For decades, we had been facing many environmental-related abuses and issues around the world. Among these abuses are mining, illegal logging and deforestation, improper waste disposal from factories and other infrastructures, and other complicated environmental problems. On top of that, we also had huge previous wildfires happened across the continents such as in Australia and California this year which burned down hectares of forests and endangered the lives of wild animals.
According to DW Zimmermann, 2016, five of the world’s biggest environmental problems are: (1) Air pollution and Climate change; (2) Deforestation; (3) Species extinction; (4) Soil degradation; and (5) Overpopulation.
Air pollution and Climate change
There is air pollution when the atmosphere or the air we breathe is occupied with higher level of CO2 or Carbon Dioxide than Oxygen or any other gases. These CO2 mainly came from burning factories, burning coal and fossil fuels, and other industrial activities that contribute to the increasing number of parts per million (ppm) which was from 280, 200 years ago to about 400 ppm today. The result: Climate disruption.
In 2012, the World Health Organization estimated that one in nine deaths in 2012 were attributable to diseases caused by carcinogens and other poisons in polluted air.
Solution: Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Change Industrial processes.
Today, about 30 percent of the planet’s land is covered by forests-which us about half 11,000 years ago as before agriculture started. About 7.3 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year, mostly in tropics. Now only 6 or 7 percent tropical forests covers the planets land area, which was used to be 15 percent.
Solution: Deforestation and restore what is left of natural forest.
Both in land and in water species were being hunted legally and illegally. In land, wild animals are being hunted almost to extinction for bush meat, ivory, or medicinal purposes. At sea, huge fishing vessels wiped out vast fishing populations. The loss and destruction of habitat are also a contributing factor for mass extinction.
Solution: Restoring habitats and call for action from government to prevent further extinction of endangered species.
Over grazing, monoculture planting, erosion, overexposure to pollutants, land use conversion- and a long list of ways that causes soil damages. Almost 12 million hectares of farmland a year get seriously degraded, according to UN estimates.
Human population continues to grow worldwide rapidly. From 1.6 billion people entering 20th century, now we are about 7.5 billion. Estimates put us at nearly 10 billion by 2050. Growing global populations, combined with growing affluence is putting ever greater pressure in essential natural resources both in land and in water. Most of the growth is happening on the African continent, and in southern and eastern Asia.
Solution: Family planning and 2-3 child for every family might be applied. Accessibility of education especially in young girls in tropical regions.
Among those five major environmental problems in the world, there are still many minor problems which we are facing today like: water pollution’s, improper waste disposal, poor drainage system, mining, and a long list of environmental abuses.
In the Philippines, its rich biodiversity is under a threat, mostly from human activities, including deforestation and forest degradation, illegal fishing and illicit wildlife trade.
Despite the abuses of our environment, we are lucky to have many social groups and environmental activists that fights for the protection and conservation of our environment.
We had the famous Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change. She also published several books promoting environment protection and conservation and among others such as: “No one is too small to make a difference,” “Scenes from the Heart, Greta Thunberg (I know this to be true): On Truth, courage and saving our planet (Brittanica Whang, 2020).
She urges everyone especially the youth to speak up for climate change and other environmental issues. Today, she already gained many supporters worldwide, marching in saving our planet.
In the Philippines, environmental activist Gina Lopez had achieved a lot of environmental related works such as the clean-up of at least 17 tributaries in the badly polluted Pasig river and nearby streams, when she chaired the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and she led Save Palawan Island movement.
Lopez ordered 23 mines to shut down and many others to deny or suspend their operations. She also cancelled 75 contracts to mines which she said posed threat to nearby water supply.
In August 2019 however, Gina died, aged 65, following multiple organ failures after losing the battle against brain cancer. She was mourned by many, at best the ABS-CBN Foundation, a social development organization of which she was the chairperson for many years (Nytimes Gutierrez, 2019).
Today, Philippines is considered second to the deadliest country for environmental activists from last year’s report with 34 killings. Columbia with 64 killings ranked first (Bernanews Espina, 2020).
On the other hand, you do not have to join any environmental groups to be recognized with your efforts as an “environmentalist.” You can still make a big difference on your own by simply knowing and doing what is proper for our environment. Put simply, segregating your garbage from biodegradable to non-biodegradable, cleaning the canals and drainage system, planting trees, saving water and electricity, and other environmental activities. Consider this thinking, your efforts today is the future of our next generation. And together with our little ways we can make a difference. Protect our Mother nature, today and for the future to come.
Do something good, no one might see or recognize it, but the future generations will.