Causes and Solutions to Earth’s Environmental Problems
The challenges posed by these four environmental problems and the forces that drive them seem insurmountable. The effects of these problems have shown up at regional and global scales, and the prospect of overcoming the differences between countries, between factions within countries, and even between individuals seems insurmountable at times.
However, the world has solved global environmental problems before, like ozone depletion and acid rain. We tackled them by developing an understanding of the scope of the problem and coming together to develop sets of rules that eliminate the sources of the problem. It is a big to-do list, but we can use science, creativity, and sheer willpower to once again get things done.
Look into the root causes of our 21st-century environmental challenges and consider the tools we can leverage to bring about a sustainable world.
With few exceptions, many of the world’s modern environmental problems began or were greatly exacerbated by the Industrial Revolution.
Mass production is the application of the principles of specialization, division of labour, and standardization of parts to the manufacture of goods.
Consumption is the use of goods and services by households.
Tragedy of the Commons
The tragedy of the commons highlights the conflict between individual and collective rationality when it comes to the consumption of natural resources.
Common-pool resources are resources made available to all. Some examples are fisheries, forests, and groundwater basins.
Ecological footprint is a measure of the demands made by people on our global natural resources and is one of the most widely used measures of humanity’s effect upon the environment.
Population is the number of inhabitants occupying an area and is continually modified by births, immigrations, deaths, and emigrations.
The Rise of the Machines: Pros and Cons of the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution is the period in which agrarian and handicraft economies shifted rapidly to industrial and machine-manufacturing-dominated ones.
We’re on this planet and in this fight together. Every person needs to contribute to the solution.
Sustainability is the long-term viability of a community, set of social institutions, or societal practice.
Natural Resource Management
Natural resource management is how societies manage the supply of or access to the natural resources they rely on for survival and development.
Environmental policy is designed to prevent or reduce harmful effects of human activities on ecosystems.
A regulation is, in government, a rule or mechanism that limits, steers, or otherwise controls social behaviour.
How Environmental Economics Places Value on the Environment
Economists have long tried to accurately determine the value of environmental goods to society.
Environmental Economics Continued: Other Instruments and Future Directions
Once the market inefficiency relating to a particular environmental good is understood, policy makers can correct for the inefficiency by employing any number of instruments.
Environmental law is the field encompassing the principles, policies, directives, and regulations enacted and enforced by local, national, or international entities to regulate human treatment of the nonhuman world.
The precautionary principle is an approach in policy making that legitimizes the adoption of preventative measures to address potential risks to the public or environment associated with certain activities or policies.
Intergenerational ethics is a branch of ethics that considers if present-day humanity has a moral obligation to future generations to aim for environmental sustainability.
Environmentalism is a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment.
As of 2015
of plastic waste was accumulated
in landfills or the natural environment.
Source: Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R. & Law, K. L., “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made,” Scientific Advances, July 2017.