1. Climate Change
4. Biodiversity and Land Use
5. Chemicals, Toxics and Heavy Metals
6. Air Pollution
7. Waste Management
8. Ozone Layer Depletion
9. Oceans and Fisheries
These issues clearly cut across and equally impact all life on Earth (dioxins, for example, which are chemical pollutant by-products of combustion and manufacturing, have been found in Arctic ice far away from human industrialization). They cut to the core of the concept of environmental unity: what happens with one element of our environment will impact other elements often in ways we may not foresee.
Pictured is a satellite image of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest showing human habitation in the forms of deforestation and urbanization. According to current statistics, over two football field sized areas of rainforests are lost forever every second each day. Scientists predict that unless significant measures are taken on a world-wide basis to preserve the rainforests, only ten percent of them will remain by the year 2030.
Although the top ten environmental issues listed above carry different impacts in different regions of the world, they nonetheless present an accurate global picture. Still, if human population growth is recognized as the most pervasive cause of today’s environmental issues, it should probably be number one on the list. From the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap and the rapid loss and degradation of the Amazon and Congo Rainforests to the massive global waste management issues and declining integrity of the Antarctic ice shelves, human impact is indelibly connected… not the only cause, but certainly of significant impact.