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Environmental issues

Climate change is an intricate and contrasted process, with many interlinked factors at play. Some of these factors require more urgent action than others, if we wish to limit the negative impacts on our environment. The impacts are seen throughout the world, with the consequences felt at every level of our societies. This makes it a global responsibility.

We have to go back more than 4 million years, to see carbon dioxide levels as high as they are currently. Global temperatures have been rising gradually over the past few decades, as a consequence of increased greenhouse gas emissions. This is resulting in catastrophic events around the world, including some of the most destructive bushfire seasons ever recorded in Australia and the US, locust swarms that are decimating crops in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and a heatwave in Antarctica that saw temperatures surpass 20 degrees for the first time. Scientists are continuously stating that the globe has crossed a number of tipping points that could have disastrous effects, such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the advancement of permafrost melting in Arctic region, as well as an acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

In the past 50 years, there has been a tremendous increase in human consumption, population, trade, and urbanization, which has led to a greater use of Earth's resources than it can sustainably replace. According to a recent WWF analysis, between 1970 and 2016, the population sizes of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians decreased by an average of 68 %. The research attributed this decline in biodiversity to a number of causes, but mostly land-use change, particularly the turning of habitats like forests, grasslands, and mangroves into agricultural land. The illegal trading of wildlife also has a huge impact on animals, including pangolins, sharks, and seahorses. As a result, pangolins are in grave risk of extinction. The sixth mass extinction of animals on Earth is increasing, according to a recent report. In the next 20 years, it is possible that more than 500 terrestrial animal species—the same number that vanished over the previous century—will become extinct.

In 1950, the annual global production of plastic was above 2 million tons. This annual production increased to 419 million tons by 2015. According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature, each year 14 million tons of plastic enter the oceans, affecting both the habitats of wildlife and the animals that dwell there. According to the study, the plastic catastrophe will reach 29 million metric tons annually by 2040 if nothing is done. By 2040, the total amount of plastic in the ocean might be 600 million tons if we factor in micro-plastics. Surprisingly, 91% of the plastic that has ever been produced is not recycled, making this one of the major environmental issues of today. There is no doubt that the environment is suffering gravely from our actions, and that change is needed urgently. The issues raised above are not an exhaustive list - there are numerous other obstacles that we must tackle together in the coming years.

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