Some may say that we, the people that inhabit the Earth, are currently enduring an environmental crisis. New technology has allowed scientists to observe, record, and store data about many natural aspects of the planet. There are many benefits to being so technologically advanced; however, scientists have made some unfortunate discoveries about the state of our planet. Of course, we are aware the environment is always changing but recently it hasn’t been for the better.
There are a variety of environmental issues that have been brought to attention during this crisis. Terms such as Pollution, Global Warming, Overpopulation, Natural Resource Depletion, Improper Waste Disposal, Deforestation, Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, Ocean Acidification, Ozone Layer Depletion are just a few of the environmental concerns currently effecting the planet. Here are some general definitions gathered from Google and the Webster Dictionary that will help highlight the differences in these environmental issues. On this blog, there will be many posts regarding these topics.
- Pollution: the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects. If these substances naturally occur in the environment, they are considered “pollutants” when they exceed its natural levels.
Smog is an effect of pollution.
- Global Warming: a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants. Global warming has a variety of negative effects on the planet such as ozone layer depletion and climate change.
- Overpopulation: the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, an impaired quality of life, or a population crash.
- Natural Resource Depletion: consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished.
- Improper Waste Disposal: hazardous household waste, or HHW, can result in contaminated wastewater treatment facilities or septic systems, physical injuries to sanitation workers, and unexpected releases of toxins and environmental pollution.
- Deforestation: action or process of clearing large amounts of trees from a forest area.
- Climate Change: a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
- Loss of Biodiversity: imbalance or depletion of certain species of plants or animals in an area or on the whole planet attributed to climate change, deforestation, and mankind.
- Ocean Acidification: refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: reduction of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere.
With this, there have been several companies and agencies that are working to asses these issues. Based out of the United States of America, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Friends of Earth work for a variety of causes. In addition, the U.S Government has many agencies under the Environmental Protection Department that set regulations to protect the Earth and the citizens. The most common agency known is the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (EPA). The EPA was founded by Richard Nixon in late 1970. Also, the Council of Environmental Quality, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration handle different aspects of environmental protection and energy conservation. In addition, most states have their own agencies and councils that are responsible for regulating wildlife, water, energy, and agriculture.
Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill
What: Deepwater Horizon oil spill
When: April, 20th, 2010
Where: Gulf of Mexico
Who: Transocean and British Petroleum
Also, known as the biggest oil spill in history, in April of 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered an explosion which caused thousands of barrels of oil to contaminate the Gulf of Mexico. Here is a detailed article with more information on the catastrophic event.
Consequently, the Earth is suffering from many environmental issues due to mankind. There are so many things we can do to help decrease the negative effects. Simple actions like recycling, turning off electrical appliances when not in use, and conserving water are just a few things we all are able to do daily. Its critical to take these problems seriously. Ignoring these problems lead to severe consequences for the future of our generation and generations to come. It is up to us to lead the change and do as much as we can on an individual and global level to help correct or reduce these problems. In addition, there are a select group of nations that are contributing more so than other countries to certain environmental issues. For example, in the United States most people own cars and drive alone in those cars. While the luxury of owning their own car can be convenient, it is significantly contributing to the high levels of carbon dioxide occupying the air. These harmful issues will affect people around the globe; therefore, it is imperative for the nations to come together and work to assess these problems.