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Important Environmental Issues, Their Causes, and Their Effects

Environmental issues can be defined as the harmful or adverse effects on the biophysical environment as a result of human (or anthropogenic) activity. In order to combat these environmental issues, the development of environmentalism (a broad philosophy, ideology, and social movement based on concerns for the environment) took place. This article details a few important environmental issues, their causes, and their effects.

Deforestation

Deforestation, also known as clearing, clearcutting, and clearance, is a term that is used to refer to the large-scale removal of trees from forest land and the conversion of the aforementioned forest land into ranches, farms, or urban plots. This subsection aims to answer questions like what is deforestation?, “what are the causes of deforestation?”, and “what are the effects of deforestation”?.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations describes deforestation as the transfer of forest to other land uses (regardless of whether it is human-induced). ‘Deforestation’ and “ land area net change” are not the same: the latter is the amount of all land losses (deforestation) and all forest gains (forest expansion) in a given period. Therefore, net shift, depending on whether profits outweigh losses, can be positive or negative, or vice versa.

Several sources suggest that industrial logging is a major contributor to global deforestation. Some claim that since they have no alternatives, poor people are more likely to clear forests, others that the poor lack the resources to pay for the materials and labour necessary for clearing forest. One study showed that in just 8 percent of cases, population growth due to high fertility rates was a primary cause of tropical deforestation.

Abuse in government institutions, the inequitable distribution in wealth and power, population growth and overpopulation, and urbanisation can also be other causes of contemporary deforestation. Globalization is also seen as another root cause of deforestation, although there are cases in which localised forest regeneration has been facilitated by the effects of globalisation (new movements of labour, money, resources, and ideas).

Water Pollution

Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of water bodies as a direct consequence of anthropogenic activity (human activity). Examples of water bodies that become contaminated as a result of water pollution include rivers, lakes, oceans, and streams. Even groundwater can become contaminated as a direct result of this environmental issue.

A large variety of chemicals and pathogens as well as physical parameters are among the causes of water contamination. Organic and inorganic substances can contain pollutants. High temperatures can lead to contaminated water as well. The use of water (by power plants and industrial producers) as a coolant is a common source of thermal pollution. High water temperatures decrease oxygen levels, which can kill fish and alter the composition of the food chain, reduce the biodiversity of organisms, and encourage invasion by new thermophilic organisms. Advancements in the field of environmental chemistry are accompanied by the development of new methods to tackle water pollution. Environmental chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the study of the chemical processes that occur in living environments (terrestrial, marine, and in the air).

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Paul Petersen

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