Among the most convincing reasons for learning about environmental management and policy is the realization that, from the perspective of a number of prominent authorities, the world is experiencing an environmental emergency; in fact, some prominent authors have referred to the current environmental crisis as being unprecedented in its scale. At the same time, the evidence of this is beginning to impact negatively on the global economy, which is why efforts to address this problem are beginning to be considered seriously by the top-level officials. To make matters even more complicated, there is also increasing pressure from within the developing world to address these issues as well.
It has been agreed upon by various experts that the biggest drivers of climate change are greenhouse gas emissions and the degradation of the earth’s natural habitats. Along with this, a variety of other environmental problems have been occurring with alarming frequency. One of these is land pollution, which according to some estimates stands at over 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The most common form of this pollution is pollution of land through wasteful use of water and pesticides, which results in degradation of soil, and consequently the extinction of various natural habitats. This, coupled with urbanization, has led to a rise in the human populations, both in urban and rural settings, and this has resulted in increased levels of environmental pollution.
On the other hand, another major effect of this environmental deterioration is degradation of the earth’s natural resources, particularly the natural resources such as water, air, land and the soil. In fact, according to recent reports, the three natural resources–water, air and land–face the highest threats from environmental degradation in the next decade, given that all these three are being severely depleted due to population growth and industrialization. Water, for example, is becoming increasingly scarce as a result of drought and the depleting of many aquifers. Air pollution is also on the rise, as a result of increasing fuel emissions, toxic chemicals released in manufacturing, automobile exhaust and agricultural runoff, all of which are taking a heavy toll on the ozone layer, further diminishing the earth’s natural resources.
The depletion of these natural resources, coupled with the increased demand for food, fuel, and energy, as well as the increasing sophistication and uses of land and other resources has led to a rapid rise in the human population. This has led to the increased pressure to produce more resources, leading to what can be described as an environmental disaster, with global warming being the most prominent and worrisome phenomenon. The rapid increase in population leads to greater pressure for land and natural resources. These pressures are creating political and social problems in developing countries that are trying to realize their development goals without damaging the environment. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that poor countries are the first to suffer from the adverse effects of climate change. Rapid climate change is the most serious challenge to mankind, given that it will negatively impact future sustainability of life on earth.
Rapid climate change is one of the major reasons for the poor air quality in many parts of the world, causing millions to experience breathing problems and the spread of infectious diseases. Rapid changes in air quality have been linked to a number of environmental threats and all these problems will only get worse in the coming years. The problem is made worse by the continued use of fossil fuels as a source of energy, despite the rising cost and the adverse health effects. Rapid climate change has also resulted in the destruction of forests, the reduction of wild animal numbers, and degradation of the quality of the soil. The resulting scarcity of natural resources is threatening the existence of the people who live in these areas.
Rapid population growth, together with the continuing consumption of fossil fuels, will result in the continuing deterioration of the environment. If the degradation continues at the rate indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), the world’s population could become extinct during the next two decades. Rapid climate change has also resulted in the relocation of large numbers of people around the world, pushing many of them to create dependent communities in places with limited social support systems and poor infrastructure. This situation has been given even more aggravated by the international immigration policies pursued by most developing countries. This has created a huge strain on the already strained social systems and could soon lead to social breakdown and even political instability.
Rapid environmental degradation is also a result of deforestation. Deforestation leads to loss of forest cover, leading to an increase in atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Forests are considered to be the lungs of the planet, releasing large quantities of oxygen into the atmosphere. Cutting down trees causes an increase in air pressure, reducing the availability of oxygen in the atmosphere, and changing the global climate. Rapid deforestation has resulted in methane release from wetlands and arctic tundra, which could further upset the global climate and threaten the survival of the species in those areas.
Rapid population growth and environmental degradation lead to drastic changes in the food production and distribution networks. Laid overgrowth of pests and disease has led to the reduction of animal protein in most areas. The reduction in animal protein can have serious repercussions for the global food supply. The effects of population growth and environmental degradation on food supply can be tackled using biological solutions. Using genetically altered crops that are resistant to common pests and diseases, farmers can use these crops to fight against pests and bring back their yields. Using these techniques, farmers can increase their crop production to meet the increased demand and help relieve pressure on the environment.