Top 5 Environmental Problems That Pose an Immediate Threat

Earth Day is coming up soon, and while it is a great occasion to celebrate our planet, it is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the serious environmental problems we are facing. Ignorance may be bliss, but we need to find solutions to alleviate the damage we have done to the environment. It is becoming increasing difficult to ignore the dire situation, especially when the effects are hitting so close to home.

If you want to be prepared for Earth Day 2017 – which we celebrate on 22nd of April this year – this is the perfect opportunity to educate yourself about the issues. Read on as we discuss the five most threatening environmental concerns facing our society right now. We will also talk about some of the potential solutions that might save our planet from imminent destruction.

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1. Climate Change

Inevitably, climate change is on all of our minds when we think about our current environmental problems. It is first and foremost issue on our list because scientists and people can’t even seem to agree on whether or not this is an issue in the first place. We cannot work together to find solutions unless we all realize that yes, climate change is happening, and yes, it affects all of us in ways we can see and feel.

Unusually hot temperatures, sudden droughts, freakish storms and the fact that seasons seem to have turned upside down – these are clear signs of the fact that our planet is undergoing climate change. On top of everything, higher temperatures are melting our polar icecaps, raising the global sea level and leading to an imbalance for wildlife.

Potential solutions: What can we do to prevent the exacerbation of climate change? Individuals can take some small yet important steps, such as turning off lights when they’re not needed, driving more responsibly, eating less meat, and switching to LED bulbs. On a more global scale, world leaders are trying to curb harmful greenhouse gases emitted by each nation into the atmosphere. They are also planting more forests, to absorb more of the carbon released.

2. Pollution

While it comes in many shapes and forms, pollution is something we have all experienced. No matter where you live, you have been a witness of the visible signs of pollution. From the littering problem on NYC city streets to the smog that hovers over Hong Kong to the plastic trash that floats in our oceans, we cannot get away from it. Pollution has gotten out of control due to our desire to have more and more “stuff.” In turn, we throw more things away than ever before, drowning ourselves in garbage. Manufacturing these things also leads to air and water pollution. Unregulated factories and industrial practices play a significant role in exacerbating our pollution problem.

Potential solutions: Reducing the amount of pollution on our streets, in our air and water starts with a mental change. Before purchasing another new thing, ask yourself if you really need it or if you could maybe buy it secondhand. If everyone would oppose to the current consumerist practices, it would make a big difference in the amount of trash that end up in our landfills. Secondly, recycling is paramount. If you don’t already do it, get into the habit, because these easy principles can make the world a much better place.

3. Deforestation

Although governments and environmental organizations are trying to plant more forests, the truth is that the rate of felled trees is increasing at an alarming rate. Deforestation is one of those environmental problems that grow rapidly in areas like Africa, Central and South America. This means we have fewer trees, less cleansing oxygen, and more displacement of wildlife. At the same time, deforestation decreases our success against global warming. Meanwhile, cutting down forests leads to much drier climates.

On the other hand, Earth’s tropical rainforests, while crucial to stabilizing the climate, are being chopped down at a speedy pace. We lost one and a half acres of rainforest every second. If the current rate of destruction persists, we will destroy our rainforests in less than 40 years.

Potential solutions: We as individuals can fight against deforestation. Going paperless or using recycled paper is the best way to decrease the need to fell as many trees. At the same time, buying goods made with FSC-certified wood shows retailers that we stand against brands that obtain lumber irresponsibly. Equally important is to plant a tree – or even a hundred!

4. Loss of Biodiversity

Our Earth is home to countless species, each with an important role in their ecosystem. When one dies out, it can have catastrophic effects on the ecological balance. Even a dwindling population can cause major issues for the human race – take bees, for example. The decline in bee population affects their role of pollination, which in turn affects both the environment and food production. Currently, many other species are forced out of their habitats either by man or by global warming.

Potential solutions: Unfortunately, there is little individuals can do to combat this particular environmental issue. What we can do, however, is to educate ourselves with the facts. Donating to organizations like the World Wildlife Fund is also a plus. These global organizations facilitate the preservation of animals on the brink of extinction, while also fighting deforestation and unchecked habitat destruction. Reducing the threat of these two issues can also slow down loss of biodiversity.

5. Melting Polar Ice Caps and Rising Sea Levels

It’s climate change – again – that plays an important role in exacerbating another dangerous problem. Our polar ice caps are melting, which means we have to deal with rising sea levels. According to NASA satellite images, the area of our permanent ice cover is shrinking at a rate of 9 percent every decade. If the rate of melting remains unchanged, the Arctic could be completely ice-free in the summer by the end of the century.

All that melted ice goes into our oceans, causing threats to coastal areas, as well as major cities. New York and London, for instance, could be underwater soon. The rising tides are a serious problem, and Manhattan has already come up with solutions for the next few years. But more importantly than reacting after the fact is to treat the root of the problem. The section on climate change above provides you with ways you can personally keep global warming in its tracks.

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Green and Growing Team
 

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