"Nature is the basis of our well-being and our prosperity. Biodiversity has declined globally by around 30% between 1970 and 2008; By 60% in the tropics. Demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966 and we are currently using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities. “Business as usual” projections estimate that we will need the equivalent of two planets by 2030 to meet our annual demands. Natural capital – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – must be preserved and, where necessary, restored as the foundation of human economies and societies." ~WWF Living Planet Report 2012
"Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the well-being of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk." ~State of the Planet Declaration
Oceans in Peril
Oceans may seem vast and endless, but human activity is impacting every part of our waters and putting the health of the oceans in jeopardy. From the tiny plankton responsible for 2/3 of all the oxygen we breathe, to the beautiful coral reefs protecting our shorelines, to the singing humpback whales, to the seafood we love, immense swaths of the ocean's creatures are being threatened by rapid and non-discriminating forces. Discover the extent of the damage and what you can do about it!
Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species at rates 1000 to 10,000 times faster than normal. One in four mammals face extinction, along with one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70% of the world's assessed plants. Compared to the natural background rate of one extinction per million species per year, we are now losing 30,000 species per year, or three species per hour. If present trends continue, scientists warn that within a few decades, at least half of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct.
Every national academy of science of every major country in the world agrees. Every professional scientific society in every field related to the field of climate endorses it. 97-98 percent of all scientists that are most active in publishing in the field of climate science agree with it. The consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change. Discover the evidence, scientific consensus and effects of global warming.
Pollution can take many forms: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we use to grow our food, the lit-up skies and even the increasing noise we hear every day all contribute to health problems and a lower quality of life with major disruptions and effects on wildlife and ecosystems. One of the greatest problems that the world is facing today is that of environmental pollution, which is causing grave and irreparable damage to human society and the natural world. A polluted environment is a polluted society - one we created and one only we can renew.
There are many types of waste, including municipal, hazardous, electronic, bio-medical, radioactive, industrial and more. Waste can contaminate surface water, groundwater, soil, and air which causes serious problems for humans, other species and ecosystems. Learn about the problems and solutions associated with landfills, e-waste, incineration and litter.
Every day there are fewer places left that wildlife can call home. Protecting and preserving the habitats that wildlife need in order to survive runs parallel to protecting the future of humanity. We depend directly on natural habitats for essential, irreplaceable ecosystem services and on key species, such as pollinators, for countless needs and benefits, but indirectly on all other species for the simple reason that everything, wild or not, connects. Replacing natural habitats with unnatural habitats that depend on natural habitats, yet destroy them at alarming rates - far faster than they can replenish themselves - is a recipe for disaster. A recipe that can only continue to brew for so long.
Human population is growing at a rate of approximately 78 million people per year with over 7 billion people living on the planet today and estimates reaching between 8 and 11 billion by 2050 and up to 15 billion by 2100. According to Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, "Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be." Human overpopulation is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, such as fresh water, arable land and fossil fuels, at speeds faster than their rate of regeneration.
Intensive farming practices produce more and cheaper food per acre and animal, which has helped feed a booming human population and may prevent surrounding land from being converted into agricultural land, but has grown to become the biggest threat to the global environment through the loss of ecosystem services and global warming and has led to the emergence of new parasites and re-emergence of parasites previously considered to be 'under control' by creating the conditions for parasite growth. Explore the challenges facing our food system, the effects we bear and what we can do about it.
Our global fossil fuel infrastructure and dependence has led to a vast, interconnected web of issues by undermining the stability of Earth's climate, harming the health of countless people around the world, polluting and destroying marine and terrestrial habitats, corrupting politics with dirty energy money, leading to energy insecurity, debt and poverty, blocking a clean energy transition and increasing human rights abuses, war and national security concerns. These true energy costs are not included in consumer utility or gas bills, nor are they paid for by the fossil fuel companies that produce or sell the energy. They are simply and traditionally considered external to the energy pricing system, which masks the true costs of fossil fuels by referring to the effects of their byproducts as 'negative externalities' and allowing society as a whole to pay for them with our health, our polluted environment and the long-term degradation of our economy.
Proponents of nuclear energy, such as the World Nuclear Association, argue that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source which reduces carbon emissions, increases energy security, produces virtually no conventional air pollution and produces base-load power. However, missing from the seemingly perfect solution to modern-day energy problems are the unnecessary and unacceptable risks and costs associated with nuclear power. Nuclear technology will always be vulnerable to natural disasters, human error, design failures and terrorist attacks and is incredibly expensive and inherently unsafe as it can lead to irreparable damage to ecosystems, wildlife, and humans.
Despite massive landscapes and endless blue, our planet is limited in its resources and capabilities to support its inhabitants. According to the Global Footprint Network, "Humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend."