Global Environmental Issues
Deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change are global environmental issues relevant to agriculture, aquaculture, animals, and/or brain puzzles. The requested information about the issues is presented below.
- Deforestation refers to clearing of green vegetation to create more land for residential, industrial, or commercial use. Today, forests make approximately 30% of the global land area, but the percentage is shrinking fast due to deforestation. According to World Bank, between 1990 and 2016, 52,200 square miles equivalent to 1.3 million square kilometers of forest were cleared.
- In 2017, 15.8 million hectares of forest cover was lost. Since deforestation started, humans have cleared 46% of global trees. Over the past 50 years, 17% of Amazon rainforest has been destroyed.
- Deforestation removes the vegetation that holds the soil together. Without the vegetation, soil is left vulnerable to nutrient loss due to sun’s heat.
- Absence of roots makes the topsoil loose and susceptible to being blown or washed away, leading to lower soil quality and more landslides. The overall effect is loss of quality arable land and decreased agricultural output. Deforestation also causes reduced rainfall and prolonged drought conditions, thus adversely affecting agricultural activities
- Forests are home to many animals found on earth, especially wild animals. Thus, deforestation directly leads to habitat loss. It also affects food availability, breeding habitat, and shelter for wild animals.
- Habitat loss is also the leading cause of human-wildlife conflicts.
- Forests also help people to live and survive by purifying water and air. They also provide employment opportunities with over 13.2 million people across the globe deriving their livelihood from the forest sector. Another 41 million hold a job that is linked to the sector.
- Thus, loss of forest cover due to deforestation affects job availability.
Loss of Biodiversity
- Today, loss of diversity or extinction of various species is a major global environmental issue facing animals and aquaculture. Scientists observe that biodiversity is experiencing an unparalleled decline in the mankind’s history.
- According to the available data by WWF Living Planet Index, global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and reptiles have reduced by an average of 60% between 1970 and 2014. One million species are also facing a risk of extinction. The driving forces behind the decline are pollution, changes in the uses of sea and land, and invasive species.
- Another report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem (IPBES) released in 2019 indicated that 40% of amphibians, 10% of insects, and a third of all marine mammals are under threat. The chief of diversity in the United Nations observes that biodiversity loss is a silent killer.
- Reduced genetic diversity affects crop yields negatively. Loss of soil biodiversity renders soil less robust and hinders its capability to support agricultural activities. The ability of agricultural systems to adapt to changes in the environment is hinged on maintaining diversity in crops, cropping systems, and animal breeds.
- Less biodiversity also makes plants to be more susceptible to diseases and pests, thus affecting crop yields. Moreover, loss of diversity for agriculture jeopardizes nutrition and food security.
- Loss of biodiversity has major ramifications for humanity, including collapse of health and food systems. Considering that human health is dependent on food production, reduced food availability affects human health. Humans are also exposed to toxic pollutants because of continued use of agrochemicals to boost crop yields of the few food plant species left after loss of diversity.
- Availability of plant-based drugs is also affected by loss of biodiversity. With 60% of the global population relying on such drugs, especially people from low socioeconomic status, loss of biodiversity emerges as a key threat to human health.
- Climate change is among the most threatening and pervasive issues in the world today. It has a massive impact on where people live, practice agriculture, and build cities.
- In World Economic Forum's annual meeting held in Davos this year, climate change was the major theme. According to UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, climate change is the key threat of our time. Scientists reiterate the need to address climate change urgently because the world is close to numerous tipping points, which could hasten global warming.
- Various stakeholders, including the United Nations and the wider international community, are pushing for communities, countries, and the private sector to come up with measure that address the various causes of climate change, such as greenhouse gases emissions.
- Climate change has a direct effect on various animal species such as the polar bear that entirely rely on sea-ice environment for their survival. With sea ice melting due to climate change, survival of polar bears is at risk. Climate change also causes variations in temperatures, thus affecting the reproduction cycle of some animals such as turtles.
- Other affected animals include the endangered species such as tiger, giant panda, Asian elephants, mountain gorilla, and African elephants, among others.
- Climate change also affects human health by interfering with safe drinking water, clean air, and secure accommodation. According to World Health Organization, climate change is projected to cause 250,000 deaths between 2030 and 2050.
- Climate change affects aquaculture by causing changes in temperatures in both air and water. It also alters oceanographic conditions such as waves, wind speed, and currents. Extreme weather conditions caused by climate change subject various animals such as shellfish to psychological stress, thus interfering with their growth and development.