Environmental Challenges

Environmental Challenges

Environmental Challenges Jonathan Poland

Environmental issues are detrimental changes to the Earth’s natural surroundings that negatively impact the current quality of life for individuals and potentially jeopardize the long-term sustainability of communities, societies, and even life itself. The following are common examples of environmental problems.

  • Acid Rain
  • Agricultural Runoff
  • Air Pollution
  • Bioaccumulation of Pollution
  • Biodiversity Loss
  • Chemical Spills
  • Construction Emissions
  • Coral Bleaching
  • Cruise Ship Emissions
  • Deforestation
  • Desertification
  • Electromagnetic Pollution
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Impact of War
  • Extinction
  • Food Quality
  • Global Dimming
  • Global Warming
  • Habitat Destruction
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Herbicide Pollution
  • Illegal Dumping
  • Incinerator Pollution
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Invasive Species
  • Land Degradation
  • Marine Debris
  • Medical Waste
  • Microplastic Pollution
  • Mining Runoff
  • Nanomaterial Pollution
  • Noise Pollution
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Oil Spills
  • Ozone Depletion Persistent
  • Organic Pollutants
  • Pesticide Pollution
  • Radioactive Waste
  • Resource Overexploitation
  • Shipping Emissions
  • Soil Pollution
  • Space Junk
  • Toxic Waste
  • Unsustainable Fishing Practices
  • Urban Heat Island
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Water Pollution

Cause & Effect

Environmental problems are defined according to their impact on the environment or people. For example, consumerism is arguably a root cause of pollution but isn’t an environmental problem itself.

Problems & Risks

Beyond current problems, there are environmental risks that represent possible future problems. For example, the risk of nuclear war.


Solutions to environmental problems generally require systems thinking whereby you consider possible unintended consequences. For example, solutions that directly address the root cause of a problem such as producing vehicles with zero or low emissions that are required to be efficiently recycled or reused at the end of their life.

People, Planet & Profits

People, planet & profits is the principle that solutions to environmental problems not make things worse for people or the economy. This defeats the false dichotomies of environment vs people or environment vs economy. This can also be viewed as pragmatic realism that recognizes that environmental action that is hostile to people and their goals it is unlikely to succeed. For example, green infrastructure projects that provide jobs and solve environmental problems at the same time.

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