From water pollution to global warming, environmental issues affect every person, animal, community, and nation on the planet. As increasing evidence supports the devastating effect humans have on the environment, more people are taking steps to protect the environment and educate others about environmental problems by looking at the top 30 environmental concerns.
Top 5 Public Concerns
According to a series of Gallup pollsconducted between 1997 and 2008, Americans are most concerned about the following five environmental issues:
1. Contamination of Drinking Water: Contamination of fresh water used for household needs, including pollution of oceans, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, ranks top on the list of environmental concerns for many Americans. More than half of respondents stated they worry about the safety of their drinking water a great deal.
2. Water Pollution: General worry over water pollution and associated environmental issues greatly concerns half of all Americans who participated in the 2008 poll. Related issues include acid rain, ocean dumping, urban runoff, oil spills, ocean acidification, and wastewater.
3. Soil Contamination: Soil erosion, soil conservation, soil salination, and soil contamination by waste, pesticides, and lead worries 50 percent of Americans.
4. Wildlife Conservation: More than 40 percent of Americans expressed concern about wildlife conservation and associated environmental issues, such as endangered species, animal and plant extinction, coral bleaching, introduction of invasive species, poaching, and loss of natural animal habitats resulting in relocation and a break in the food chain.
5. Air pollution: Concerns over air pollution have remained steady over the last decade, with more than 40 percent of Americans worried about indoor and outdoor air quality, carbon emissions, tropospheric ozone, particulate matter, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, radon, refrigerants, and methane emissions.
Other Top Concerns (in Alphabetical Order)
6. Biological pollutants, including bacteria, viruses, molds, mildew, dander, dust, mites, pollen, ventilation and infection.
7. Carbon footprint and the responsibility of individuals to reduce their effect on the environment, including the use of renewable energy sources (solar power, geothermal heat pumps), recycling, and sustainable living.
8. Climate change and issues related to global warming, such as the greenhouse effect, global dimming, and the gradual rise in sea level.
9. Consumerism and over-consumption and their effect on the planet.
10. Dams and the impact of dams on the environment.
11. Ecosystem destruction and associated environmental concerns, such as aquaculture, estuaries, shellfish protection, landscaping, wetlands, and ecological restoration.
12. Energy conservation issues, including renewable energy for home and business, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel depletion.
13. Fishing and its effect on marine ecosystems, blast fishing, cyanide fishing, bottom trawling, whaling, and over-fishing.
14. Food safety concerns and the effects of hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, toxic contamination, and lack of quality control on health.
15. Genetic engineering, including concerns about genetically modified foods and genetic pollution.
16. Intensive farming, irrigation, overgrazing, monoculture, methane emissions, and the damaging environmental effects of deforestation for farming and cattle.
17. Land degradation and related problems, such as desertification and soil and land pollution.
18. Land use, urban sprawl, lack of free space, and habitat destruction and fragmentation.
19. Logging, deforestation, clear-cutting, destruction of wildlife habitats, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
20. Mining and its role in global warming, acid mine drainage, and soil and air pollution resulting from toxic emissions and heavy metals.
21. Nanotechnology and the future effects of nanopollution and nanotoxicology.
22. Natural disasters and their impact on all aspects of the environment.
23. Nuclear issues, including the effects of nuclear fallout, nuclear meltdown, radioactive waste, and the population's reliance on nuclear power.
24. Other pollution issues, such as light pollution and noise pollution, and their effects on human health and behavior.
25. Overpopulation concerns, such as continued building and burial.
26. Ozone depletion and damage to the Earth's ozone layer caused by CFC.
27. Resource depletion, the need for newer, cleaner energy sources, and exploitation of natural resources.
28. Sustainable communities and issues such as reducing reliance on fossil fuels, supporting local farmers and merchants, encouraging green practices and building, consideration of native wildlife, and adoption of mass transportation and cleaner methods of commuting.
29. Toxins, including chlorofluorocarbons, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, toxic waste, PCB, DDT, bioaccumulation, endocrine disruptors, asbestos, and poorly implemented hazardous waste management.
30. Waste and associated environmental issues, such as litter, landfills, recycling, incineration, marine debris, E-waste, and contamination of water and soil caused by improper disposal and leaching toxins.
Turning Concern into Action
Environmental protection and preservation of the planet is the responsibility of every individual and community on Earth. If you share any of the above top 30 environmental concerns, you must take action to reduce your personal and household impact on the planet and to educate other members of your community on environmental issues.
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers a host of valuable information on environmental issues, solutions, and research.
Author: Sandra Ketcham