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Environmental issue

Water pollution is an environmental issue that affects many water bodies. This photograph shows foam on the New River as it enters the United States from Mexico.

Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activitity on the biophysical environment. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement that started in the 1960s, addresses environmental issues through advocacy, education and activism.

The carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere has already exceeded 400 parts per million (NOAA) (with total "long-term" GHG exceeding 455 parts per million). (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report) This level is considered a tipping point. "The amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is already above the threshold that can potentially cause dangerous climate change. We are already at risk...It's not next year or next decade, it's now." Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):[1]

Contents

  • Types 1
  • Scientific grounding 2
  • Organizations 3
  • Solutions 4
  • Film and television 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

Types

Major current environmental issues may include climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion etc. The conservation movement lobbies for protection of endangered species and protection of any ecologically valuable natural areas.

Scientific grounding

The level of understanding of Earth has increased markedly in recent times through science especially with the application of the scientific method. Environmental science is now a multi-disciplinary academic study taught and researched at many universities. This is used as a basis for addressing environmental issues.

Large amounts of data have been gathered and these are collated into reports, of which a common type is the State of the Environment publications. A recent major report was the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, with input from 1200 scientists and released in 2005, which showed the high level of impact that humans are having on ecosystem services.

Organizations

Environmental issues are addressed at a regional, national or international level by government organizations.

The largest international agency, set up in 1972, is the Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and World Wide Fund for Nature. Governments enact environmental policy and enforce environmental law and this is done to differing degrees around the world.

Solutions

Sustainability is the key to prevent or reduce the effect of environmental issues. There is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and that an unprecedented collective effort is needed to return human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits.[3][4] For humans to live sustainably, the Earth's resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished.

Concerns for the environment have prompted the formation of Green parties, political parties that seek to address environmental issues. Initially these were formed in Australia, New Zealand and Germany but are now present in many other countries.

Film and television

There are an increasing number of films being produced on environmental issues, especially on climate change and global warming. Al Gore's 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth gained commercial success and a high media profile.

See also

Issues
Specific issues

References

  1. ^ http://www.unocha.org/what-we-do/advocacy/thematic-campaigns/climate-change/threats-solutions
  2. ^ IUCN website Accessed 1 May 2008
  3. ^ Gismondi, M. (2000). Interview of Dr. William Rees. Aurora Online. Retrieved on 2009-03-10
  4. ^ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. Summary for Decision-makers. pp.1-16. Washington, DC.: World Resources Institute. The full range of reports is available on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment web site. Retrieved on: 2009-03-10
  • Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development
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