While this guide to important environmental issues is not comprehensive, if you’re new to green or simply want a refresher overview, this list neatly summarizes some of our most pressing environmental concerns. If you would like to suggest an issue for future exploration, please do so.
1. Climate Change
Global warming has been concerning scientists for decades, but Al Gore legitimized the crisis with his controversial film An Inconvenient Truth. From the melting polar ice caps to catastrophic weather and threatened ecosystems, not only is climate change real, scientists agree that humans are influencing climate change with our production of greenhouse gases (mainly stemming from carbon dioxide and methane). What can you do? How bad is it? Why do so many people still think climate change isn’t real? Is it real? These are just some of the issues worth exploring. The good news is that despite the urgency of the crisis, there are exciting technological developments as well as meaningful lifestyle changes you can make to help.
Clean energy vs. dirty energy. Renewable energy. Energy independence. Petroleum. Biofuels. Coal. ANWR and offshore drilling. Even Paris Hilton has something to say about energy. Energy is second only to climate change in significance, but the picture isn’t as clear as one might think. China is heavily criticized, but did you know the state of California is worse? Look for plenty of myth-busting and interesting news to come, as well as practical tips to reduce your own energy dependence. Though no single energy source is going to be the solution, positive developments toward a cleaner future are happening every single day.
With the immediate looming problems of climate change and energy, focus has shifted away from landfill waste, but this is a serious problem. The world has largely gotten accustomed to a throwaway lifestyle, but that’s neither healthy nor sustainable. Waterways are choked with trash and modernized nations ship their undesirable leftovers to the developing world. Fashion fashion, fast food, packaging and cheap electronics are just some of the problems. The amount of waste the industrialized world generates is shocking. Water bottles are the defining symbol of this critical issue. Fortunately, people are becoming aware of the consequences of “fast consumption” and there are many simple changes you can make in your own life to help significantly reduce landfill waste.
Pure Water is in short supply. Our global reserves of drinkable water are a fraction of 1% and 1 in 5 humans does not have access to potable (safe) water. Many people do not realize that strife has already broken out in some stressed regions. There are many potential solutions, some promising, others challenging. Desalinization is an energy-inefficient, expensive option. But there are many things you can do. (Hint: it starts with turning off the faucet when you brush.)
Biofuels have turned into a global controversy – the idea that people may causing the starvation of millions in order to fuel their SUVs is sickening. And yet that’s not the whole picture. For example, eating hamburgers has as much or more impact on the global food picture as the use of biofuels. And then there’s the whole issue of “food miles” – at first, local seemed logical, but the situation is more complex than that. It’s all about resources and efficiency. There are big questions: can we support the world without turning to vegetarianism? We know that the planet can’t afford the Western way of eating. It would take 5 earths to support that lifestyle! What about hunting – is that good for the environment? Look for more articles soon exploring the complicated world of food. Fortunately, there are a multitude of tasty diets that incorporate greener values, so it’s not necessary to adhere to veganism, for example.