Top 10 Environmental Issues

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As inhabitants and stewards of the planet, there is a lot we can do and a lot we need to do to maintain the best possible environment for all people to live in for generations to come. But where do the greatest challenges lie?

environmental issuesThe following list includes the 10 biggest environmental issues facing the planet today:

Climate Change—This catch-all includes rising sea levels, changes in rainfall patterns, more severe droughts and floods, harsher hurricanes and other windstorms, and new pathways for disease.

Energy—For big energy users, resource and energy productivity may become a major point of strategic advantage (or disadvantage if they don’t learn to properly utilize future and existing resources).

Water—Companies around the world now face real limits on access to water. A rising population and growing economies are putting substantial stress on resources. Pollution is increasingly a concern.

Biodiversity and Land Use—Biodiversity preserves our food chain and the ecosystems on which all life depends. A key factor in the decline of biodiversity is habitat loss. Many companies face pressure about their contribution to sprawl, yet all humans are guilty of contributing to this problem.

Chemicals, Toxics, and Heavy Metals—Part of what makes air pollution - and all forms of pollution - more dangerous is the presence of toxic elements. The legal liability surrounding toxins can turn out to be virtually unlimited.

Air Pollution—Significant air-quality controls on factories, cars and other emissions sources have radically reduced air pollution levels over the past 30 years in the United States, Japan and Europe. But the air is still not clean in many places.

Waste Management—The EPA estimates that the 1,200 Superfund sites across the country will require about $200 billion to clean up over the next 30 years. Under the liability provisions of the Superfund law, anyone found responsible for the waste at a site can be held liable for the full cost of cleanup, even if the toxins were disposed of legally at the time.

Ozone Layer Depletion—With a thinned ozone layer, the world becomes a more dangerous place, reducing agricultural productivity and increasing the risk of skin cancer and other health problems.

Oceans and Fisheries—More than 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited and beyond sustainability. For those whose livelihoods that depend on fishing, recreation and tourism, the effect of declining fisheries may be severe. Many cultures also serve grave impacts from reduced fisheries.

Deforestation—Every company that uses wood, paper or even cardboard packaging has some stake in, and responsibility for, the state of our forests, both public and private.