ARE OUR TOP 10 ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS?
do your favorite politicians running for national office consider to
be the major environmental problems that face our country? What? They
have not mentioned the environment?
be a bit of an overstatement because a few mentions have been made here
and there about the EPA, climate change and national parks. But overall,
most of the rhetoric seems directed, or misdirected, toward other issues.
With the November elections closing in on us, a reasonable request to
candidates would be for them to declare their position on an issue that
affects us all: a healthy environment in our country and the world.
lists are appealing, from top 10 books to top 10 YouTube videos to top
10 news items you are not looking forward to hearing about this month,
which for me would include political ads and finding out whether Johnny
Manziel is behaving himself.
10 environmental problems in order of increasing importance:
pollution. Uncontrolled releases by industry plus the excessive use
of fossil fuels have led to acid rain, dissolution of the ozone layer,
smog and the general elimination of "clean air."
plants and animals. The troubles caused by fire ants across the southern
United States and Burmese pythons in the Everglades, as well as many
other regional environmental problems, have a human origin related to
the introduction of exotic species.
climate change. This has become such a volatile issue that debates between
advocates and disbelievers about potential impacts and solutions are
seldom productive, with disputes even extending to the semantics of
whether we should call it "global warming" or "global
climate change." In any case, numerous credible scientific studies
have documented human-caused changes in recent decades.
of marine habitats. The oceans are huge, but overharvesting and the
degradation of marine environments are proceeding at an alarmingly steady
rate around the world, including a commercially extinct codfish industry
and disappearing coral reefs along our coasts.
agriculture. Humankind is dependent on food production, yet agricultural
siltation, pesticide runoffs and loss of natural habitats are constant
threats to a healthy environment.
of disease. Zika and Ebola viruses are examples of how we can be affected
by unseen enemies.
quality and quantity. Sewage from cities, unregulated releases from
industrial and agricultural sites, and dumping of wastes in the oceans
collectively exacerbate the worldwide problem of water pollution. Water
wars are now a reality in the western states and even in the wetter
Southeast, as evidenced by court cases involving Alabama, Georgia and
loss, fragmentation and degradation. The loss of natural habitats from
human development and deforestation is a major cause of the decline
in biodiversity nationally and globally. Many species are on an inexorable
path toward extinction because their native habitats are gone or despoiled.
overpopulation. Unchecked human population growth leads to overconsumption
and associated world poverty. Many people would rank overpopulation
as the No. 1 cause of our other environmental problems. Virtually every
problem above can be traced back to having too many people for the resources
available. Until political and religious leaders have the courage to
address birth control on a global scale, most of our environmental problems
will continue to worsen.
apathy. I consider this the No. 1 reason the other nine environmental
problems listed here are not being properly addressed. World leaders
seldom acknowledge, let alone propose solutions to, environmental problems.
For those leaders around the world chosen by a democratic election process,
voters are not just condoning such apathy, they are participating in
you consider to be the top 10 environmental problems facing the United
States and the world? Getting politicians to take a stand might be overly
optimistic, but one thing is certain, until we overcome apathy, we will
never overcome our environmental problems.
you have an environmental question or comment, email