1. CLIMATE CHANGE
97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause Specialists indicate that the fossil fuel combustion which provide 93% of the world’s energy sources represents the greatest contributing factor to, greenhouse gas emissions In the 20th century, specialists indicate that the global average temperature increased with 1 degree Fahrenheit. Hence, the planet overheats, affecting humans, plants, and animals at the same time
Renewable energy comes from natural resources that can be replenished during an average human lifetime and includes the following types of power: Solar, Wind, Hydro, Geothermal, and Biomass Renewable energy sources are beneficial because they have a very limited negative environmental impact when compared to fossil fuels. They can also reduce the worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.
Overall, renewables are growing faster than fossil fuels. Last year, solar and wind power accounted for nearly 95% of new energy in the US. A 2018 report recently published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), predicts the cost of renewable energy will experience a noticeable drop by 2020, putting it on par with, or cheaper than, fossil fuels.
What You Can Do: Your home and transportation could be major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. A certified home energy audit can help make your home more energy efficient. Consider trading in your auto for a fuel efficient hybrid or better yet—go electric. Switch to LED lightbulbs
Air pollution and climate change are closely linked, as the same greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet are also creating smoggy conditions in major cities that endanger public health
Water and soil pollution might not get the media attention that air pollution does, but they are still important public health concerns. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, dirty water is the world’s biggest health risk. While the Clean Water Act did much to make American water safe from harmful pollutants, today there is a new threat to clean water coming from the shale gas fracking boom taking place across the country and from the EPA itself.
Plastics use are a problem mostly due to their un-biodegradable nature, the materials used for plastic production (hydrocarbon molecules—derived from the refining of oil and natural gas), and the challenges behind properly discarding them
What You Can Do – Give up plastic straws, plastic water bottles. Take a reusable coffee cup with you. Choose cardboard and paper over plastic, Take a little extra time while doing your shopping and select products without plastic packaging.
Forests are important to mitigating climate change because they serve as “carbon sinks,” meaning that they absorb CO2 that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere and worsen global warming. It is estimated that 15 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. Cutting down trees also threatens animals and humans who rely on healthy forests to sustain themselves, and the loss of tropical rainforests is particularly concerning because around 80 percent of the world’s species reside in these areas. About 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down in the past 50 years to make way for cattle ranching. That’s a double whammy for the climate because cattle flatulence is a major source of methane gas, which contributes more to short term climate change than carbon emissions.
What You Can Do: Plant trees, stop using paper towels and use washable cloths instead, use cloth shopping bags (instead of paper), and look at labels to make sure you only use FSC-certified wood and paper products. You can also boycott products made by palm oil companies that contribute to deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia..
4. WATER SCARCITY
As the population increases and climate change causes more droughts, water scarcity is becoming more of an issue. Only three percent of the world’s water is fresh water and 1.1 billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water. By the middle of this century more than a third of all counties in the lower 48 states will be at higher risk of water shortages with more than 400 of the 1,100 counties facing an extremely high risk.
What You Can Do Installing an ENERGY STAR-certified washer, using low-flow faucets, plugging up leaks, irrigating the lawn in the morning or evening when the cooler air causes less evaporation, taking shorter showers and not running sink water when brushing your teeth. Also, consider using non-toxic cleaning products and eco-friendly pesticides and herbicides that won’t contaminate groundwater.
5. LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY
Increasing human encroachment on wildlife habitats is causing a rapid loss of biodiversitythat threatens food security, population health and world stability. Climate change is also a major contributor to biodiversity loss, as some species aren’t able to adapt to changing temperatures. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index, biodiversity has declined 27 percent in the last 35 years.
What You Can Do: As consumers we can all help protect biodiversity by purchasing products that don’t harm the environment. Next time you are at the grocery store, check to see if food packaging contains any of the following eco-labels: USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Marine Stewardship Council or Green Seal. Other product certifications include Forest Stewardship Council Certification, Rainforest Alliance Certification and Certified Wildlife Friendly. Also, reusing, recycling and composting are easy ways to protect biodiversity.
6. SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
Unsustainable industrial agriculture practices have resulted in soil erosion and degradation that leads to less arable land, clogged and polluted waterways, increased flooding and desertification. According to the World Wildlife Fund, half of the earth’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years.
What You Can Do: you can make a difference in your backyard by switching to non-toxic green pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.