Prompt1: Environmental Problems
An environmental problem is as a result of a change in the quantity or quality of environmental factors that tends to directly or indirectly affect the health and well-being of living organisms adversely. Research indicates that the environmental problems that the world is facing are unprecedented in terms of their severity, magnitude and pace (Negev et al., p.101). These environmental problems have led to many authors attempting to explore the aspects surrounding them especially due to the negative factors they cause. They are threatening the global environment and thus the reason they are perceived as a crisis for modern civilization. Environmental disasters such as the Sahelian droughts of the 1970s and 1980s and the nuclear incident that happened in 1986 at Chernobyl have fueled the extensive research on the environmental problems (Terminsk, p.15). This paper explores the various major environmental crises in the world, why and when they emerged and explores the actors involved.
Climate change is one of the major environmental problems. According to Anand (p. 4), the world has experienced hottest years in the past decade. Climate change is as a result of pollution of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. Burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The notable effects of climate change include alteration in global mean surface temperature, precipitation patterns, species distribution, sea level among other effects.
Another major environmental problem relates to stratospheric ozone depletion. Ozone, found in the stratosphere and the upper layer of the atmosphere, is responsible for protecting living organisms on earth from harmful UV-B radiation generated by the sun. It is, therefore, important in maintaining life on earth. However, Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are gradually depleting this atmospheric section. Concentrations of the ODS in the stratosphere peaked at 1994 and are continuing to cause health hazards due to penetration of UV-B rays through the atmosphere (Anand, p. 6).
Land degradation has also been identified as a major global environmental problem. Land is meant to sustain life on earth as human utilize it to practice agriculture for producing crops to feed the population. It also supports plants for animals. Since the emergence of agrarian revolution, the ability of the land in terms of producing high yield has been decreasing. As a result, it has continually become unsuitable for human use and has been a major cause of insufficient food in the world and thus being termed as an environmental problem.
Pollution is arguably one of the most significant environmental problems in the world. Pollution refers to the release of harmful substances in the environment at rates that are faster than that of their elimination (Khan, Mashhood, & Ghouri, p. 277). The prominent types of this environmental problem involve air, water and land pollution. Air, water and land are essential for supporting life on earth. People, for instance, depend on fresh air for breathing. Due to the high level of pollution on earth, the amount of fresh air, clean water for drinking and agriculture are reducing.
Another major global environmental problem involves loss of biodiversity. This environmental problem can be identified through the extinction of various species. Throughout history, many plant and animal species have gone extinct. The uncurbed extent of biodiversity is threatening the extinction of more species. According to Slingenberg et al. (p.18), the rate of loss of biodiversity is projected to continue at an increased state in the future. This finding highlights the adverse effects of this environmental problem.
Various aspects relate to the why and when these environmental problems emerged. Despite some of the environmental problems are due to natural aspects such as through natural selection, the impact of human-related aspects has been adverse on the environment. Technology developments are one of the aspects to blame for the prevalence of the environmental problems (Jaffe, Newell, & Stavins, p. 462). This dates back to the emergence of the industrial revolution. It has led to humans exerting greater influence over the ecosystem and natural resources.
Another aspect causing environmental problems relates to the rapidly increasing population. Since humans started producing food through agriculture, the earth’s population has been rapidly increasing. High population in the world translates to the fact that there is need for more resources to sustain them. This has led to many resources being over-exploited and thus leading to environmental problems.
The aspect of high energy and resources requirements is also contributing to the environmental problems in the world. According to Ahuti (p.6), since the emergence of industrial revolution, notably from 1950, there has been the need for better forms of energy production. Energy is needed for running machinery among other areas involved in industrial revolution. The high-energy requirement has led to problems such as pollution and loss of biodiversity through exploitation of resources.
Poverty is another aspect that has been noted to contribute to the environmental problems. The number of poor people in the world increases year after year. Poor people tend to find short-term solutions to basic problems such as getting food, water and shelter (Miller, p.12). Without the potential to afford these basic needs through means that can conserve the environment, they result to over-exploitation of the earth’s resources. They may, for instance, exploit a fishery to get food which can lead to loss of biodiversity.
Ineffective approaches to curb environmental problems are another cause of the environmental pollution crisis. With the identification of the adverse effects of the environmental problems in the world, there is the need to act to curb them. However, there has been the reluctance through various stakeholders such as governments to suppress the environmental problems. With no effective restrictions, there has been overexploitation of natural resources and ecosystems.
Various actors are associated with the prevalence of environmental problems in the world. As noted earlier, natural and human aspects lead to environmental problems. However, humans contribute more to the crisis through their activities. One of the actors relates to the government. Governments are supposed to protect the environment by developing policies and laws suitable for that purpose (Ashford, p.1). Some governments fail to come up with effective policies or are even involved in activities that contribute to the problems in the environment.
Companies and industries are also main actors in relation to the environmental problems that face the world. The major causes of environmental problems result from release of harmful substance into the environment by industries. They pollute the environment through activities such as use of fossil fuel to produce energy that consequently leads to production of greenhouse gases. They may also release their effluents from production processes into water bodies and this leads to water pollution.
Individuals are also to be blamed for the environmental problems in the world. Power and Jake (p.8) explain that each person is responsible for contributing to the crisis. Individuals are involved in activities that lead to environmental problems such as burning of fossil fuels during transport or heating, deforestation to increase agricultural land and inappropriate dumping of waste among others. The failure to adhere to the set guidelines on how to protect the environment is connected to individuals’ contribution to environmental problems. Individuals are in many cases involved in situations where they tend to maximize profits or their needs at the expense of protecting the environment. This reckless behavior leads to more environmental problems.
Environmental problems affect many aspects of the world as they alter many systems. The environment and its inhabitants are the victims of the crisis. All people are affected by the environmental problems. One of the ways through which people and other living organisms are affected relates to health problems. As noted earlier, the environmental problem such as depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere eliminates the cushioning effect that protects living organisms from harmful UV-B rays. This leads to diseases such as skin cancer to the population.
People are also affected by the effects of the environmental problems in the form of hunger (Hamuda & István, p.89). Land degradation, through poor farming practices and over-exploitation of natural resources, contributes to insufficient food production. With the high population in the world, the inadequate food is unable to sustain most of the people leading to hunger. Despite this problem affecting all people in the world in various ways, the poor, especially those in developing countries are more affected.
Plants and animals are also adversely
affected by the environmental problems due to the actions of the various actors highlighted above. They are affected in the form of diseases that threaten the survival of some species. They may also be affected by changes in climatic patterns where there are prolonged periods of a certain climatic condition that they have not adapted to; causing their death. Prevalence of this situation leads to loss of biodiversity to the environment.
The government may also be a victim of the effect of the various environmental problems. Addressing the environmental problems is expensive (Venkat, p.8). Governments spend a lot of money in creating awareness regarding the environment or assisting those affected by the negative effects. The money spent on these situations could be used for other development purposes and thus it affects the operations of the government.
In conclusion, it is important to observe that environmental problems tend to affect the well-being of humans and the world adversely. The various major environmental problems have been identified through extensive research on this area. Climate change, pollution, depletion of the stratospheric ozone, land degradation and loss of biodiversity are some of the major environmental problems in the world. These problems are caused by technology development, rapidly increasing population, poverty, high-energy requirements and ineffective policies among others. The government or policy makers, companies and individuals are the main actors of the environmental crisis. Those affected involves all living organisms through health problems, hunger, extinction and hence loss of diversity. Governments are also affected due to the economic cost of addressing the problems. The negative effects associated with the environmental problems indicate that there is the need for effectively eliminating them.
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