Of the problems plaguing our planet, which is the most serious? I’ve been doing some reading on this. Until I started digging in, I thought no one was talking about the environment. Turns out, if you do a bit of hunting around online, and “like” some pages on Facebook, there’s quite a lot of talk about the environment. Too much, almost. It’s challenging to sort through.
Based on my unscientific, look-til-your-eyes-glaze over, review of dozens on results of internet searches of “top environmental problems”, I can tell you that common top picks include overpopulation, global warming, water pollution, air pollution, lots of species going extinct, sea level rise, fracking, ocean acidification, deforestation, and melting glaciers. And then there are the ones you never heard of, like microfibers coming off our fleece jackets being the biggest source of plastic in the oceans.
I could read on forever – and in some ways feel like I already have. But I’m going to put a stake in the ground here and try on the assumption that climate change is the biggest problem.
And when I say biggest, I mean the one that most threatens human existence.
NASA has a pretty compelling website on climate change. It acknowledges that some climate change happens naturally, due to the earth’s wobble, changes in the sun, and volcanoes erupting. But, NASA says there’s a scientific consensus that since around 1950, climate change has been happening at a rate much faster than can be explained by natural causes. Human activity (mainly using fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases) has drastically accelerated the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and that causes climate change.
Climate change is a pretty solid bet as the biggest problem facing Earth. That’s partly because with climate change come a lot of freebies like rising sea levels; ocean acidification; glacial melt; extreme weather like droughts, heatwaves, floods and storms; disease and illness; and general messing with ecosystems, as the weather changes too quickly for species to adapt.
But could climate change get so bad that it could actually cause human extinction? I haven’t yet found a reliable source for that (but have found many unreliable ones). Stay tuned.