Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

The world faces many environmental problems, but humanity can address them by joining together and making smart choices for the future

What Are Five of the Biggest Environmental Problems Facing the World?

The world faces many environmental problems, but humanity can address them by joining together and making smart choices for the future

Earth’s environment faces a number of challenges. Some of the biggest environmental problems facing the world include global warming, deforestation, air pollution, water pollution and the depletion of natural resources.

Five biggest enviromental problomsThe issues are interrelated and the worsening of one can contribute to the worsening of others. Addressing these issues is essential to sustaining the planet, but methods used to combat environmental problems often meet resistance. The solutions can involve lifestyle changes that may seem radical for some. The financial costs can be steep as well. Furthermore, reigning in the pollution caused by some industries can mean loss of jobs and livelihood for workers.

Still, reducing the impact of the biggest environmental problems facing the world is vital if the planet is to sustain life for centuries to come.

Global Warming

This issue has the most potential for environmental devastation due both to its wide-ranging impact and its unfortunate politicization. Despite consensus by the great majority of environmental scientists, some elected officials have made political capital from questioning the severity and even the existence of global warming. The evidence, though, is overwhelming, from melting glaciers to intense hurricanes and other storms to raging forest fires in California and Australia.

Air Pollution

One of the first issues to attract attention as terms such as ecology began entering the public lexicon in the 1970s, air pollution has been reduced significantly in the last half century in some parts of the world. Countries such as China and India still struggle to the extent that some citizens must don masks just to venture outside. The problem is less severe in the U.S. with California a notable exception: The state has the dubious distinction of having the top 12 most polluted cities in the nation.

Water Pollution

Across the globe, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide, 2 million tons of sewage enter waterways daily. Water quality also is negatively impacted by pesticides and other chemicals that, even if not dumped directly, wind up in the water supply gradually through seepage. Mining also contributes to the problem, with mines in the state of Colorado alone polluting more than 1,400 miles of the state’s streams.


As the population grows, once wilderness is permanently removed in order to build houses, schools, hospitals, shopping centers and all the other elements of civilization. Forests also are cleared to create land for agriculture and grazing. This all comes with a price. Deforestation impacts biodiversity, destroying homes of countless species. Most of the world’s fresh water originates in forests, so deforestation negatively affects this vital resource, as well. Deforestation also means fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, which helps mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Depletion of Natural Resources

Scientists base the push for renewable energy sources, such as wind and electricity, on a very simple truth. There is a limited supply of non-renewable resources such as oil and metals. However, demand for these resources only increases along with the population. Unfortunately, as with global warming, the issue has been politicized, confounding efforts to reduce the use of non-renewables, as well as hampering investment in renewables.

Everyone can do their part to help make society more environmentally sustainable with choices you make about what you drive, how you run your household and what you wear. But some of the biggest environmental problems facing the world will require action at the highest levels of leadership worldwide.





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