Why Is It Important to Protect the Environment?
Our planet is in peril.
Biodiversity is dropping at an alarming rate, millions of people don't have access to clean water, and fossil fuels are depleting faster. And without a healthy environment, we'll unlikely achieve healthy wildlife, clean water, stable climate conditions, and pure air.
Addressing these environmental threats, recognizing our responsibility to the planet, and doing our part to protect wildlife are essential. Not only will it help our wildlife flourish, but it will also help ensure people lead healthier, happier life.
If you, like us, want to learn actionable tips to solve current threats to our planet and prevent new threats from emerging, look no further. In this practical guide, we'll uncover the top drivers affecting nature and how together we can protect our ecology:
What are the Top Threats to Our Environment?
According to the Living Planet Index reports, the animal population, including birds, fishes, and reptiles, has dropped by 68% since 1970. But that's one of the many effects on our environment.
Here we discuss the top six threats to our environment:
The Global Risks Report 2019 revealed that environmental concerns were gaining more attention than economic issues due to people's increasing and severe risks.
Climate change exacerbates weather events that drive heat waves, drought, floods, storms, rising sea levels, and decreased crop yields. Not just this, it also threatens to disrupt food production, causing famine and worsening poverty. In fact, research reveals that over 9.8 million people worldwide have already had to leave their homes due to the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
With over 971 million people living in high-risk areas with high exposure to climatic hazards, including tornadoes, cyclones, floods, and rising sea levels, we must join hands to eliminate the major contributors of climate change and strive to cope with its impacts.
Despite the World Wildlife Foundation saying over five years ago that forestry was one of the keys to combating climate change, people continue to plunder forests. The FAO of the United Nations notes that forests worldwide have decreased by over 80 million hectares.
Unfortunately, the number is only increasing. In fact, in 2020, the world lost a historic 25.8 million hectares- almost double the number of forests destroyed in 2001! According to experts, the top causes of an unprecedented number of trees being cut down include:
- 90%- Cattle ranchers, soybean farmers, and palm oil plantations
- 10%- paper and wood products manufacture
With over 10 million hectares of forest dying each year, the world is losing biomass, plant species, and the habitats of animals. Moreover, deforestation is also one of the primary drivers of climate change as trees that absorb CO2 continue to decrease.
As deforestation accelerates, our planet loses its biodiversity, making it more vulnerable to environmental hazards. In addition, it impacts food production by contributing to drought and soil erosion. Practical strategies to combat deforestation are critical to reducing oxygen depletion and avoiding wildlife displacement.
The Global Risks Report listed the top risks of air, water, and land pollution. Today, pollution is reaching all types of ecosystems, accelerating climate change and threatening a healthy ecosystem. Pollution accelerated as an unwelcome byproduct of the industrial revolution. While pollution is of various types, such as marine pollution, noise pollution, etc., air, water, and land pose the most significant threats:
The World Health Organization states that over 92% of the world breathes polluted air resulting in 11.6% of global recorded deaths.
Additionally, CO2 levels rose to 410 parts per million from 280 ppm during the last 150 years, and the global surface temperatures hit 1.18o C. As human activities and energy use rise, air quality worsens.
An insightful study shows that 83% of tap water contains microplastics which may accumulate in our food chain, causing the release of toxic chemicals and certain cancers.
Run-off of soil, nutrients, fertilizers, and pesticides from farming and forestry can also destroy wildlife and cause water pollution. Deposition of acid pollutants from the air and leakage of heavy metals in water bodies can release toxins that are dangerous to the oceanic ecosystem and human life.
Without combatting water pollution, it'll continue to destroy biodiversity and harm human health.
Nutrient pollution caused by fertilizers in agricultural farming and domestic usage often ends up in water bodies like the ocean, ponds, and lakes. These fertilizers and washing products contain high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous- both of which cause eutrophication.
As a result, oxygen depletion occurs much faster, fishes suffocate, and human health is at risk. Over 500 dead zones erupted in the oceans due to nutrient pollution and global warming.
As the human population multiplies, our environment bears more stress, and we lose more resources. For instance, as the global population accelerates, more wilderness is cut to make room for infrastructure.
As per the United Nations Population Fund's latest report, the human population rose from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion during the 20th century. During this time, CO2 emissions increased 12 times, thus wreaking havoc on our ecosystems.
Furthermore, the meat-eating habits of the world also impact the environment. We can put the land used to produce grain for cattle to more efficient, eco-friendly use and reduce the methane gas expelled by the livestock by curbing our meat-eating habits.
Wildlife trade comprises the commerce of non-domesticated animals or plants. Typically, people extract the animals/plant from their natural environment and raise them under controlled conditions. The worst part? The wildlife trade might use living or dead animals or several body parts.
According to IPBES, legal wildlife trade increased by 500% between the 1980s and 2005. Legal wildlife has increased, and illegal trafficking is also multiplying. The global illicit trade is worth $7 to 23 billion per year.
Unfortunately, due to inadequate regulation, insufficient governmental efforts, lack of reporting, and the link between poverty and illegal hunting, it's unlikely wildlife trafficking will stop anytime soon. Yet if we don't start fighting the wildlife trade, we might threaten the survival of many vertebrate species.
According to the WWF, soil degradation is one of the top environmental impacts. The leading causes of soil degradation include soil erosion, soil compaction, and the application of agricultural chemicals.
So, how does this occur? In three primary ways:
- Soil erosion can occur due to wind or water when forests and other vegetation lose their protective cover
- Soil compaction happens in areas with over-grazed lands
- Soil destruction occurs due to heavy tillage brought upon by industrial agriculture
Soil degradation can have devastating impacts on wildlife, human life, and the overall environment. Often, the soil loses its fertility and porosity, depriving plants, trees, and crops of the minerals necessary for their growth and survival.
Furthermore, soil erosion reduces the ability of the land to absorb rainfall which drives drought and a decrease in the recharge of groundwater reservoirs, rivers, and hydrology of an area. It also causes the accumulation of excessive quantities of soil, thus polluting the oceanic ecosystem and harming aquatic life.
According to the Guardian, over a third of the global soil is degrading. In addition, it affects 15% of the ice-free land surface, 19% of grassland, and 27% of rangeland. With 430 million of the Earth's area already experiencing irreversible erosion, we must identify viable ways to combat it.
Why Is It Essential to Protect our Environment?
Every day, we aggravate climate change through personal behavior or systematic climate change. But we can quickly become part of the solution.
Before we jump into the solutions, let's discuss why it's critical we take a collective approach to protecting mother nature:
Helps Protect Biodiversity
Today, over 7,000 species of animals and plants worldwide are endangered. Protecting our biodiversity and nature is critical to improving our ecosystem, health, and well-being.
Poverty, global warming, worsening natural disasters, limited access to pure air and water, pesticides and fertilizers accumulating in the fields, crop failures, world hunger- the world is only collecting problems.
Everything in the ecosystems correlates to one another. Thus, protecting the environment is critical to creating instead of destroying livelihoods. It also helps ensure every person has access to clean, hygienic water and essentials.
Prevents Natural Disasters
We've already covered how climate change is accelerating, influencing weather patterns, and causing increased storms, droughts, and floods.
According to the National Graphic, climate-related natural disasters have grown three times since 1980. These catastrophic events can impact the livelihoods of people and affect food security.
Therefore, environmental protection is essential to prevent calamities and ensure people's safety and food availability.
Offers a Way to Give Back to Our Future Generations
You'll feel happier and more satisfied if you focus on giving rather than taking. Taking care of our environment and protecting natural reserves is an excellent way to give to future generations.
Furthermore, protecting our Earth helps make it a better, cleaner, and safer place for everyone. You'll improve the quality of your life by helping others.
Environmental issues often go unnoticed due to economic reasons. But the fact is that the environment plays a crucial role in the success and growth of our economy through direct input and services.
Environmental resources like minerals and fossil fuels facilitate the production of services and goods. Furthermore, the ecological sector experienced a 4% growth during the past few years.
Environmental protection forces people to think about other living beings. It includes animals, plants, and other people.
By having open discussions, learning from one another, paying attention, and spreading awareness, we can improve co-existence and save the ecology.
Protects the Habitats of Animals
As our environment deteriorates, more animals are losing their ecosystems.
Over 680 vertebrate species in the past century went extinct due to human-driven activities. Since the environment is still degrading, millions of animals face extinction.
Taking care of mother nature and protecting the habitats of animals is critical to avoid the disappearance of animals and the destruction of their habitats.
Influences Weather Patterns Positively
Deforestation tends to influence weather patterns. So, growing extensive forests can improve our environment, creating purified air and increasing rain levels.
Access to Clean Groundwater
According to the Forest Service, up to 20% of our drinking water originates from forests.
In forests, rain and moisture convert into groundwater. From here, we collect the fresh water and use it for drinking.
Increased emissions of acids and heavy metals in our water bodies can risk the environment and human health. On the contrary, reducing harmful gases can improve the quality of groundwater.
Helps in Keeping Dirt In Its Place
A forest's root network is key to stabilizing soil and protecting the entire ecosystem against erosion by wind and water.
But deforestation can disrupt the stability of the forest and can trigger new natural disasters, such as landslides and dust storms.
Reducing deforestation can reduce the threat of soil degradation, which, in turn, keeps the forest safe and animals' habitats growing.
Reflects Your Personality
Your behavior with others reflects on your personality, and how you treat the environment shows who you are inside.
A kind-hearted, caring person will treat the environment responsibly. So, respecting mother nature and caring for the Earth will shine your personality.
It's Smart and Fun!
If you're still wondering, "why should I protect the environment?" The answer is simple: it's the right thing to do.
People who value nature show that they understand the importance of caring for the environment for our future. It also showcases your respect for the environment and your moral values.
The best part? Being environmentally friendly can be fun! It's a continuous process of developing, learning, and growing as a person to improve your environment.
From avoiding plastic to choosing to cycle to work, being eco-friendly is not as hard as people think!
What Efforts is the Federal Government Making to Protect the Environment?
It takes less than two minutes of research to discover that the pollution problem is so big that we can't solve it unless we all start working collectively.
Since anthropogenic activity is the leading cause of accelerated climate change, it only makes sense for the Government to introduce policies and regulations. Let's discuss in-depth how the Government, NGOs, and the U.N. are protecting the ecology:
Government's Role in Taking Care of the Environment
Today, the Federal Government is becoming more involved in advocating for legislation and policies that help protect the environment.
During the Obama administration, the Government proactively encouraged people to switch to eco-friendly consumption habits to slow the release of greenhouse gases.
Here are several areas the Government started working to combat climate change:
- Combating Pollution and Reducing Industrial Waste- The Government introduced regulations regarding how energy-producing companies harvest and spread the energy
- Introducing Renewable Energy- The U.S.'s solar generation increased by twenty-fold, and wind energy tripled in 2008. Focusing on renewable energy can reduce fossil fuel consumption and slow climate change
- Helping Small Producers in the Agricultural Industry- Local producers are increasingly using sustainable practices in food production and manufacturing to protect the ecology
- Restoring the Ecosystems- Governments are doing their part in protecting the forests, rivers, oceans, and wetlands
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA plays a prominent role in protecting our ecology by carrying out various functions. Its primary responsibilities include:
- Environmental licensing
- Environmental planning, education, and guidance
- Environmental research development
- Enforcement of environmental law
- Monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on the environment
- Radiological protection
- Regulating Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions
- Strategic environmental assessment
- Waste management
The EPA carries out its responsibilities in different countries worldwide. That way, it protects the environment, secures people from environmental hazards, and leads safe and secure lives.
World Wildlife Fund
WWF works on global and local levels to protect the ecology, save the habitat of animals, and work towards adapting to a changing climate.
The WWF aims to safeguard nature and protect people's livelihood through policy work, advocacy, grass-roots actions, and capacity building. The World Wildlife Fund acts to:
- Conserve the world's biodiversity
- Ensure that the use of sustainable renewable natural resources
- Reduce pollution and wasteful consumption
Are Governments Doing too Little to Protect the Environment?
Most U.S. citizens believe that the Federal Government is not making enough efforts to protect the critical aspects of the environment. Moreover, 67% of people say that th Government is doing too little to combat the impacts of climate change.
Luckily, there are several simple ways municipalities can introduce eco-friendly changes:
- Encouraging Environmentally-Friendly Employee Practices- Companies can coach employees to save energy by encouraging them to switch off lights and fans when not in need, turn off computers and printers at the end of the day, and delay turning on lights during the day
- Introducing Eco-Friendly Changes in Local Government Facilities- Encourage your local facilities to replace plastic and paper use, optimize the use of natural sunlight, and teach healthier eating habits
- Utilize Software Solutions to Reduce the Local Government Carbon Footprint- Go beyond reducing paper waste and plastic use by making your office paperless. Not only will your office become efficient, but it'll also be more eco-friendly
What Ways Can You Help Protect the Environment?It's true; a single person can make a difference. You can also protect the environment by doing things as simple as:
- Replacing plastic and polythene bags with a reusable one
- Practicing safety measures and encouraging your friends and family to do the same
- Using fewer chemical irritants
- Taking energy-efficient measures to cut CO2 emissions and water vapor release
- Planting more trees to combat oxygen depletion and more
- Reducing the use of artificial fertilizers or reusing them to prevent rainwater or soil run-off from contaminating water bodies
Let's discuss several ways you can protect the environment in-depth:
Curbing consumption is a straightforward yet effective way of protecting our environment.
The three "R's" garner a lot of attention, but mother nature could use a little focus on the underrepresented and critical "R"- refuse.
So, learn to say no to freebies at events, cheap and unstainable goods on clearance, new plastic toys, and the latest tech that promises to destroy the environment, one purchase at a time.
Instead of storing items you don't need, focus on purchasing sustainable and valuable products. That way, you won't just protect the environment but also cut costs.
Protecting the environment isn't a one-day task; it requires hard work, small steps, and continuous efforts.
Make your contribution by creating a campaign that matches your ideals and showcases your desire to protect the environment. BillionActs.org empowers young people worldwide to amplify their impacts and hit their green goals by becoming a part of a network that truly cares.
One of our ten issue areas is protecting the environment, and with the help of Nobel Peace Prize winners and the youth, we're confident we can create viable solutions. Through collective action, Billion Acts is aiding people in playing their role in safeguarding the ecology.
Learn About the Issues and Spread Awareness
Gaining knowledge about our planet's problems and actionable ways to solve them will inspire you to make a change. Read articles, watch conferences, and attend events to learn more about the issues and how people worldwide are making a difference.
After that, you can work or volunteer for organizations that reverse the impacts of climate change. Or, you can make a powerful impact by donating.
Another thing you can try is calling your local representative and urging them to introduce green policies and protect natural resources.
The Bottom Line: Recognizing Our Social Responsibility toward Mother Nature
Katherine Hayhoe (an atmospheric scientist) famously said, "A thermometer is not liberal or conservative." So, sometimes we must put our personal differences aside to think about the greater good.
Our environment is deteriorating, and it's happening much faster now. If we genuinely want to protect the Earth for future generations and eliminate the threat of animal extinction, we must tap into our compassionate selves.
Play your role in taking care of the Earth by helping reduce your carbon footprint by driving less, choosing sustainable food, volunteering in community cleanups, and using energy-efficient light bulbs.