Human beings have been living on Earth for tens of thousands of years and for the better part of it, we did so without causing any damage to Mother Nature. It’s true that most ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Mayans, the Mesopotamians, the Persians, the Indians, and the Native Americans among others, lived for a very long time in perfect harmony with the natural environment. However, the large increase in the global population and the Industrial Revolution (and the subsequent mass migration of multiple populations to urban areas) drastically changed things for the worse. In particular, the environmental pollution associated with these events has had some adverse ecological changes on the planet for almost two centuries now.
The extremely harmful effects of human activity on our planet’s biophysical environment are more alarming than ever before and most scientists keep warning government leaders about the catastrophic effects this could have for us. So, if we want to continue surviving as a species we must reconsider several things and learn how to live in harmony with each other as well as nature, and respect the environment. The following 25 Alarming Ecological Changes in this Century are not just risks anymore, but horrifying and threatening realities for the present and near future.
More than 40 percent of Americans have expressed concern in the past few years about wildlife conservation and associated environmental issues, such as endangered species, animal and plant extinction, coral bleaching, the introduction of invasive species, poaching, and the loss of natural animal habitats resulting in relocation and a break in the food chain.
Water covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface but only a small part of it is fresh (2.5% to be exact). Consequently, water pollution is considered one of the most important ecological problems. Water pollution affects drinking water, rivers, lakes, and oceans all over the world.
Soil contamination is when the concentration of chemicals, nutrients, or elements in the soil becomes more than it normally or naturally is, as a result of human action. An official study released by the Chinese government has shown that almost a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated while the US’s soil isn’t much better.
Our current global population is 7.2 billion and growing. Earth’s total resources are sufficient for about 2.5 billion people at the current demand. We are already using two to three times more of the Earth’s natural resources than is sustainable. A desolate, dry Earth won’t be a fun place for our children and later generations to live.
Ozone depletion and the damage to the Earth’s ozone layer caused by CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) has been a problem worrying the scientific community for a few decades now but in the past decade its negative effects have been more noticeable than ever before.
The human population is growing as never before. We are now adding one billion people to the planet every twelve years. That’s about 220,000 per day. Truth be told, human overpopulation appears to be among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind climate change, environmental pollution, and habitat loss, while continued building and burial of humans all over the world only makes things worse.
Over three-quarters of our planet is covered by water. Ocean biodiversity is unmatched and they contain over 80 percent of all life on Earth, mostly unexplored. Millions of people worldwide depend on the oceans for their livelihood but increasingly this has become endangered because of ignorance and a lack of global management, which often leads to overfishing.
Despite popular belief, the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear fission power are much smaller than those associated with coal, oil, and gas. However, there is a “catastrophic risk” potential if containment fails, which in nuclear reactors can be brought about by overheated fuels melting and releasing large quantities of fission products into the environment.
The cataclysmic natural disasters that have taken place in the past fifteen years, such as gigantic tsunamis in Asia and their terrible impact on all aspects of the environment, are becoming an increasingly alarming problem that the scientific community is watching closely.
Even though most technology technicians worship nanotechnology and focus almost exclusively on its advantages, there are equally as many experts who warn about the future effects of nanopollution and nanotoxicology.
Many scientists agree that the potential environmental impact of mining could be disastrous. Today, many of these environmental effects are minimized as a result of well-designed and well-regulated mining operations. Although this is the case, there are many abandoned sites around the US and around the world that continue to adversely affect the environment.
If you enjoyed this list, you might enjoy these 25 alarming global warming statistics.
The most common effect of light pollution is that it alters and interferes with the timing of necessary biological activities. For nocturnal animals that begin their activities at sundown, our artificial lights at night seriously constrain their lives, exposing them to predators and reducing the time they have to find food, shelter, or mates.
According to many scientists and experts future changes in climate and land use are likely to have a very important impact on the natural resources and infrastructure of the Western world. They will also alter the pattern and impact of natural hazards such as landslides, rise in sea level, and droughts in ways beyond those known from the historic record.
Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting on the land. Unfortunately, this usually comes with land pollution.
Intensive farming is characterized by high inputs of labor and capital into agricultural production of either crops or animals. This phenomenon is common in countries that depend on their land to feed huge populations. The biggest disadvantage, however, is that the chemicals that go into intensive farming in the form of fertilizers and pesticides harm the environment by polluting and poisoning soil and water.
Genetic engineering is the deliberate, controlled manipulation of the genes in an organism with the intent of making that organism better in some way. This is usually done independently of the natural reproductive process. The result is a so-called genetically modified organism (GMO). To date, most of the effort in genetic engineering has been focused on agriculture. However, some caution that these modified crops could have an adverse effect on some animals and non targeted insects.
For some thirty years there have been discussions and debates among researchers and others in academia, government, non-profits, and private industry regarding the so-called energy efficiency problem and its effects on the environment. Even though there are supposed to be many energy-efficiency technologies to solve this issue, none of them have been adopted.
Electronic waste or e-waste describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. Used electronics that are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal are also considered e-waste. The informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, as these countries have limited regulatory oversight of e-waste processing.
Deforestation is the clearing of Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to land quality. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each year. The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation, which would have catastrophic effects on the planet.
The environmental consequences of large dams are numerous and varied, and include direct impacts on the biological, chemical, and physical properties of rivers and riparian (or “stream-side”) environments. The dam wall itself blocks fish migration.
Cosmic rays are high-energy radiation, mainly originating outside the solar system. They may produce showers of secondary particles that penetrate and impact the Earth’s atmosphere and sometimes even reach the surface.
Americans and Western Europeans have had a lock on unsustainable overconsumption for decades. But now developing countries are catching up rapidly, to the detriment of the environment, health, and happiness, according to many official studies, and over-consumerism doesn’t look as innocent as it once did.
Climate change has been a major ecological issue for many years but only recently has its effects started transforming life on Earth. Around the globe, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing, and sea levels are rising.
Even though many are not aware of what biological pollutants are, they constitute one of the biggest ecological issues today. They are living organisms that promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost at work or school, and increased doctor and hospital visits. Some can even damage surfaces in and outside your home. Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible.
Concerns over air pollution have remained steady over the last decade, with more than 40 percent of Americans and about the same amount of Europeans worrying about indoor and outdoor air quality caused mainly by humans.