Enviro Echo - The Voice of the Environment

Enviro Echo provides the best articles, advice, guides and tips on the Environment.

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Major Environmental Problems Facing Planet Water


Life on our planet depends on water and its name should be Planet Water because 70% of its surface is covered by liquid water. Water is a vital commodity and it is likely that major wars will occur in the fight for limited resources. Climate change has posed an extra threat on water supplies. Water pollution and the contamination of surface and ground waters exasperbates the problem,

Climate Change

Pouring huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the oceans has triggered a green house effect. The resulting climate change poses a major threat to Planet water via changes in climate and rising sea levels. The problem poses a huge challenge because it requires global action on a monumental scale meaning that major fossil fuel resources should remain in the ground. There is a sense that it is already too late and the emphasis has shifted to adaptation rather than containment. Reversal of the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already a pipe dream.


The destruction of forests has huge impacts for climate change and biodiversity. This especially applies to tropical rainforests which are being cleared at alarming rates. The rend is probably not reversible. About 30% of the planet's land area is covered by forests - which is about half as much as there was originally before agriculture began in earnest about 11,000 years ago. It is estimated that about 7 million hectares (20 million acres) of forest are destroyed each year, mostly in the tropics.

Loss of Biodiversity and Species Extinction

The IUCN's Red List of endangered and threatened species continues to grow alarmingly even in the well developed rich countries. The planet's species deserve to exist and be conserved. Biodiversity is also very important for the survival of the planet because of the products and "services" they provide for humans tin terms of genetic diversity, drugs and useful chemicals and by products.

Erosion and Soil Degradation

About 20 million hectares of arable farmland gets seriously degraded or lost a year. The planet can ill afford to lose this land due to overpopulation and the threat of famine and malnutrition that is becoming widespread.


The rate of growth of the population has not slowed significantly, despite the recognition that the population is unsustainable now and in the future. At the start of the 20th century there were about 1.6 billion people. By 2050 there will be a 5 fold increase to about 10 billion by 2050. This is placing extra pressure on essential natural resources such as water, food supply, pollution, health care and social infrastructure via the growing refugee problems.

Pollution of Air, Water and Soil

The scare resources and environmental health of the planet are threatened by pollution which continues to grow alarmingly.

Waste Disposal

Over consumption of resources has a sting in its tale through the impact of waste. There is a global crisis developing from plastics in the ocean and in land disposal area. Waste has major climate change and pollution implications.

Sea Level Rise

The projected rise in sea levels is very alarming. Many low lying areas are already uninhabitable. The melting of the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic will mean that many coastal areas will be lost. There are major social issues developing for both rich and poor nations throughout the world.

Ocean Acidification and Acid Rain

The ocean acidity is predicted to increase by 150% by 2100. This has major implications for the oceanic ecosystem as it affects plankton an the productivity of the oceans. There are also major links with climate change. Acid rain continues the degrade soils and threatens biodiversity.

Genetic Engineering

While genetic modification of food producing plants and animals has increased yields there are huge dangers if thing go wrong. This could see the development of rogue weeds and pests and major health issues.

Global Health and Pandemics

The mobility of humans around the globe means that diseases can potentially spread far and wide during the incubation period. The carriers of disease such as mosquitoes are also very mobile and can be spread rapidity via the vast and fast transport systems that have developed world-wide. The problem is d exacerbated by the alarming decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics through wasteful and inappropriate over-use.