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Information on the causes and effects of air pollution. This includes pollution from CFCs, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury.
There are various issues involved in the long-term change in the distribution of weather patterns that is known as climate change. These include man made climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion, efficient energy use, fossil fuels and their phase-out in favour of renewable energy sources.
Biodiversity can be defined as a measure of the comparative diversity among organisms present in a particular ecosystem, biome or planet. However, biodiversity can also be described as the quantity of an environment’s species, genes and ecosystems.
The conservation movement aims to protect natural resources such as animal and plant species and their habitats. Conservation is a fairly broad term and can be almost interchangeable with the idea of environmentalism or the environmental movement as a whole - it is safe to assume that all environmentalists want to conserve the natural environment.
Underwater coral reefs are created when corals, which are colonies of tiny living animals, secrete calcium carbonate. Despite being found in waters that provide hardly any nutrients, coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse, albeit fragile ecosystems, being particularly sensitive to water temperature.
Pollution, human population growth, our quest for natural resources and agricultural land is devastating forests worldwide. The most serious deforestation issue is tropical rainforest decimation with loss of habitat and biodiversity.
Desertification is the process by which habitable and fertile land turns into desert. Desertification can occur as a result of both destructive use of the land by humans and variations in climate, with possible causes including drought, deforestation and overgrazing.
An ecosystem is an integrated biological environment that consists of all of the species that live in a particular habitat. It also includes the non-living, physical components and processes of that environment that the organisms are affected by and interact with, including air, sunlight, soil and water.
An endangered species is one that is at risk of extinction. This could be due to insufficient numbers of that species remaining in order to reproduce enough offspring to ensure its survival, while changing predation or environmental parameters can also pose a threat to particular organisms.
Issues exist regarding the generation and use of energy, including the environmental impact of energy sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear power, wind power, solar power and biomass. Related major energy issues include national energy policies, reliance on foreign energy sources and poorer countries’ energy needs.
There are various environmental issues that are pertinent to businesses. These include energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, planning for the impacts of climate change, environmental permitting, the threat to businesses and their critical infrastructure from rising sea levels and flooding and water regulations.
Environmental disasters are disasters caused to the natural environment by human activity. Environmental disasters caused by industrial activity, agriculture, pollution or the depletion of natural resources can have a significant impact on a region’s biodiversity, agriculture and economy, often leading to the deaths of animals and plants.
Environmental health is an area of public health that concerns the health effects on humans of aspects of the natural and built environment. Issues in environmental health include indoor and outdoor air quality, food safety, noise pollution control, safe drinking water and housing.
Environmental organisations aim to analyse, monitor or protect the environment in case of its degradation or misuse, or to lobby on environmental issues. Environmental organisations can be charities, trusts, governmental or non-governmental, and may operate on a local, regional, national or global basis.
Extreme weather is the term used to describe historically extreme weather conditions. It is often unseasonal, and can come in such forms as heat waves, cold waves, floods, wildfires, cyclones or tornadoes, with a given event being determined as extreme on the basis of its climatological distribution.
Fishing is the activity of catching or attempting to catch fish. The long-term sustainability of present levels of fishing has been questioned in recent years due to issues like overfishing, bycatch, fishing discards due to Government quotas and guidelines, climate change, marine pollution and fish farming.
Food and water security can be defined as the availability to a population of a sufficient quantity and quality of nutritious food and potable water. To be food-secure and water-secure means living neither in hunger or thirst, nor in fear of starvation or severe dehydration.
Genetic engineering involves the deliberate and somewhat unnatural manipulation by humans of an organism’s genetic structure. This modification results in changes in the affected organism’s characteristics, with one of the most controversial and best-known applications of genetic engineering being genetically modified food.
Details of the effects and consequences that global warming has on planet Earth. These consequences may become unmanageable if action for dealing with global warming continues to be delayed.
Habitat loss and degradation involve a natural habitat being rendered functionally unable to support a present species. This process leads to a reduction in biodiversity due to the tendency for the species for which a given site was a natural habitat to be displaced or destroyed.
Is hydraulic fracturing an energy revolution and solution to our increasing energy needs or a potentially serious environmental issue that will cause more problems than it solves? Hydrofracking has been linked to earthquakes and water supply contamination but what exactly is the process involved with fracking and shale gas extraction?
Mass extinction can be defined as a sudden decrease in the total number of species in a comparatively short time period. There have been five mass extinction events in the last 540 million years that involved the deaths of more than half of all animal species.
Natural disasters are disasters caused by natural hazards such as floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides or tornados. Natural disasters involve substantial physical damage, injuries and/or loss of life, and occur when natural hazards meet the vulnerability of the affected population.
There are various environmental issues that concern nuclear power. Although nuclear energy provides environmental benefits, for example in the form of zero carbon dioxide emissions and no notable nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides or particulates, its spent fuel is radioactive and can still cause environmental damage.
Oceans are very large bodies of saline water that are principal parts of the hydrosphere. Along with smaller seas, oceans make up the continuous body of water that is known as the World Ocean. See below for our guide to the environmental issues associated with oceans and the marine life who inhabit them.
Decreasing pH levels in the oceans caused by increased carbon dioxide levels are making oceans more acidic. This acidification process has numerous consequences on marine ecosystems and marine life.
The ozone layer protects the Earth from harmful UV radiation. There are holes in this essential barrier, one above the Arctic and the other above the Antarctic caused by human activity polluting the atmosphere.
Pollution is the process by which harmful substances or products are introduced into the natural environment. Pollution, which can come in the form of chemical substances or energy such as heat, noise or light, causes disorder and instability to ecosystems.
Rainforests are defined as forests that experience heavy annual rainfall. Rainforests are referred to as such if they receive a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm (68-78 inches), and are generally found close to the sea or in the mountainous regions that receive the most rain.
Recycling can be defined as making used or waste materials suitable for reuse by processing them into new products. Compared to virgin production, recycling allows for a reduction in energy usage, air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable energy is energy that is derived from naturally replenished, or renewable, natural resources such as wind, rain, ocean tides or sunlight (renewables). Sources of renewable energy, which is also referred to as soft energy, include both traditional and new renewables such as geothermal, modern biomass and biofuels.
Sustainable transport or ‘green transport’ can be defined as a method of transport that has a low environmental impact. Obvious examples of sustainable transport include walking and cycling. Other sustainable transportation methods are green vehicles such as hybrid cars or electric vehicles, car pooling or sharing, transit oriented deve...
There are various issues associated with the management of waste, including in its processing, collection, transport, disposal, recycling and monitoring. Major waste issues include rubbish collections, the use of plastic carrier bags, the amount of waste sent to landfill, electronic or e-waste and the management of hazardous or toxic waste.
Information about the largest animal that has ever lived, the magnificent blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) - including photos and video of blue whales swimming in the wild. Sadly, the blue whale is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information and facts about the komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) - includes some fabulous photos of the komodo in the wild, a close up of the venomous mouth and video of how the komodo hunts and kills prey much larger than itself. Komodo dragons are currently classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information about the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) - includes some excellent photos and video of whale sharks swimming in the wild. The whale shark is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information about the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) - including facts, some photos showing how they dive and video of sperm whales swimming. Sperm whales are currently classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information about the largest of the dolphin species, the killer whale (Orca or Orcinus orca) - including photos of a killer whales swimming and breaching in the wild. There is currently insufficient data to classify the killer whale on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information about the humpback whale species (Megaptera novaeangliae) - including some excellent photos of a humpback breaching, several feeding whales, a mother and calf swimming in the wild plus a video of humpback feeding behaviour. The humpback is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Information on the tiger species (Panthera tigris). One of the biggest carnivores on land and a formidable predator, the tiger can leap up to 10m.
Information and facts about the manta ray (Manta birostris) - including photos of mantas swimming and feeding. Currently classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, mantas are facing increasing danger by demand for their fins and gill rakers from Asia.
Overfishing is a serious environmental issue and is essentially catching too many fish. This depletes the adult fish population and does not leave enough fish to breed and restock their numbers so that they can be sustainable.
The Earth Times aims to provide you with current environmental news coverage and green blogs to give you the background information needed to better understand what can sometimes be enormously complicated and controversial environmental issues.
Our encyclopaedia or guide to environmental issues and to some extent environmental concerns, is a relatively new addition to the site that we hope will give you the knowledge to understand these global environmental issues in the rapidly changing world around you.
Written to be understandable, without the need to hold a degree in climate change science on the effects of global warming, biology or ecology, The Earth Times Encyclopaedia tries to make sense of these environmental problems, conservation topics and environmental issues that more and more people are becoming engaged and familiar with as they try to make a difference to our planet.
From untangling climate change to helping you find an environmental organization you can be happy supporting we do hope you find The Earth Times Encyclopaedia on environmental issues a useful resource to highlight environmental sustainability for a greener life.
We will be constantly adding to the contents of the encyclopaedia and hope it will complement our environment news when covering any issue relating to nature and the environment. If you do have any suggestions on environment related topics you would like to see added, we would love to hear from you.
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