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Causes of Environmental Problems

By Yasmin Zinni ; Updated July 27, 2017

Environmental problems include the pollution of air and water sources, erosion of soils, increase of world temperature, and the rise of ocean levels by global warming, as well as the loss of biodiversity. An increasing world population and its subsequent consumption and waste generation are among the main causes of these and other environmental damages. According to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, land degradation also causes environmental problems.

Increasing World Population and Poverty

As the world's human population continues to grow, the demand of resources such as food and water also increases. According to the humanitarian organization World Vision, freshwater consumption rose sixfold from 1900 to 1995, which represents more than twice the population growth in the same period. The gap between the very poor and the very rich has also increased. Poverty can cause higher pressure on natural resources through soil over-exploitation and deforestation, limited access to sanitation, and higher birth rates.

Increasing Waste Generation

Overflowing landfills can cause many environment problems, including the pollution of oceans and the decrease of marine biodiversity. Some household wastes like batteries are not only pollutants but also toxic, causing environmental contamination over time. Most materials, including plastic, paper, glass, and metals are recyclable today, which reduces soil and water contamination by landfills. Industry generation of waste materials, such as carbon dioxide, is a cause of global warming.

Land Degradation

In some countries such as Ethiopia, land and soil degradation are major causes of environmental problems. A study developed in conjunction with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences revealed that exhaustive land use in Ethiopia is causing nutrient losses and affecting soil quality. The use of manure and sediments from reservoirs is an option for restoring soil fertility while Eucalyptus reforestation should be avoided since it causes further soil depletion, the study concluded.

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