Recent Environmental Issues

Knowing Our Environment

Recent Environmental Issues in the News

With the advancement of technology and the continued growth of human population, there are recent environmental issues that are catching the attention of world leaders, scientists and the average person alike. One way or another, these issues are tied into the way humans push forward with development and if a compromise can’t be found in terms of ensuring that sustainable development remains high on everyone’s agenda, it is likely that we could reach a point when it would be too late to reverse the effects of all the recent environmental issues. This is the reason why more focus is being put into finding a quick and efficient solution for these problems.

At the top of the list is global warming. The disturbing combination of scientific data, freak weather patterns and excessively high emissions have led governments to take global warming so seriously that international conferences, treaties and accords have all been taken to ensure that global warming among many other recent environmental issues is kept in check. These include the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s and the Copenhagen Accord less than a year ago which established a carbon trading market to ensure governments are compelled to limit emissions at the country level and for companies to be pressured to implement steps to reduce their own carbon dioxide output. The emission reduction targets have been stringent enough but it is likely reduction targets will not be met; still, it’s admirable to see governments finally coming together to collectively address recent environmental issues instead of ignoring them.

In the same way, other issues that have caught the world’s attention include biodiversity and ecology conservation, the ozone layer problem, deforestation, the scarcity of potable water and similar issues.

Ecology conservation for example is getting to be a big worry with the significant increase of animals put on the endangered and critically endangered list. All sorts of animals - from big rhinoceroses, eagles, whales, tigers to small animals like frogs, butterflies and birds – are in serious threat of being wiped out if nothing is be done to preserve them. Estimates put the number of endangered amphibians at 12% of all the species underlining the seriousness of these recent environmental issues. Extinctions are likely to affect ecosystems given the delicate balance in the food chain and in other ecological relationships and the risk of more serious issues happening as a consequence of extinction are very high.

In this same breadth is the ozone layer problem, a very obvious consequence of man’s activities. Chlorofluorocarbons react with stratospheric ozone, breaking it down and causing the hole in the ozone layer to form. While governments have all banded together to ban the use of CFCs, the concentrations are estimated to tail off only in the year 2065 and beyond highlighting how destruction human actions can be on the environment.

These recent environmental issues are not likely to be reversed unless drastic means are taken to address them. How that can happen remains to be a question that currently does not have an answer. Sustainable development is highly dependent on the discovery of new methods to do old things, certainly not something that is easily done.

It can only be hoped that the technology will catch up in time to stem the tide. Until then, humans must be careful what steps are taken and must be sufficiently innovative as to ensure we do not harm the environment enough to endager future generations.