The Environmental Problems

The Environmental Problems

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A new, exclusive iSustainableEarth online poll has found that the majority of people believe water pollution is the top environmental concern facing the world. Finding ways to stop water waste and water pollution is the one environmental problem that most people would want solved first, the survey found.

But the survey also found there are many other concerns among respondents that rank not that far behind water pollution – not surprising, considering the numerous environmental threats facing the planet.

Solving Environmental Problems
The exclusive online survey asked participants a simple question: If you could solve one environmental issues, what would it be? The following are the issues they picked, along with the percentage of voters who picked that issue.

Water Pollution and Water Waste
This ranked as the top environmental issue for those who took the survey – in another words, the one problem they could solve if they were limited to solving just one was water pollution and water waste. More than a quarter of all respondents – 26% – selected this as the worst issue. That’s not a surprise given the fact that without clean water, it’s game over not just for human beings, but the entire planet. Some of the issues are gargantuan and global.

For example, 70% of industrial waste in developing countries is simply dumped untreated into waterways, where it pollutes the water supply, according to the United Nations. The UN also reports that about 40% of all water pollutants in rich countries (and 54% in poor countries) comes from food production. They expect this to increase in the coming years as more fertilizer is used in food production operations.

Global Warming and Climate Change
Solving the world’s climate change issues ranked second, with 18% of voters naming it the environmental problem they would solve if they could solve just one. That’s understandable, considering some of the latest statistics. NASA, for example, points out on its site that for 650,000 years, the atmospheric carbon dioxide had never been above 300 parts per million. That number has now soared since 1950, from 300 parts per million to 400 parts per million. Global warming is proceeding “at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years,” NASA scientists report.

This environmental concern placed third on the list, with 16% of respondents naming it as the one environmental concern they would cure. Deforestation is certainly a concern. Trees are, of course, key to life on the planet, as they take in the carbon dioxide in the air (much of created by humans) and convert it to oxygen. While about 30% of the Earth’s surface is still covered by forests, areas the size of Panama are lost every year to clear cutting, according to National Geographic. At that rate, the world’s rain forests could disappear in 100 years.

Renewable Energy Adoption
Moving faster into renewal energy sources is the chief concern of 15% of the respondents. They may be onto something, as moving away from fossil fuels would reduce many of the other problems on this list. Pumping carbon dioxide into the air is the end result of burning fossil fuels to power the planet, which is why many forward-thinking businesses and governments are moving into wind, solar and hydro power.

Animal Extinction and Over Fishing
This ranked near the bottom of the list, although 13% of voters thought it sufficient enough of a problem that they would solve it before any other environmental concern. Certainly, the numbers are startling.

According to the World Wildlife Federation, the current extinction rate is between 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than if humans were not around. The margin is big because scientists still aren’t sure exactly how many different species of animal there are in the world, but with an estimated 2 million different species on the planet and an extinction rate of 0.1%, that means between 200 and 2,000 entire species are wiped out every year. Causes include deforestation and other destruction of natural habitats, as well as the hunting of some animals for medicine, souvenirs and, of course, food. The WWF reports that 85% of the world’s fisheries have “pushed to or beyond their biological limits.”

Recycling and Landfill Waste Reduction
This issue ranked last on the list of environmental issues to solve first, with 12% saying it would be the problem they would solve. This is likely because it is the end result of our wasteful society as opposed to a cause. In the United States alone, people produce about 251 million tons of trash every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the EPA reports that people are recycling at about a 34.5% rate and are composting about 1.51 pounds of individual waste each year.

All of these issues can seem overwhelming, which is why it is not surprising that each one got votes. No matter which one concerns you the most, it’s good to know that there solutions. Implementing them, however, is the trick.

If your concern is big enough to spur you to action, there are likely citizen groups or government agencies in your area that will help you get involved in environmental efforts. Change, while unlikely to occur over night, can still be accomplished through slow and steady effort.
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