Choose your problem set!

“Time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years” is how Jared Diamond described the top twelve environmental problems that we face. If we continue the way we are going, we will deplete most of the world’s remaining marine fisheries, deplete readily accessible reserves of oil and natural gas, and approach the photosynthetic ceiling all within the next few decades. The biodiversity of our planet will continue to crash as our population growth soars. However, this is assuming that we continue with our current consumption rates.

Assuming that we could convince the world to take military-quick action, where would we begin? As noted by Diamond, we must solve every twelve of the major sets of environmental problems facing societies for the earth to be balanced again. These twelve major sets include: the rapid decrease of natural habitats, wild food sources, biological diversity, and soil; ceilings on energy, freshwater and photosynthetic capacity being met; the generation of toxic chemicals, alien species and atmospheric gases; and the increase in human population and the impact we humans have on the environment. It is true all twelve must be solved, but is it possible to solve one and have others (of course, not all) fall into place? I personally believe that one of the more important ones to put our focus into would be the last one: the impact we humans have on the environment. If first world countries would accept a less materialistic lifestyle to be the ideal standard of living, then this would create a cascade of positive effects throughout the other sets of problems. It would decrease our consumption rates which would take pressure off of wild food sources and soil erosion. We would not be so apt to resort to toxic chemicals to find quick fixes to products and instead put care into what we create in every aspect from materials to the disposal of them. Atmospheric gases would decrease as we would be resorting for the more environmentally conscious vehicles and not gas-guzzling show cars. Even though this would not solve all sets of problems, I feel this one would be an important environmental problem to focus on as it would relieve pressure and potentially solve others. Which problem do you believe we would need to begin with if the world was all of a sudden ready to tackle the problems with military-quick action?pathways

5 thoughts on “Choose your problem set!”

  1. Interesting. I have thought about this before, as well; the trickle-down effect that solving one environmental concern may have on others. I have often thought of overpopulation and the distribution of food as the two main drivers from which many of the other problems stem. It is nice to get a different perspective on it.

  2. I think the fisheries should be taken care of first. If we restore the fisheries, then we could feed the world with fish instead of beef, which takes up a lot of land and produces a lot of carbon emissions. I feel like this would kill two birds with ones stone by restoring fisheries and reducing the generation of atmospheric gases.

  3. I feel like we have used so many resources that there are so many problems, so where do we begin? How do we choose which ones to focus on? I think if we did live a less consumptive lifestyle that we could change a lot of problems. There would still be development, but we would not have to worry as much as we are now. We have to quickly change things in order for us to turn around our ways.

  4. I would instead focus on stabilizing the human population. Remember from Pointing: “All but 1% of the world’s population growth in the next 50 years will take place in the developing world.” These people may have to live on about $1 a day. Instead, here in the USA we contain about 5% of the world’s population but use 40% of the world’s resources. There is an imbalance here. How would you address this?

  5. I feel like there are so many problems it is very hard to pin point exactly where to begin. Maybe fisheries would be a good place to begin, because if indeed we restore the fisheries, then we can feed the world fish instead. Beef as we’ve learned to not only take up land but produce carbon emissions. This could potentially take care of two problems in one both restoring the fisheries themselves and help to reduce some atmospheric gas.

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