From Plastic Pollution to Global Warming: Top Environmental Issues We're Facing Today

From Plastic Pollution to Global Warming: Top Environmental Issues We're Facing Today

In spite of growing awareness about climate change and global warming, our planet still faces many environmental challenges today that require our attention and action. If ignored, many of these issues have the potential to drastically transform Earth's ecosystems and threaten biodiversity. By educating ourselves on environmental threats and concerns, we can then take necessary steps to save, protect, and preserve our planet for future generations.


Deforestation is the mass removal and destruction of forests to make that land available for other non-forest uses, such as ranching, farming, or urban use. While forests make up about 30 percent of earth's land, they are being destroyed at a worrisome rate. Approximately 80 percent of Earth's species live in the forest; deforestation is wiping out their homes and is leading to the potential extinction of many plants and animals alike. Additionally, deforestation contributes to global warming because cutting and burning trees not only removes the trees' ability to absorb carbon dioxide, it also adds carbon dioxide to the air. Scientists estimate that tropical deforestation alone accounts for about 10 percent of all global warming emissions.

How You Can Help

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to help reduce and prevent deforestation. Planting a tree, using less paper, and simply recycling are all ways you can help. Boycotting palm oil is another way to help the cause, as palm oil production is one of the main causes of tropical rainforest deforestation.

Deforestation Explained

Deforestation and Forest Degradation


What's Driving Deforestation


Pollution comes in many forms, and unfortunately all of them are a threat to our environment. While air pollution seems to get the most media attention because of its link to climate change, water and soil pollution are not to be taken lightly.

  • Human-caused air pollution is mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from factories and industries, mining, and household chemicals. Air pollution can be harmful to humans and the environment alike, but is especially dangerous to young children and the elderly.
  • Water pollution is caused by sewage, waste water, chemical and radioactive waste, oil spills, plastic, and more. Water pollution can kill organisms that depend on and live in these bodies of water, disrupt the food chain, and cause various diseases in humans.
  • The increased use of chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers, continues to be one of the main factors causing soil pollution. Soil pollution can lead to decreased soil fertility and the development of human diseases and terminal illnesses due to many of the pollutants being carcinogens.

How You Can Help

Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and metal as well as reducing your use of products that are not recyclable is the first step in helping to combat pollution. For instance, making sure to reuse a container instead of throwing it away is a small step towards the greater good. Composting, switching to clean energy, and supporting sustainable businesses are other great ways to help reduce pollution.

Air Pollution

Water Pollution

Soil Pollution Causes and Effects

Climate Change and Global Warming

Although sometimes used interchangeably, climate change and global warming are not synonymous. Global warming is the human-caused warming of the planet as a result of an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change refers to all of the various long-term changes in our climate, including precipitation, sea level rise, temperature, ocean acidification, and wind patterns. Global warming is actually just one aspect of climate change. Earth has warmed by an average of nearly 1°C in the past century, and as the planet continues to warm, climate patterns will change. Weather will become more extreme and unpredictable and will have drastic and devastating impacts on Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity if we don't act now.

How You Can Help

The first way to prevent climate change is by reducing your emissions by moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. Using energy-efficient appliances, carpooling, and water conservation are more ways that you can help reduce global warming.

Global Warming 101

Climate Change Facts for Kids

10 Ways to Stop Global Warming

Soil Erosion and Degradation

Soil degradation is the decline in soil health and quality due to human activities such as improper land use, agriculture, urban, or industrial purposes. Soil erosion is a part of soil degradation that specifically refers to the loss of top soil and soil nutrients. Soil erosion can be a naturally occurring process caused by wind and water, but human activities such as deforestation and poor land management practices can also play a role. Soil erosion can lead to polluted water, increased flooding, and loss of arable land.

How You Can Help

The best way to stop soil erosion is to increase vegetation cover to prevent erosion due to wind and water. Also avoid tilling in small spaces and design your garden properly to ensure that heavy rains will not wash away your topsoil.

Soil Erosion: An Agricultural Production Challenge

Soil Degradation

Soil Erosion: Causes and Effects

Water Scarcity

Water Scarcity refers to the lack of sufficient fresh water to meet demands within a given region. Water scarcity affects every continent on the planet, and freshwater resources continue to be depleted at an alarming rate. According to The World Health Organization, around 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, clean drinking water at home. Causes of water scarcity include pollution, climate change, overuse, and population growth.

How You Can Help

In order to help solve the water crisis, you should reduce your water consumption and use water wisely and more efficiently. Simply taking shorter showers and making sure not to keep the water running when brushing your teeth is a good way to contribute to a solution.

Water Scarcity and The Importance of Water

World Water Crisis Explained

The Effects of Climate Change on Water Shortages


Overpopulation is the undesirable state in which the human population exceeds its sustainable size in a given location. Population growth has been on the rise ever since The Black Death in the 1400s. A decline in death rate, advanced medicine, and a lack of family planning(especially in developing countries) are all causes of overpopulation. Overpopulation places great demands on natural resources and will lead to a variety of issues such as food shortages, easily spread disease, disappearance of nonrenewable resources, and more.

How You Can Help

Overpopulation can seem like an overwhelming and daunting issue that would be impossible to tackle on a personal level. However, by simply pushing to improve sex ed in your local schools, supporting family planning, and voting for candidates that support these issues too you can help work to solve overpopulation.

The Effect of Overpopulation on Public Health

What's Next for Our Increasingly Overpopulated World

Five Realistic Overpopulation Solutions

Waste Disposal

If garbage is not properly disposed of it can have disastrous effects on our environment. According to the EPA, Americans alone generate over 250 millions tons of trash each year. Most of that garbage ends up in landfills or is incinerated, both of which are harmful to the environment. Landfills are known to pollute soil and groundwater while incinerators cause air pollution.

How You Can Help

The best way to combat the waste disposal issue is the classic 3 Rs - reduce, re-use, recycle. Boycotting plastic water bottles and using reusable glass ones instead will save you money and also ensure you aren't contributing to the millions of empty water bottles thrown away each day that end up in landfills or in our oceans. Composting is also a great way to dispose of food waste and help the environment in the process.


Problems Posed by Solid Waste Disposal

Waste Disposal

Various Waste Disposal Problems and Some Fantastic Solutions

Loss of Biodiversity

Biodiversity loss refers to the complete extinction of species or the dramatic reduction or loss of a species in a certain habitat. Habitat destruction due to human encroachment, climate change, and pollution are all major causes for biodiversity loss. One million species of plants and animals are currently on the verge of extinction. Biodiversity loss threatens our food security, access to clean water and raw materials, and our health as a whole.

How You Can Help

In order to protect biodiversity, you can eliminate your use of pesticides and fertilizer, buy local and organic foods, and conserve energy in your home. By conserving energy you are reducing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere - a major cause of climate change which contributes to the loss of biodiversity.


Loss of Biodiversity and Extinctions

What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity