out in the atmosphere or toxic waste released in water bodies, but also includes nuclear waste, e-waste, medical waste, and even the waste from our homes. With limited area available on the planet and most of it being inhabited by us, we are left with no space to dispose this waste. The rate at which this waste is produced is far more than the rate at which it is being treated. As a result of this, the waste is just being piled up and the same is polluting the environment.
The environmental issues that our planet faces today are not restricted to the ones we mentioned above. Several issues, including problems due to construction of dams, genetic pollution, nanotoxicology, etc., are surfacing every other day, thus making the list longer with time. If we don't start doing something about these issues one by one, the time is not far when we will have no option, but to surrender to them.