Environmental issues

Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment.[citation needed][dubious ] Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement, addresses environmental issues through advocacy, education and activism.[1]

Water pollution is an environmental issue that affects many water bodies. This photograph shows foam on the New River as it enters the United States from Mexico.

The carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere has already exceeded 400 parts per million (NOAA) (with total "long-term" GHG exceeding 455 parts per million) (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Report). The amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is possibly above the threshold that can potentially cause climate change. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated "Climate change is not just a distant future threat. It is the main driver behind rising humanitarian needs and we are seeing its impact. The number of people affected and the damages inflicted by extreme weather has been unprecedented."[2] Further, OCHA has stated:

  • Climate disasters are on the rise. Around 70 percent of disasters are now climate-related – up from around 50 percent from two decades ago.
  • These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate-related disasters, compared to 1.7 billion in the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008.
  • Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding, and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of local communities in the absence of strong concerted action.[3]

Environment destruction caused by humans is a global, ongoing problem. By the year 2050, the global human population is expected to grow by 2 billion people, thereby reaching a level of 9.6 billion people.[4] The human effects on Earth can be seen in many different ways. A main effect, is an increase in global temperature. According to the report ”Our Changing Climate”, the global warming that has been going on for the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities.[5] Since 1895, the average temperature in the United States has increased by between 0.7 °C and 1.1 °C (1.3 °F and 1.9 °F), with most of the increase taking place since around 1970.[5][6][7]