Our planet is in trouble! Almost every day we seem to hear of yet another problem affecting the environment - and what a list of problems! - pollution, acid rain, climate change, the destruction of rainforests and other wild habitats, the decline and extinction of thousands of species of animals and plants....and so on.
Nowadays, most of us know that these threats exist and that humans have caused them. Many of us are very worried about the future of our planet and unless we can find a way of solving the problems we have made then the environment will suffer even more.
It all sounds so depressing - but we certainly mustn't despair! Every one of us, whatever age we are can do something to help slow down and reverse some of the damage. We cannot leave the problem-solving entirely to the experts - we all have a responsibility for our environment. We must learn to live in a sustainable way i.e. learn to use our natural resources which include air, freshwater, forests, wildlife, farmland and seas without damaging them. As populations expand and lifestyles change, we must keep the world in a good condition so that future generations will have the same natural resources that we have.
Here are just a few examples of the threats to our environment and some ideas to help you to do something about them.
We humans create such a lot of rubbish! Between 1992 and 2008 household waste increased by 16% and we now produce just under half a tonne per person each year. Most of this is taken away by dustmen and buried in enormous landfill sites or burned in incinerators - both of these actions can be dangerous for the environment. Is all our rubbish really rubbish? If you think about it, much of what we throw away could be used again. It makes sense to reuse and recycle our rubbish instead of just trying to solve the problem of where to put it! Encouragingly rates of recycling have increased so that we recycle 35 % of our household rubbish, although we could recycle up to 80%. Much of our waste is made up of glass, metal, plastic and paper. Our natural resources such as trees, oil, coal and aluminium are used up in enormous amounts to make these products and the resources will one day be completely used up. We must cut down on energy use.
Ideas to Help
* Sort out your rubbish. Organic matter e.g. potato peelings, left over food, tea leaves etc. can be transferred straight to a compost heap in the garden and used as a good, natural fertiliser for the plants. Aluminium cans, glass bottles and newspapers etc. are often collected from our doorsteps these days, but other items such as plastic bottles, juice cartons and cardboard may not be, in which case they can be taken to nearby recycling banks. Find out where they are by asking your local council or library. * Use recycled paper to help save trees. Everyone in Britain uses about 6 trees worth of paper every year. Chlorine bleach is usually used to make newspapers and this pollutes rivers. It's better to use unbleached, recycled paper whenever you can. * Take your old clothes to charity shops. Some are sold, others are returned to textile mills for recycling. * Try to avoid buying plastic. It's hard to recycle. One way to cut down on plastic is to refuse to use carrier bags offered by supermarkets and use strong, long lasting shopping bags instead, or re-use plastic bags over and over again, until they wear out and then recycle them. * Don't buy over-packed goods. Many things we buy have unnecessary amounts of plastic and paper around them.
Rainforests are valuable habitats. About half of all the species of animals and plants in the world live in rainforests with a possible 50,000 species a year becoming extinct. Thousands of rainforest plants contain substances that can be used in medicines and the tribal people of the forests have great knowledge of them. Rainforests are also...