With the recent developments in science and technology, the discussion on environmental topics is getting more pressing each and every day. There is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that the reason for the explosion of environmental issues are anthropogenic, which is to say it is induced by man’s activities. If we are to truly do something to prevent the progress if not reverse the effects of these various environmental crises, it is important to understand how our actions are causing these different environmental topics to happen.
The most pressing and most talked about amongst the many environmental topics is global warming or climate change. The reason why global warming is both pressing and controversial is because it has long-term consequences to civilization as a whole. Technically, global warming refers to the increase in surface temperature of the earth which is arguably caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are common products of man’s effort to obtain energy through the use of fossil fuels and petroleum products.
Should projections on the effect of global warming prove true, we will see drastic changes in weather that are sure to disrupt or cripple our way of living. It can lead to freak weather disturbances such as those of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There will also be heat waves in the summer and deadly snowstorms in the winter, all severe enough to cause large-scale devastation over a region, country or continent. The ones we are seeing are already a harbinger of worse things to come, as many global warming experts argue. Continuous warming will also lead to a melting of polar ice caps and glaciers which can result to the rise in the normal sea level flooding many coastline cities and communities.
The countries in the world are already deep in discussion regarding global warming via the Climate Change Summit and the International Panel on Climate Change but so far there are no lasting agreements that can slow down or reverse the warming trend. It can only be hoped that governments find a common ground so a workable plan can be developed to address climate change.
Other environmental topics that are closely tied up to climate change debate are energy use and pollution. Energy use pertains to the runaway consumption of fossil fuels which not only lead to global warming but is also fast running out. The world will have to figure out a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels if it is to continue developing and progressing without issues. In the same token, energy use and other human processes have to be taken in the context of pollution and responsible disposal of wastes. Not only does fossil fuel emit greenhouse gases, the burning process also released toxins and chemicals that are harmful to plants, animals, and humans.
Other forms of pollution are also fueling the debates on environmental topics and their effects. Water pollution is threatening the available source of drinkable water in many regions around the world. Coupled with severe droughts due to climate change, water is fast becoming a scarce commodity for many regions. The same can be said of the effects of solid waste pollution which is straining the resources of many cities. Landfills are getting filled faster than they can be built. Runaway trash is finding its way into bodies of water destroying ecosystems. Today, there is an accumulation of trash in a portion of the North Atlantic that is as large as the state of Texas. It is known as the North Atlantic Gyre and it’s only one of many proofs to the degree of pollution that world is facing.
Of course, the discussion on environmental topics would not be complete if conservation is not mentioned. The forests of the world are fast disappearing, many animals and plants are facing extinction and current efforts to retard damage to ecosystems is not enough to actually dent the degree to which natural resource utilization is killing many animals.
Development is currently at a point where it is butting heads with the environment giving rise to environmental topics that are grave but without sustainable solutions. Development will not be able to continue at this rate without finding alternative methods to improve natural resource utilization, reduce pollution, and obtain alternative and renewable energy sources, controlling population growth and optimizing land use methodologies, and reversing the effects of runaway global warming. Only by addressing these problems will man be able to move forward as a civilization. Until then, we firmly hope that it’s yet too late to create a solution!