Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top 6 Environmental Issues of the 21st Century

By Theodora Filis

Q.     My question to Theodora: Is if you had to put together a list of your top 6 environmental issues of the 21st century, what will they be?
Happy answering!  ~Bree

A.     Depending on what part of the world you live in, each one of these environmental issues will impact you differently, yet each issue effects us all and demands global attention.

1. Climate Change

Climate Change has been the topic of more scientific research, political debate and public concern than any environmental issue of the past 10 years. Although climate change has sparked worldwide concern, it has failed to inspire world leaders to set aside their national agendas’ and work together toward a global strategy.

Recommended reading: “The Climate War” by Eric Pooley. Provides a behind the scenes look at the efforts to solve the climate crisis.

2. Global Water Crisis

According to the New Global Water Security Index, 10 countries worldwide, including 5 African nations are at “extreme risk” because of limited access to clean, fresh water.  The effects of climate change and population growth will exacerbate the stress on these water supplies, potentially threatening stability in many regions. Among the nations most at risk are Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, and Iraq. Other nations at extreme risk including Pakistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan are already facing internal and boarder tensions because of limited water supplies.

Global water crisis statistics:

3. Endangered Species

The disruption of the food chain and fragile ecosystems have been pressing issues from 2000 till now. Once a link is disturbed, every balance is lost. There is an urgent need is to save the environmental niche of endangered animals on a global scale.

Comprehensive list of endangered species by country:

4. Food Safety and Chemical Contamination

World Health Organization reports: “The contamination of food by chemical hazards is a worldwide public health concern and is a leading cause of trade problems internationally. Contamination may occur through environmental pollution of the air, water and soil, such as the case with toxic metals, PCBs and dioxins, or through the intentional use of various chemicals, such as pesticides, animal drugs and other agrochemicals.”

View the complete report:

5. Deforestation

“Despite increased awareness of the importance of these forests, deforestation rates have not slowed. Analysis of figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that tropical deforestation rates increased 8.5 percent from 2000-2005 when compared with the 1990s, while loss of primary forests may have expanded by 25 percent over the same period. Nigeria and Vietnam's rate of primary forest loss has doubled since the 1990s, while Peru's rate has tripled.”

6. Biodiversity and Land Use

Every type of land use involves utilization of land resources for human benefit. Biodiversity is a land resource that is more often the target for human utilization. Land use may therefore, have direct effects on biodiversity, especially when the form of land involves harvesting or modifying the land cover.

There are 4 other environmental issues that cause me great concern. They are Ozone Layer Depletion, Air Pollution, Energy, Oceans and Fisheries.