Earth is the only planet in the solar system with life. It is home to numerous species. It is home to numerous species. but today, our planet is afflicted with environmental issues that are life threatening. Now water, air, and soil is polluted. Because of the increasing population and the irresponsible human behaviour, the environment conditions are becoming worse and perhaps uninhabitable. Some of the major environment problems faced by the world looming large are listed below.
Global Warming & Climate Change
- “Global warming” refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- “Climate change” refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.
- Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.
- The current warming trend is of particular significance because it is unequivocally the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia. It is undeniable that human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land and that widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred.
- The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.4 Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record.
- The ocean has absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 100 meters (about 328 feet) of ocean showing warming of more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.33 degrees Celsius) since 1969.6 Earth stores 90% of the extra energy in the ocean.
- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019, while Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons of ice per year.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa.
- Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and the snow is melting earlier.
- Global sea level rose about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and accelerating slightly every year.
- The clearing or thinning of forests by humans is known as Deforestation.
- Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They help people thrive and survive by, for example, purifying water and air and providing people with jobs; some 13.2 million people across the world have a job in the forest sector and another 41 million have a job that is related to the sector. Many animals also rely on forests. Eighty percent of the world’s land-based species, such as elephants and rhinos, live in forests.
- Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns.
- But forests around the world are under threat, jeopardizing these benefits. The threats manifest themselves in the form of deforestation and forest degradation.
- The main cause of deforestation is agriculture (poorly planned infrastructure is emerging as a big threat too) and the main cause of forest degradation is illegal logging. In 2019, the tropics lost close to 30 soccer fields’ worth of trees every single minute.
Our energy sources such as petroleum, biofuel, coal, etc. are ,mostly non-renewable resources. The energy crisis due to the excess usage of these energy sources, are not depleting the sources fast, but are also adding the green the greenhouse gases which in turn are adding to the green house gases which in turn are adding to the global warming condition. So, most countries are looking for alternative energy sources such as wind energy, solar energy, nuclear energy etc, which will be helpful in the future.
Ozone Layer Depletion
- Ozone layer depletion is the gradual thinning of the earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere caused due to the release of chemical compounds containing gaseous bromine or chlorine from industries or other human activities.
- This happens when the chlorine and bromine atoms in the atmosphere come in contact with ozone and destroy the ozone molecules. One chlorine can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone. It is destroyed more quickly than it is created.
- Some compounds release chlorine and bromine on exposure to high ultraviolet light, which then contributes to the ozone layer depletion. Such compounds are known as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).
- The ozone-depleting substances that contain chlorine include chlorofluorocarbon, carbon tetra-chloride, hydro-chlorofluorocarbons, and methyl chloroform. Whereas, the ozone-depleting substances that contain bromine are halons, methyl bromide, and hydro bromofluorocarbons.
- Chlorofluorocarbons are the most abundant ozone-depleting substance. It is only when the chlorine atom reacts with some other molecule, it does not react with ozone.
- Montreal Protocol was proposed in 1987 to stop the use, production and import of ozone-depleting substances and minimise their concentration in the atmosphere to protect the ozone layer of the earth.
- If the emission of these gases and other harmful gases are not checked, the ozone layer will disappear very soon. This may expose the living beings to harmful radiations which cause life-threatening diseases like skin cancer.
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. All these pollution are very harmful and can seriously affect the living being. Air pollution is related to the emission of harmful gases in the earth’s atmosphere causing health problems. Water Pollution on the other hand, is related to the dumping of waste materials in the water which causes harm to the aquatic as well as terrestrial life. Soil pollution is also related to dumping of waste material, fertilizer run-offs, pesticides and in the sol which degrades the soil. Now comes noise pollution, radio waves from mobile towers and mobile phones, smell pollution, which is related to the high frequency sound ways and pungent smell which are harmful for the ears, brains, nose and lungs.
- Waste are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use.
- A by-product by contrast is a joint product of relatively minor economic value. A waste product may become a by-product, joint product or resource through an invention that raises a waste product’s value above zero.
- Examples include municipal solid waste (household trash/refuse), hazardous waste, wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes (feces and urine) and surface runoff), radioactive waste, and others.
- Inappropriately managed waste can attract rodents and insects, which can harbor gastrointestinal parasites, yellow fever, worms, the plague and other conditions for humans, and exposure to hazardous wastes, particularly when they are burned, can cause various other diseases including cancers.
- Toxic waste materials can contaminate surface water, groundwater, soil, and air which causes more problems for humans, other species, and ecosystems.
- Waste treatment and disposal produces significant green house gas (GHG) emissions, notably methane, which are contributing significantly to global warming.
- As global warming and carbon-dioxide emission increase, soil begins to become a larger carbon sink and will become increasingly volatile for our plant life.
- Education and awareness in the area of waste and waste management is increasingly important from a global perspective of resource management. The Talloires Declaration is a declaration for sustainability concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources.
- Local, regional, and global air pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of “green house” gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations.
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil. It has become a major cause for the extinction of many marine species. The biggest oil spill in the world history was a result of Gulf War and it took place in the Persian Gulf where more than 420 million gallons of oil was spilled by the Iraqi forces just to stop the American soldiers from landing.
Depletion of Resources
- Resource depletion is the consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished.
- Natural resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources . Use of either of these forms of resources beyond their rate of replacement is considered to be resource depletion.
- The value of a resource is a direct result of its availability in nature and the cost of extracting the resource, the more a resource is depleted the more the value of the resource increases.
- There are several types of resource depletion, the most known being – Aquifer depletion, deforestation, mining for fossil fuels and minerals, pollution or contamination of resources, slash-and-burn agricultural practices, soil erosion, and over consumption, excessive or unnecessary use of resources.
The 1760 industrial revolution saw large-scale mineral and oil exploration and the practice has been gradually growing, leading to more and more natural oil and mineral depletion. And together with the advancements in technology, development, and research in the contemporary era; exploitation of minerals has become easier and humans are digging deeper to access different ore. The increased exploitation of different minerals has led to some of them entering into a production decline.
For example, minerals such as Gasoline, Copper, and Zinc production are estimated to decline in the next 20 years. Plus, oil mining continues to rise due to the upsurge in the number of engines that use petroleum thereby magnifying its depletion. The peak oil theory supports this fact by putting forward that it will come a time when the globe will experience uncertainties on alternative means of fuels owing to the over-harvesting of petroleum.
The total global population is more than seven billion people. Still, there is a consistent increase in the overall earth populace and this has been a critical factor in accelerating the depletion of natural resources. An increase in the populace expands the need for resources and conditions necessary to sustain it. In addition, It contributes to increased ecological contamination. Research further indicates that developing countries are using more and more resources to industrialize and support their ever-increasing population. Hence, the depletion of natural resources will continue as long as the world population increases.
Nations long to have nuclear weapons. But the fact is, nuclear weapons have become one of the most dangerous environmental issues today. The amount of nuclear weapons we have can destroy the entire earth in a few seconds. There are many disadvantages of nuclear of nuclear power. Water is used to cool the reactors which then mixes up with he other water bodies and by this, it ads to the problem of global warming. The waste which is produced is so dangerous that even a a small amount of nuclear waste can harm, a big area and effect the living beings. The misuse of nuclear power has become a threat to the survival of life on earth.
Go Green to Save Earth
In order to save the planet, the only way is to go green. We need to save energy to reduce the energy crisis and to save nature. Switch off all electrical appliances when not in use. Try to avoid non-renewable energy resources and concentrate on renewable energy like solar energy. Save water. preserve rainwater and stop water pollution. Use recycled things. Stop using plastic bags and bottles. Use Eco-friendly things. Control over-population. save trees avoid using paper bags. Plant tress.