Environmental issues 101 — the main issues

Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history. This change has resulted in a substantial and somewhat irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth, and is now affecting the way our planet supports life.

* Humans have become richer and have been spending more on non-necessity items. In 2008 alone, people purchased 68 million vehicles, 85 million refrigerators, 297 million computers and 1.2 billion mobile phones. We have also been spending more on timber, fuel, food and necessity items.

* Consumption has grown six-fold in the past five decades, from $4.9 trillion spent in 1960. Population has doubled during this time.

The two largest and most pressing issues we face are:

Pollution (and over-consumption) of our major resources, and

Biodiversity loss on our land and oceans

Pollution and over-consumption, and biodiversity loss have led to major alterations of ecosystem functioning.  This has a huge effect on the planet’s climate.  And, since climate controls all the functions of the planet, this in turn affects all natural systems and functions that sustain life.  To read more about these issues, click on the links below:

Pollution and over-consumption

Biodiversity loss

Climate change

— Anukriti Sud Hittle

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