• Prateek Kumawat

Environmental Crisis: The features and reasons that cause the current struggle

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

Humanity is facing numerous problems along with the rapid development. The rapid growth of the population and massive industrialization are the key reasons for the ongoing problems being faced globally. Widespread poverty in under developed countries, depletion of the natural resources and environmental pollution are the major problems challenging the modern world. All these problems are interdependent. The population growth causes the poverty, which in its turn causes the exploitation of the natural resources and environmental degradation. The entire thing can be summarized in one word as– the environmental crisis. The environmental crisis is the most current and ongoing problem at the global level.

Main features of the environmental crisis

Climate change: climate change due to anthropogenic pollution of the atmosphere and emission of the greenhouse gases is now considered as one of the major global environmental issue. It occurs as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels, emissions from agriculture, due to land-use changes and burning of forests. Climate change already has observable ecological and social effects, and its projected impacts could potentially result in changes in global mean surface temperature, rise in sea level, changes in ocean circulation, changes in precipitation patterns and ecosystem function.

Stratospheric ozone depletion: the depletion of stratospheric ozone due to emission of halo carbons (such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs) in the atmosphere is another serious environmental issue. The lack of protective ozone in stratosphere at high altitudes will result in increased levels of harmful solar Ultra Violet (UV-B) radiation reaching to the earth's surface, causing a range of health-related and ecological impacts.

The rapid growth of the population and massive industrialization are the key reasons for the ongoing problems being faced globally.

Degraded air quality: Many air pollutants are responsible for the degradation of air quality, but some key pollutants include particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulphur, lead and various aromatic compounds. Many air pollutants may cause respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, some can cause damage to vegetation and produce a range of ecological effects.

Degraded water quality: water quality has degraded by contamination with pollutants. Many human activities lead to water pollution includes mining and industrial processes.

Scarcity of fresh water: apart from the pollution of freshwater sources, poor water resource management practices result in the scarcity of fresh water. Irrigation practices are also responsible for the depletion of local water sources.

Deforestation: Deforestation occurs because of a variety of reasons, but the majority of deforestation now occurs when tropical forests are cleared for agriculture and other development activities, other reasons include the destruction of trees for meeting human demands like charcoal production and for timber. The forests provide habitats for a vast number of plant and animal species.

Biodiversity loss: many plant and animal species are at the verge of extinction, due to the destruction and degradation of their habitats and direct exploitation. Threats to the biodiversity are not only confined to terrestrial ecosystems, serious concerns have also been raised for the marine and coastal wildlife species.

The causes of the environmental crisis are:

Technological Developments: particularly since the Industrial Revolution - which have allowed humans to exert a greater influence over natural resources and ecosystems.

Rapidly increasing human population: the total human population has expanded since the introduction of the agriculture and its growth rate has generally increased over time because of increased food production and improved sanitation and health care facilities. The total human population was around 5.9 billion during the year 1998; it currently more than 6 billion and is expected to have reached 9.4 billion by the year 2050. The increase in human population is placing greater demands on the natural environment - for habitat, resources and waste assimilation.

Urbanisation: the issue of urbanisation is indirectly related to the population growth. Since urbanisation is occurring in response to the increase in population pressure in rural areas and to the increasing concentration of economic opportunities in cities. Urbanisation is often associated with a range of social and environmental problems including overcrowding, congestion, shortages of water for drinking, degradation, public health issues, and inadequate sanitation.

Poverty: the persistence of poverty at all levels represents an ongoing challenge as acknowledged in most current development policies, initiatives and targets. Vast differences in patterns of the income, production and consumption are reflected in distinctive patterns of environmental impact.

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