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Environmental Problems Of Our Time – Causes And Solutions For Ecological Issues

10 Environmental problems of our time - causes and solutions

How do we solve the biggest environmental problems of our time? Admittedly, this is a question to which there is no single answer. Nevertheless, there is an answer that is made up of thousands of small solutions. Whether it's climate change, water scarcity or species extinction. Each and every one of us has the chance to make a difference every day in our everyday lives. Be it through a sustainable everyday life or political commitment.

In this article, you will find out which environmental problems we are struggling with and why, how they are interrelated and what solutions are already available.

  1. climate change
  2. Water shortage
  3. air pollution
  4. Soil erosion
  5. Overpopulation
  6. Deforestation
  7. species extinction
  8. World hunger
  9. Overfishing
  10. Plastic waste in the environment

What are the environmental problems?

I divide the environmental problems of our time into direct and indirect environmental problems. This is because there are definitely also problems facing humanity that have a major indirect impact on climate change, for example. In the following, I would therefore like to present our 10 biggest environmental problems or problems for the environment.

1. environmental problem of the Climate change

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - climate change

In principle, the concept of Climate change Both a cooling and a warming of the earth. However, when people talk about climate change, they are referring to the climate change caused by us humans. global warming. The average temperature on our planet has risen from around 0.20°C to almost 1°C since the 1980s. 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 means that less CO2 can be absorbed and at the same time the CO2 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. However, one of the main causes of climate change 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 quantities of methane.

Solution: In everyday life, you can already do your part to reduce the Stop climate change. Use public transport more often and, of course, also use the Starting a 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 other great ways to combat climate change.

Tip: Please also take a look at the article about Climate change statistics, facts and figures in to get a clearer picture of this environmental problem.

2. environmental problem of the Water shortage

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - overpopulation
A large part of the Aral Sea has already dried up - as the neighboring states of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are thirsty for drinking water.

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 around 120 liters of water a day for meals, personal hygiene and cleaning. Incidentally, it is recommended to drink about Drink 3 liters of water a day. If the water consumption for the food consumed is added to the 120 liters per day, the figure rises to 5300 liters per day. It is also important to know that not all water is the same. This is because 97% of the water on our planet is salty seawater - which is not drinkable. A whole 2% is frozen to ice. We only have 1% of the water from the rivers left 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. I was able to experience this first-hand in South Africa, for example. At the airport, for example, I was told several times to only shower for a maximum of one minute. There were days when not a drop of water came out of the pipes for a whole 10 hours.

Solution: The fact that every German consumes 5,300 liters of water a day, including food, shows what we can do in our everyday lives. For one thing, use less water at the tap. Also, only flush the toilet with the utmost care. The big button alone flushes 5 liters of water down the drain. We can solve the environmental problem of water scarcity both in the household and especially through a vegan diet. The production of one kilogram of beef alone requires 15,415 liters of water.

3. environmental problem of the air pollution

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - air pollution
A city in smog. This picture was taken in Shanghai.

There is no longer any completely clean air - neither in the countryside - and certainly not in the cities. The industrial revolution started the disaster. Exhaust fumes from industry, cars and airplanes. Whether CO2, ozone, particulate matter or nitrogen oxides. We are blowing masses of pollutants into the air. At 71 µg / m3, Munich has the highest fine dust pollution of all German cities - fortunately, the values are decreasing due to technical progress in the mobility sector.

The environmental problem of the air pollution exists above all internationally. For example, the Nigerian city of Onitsha has the highest particulate matter pollution of any city in the world at 594 µg / m3. If you want to grow old, you 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, air pollution naturally also promotes climate change.

Cause: Cars, trucks, industries and even private households emit pollutants. We humans are the sole reason for the existence of this environmental problem. The environmental problem of overpopulation is therefore 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. This will automatically improve the eco-balance of the electric car. 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

If you grab a handful of healthy soil, you are holding 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 put together. Unfortunately, the soil is becoming increasingly infertile due to human behavior.

The Environmental problem of soil erosion can ultimately lead to soils no longer being usable for agriculture. It is estimated that almost 1% of the world's soils become unusable in this way every year.₁

Causes: The environmental problem of soil erosion is a consequence of human behavior. By overgrazing fields, monoculture farming, using fallow periods that are too short or cutting down forests, we provoke soils to become infertile. If the nutrient-rich topsoil (top 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 - wind-protecting, natural hedges must be preserved. Dense forests and meadows are the ideal protection against the environmental problem of soil erosion. In addition, rivers and lakes - and groundwater - must be protected from toxic substances. It is to be expected that political action will also be taken quickly here, as healthy, fertile soils are essential for general food security.

5. problem of the Overpopulation

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - overpopulation
A photo of Daqiaotou Station in Taiwan that speaks for itself.

The Overpopulation is not a direct environmental problem - but it is a problem for the environment. Around 1.6 billion people lived on Earth 100 years ago. Half a century later, there were already 2.5 billion. And to date, the global population has risen to almost 8 billion people. Logically, this exponential growth has consequences for our society and especially the environment. Every additional inhabitant leaves behind additional waste, consumes energy, a lot of water and has to feed on something. To meet the increasing demand, more arable land is needed, for which forests have to make 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 safeguard for old age.

Solution: Large-scale awareness campaigns and the distribution of contraceptives can help. Politically enforced birth restrictions may also be necessary. In my opinion, however, education is the best way to curb the growth of the world's population.

6. environmental problem of the Deforestation

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - deforestation
The deforestation and clearing of rainforests, for example, has far-reaching consequences for our climate and biodiversity.

According to GlobalForestWatch, we are destroying around 30 million hectares of forest around the world every year.₂ In Brazil alone, 4.52 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year. Environmental laws are being weakened in the country, the area of protected land 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 the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture. Forests are also being cut down to grow soy.

The consequences of the global Deforestation of the forests are serious: climate change, species extinction and soil erosion are caused by the clearing and deforestation of forests. For example: trees that absorb 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 contained in the majority of everyday products that we use. However, deforestation and forest clearance is an environmental problem that can be attributed to more than just palm oil production. Tropical timber extraction, land reclamation for livestock farming 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. A lot of wood is also needed for paper production.

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 using as little paper as possible. Paperless office. Also use our article with the best Tips for saving paper - generally suitable for the Zero Waste Lifestyle ideal for reducing deforestation. Once again, a meat-free diet is the best everyday remedy for this environmental problem - because then forests do not have to give way to the cultivation of animal feed. Learn to respect wood as a raw material. In order to stop deforestation as quickly as possible and in the long term, however, politicians in particular must take action - and expand protected areas, for example.

7. environmental problem of the Species extinction

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - species extinction

Whether bees due to monocultures, pesticide use and overfertilization, polar bears due to global warming, rhinos due to their valuable horns 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 The environmental problem of overfishing is of course part of it.

It is worth taking a look at the World Conservation Union's Red List: out of 90,000 species, around 25,800 are threatened with extinction. As 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 humans. Through other environmental problems caused by us, such as air pollution, climate change, plastic waste in the sea, deforestation or soil erosion (e.g. through monocultures), we are depriving animals of their habitat. But hunting rare and endangered animal species (elephant - ivory, sharks - fin, etc.) has also caused many animal and plant species to become extinct or threatened with extinction.

Solution: In our everyday lives, for example, we can use a bee friendly garden plants and try to live as emission- and plastic-free as possible. In addition, a vegan diet is once again key in the fight against species extinction, as no forests have to be cut down and climate change is counteracted. It is also important to refrain from buying products made from ivory or coats made from real fur - as this supports the hunting of endangered species and the illegal wildlife trade. This and poaching in general must be punished much more severely. It must not be possible for Donald Trump to allow the import of elephant heads so easily - so that his sons can take their hunting trophies home from Africa. Poaching is unfortunately on the rise 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 South-East Asia in particular suffer from long-term malnutrition and undernourishment due to a lack of food. It seems that the amount of food produced on our planet will not be enough to keep up with the rapid growth of the world's population. Yet this is already possible: 65% of the grain produced worldwide - e.g. wheat, spelt, barley, maize and rice - is fed to animals such as cows, chickens and sheep to produce meat. We only eat a maximum of 15.4% of this 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 scarcity, one could also speak of an ethical problem.

Cause: The reason for world hunger is therefore buried in the distribution of available food. The majority of grain is turned into animal feed for the production of meat products. At the same time, masses of food are wasted and thrown away. As the demand for food increases with every 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 Preserving food for longer or only buy as much as we really need. In addition, a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is the best long-term solution to world hunger. Those who give up meat not only counteract environmental problems such as water scarcity or climate change, but also do something about world hunger at the same time. We must set an example of respectful handling of food and learn to distribute it fairly.

9. environmental problem of the Overfishing

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - overfishing

Every year, around 90,900,000 million tons of fish are pulled out of our oceans worldwide. This is not without consequences for marine ecosystems: according to the WWF, 33.3% of the fish we eat are already overfished. 60% of the world's fish stocks are considered to be exploited to the maximum. In the Mediterranean, as many as 62.2% of fish species are classified as overfished.₄

The environmental problem of overfishing is upsetting the food chain and is directly provoking the next environmental problem with the extinction of species. Unfortunately, in order to meet the high demand for fish, fishing methods are also used that do not allow any control of the species actually caught in the net. For example, sharks, turtles and dolphins also end up in the nets.

Causes: The main reason for this 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 trawling. Contrary to scientific recommendations, politicians are setting fishing quotas that are too high - 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 the extinction of species.

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 only buying fish from sustainable fisheries. This can be recognized by the MSC label, for example.

The WWF also provides Regularly updated information The fish that should be avoided altogether at the present time. As carp, for example, is not overfished, buying it does not pose a threat to the marine ecosystem. However, the consumption of eels should be restricted instead.

Tip: In the additional article on the most meaningful Statistics on overfishing in the oceans you can find out even more!

10. environmental problem of the Plastic waste in the sea

Environmental problems of our time- causes and solutions - plastic waste

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. Around 32 million tons simply end up as Plastic waste in the environment and then via detours into the oceans. Every year, 100,000 marine mammals and around 1,000,000 seabirds die as a result of our plastic mania. The problem: Plastic is not biodegradable and remains in the ocean for centuries. A plastic bottle takes around 500 years to decompose into Microplastics has decomposed. But every little piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still on our planet. And that is precisely why 5 large Garbage swirls in our oceansdriven by the ocean currents.

Cause: Poor disposal systems, a lack of education, convenience and, of course, the lack of corporate responsibility for the packaging waste that is put into circulation. Unfortunately, very few countries have a deposit system for plastic bottles, as is the case in Germany. 

Solution: plastic free lifestyle is the best long-term approach to solving this environmental problem. After all, doing without plastic will ensure that the range of products on offer changes and more and more products are offered without plastic packaging. In my Plastic-free book for beginners I will explain everything you need to know about it step by step. As there are already masses of plastic waste in the environment, clean-up campaigns must also take place in addition to avoiding plastic waste. You can do this wonderfully on vacation, for example. 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 do that. Unfortunately, we have already lost far too much time with voluntary measures and a "it will work itself out" mentality. It is therefore extremely important that companies, politicians and private consumers all play their part. 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' time.

The biggest 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 much cooler to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? 

I look forward to your comment under this post.

Stay clean,

Living plastic-free - Less plastic waste in the environment

PS: In my Knowledge blog I explain many more technical terms from the world of environmental protection. Find out now, for example, what is meant by Biodiversity is to be understood.

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.




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Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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