Politics The Most Important Environmental Issues Today  

Lauren Slocum
3.7k votes 343 voters 9.7k views 26 items

List Rules Vote up the environmental issues you care about most deeply. Vote down issues you don't think are major problems.

Environmental pollution and global warming are harsh and honest realities of the 21st century. The continued reliance on fossil fuels and the lack of alternative sources of green energy are taking their toll. Melting ice caps and an ever growing endangered species list confirm the overuse and abuse of earth's natural and precious resources. Overpopulation, overproduction, and over consumption are all to blame for our planet's current state. It's important to understand why climate change is a problem, but arguably more important to know ways to help reduce pollution, greenhouse gasses, and the use of toxic chemicals worldwide. 

The future of our planet as a whole is threatened by the environmental issues listed below. The way we're living and operating businesses is directly affecting the resources we need to support those foundations. Political and social issues often play into concerns regarding our environment, so it's important to stay informed and up to date on what's going on in the world as a whole. This list of the most important environmental issues to date covers all the most pressing matters that affect human, animal, and plant life on the planet.   

What's most important to you personally? What do you believe is the absolute most urgent issue that should be addressed? Read through these current environmental problems and types of pollution and up vote the ones you find most important. 

1
195 22
Water Pollution is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Water Pollution

Oil spills and radiation are rabid factors, as is chemical pollution based on human activity. As water is important to human health and our ecosystem, what can we do to keep our oceans, rivers, and lakes cleaner?  

2
163 19
Industrial Waste is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Industrial Waste

Industrial waste is any solid waste that is produced by manufacturing or industrial processes. America produces roughly 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste per year, which can have devastating effects on the environment. 

3
143 18
Marine Trash is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Marine Trash

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge chunk of collected debris and trash that's accumulated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. How can we stop corporations and other entities from dumping waste in our oceans? 

4
164 29
Air pollution is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Air Pollution

Smog, emissions from livestock, and carbon dioxide are all major contributors to air pollution worldwide. Air pollution can contribute to global warming and have detrimental effects on human health. Should we be doing more to make our air cleaner? 

5
161 34
Endangered Species is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Endangered Species

We're in the midst of the sixth mass extinction as species are dying off at an unprecedented rate. The loss of biodiversity can have powerful affects on our environment and be detrimental to human health. Should we be doing more to preserve endangered species and their habitats? 

6
153 31
Native Pollinators Threatened is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Native Pollinators Threatened

Habitat loss, disease and agro-chemicals are spurring the loss of native bees and other pollinators. As a result, we've been losing these important insects at a rapid rate and this could have environmentally catastrophic results. 

7
119 26
Waste Disposal is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Waste Disposal

Given our booming population, public waste companies can't keep up with demand for sanitary trash disposal. This results in rising toxicity, compromised public health, and a polluted environment. 

8
121 28
Land Pollution is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Land Pollution

If there's pollution in the soil, there's a risk of hazardous chemicals and toxicity in the agricultural grown in surrounding areas. Should we be doing more to cut back on land pollution? 

9
127 35
Biodiversity Decrease is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Biodiversity Decrease

Biodiversity helps our planet thrive, but certain human activities may be putting diversity at risk. Should we be doing more to preserve, conserve, and protect our planet's valuable ecosystems? 

10
118 30
Overfishing is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Overfishing

In recent years, more fish have been caught than fish populations can replace through natural reproduction. This could threaten food sources for many and have a cataclysmic effect on marine ecosystems worldwide. 

11
103 24
Littering is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Littering

Littering contributes to pollutions, increases toxins in soil and water, and can spread disease to humans and animals. Increasing the number of available trash receptacles and raising public awareness could help curb the problem. 

12
116 32
Overpopulation is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Overpopulation

Human population is rising at a rapid rate and this means less space and resources are available. Does the earth have the capability to support human life given this record high number of people?

13
103 25
Ocean Acidification is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Ocean Acidification

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, there has been a 30% increase in ocean acidity. This can have a dramatic effect on the ability of some marine species to survive. 

14
141 48
Global Warming is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Global Warming

NASA's 134-year record shows that 15 out of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. Should we be doing more to curb manmade climate change? Reducing carbon emissions worldwide, and your personal carbon footprint, could help. 

15
105 34
Radioactive Waste is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Radioactive Waste

High-level radioactive waste - or nuclear waste - can take anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 years to decay, and it remains hazardous this entire time. How can we store waste safely to protect future generations? 

16
97 36
Non-Recyclable Waste is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Non-Recyclable Waste

Non-recyclable materials mean bigger landfills, wasting the earth's valuable space, and chemicals in such materials can harm the air, water, and soil. Should we strive to create more recyclable products? 

17
90 32
National Park Preservation is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
National Park Preservation

Not only an environmental concern, but a cultural and historical one as well, how can we make sure our National Parks are preserved for future generations? 

18
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Medical Waste is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Medical Waste

Not only does medical waste increase trash and pollution, it can also spread disease and bring about insects and vermin. How can we better dispose of our medical materials to keep people, animals, and the environment safe? 

19
93 40
Greenhouse Effect is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Greenhouse Effect

Global warming, ozone depletion, and radiation all contribute to the Greenhouse Effect, which is warming up our planet to a dangerously high temperature. As the Greenhouse Effect threatens the earth's ability to sustain life, many feel we should be doing much more to lessen the burning of fossil fuels, which strongly contributes to the problem. 

20
99 48
Ozone Depletion is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Ozone Depletion

Deterioration of the ozone layer can have harmful effects on humans, such as increased risk of skin cancer, and contributes to global warming and climate change. Should we lessen our use of chemicals that deplete the ozone? 

21
76 35
Urban Sprawl is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is the increasing expansion of urban areas, which can lead to an increase in air, water, and land pollution. Should we be doing more to contain the size of American cities? 

22
72 34
Agricultural Pollution is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Agricultural Pollution

Agricultural pollution can result in human health deterioration, as well as severe ecological effects. What can we do to promote more sustainable farming practices worldwide?

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Increased Natural Disasters is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Increased Natural Disasters

Since 1980, there's been a serious increase in the amount of weather-related disasters that occur each year. Believed to be a result of the earth's climate changing at a rapid rate, the ability to prepare for and prevent such disasters is of upmost concern. 

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67 35
Eutrophication is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Eutrophication

Eutrophication is the result of excessive nutrients or plant life in a body of water due to runoff from nearby land. While the process happens naturally, human activity has increased the rate of eutrophication in recent years. This results in toxification to humans and death to animals and ecosystems within the bodies of water. 

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Desertification is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Desertification

Certain practices in agriculture, deforestation, and changing weather patterns are resulting in once lush environments becoming increasingly barren. What can we do to keep our earth fertile? 

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Monoculture is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Important Environmental Issues Today
Monoculture

Monoculture, or monocropping, is essentially weakening produce little by little, over time by producing the same crop or livestock species in a single area. What can you do to help? Buy from small or locally sourced farms.