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Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement, addresses environmental issues through advocacy, education and activism. The
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula ) is a colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of a carbon atom covalent bond, covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in At ...

carbon dioxide
equivalent of
greenhouse gas A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that Absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs and Emission (electromagnetic radiation), emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The pr ...
es (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 Report). The amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is possibly above the threshold that can potentially cause climate change. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated "Climate change is not just a distant future threat. It is the main driver behind rising humanitarian needs and we are seeing its impact. The number of people affected and the damages inflicted by extreme weather has been unprecedented." Further, OCHA has stated: * Climate disasters are on the rise. Around 70 percent of disasters are now climate-related – up from around 50 percent from two decades ago. * These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate-related disasters, compared to 1.7 billion in the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008. * Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding, and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of local communities in the absence of strong concerted action. Environment destruction caused by humans is a global, ongoing problem. By the year 2050, the global human population is expected to grow by 2 billion people, thereby reaching a level of 9.6 billion people. The human effects on Earth can be seen in many different ways. A main effect, is an increase in global temperature. According to the report ”Our Changing Climate”, the global warming that has been going on for the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities.Walsh, et al. 20 Since 1895, the average temperature in the United States has increased by between 0.7 °C and 1.1 °C (1.3 °F and 1.9 °F), with most of the increase taking place since around 1970.


Types

Major current environmental issues may include
climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century ...
,
pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be ...
, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. The
conservation movement The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental, and social movement that seeks to manage and protect natural resources, including animal, fungus, and plant species as well as their habitat for the fu ...
lobbies for protection of
endangered species An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invasive ...
and protection of any ecologically valuable natural areas, genetically modified foods and
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been Climate variability and change, previous periods of climatic chang ...

global warming
.


Scientific grounding

In 2006, many species were formally classified as rare species, rare or endangered species, endangered or threatened species, threatened; moreover, scientists have estimated that millions more species are at risk which have not been formally recognized. About 40 percent of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria are now listed as threatened with extinction—a total of 16,119. 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. Many other scientific disciples, including ecology, toxicology, forest science, fisheries science, etc. are necessary for obtaining full scientific understanding. Credible, comprehensive, and readily accessible scientific knowledge is essential 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 United Nations Environment Programme. The International Union for Conservation of Nature brings together 83 states, 108 government agencies, 766 Non-governmental organizations and 81 international organizations and about 10,000 experts, scientists from countries around the world. International non-governmental organizations include 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.


Costs


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.Gismondi, M. (2000)
Interview of Dr. William Rees
''Aurora Online.'' Retrieved on 2009-03-10
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 th
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment web site
. Retrieved on: 2009-03-10
For humans to live sustainably, the Earth's natural resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished (and by limiting
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been Climate variability and change, previous periods of climatic chang ...

global warming
). This condition is measured by ecological footprint accounting. Concerns for the environment have prompted the formation of Green party, 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 Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century ...
and
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been Climate variability and change, previous periods of climatic chang ...

global warming
. Al Gore's 2006 film ''An Inconvenient Truth'' gained commercial success and a high media profile.


See also

*Citizen science, Citizen Science *Ecotax *Environmental degradation *Global issue *Environmental impact statement *Human impact on the environment *Index of environmental articles Issues *List of environmental issues (includes mitigation and conservation) Specific issues *Environmental impact of agriculture *Environmental impact of aviation *Environmental impact of reservoirs *Environmental impact of the energy industry *Environmental impact of fishing *Environmental impact of irrigation *Environmental impact of mining *Environmental impact of paint *Environmental impact of paper *Environmental impact of pesticides *Environmental implications of nanotechnology *Environmental impact of shipping *Environmental impact of war


References


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Environmental Issue Environmental issues, Human impact on the environment