There’s little doubt that you have heard that the environment is in dire straits. Whether you believe the information that you’ve heard or read, the truth is this: The world that surrounds us is not what it was even 20 short years ago. From the Alaskan pipeline to the energy crisis, there are environmental issues that give rise to some very large conflicts among groups of people. Here are five of the hot topics on the table right now:
There are national laws in place across much of the globe that aim to control logging. Deforestation threatens valuable resources, aside from the illegalities of the practice. The rain forests in the Congo Basin, Indonesia, the Amazon and the Russian Far East are being depleted at a rapid rate. Though some of this harvesting is conducted legally, illegal practices are far more common. These practices often violate human rights, deprive governments of revenues and force the price of timber to plummet worldwide.
If you watched the presidential debates of four-plus years ago, you may remember hearing candidates discuss the Alaska pipeline. This pipeline covers 800 miles, from the Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. Natives to the area, as well as conservationists in North America, oppose the continued or further construction of this pipeline due to the environmental impact construction could have, most importantly on wildlife populations. Conflicts over this pipeline have taken place everywhere from the floors of Congress to the region itself.
It seems as though any locality has officials and businesses that are in constant conflict with the EPA over waste management. The problem arises when there is simply not enough space to dispose of waste materials safely. Improper waste disposal leads to environmental degradation. From toxic by-products to oil spills, the proper disposal of waste is essential for the health of our waterways and the quality of our air. Improper waste disposal can very literally make our environment toxic, causing the death and extinction of eco-systems and the wildlife within.
Nuclear energy is created by splitting uranium atoms. The steam produced in this process produces electricity. Nuclear energy has advantages which cannot be denied; however, nuclear energy also harms the environment. Radioactive waste, decaying materials and the release of certain particles can destroy the environment, cause health risks to humans and can pollute the water. Government officials, energy producers and the worlds’ citizens are constantly at odds regarding the use of nuclear energy.
In America, many of us take water for granted. We go to the kitchen for a glass of water or head to the bathroom for a shower, and we have water at the ready. What many of us don’t realize is that only two percent of the water on the planet is fit and safe for consumption. Water and its consumption is the cause for severe conflicts in many countries. Whether it’s protecting the water that’s available or fighting for rights to water, the liquid that we take for granted is the cause of strife around the globe.
Environmental concerns are more than just global warming. Though that one issue has become the hot button for many debates, it’s simply not the only issue that we need to be aware of. Five of the biggest conflicts occurring today take place surrounding the five issues above; educate yourself on these topics. They should be cause for concern for us all.
Sylvia Rowe writes for law blogs. Interested in the environment? Check out environmental careers in the legal field.