We are facing a major climate crisis that is accelerating at an unthinkable and unpredictable rate. There are numerous reasons why we are facing such an adverse and almost endemic crisis globally, but there are some reasons which warrant more attention and focus than others due to their aggressive and adverse nature and consequences. Here are the top environmental concerns globally.
Deforestation is one of the biggest environmental concerns globally, and according to a report, forests the size of 20 football fields are cut down every 60 seconds. The destruction is almost unfathomable to a person that is relatively unaffected by and unaware of the damage we are causing to our planet. However, that might not be the case in the next decade as it is estimated that by the year 2030, we might only have 10% of our forests to rely on. Additionally, as we enter the new millennium in 2100, we might run out of our precious and indispensable forests even before we do so! Surprisingly, the major cause of deforestation is agriculture, thanks to our ever-growing population, unsustainable practices, and short-term solutions to problems that are terrible for the environment.
2.Plastic waste and pollution
Plastic has slowly seeped into our lives and now is an indispensable part of our lives. It is present in everything or task we carry out, whether it is getting groceries, buying food, preserving or packaging food- it has made itself so important that we consider it irreplaceable. However, this wasn’t always the case. In 1950, the world produced about 2 million tonnes of plastic every year. That sounds like a big number, but it is nothing compared to our annual plastic production in 2015, which stood at an astounding 419 million tonnes. That is not all, no matter how much we wish it was. According to research carried out by Nature, a science journal, about 11 million tons of plastic makes its way into our oceans and affects marine life every year. Another shocking finding is that 91% of the plastic that has been produced to date is not recycled. This research by National Geographic presents plastic waste and pollution as not only one of the biggest environmental concerns we face as a species, but also another massive market failure.
3.Loss of biodiversity
Biodiversity has been taken for granted by a majority of the population because of its giving and accepting nature. What does not fight back is considered weak and exploitable, and we have crossed all limits to reach a point where the damage we have caused might be irreversible despite our best efforts and extraordinary measures. The past five decades have witnessed a rapid and insatiable growth of human consumption, global trade, population, and urbanization. This has resulted in us using nature’s resources faster and more quickly than they can be replenished. Moreover, uncontrolled and mindless deforestation has made the process of replenishment more difficult, and our selfish motives have delayed a process that is natural and has existed long before us indefinitely. The population sizes of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and fish have experienced a staggering decline of 68% between the years of 1970 and 2016. This report by WWF also states that the main aggravators that contribute to these shocking numbers include land-use change, especially changing natural habitats such as forests and grasslands, to lands that are suitable for agriculture.
4.Air pollution and depleting air quality around the globe
The World Health Organization recently claimed that 90% of the human population inhales polluted air, and they might not be far off from the exact number. Research conducted by WHO shows that up to 7 million people succumb to air pollution-induced diseases each year globally. Moreover, this high and extensive level of air pollution is only rising, with the setting up of new industries and the inconsiderate nature of big corporates that release these toxic chemicals into the atmosphere without adverse consequences thanks to bendable laws filled with loopholes. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there has also been a claim that states that air pollution might also be responsible for transferring the virus molecules. While organizations are doing their best to reduce their emissions and be a part of the new sustainable and green energy initiative, billions are being affected by this daily and quick action needs to be taken before it is too late.
5.Melting of polar ice caps
Polar ice caps affect the entirety of the climate on the planet, and due to global warming, they are now melting at an alarming rate. It is estimated that climate change and global warming are warming up the Arctic twice as fast as any other place on the planet. The Greenland Ice Sheet, which is extremely important, is melting rapidly, which induces a great risk for sea levels across the globe. This is because melting ice is the biggest reason behind rising sea levels, and if the Greenland Ice Sheet melts, the sea level would rise by up to a monumental 6 meters. This would have a devastating impact on coastal cities and areas as it will partially or completely submerge them and make them inhabitable. This would then contribute to overpopulation in the areas the coastal population migrates to, and a strain on the existing resources.
Finally, it is no secret that one of the top environmental concerns globally is overpopulation. Human beings as a species are reproducing and growing exponentially, and hence, there is more strain on nature and its resources to provide for our ever-growing and endless needs. This overpopulation also triggers a plethora of other environmental concerns which include deforestation, loss of biodiversity, air pollution, plastic pollution, water scarcity, food insecurity- the list is almost endless. As the human population continues to grow rapidly worldwide, it is important to acknowledge this massive problem and formulate effective strategies to tackle it quickly and in the best manner possible.
Hence, these are the top environmental concerns globally that concern the planet, its biodiversity, and us as a species.