How do we solve the biggest environmental problems of our time? Admittedly - this is a question to which there is not ONE answer. Nevertheless, there is an answer that is made up of thousands of small solutions. Whether climate change, water scarcity or the extinction of species. Every single one of us has the chance to make a difference in our daily lives. Be it through a sustainable everyday life or political commitment.
In this article you will learn which environmental problems we are facing and why, how they are interrelated and what solutions are already available.
- climate change
- Water shortage
- air pollution
- Soil erosion
- species extinction
- World hunger
- Plastic waste in the environment
What are the environmental problems?
I divide the environmental problems of our time into direct and indirect environmental problems. Because there are also problems of mankind, which for example indirectly have a great influence on the climate change. In the following, I would like to present you our 10 biggest environmental problems or problems for the environment.
1. environmental problem of the Climate change
In principle, the concept of Climate change The term "climate change" is used to describe both a cooling and a warming of the earth. Those who currently speak of climate change, however, mean the warming caused by us humans. global warming. Since the 1980s, the average temperature on our planet has risen from about 0.20°C to nearly 1°C. Excessive heat waves, droughts, storms and floods are the consequences. Climate change will cause entire cities to disappear and trigger social catastrophes if we don't stop it.
Causes: Deforestation results in less CO2 can be absorbed and, at the same time, the CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. The burning of coal to generate electricity or the exhaust fumes from vehicles and especially airplanes also play a major role in climate change. One of the main causes of climate change, however, is meat consumption. This is because forests have to make way for fields and pastures in order to produce animal feed. Cows, pigs and sheep also emit large amounts of methane.
Solution: In everyday life, you can already do your part to reduce the Stop climate change. Increased use of public transport and of course with the Start in the vegan diet. The use of renewable energies requires more intensive promotion in order to declare war on coal. Ultimately, more forest needs to be reforested than is cut down. But there are so many more great approaches to climate change.
Tip: Look with pleasure in addition still in the contribution about Climate change statistics, facts and figures in to get a clearer picture of this environmental problem.
2. environmental problem of the Water shortage
Without water, life does not exist on this planet. A massive environmental problem of our time exists in the form of the Water shortage. Every German consumes about 120 liters of water a day for meals, personal hygiene or cleaning. Incidentally, it is recommended to drink about Drink 3 liters of water a day. If the water consumption for the consumed food is added to the 120 liters per day, it is even 5300 liters per day that passes. It is also important to know that not all water is the same. Because 97% of the water on our planet is salty seawater - which is not drinkable. A whole 2% are frozen to ice. We are left with only 1% of the water from the rivers to drink and irrigate our fields with.
Causes: Our way of life - that is, the Water waste - is partly responsible for the water shortage. But the increasing poisoning of our rivers is also causing acute water shortages in many places. For example, I was able to experience this firsthand in South Africa. Already at the airport, for example, one was advised several times to take a shower only for a maximum of one minute. There were days when not a drop of water came out of the pipes for 10 hours.
Solution: The fact that every German, including his food, uses 5300 liters of water a day shows what we can do in our everyday lives. For one thing, use less water at the tap. Also, flush the toilet only with the utmost care. The big button flushes 5 liters of water down the drain alone. We can solve the environmental problem of water scarcity both in the household, but especially through a vegan diet. For the production of one kilogram of beef alone consumes a whole 15,415 liters of water.
3. environmental problem of the air pollution
There is no longer any completely clean air - neither in the countryside - and certainly not in the cities. The disaster began with the Industrial Revolution. Exhaust gases from industry, cars or airplanes. Whether CO2, ozone, fine dust or nitrogen oxides. We blow masses of pollutants into the air. Munich has the highest fine dust pollution of all German cities with 71 µg / m3 - fortunately the values are decreasing due to technical progress in the mobility industry.
The environmental problem of the air pollution exists primarily internationally. For example, the Nigerian city of Onitsha has the highest fine dust pollution of all cities in the world, at 594 µg / m3. Anyone who wants to grow old simply cannot live in this city. Unfortunately, air pollution knows no national borders, which is why this environmental problem ultimately affects everyone. According to surveys by the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, eight million people died in 2012 as a result of the environmental problem described above. In addition, of course, air pollution also promotes climate change.
Cause: Cars, trucks, industries and also private households emit pollutants. Exclusively we humans are the reason for the existence of this environmental problem. So the environmental problem of overpopulation is also a cause of the polluted air we breathe.
Solution: Since we caused the problem, we can also solve it. For example, in our everyday lives by avoiding unnecessary car journeys, saving energy at work or disposing of our hazardous waste properly. We also need to replace fossil fuels more and more with renewable energies. Solar energy, wind energy and so on. Then the eco-balance of the electric car will also automatically improve. Part of the solution will also be to slow down the excessive growth of the world's population.
4. environmental problem of the Soil erosion
When you grab a handful of healthy soil, you hold more organisms in your hands than there are people on earth. Through the organisms the soil stores nutrients and water. In this way, our soils store more carbon than all forests combined. Unfortunately, human behavior is making the soil increasingly infertile.
The Environmental problem of soil erosion can ultimately lead to soils no longer being suitable for agricultural use. It is estimated that nearly 1% of the world's soils become unusable in this way each year.₁
Causes: The environmental problem of soil erosion is a consequence of human behavior. By overgrazing fields, farming monocultures, using fallow periods that are too short, or cutting down forests, we provoke soils to become infertile. Moreover, if the nutrient-rich topsoil (uppermost layer of soil) is too dry, the soil is also too easily eroded by winds.
Solution: Farmers must maintain crop rotations and ideal fallow periods - windbreaks, natural hedgerows must be preserved. Dense forests and meadows are the ideal protection against the environmental problem of soil erosion. In addition, rivers and lakes - or groundwater - must be protected from toxins. It is to be expected that political action will be taken quickly, since healthy, fertile soils are essential for general food security.
5. problem of the Overpopulation
The Overpopulation is not a direct environmental problem - but it is a problem for the environment. 100 years ago, there were about 1.6 billion people on earth. Half a century later, there were already, 2.5 billion. And until today, the number of the world population has increased to almost 8 billion people. Logically, this exponential growth has consequences for our society and especially for the environment. Each additional inhabitant leaves behind additional waste, consumes energy, a lot of water and must also feed on something. In order to meet the increasing demand, more arable land is needed, for which forest must give way, which leads to both climate change and the species extinction be promoted.
Cause: Better medical care, lack of education, lack of contraceptive methods, or even the high mortality rate of children in Africa, which is why women give birth to more children, because children are an important form of old-age security.
Solution: Large-scale campaigns to raise awareness and also the distribution of contraceptives can help. Politically enforced birth restrictions may also be necessary. However, in my opinion, education is the best means to curb the growth of the world population.
6. environmental problem of the Deforestation
According to GlobalForestWatch, we destroy around 30 million hectares of forest every year around the world.₂ In Brazil alone, 4.52 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year. In the country, environmental laws are being weakened, the area of protected areas is being reduced, and funding for nature conservation is being cut. It is no coincidence that Blairo Maggi - the world's largest soy producer - is Brazil's Minister of Agriculture. Forests are also being cleared for the cultivation of soy.
The consequences of the global Deforestation are serious: climate change, species extinction or soil erosion are caused by the clearing and deforestation of forests. As an example, trees that emit CO2 are deforested, thereby releasing the absorbed CO2 into the atmosphere.
Causes: More and more people have understood that Palm oil rainforest and that it is in the majority of the everyday products we use. But deforestation and forest clearance is an environmental problem that can be traced back to more than just palm oil production. Tropical timber extraction, land reclamation for livestock and soy plantations, or the mining of raw materials such as gold, iron ore or rare earths for smartphones are among the biggest causes of this environmental problem. Paper production also requires a lot of wood.
Solution: In everyday life, we can counteract the environmental problem of deforestation. For example, by using recycled toilet paper, by reading books digitally, or simply by making the most possible paperless office. Also use our article with the best Tips for saving paper - generally suitable for the Zero Waste Lifestyle ideal to reduce deforestation. Again, against this environmental problem, the meatless diet is the best everyday remedy - because then forests do not have to give way for the cultivation of cattle feed. Learn to respect wood as a raw material. To stop deforestation as quickly as possible and in the long term, however, politicians in particular must act - and, for example, expand protected areas.
7. environmental problem of the Species extinction
Whether bees due to monocultures, pesticide use and overfertilization, polar bears due to global warming, rhinos due to their valuable horn or plants due to monocultural agriculture and air pollution -. our behavior threatens biodiversity. Species extinction is a massive environmental problem that is man-made - and also the Environmental problem of overfishing is part of it, of course.
A look at the "Red List of the World Conservation Union is worthwhile: Of 90,000 species, about 25,800 are threatened with extinction. Since the ecological balance is hypersensitive, the loss of even one species can have serious consequences for the environment and deprive many other species of the basis for their own existence.
CauseThe reason for the extinction of species is the lifestyle and greed of man. Through other environmental problems caused by us, such as air pollution, climate change, plastic waste in the sea, deforestation or soil erosion (e.g. by monocultures), we take animals their habitat. But also by hunting rare and endangered species (elephant - ivory, sharks - fin... etc.) many animal and also plant species are already extinct or threatened with extinction.
Solution: In our everyday life, for example, we can have a bee friendly garden plants and try to live as emission- and plastic-free as possible. In addition, the vegan diet is again the key in the fight against species extinction, as no forests need to be cut down and climate change is counteracted. It also applies to the renunciation of the purchase of products from ivory or coats from real fur - because thereby one supports the hunt for threatened animal species and the illegal wild animal trade. This and poaching in general must be punished much more severely. It must not be possible that Donald Trump can so easily allow the import of elephant heads - so that his sons can take the trophies of their hunt from Africa back home. Poaching is unfortunately increasing as a result of such decisions.
8. problem of the World Hunger
Also the World hunger is not a direct environmental problem - but it is a Problem for the environment. Many people in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia in particular suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment in the long term because of food shortages. It seems that the quantities of food produced on our planet may not be sufficient to keep up with the rapidly increasing growth of the world's population. Yet this is already possible: 65% of the grain produced worldwide - i.e. wheat, spelt, barley, corn and rice, for example - is fed to animals such as cows, chickens and sheep to produce meat. We only eat a maximum of 15.4% of such grain ourselves.₃ And around 800 million people in the world go hungry, although at the same time around 1300 million kilograms of food are destroyed or wasted.
World hunger is therefore not a production problem, but a distribution problem. Especially in combination with the environmental problem of water shortage, one could also speak of an ethical problem.
Cause: The reason for world hunger is therefore buried in the distribution of the available food. Most of the grain becomes animal feed for the production of meat products. At the same time, massive amounts of food are wasted and thrown away. Since the demand for food increases with each additional person on this planet, overpopulation is also a cause of this problem for our environment.
Solution: There are clear approaches to solving the problem of world hunger. One solution, which also makes sense from an ethical point of view, is to reduce our own Reduce food waste. We can do this, for example, by Making food last longer or only buy as much as we really need. In addition, a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle in particular is the best long-term solution to world hunger. Whoever gives up meat not only counteracts environmental problems such as water scarcity or climate change, but also does something against world hunger at the same time. We must set an example of respectful treatment of food and learn to distribute it fairly.
9. environmental problem of the Overfishing
Every year, around 90,900,000 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans worldwide. This is not without consequences for marine ecosystems: According to WWF, 33.3% of the fish we eat are already overfished. 60% of the world's fish stock is considered to be exploited to the maximum. In the Mediterranean, as many as 62.2% of the fish species are classified as overfished.₄
The environmental problem of overfishing upsets the food chain and has and provokes with the species extinction directly the next environmental problem. Unfortunately, in order to meet the high demand for fish, fishing methods are also used that do not allow any control of the species that actually end up in the net. For example, sharks, turtles and dolphins also end up in the nets.
Causes: The main cause is the excessive demand for fish - which is also due to the high growth in the world's population. As a result, fishing methods are also used that are not sustainable - for example, fishing with trawl nets. Politicians are setting fishing quotas that are too high, contrary to scientific recommendations - this is a key reason for overfishing. The environmental problem of plastic waste in the sea and the poisoning of our rivers by industry also contribute to overfishing and species extinction.
Solution: Balanced fisheries management and fair international fisheries agreements with third countries can counteract this environmental problem. As consumers, we can do something about overfishing by preferring only fish from sustainable fisheries. Recognizable, for example, by the MSC seal.
The WWF also provides Regularly updated information ready, which fish at the current time is better to do without altogether. For example, since carp is not overfished, buying it does not pose a threat to the marine ecosystem. However, the consumption of eels should be limited instead.
Tip: In the additional article about the most expressive Statistics on the overfishing of the seas you will learn even more!
10. environmental problem of the Plastic waste in the sea
Every minute, a truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the sea on our planet. 8 million tons end up directly in the sea every year. About 32 million tons simply end up as Plastic waste in the environment and then via detours in the oceans. Every year, 100,000 marine mammals and about 1,000,000 seabirds die because of our plastic craze. The problem: Plastic is not biodegradable and remains in the ocean for centuries. It takes about 500 years for a plastic bottle to decompose to Microplastics has decomposed. But every little piece of plastic that was ever produced is still on our planet. And that's exactly why today 5 big Garbage vortices in our oceans, driven by the ocean currents.
Cause: Poor disposal systems, a lack of education, convenience and, of course, the non-existent responsibility of companies for the packaging waste they put into circulation. A deposit system for plastic bottles, as in Germany, unfortunately only exists in very few countries.
Solution: A plastic free lifestyle is the best long-term approach to solving this environmental problem. Because doing away with plastic ensures that the range of products on offer changes and that more and more products are offered without plastic packaging. In my Book plastic free for beginners I'll explain everything you need to know about it step by step. Since there are already masses of plastic waste in the environment, but in addition to the avoidance of plastic waste, clean-up actions must also take place. You can do this, for example, during your vacation. You can find out how to do this in the article about the Organize Beach CleanUp.
Tip: To make this environmental problem a bit more tangible, I have brought you another article on Scientific facts and figures about plastic waste Compiled.
Can we solve these environmental problems?
Yes, we can. Unfortunately, we have already lost far too much time with voluntary measures and a "it will happen on its own" mentality. That's why it's extremely important that companies and politicians as well as private consumers get on board. If this is not the case, we cannot guarantee that future generations will still be able to grow up on a habitable planet in 100 years.
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.Robert Swan
We all have the chance to do something for the planet in our everyday lives. Isn't it also much cooler to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem?
I look forward to your comment under this post.
₁ Christoffel den Biggelaar, Rattan Lal, Keith Wiebe, Vince Breneman: The Global Impact of Soil Erosion on Productivity. I: Absolute and Relative Erosion-induced Yield Losses.Advances in Agronomy. Vol. 81, 2004, pp. 1-48.