Environmental issues have fast become a major global issue. Following decades of consumption of her natural resources Mother Nature may well have decided to hit back. The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that not only this is happening, it is mainly human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. Is global warning the greatest ever threat to face the planet? We can look at the key factors causing the environment critical stress: The Atmosphere
Stratospheric ozone depletion threatens us with enhanced ultra-violet radiation at the earth's surface, which can be damaging or lethal to many life forms. Air pollution near ground level, and acid precipitation, are already causing widespread injury to humans, forests and crops.
Heedless exploitation of depletable ground water supplies endangers food production and other essential human systems. Heavy demands on the world's surface waters have resulted in serious shortages in some 80 countries, containing 40% of the world's population. Pollution of rivers, lakes and ground water further limits the supply.
The irreversible loss of species, which by 2100 may reach one third of all species now living, is especially serious much of this damage is irreversible, whereas other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation may alter climate on a global scale. Massive tampering with the world's interdependent web of life, coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change, could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand.
The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. We are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. A World Bank estimate indicates that world population will not stabilize at less than 12.4 billion; while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today's 5.4 billion. But, still right now, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.
Destructive pressure on the oceans is severe, particularly in the coastal regions which produce most of the world's food fish. The total marine catch is now at or above the estimated maximum sustainable yield. Some fisheries have already shown signs of collapse. Rivers carrying heavy burdens of eroded soil into the seas also carry industrial, municipal, agricultural and livestock Waste -- some of it toxic
Loss of soil productivity, which is causing extensive Land abandonment, is a widespread byproduct of current practices in agriculture and animal husbandry. Since 1945, 11% of the earth's vegetated surface has been degraded -- an area larger than India and China combined, and per capita food production in many parts of the world is decreasing.
Tropical rain forests, as well as tropical and temperate dry forests, are being destroyed rapidly. At present rates, some critical forest types will be gone in a few years and most of the tropical rain forest will be gone before the end of the next century. With them will go large numbers of plant and animal species.
Having identified that these environmental issues do exist, the questions must be asked what...