Ranging from oil spills to climate change, we have seen and heard about all kings of environmental disasters and hazards. Here are 10 potential disasters –some of which have already begun to have an effect on our lives.
1. Global Warming
It is the world’s biggest environmental disaster. It began a long time ago, and is just getting worse day by day. In the last century the average temperature worldwide rose by 1.25F/0.7c. In 2003, 10% of the glaciers in Switzerland had disappeared.
2. Vanishing Species
Due to global warming and climate changes over 20% to 30% of world’s animal species will become extinct. We will lose some of our most beautiful animals and birds such as Javan Rhinoceros, Giant Panda. Black footed Ferret among others. Conservation efforts have been put on the fast track, but they may be too late for some of them.
3. Moving Mountain Ranges and Melting Glaciers
The Himalayas are melting at an alarming rate. Their glaciers feed nine major rivers which are the main source of water for countries such as China, India and Bangladesh. The melting glaciers are causing immense flooding problems. This is true not just for the Himalayas but also for other ranges such as the Andes and the Alps.
4. Drying Rivers
On the one hand the glaciers are melting and causing floods, on the other hand the rivers are drying up. Global warming and indiscriminate use of water has dried up this vital resource. Water scarcity is a problem that has to be tackled on a war footing since it affects everyone on a personal level.
Logging and burning of trees in a forest area is termed at deforestation. Frequently it occurs due to new settlements being built as in the Amazon rain forest, or due to the demand for wood as fuel and for building purposes. Deforestation contributes to global warming and the increased greenhouse effect.
6. Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect by itself is good for the earth. It is the process of the heating of the surface of the earth due to the presence of gases that absorb and trap heat. However, now due to global warming and climate change this effect is being enhanced leading to increased temperatures and changes in the ecological systems.
7. Plastic Bags
This all pervasive material has invaded every part of our lives. These bags are found everywhere and about 10 million of them are disposed of as waste every day. They are not biodegradable and they can take a long time to degenerate. They are clogging our drains and our rivers and our trash sites and are harming our soil and water and air.
8. Oil Spills
The huge oil tankers sailing across the seas are a disasters waiting to happen. We have seen the effect oils spill have on our seas and marine life. These spills can take months to a year to clean up. We need to have a disaster management process in place to take quick action whenever this occurs.
9. Great Pacific Garbage Patch
This is a huge swirling mass of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean. Often termed as the world’s largest garbage dump, its size is increasing steadily as it collects more garbage from the ships and from land based sources.
10. Radioactive Waste Disposal
An increasing number of nuclear power plants in the world has made this one of the potentially most daunting environmental disasters. Chernobyl has taught us how much damage a disaster like this can cause.