aerial shot of a town and lake needing protection from environmental issues

The Top 10 Environmental Issues Should Make You Worry

March 29, 2023 - Emily Newton

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Over the years, the environment has been changing — and not for the better. Recent events have shown the catastrophic affects humans’ influence has been having on the world. Weather disasters are more powerful and frequent than ever before and pollution rates have only been climbing. While people fight to improve the Earth, the top environmental issues today threaten many livelihoods, homes and cities.

But which problems should people be keeping an eye out for and work to fix. These 10 types of environmental issues are some of the most prominent in the world right now. Fixing them means safeguarding the future of the planet.

Jump to:  Public HealthUrban Sprawl | Waste Disposal | OverpopulationLoss of Biodiversity | Water Pollution | Pollution | Deforestation | Ecosystems & Endangered Species | Climate Change

10. Public Health

Many of the issues we face all tie back into one central concern – public health. Pollution, water scarcity and overpopulation all present a clear threat to public health. Nearly one out of every four deaths each year are directly caused by unhealthy environments, according to the WHO.

Even in developed countries, the growing anti-vaccination movement threatens public health, causing a resurgence in diseases like measles that were almost completely obliterated. Years ago, measles ravaged the United States, killing 4,000–14,000 people annually. In 1958, over 700,000 people were diagnosed with the measles — the highest number to date. However, once the vaccine came out, cases dropped from 385,000 to just 22,000. The disease was declared erraticated in 2000, but a lack of vaccination has caused measles to return with a vengeance.

The health and wellness of human beings is an important issue to watch. What people eat, drink and breathe in plays a significant role in their wellness. Polluted air and water are a mounting crisis we need to address.

Without water, humans won’t survive long. Polluted water poses threats through airborne water diseases and chemicals or toxins contaminating the water. Without clean water, people’s health declines substantially.One way to bring clean water to people is through digging wells. Another way is through water filters. There are people willing to take the initiative to bring clean water to those who need it.

9. Land Management & Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl, or the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas, is a modern problem but one that threatens the environment. Moving to a new location isn’t hard these days. Contractors keep building developments in record time, and undeveloped land is becoming scarce. Covering the landscape with concrete interrupts the natural water cycle, preventing rainwater from soaking into the ground. This was evident during the catastrophic floods in Houston during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Studies have found that sprawl is increasing exponentially on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, with cities slowly creeping outward and negatively affecting the land around them. With less natural land, the environment takes a hit. Not to mention, continuing to build along the coast now comes with risks. These towns and cities are now at an increased risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. They are also sinking because of groundwater extraction, which must slow down to offset the risks of the melting ice caps.

More houses lead to more pollution. Buildings emit their gasses into the air, which affects the health of the environment. Take China for example — would you want to wear a face mask every time you went outside because of air pollution?

It’s time to put habitats of the environment first. We need to preserve land, stop building, and start restoring.

8. Waste Disposal

It’s easy to throw something in a trash can. We don’t usually think about our local landfills unless complaining about the smell when we drive by them, but the average person generates 4.6 pounds of trash per day.

This trash ends up in two places — in landfills or in environmental habitats and the ocean. Waste disposal poses a threat to not only the Earth and its environment but humans as well. When waste is disposed of via burning or nuclear, it emits hazardous toxins in the air, which people breathe in.

However, when trash goes into the water, animals mistake it for food or get tangled up in it. Around 100,000 marine animals die yearly from the eight to 10 million tons of garbage in the water. Additionally, entanglement can harm a creature’s ability to swim, hunt or get to the surface to breathe. estimages there are more than 46,000 pieces of plastic within each square mile of the ocean and as much as 15,000 pieces of plastic enter the water every day.People can limit this crisis by reducing the amount of waste they create. By choosing to use products that can be recycled or placed in a compost pile, every household can reduce their waste.

7. Overpopulation

We have more than seven billion people on the planet right now — and that number is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2100. While that might not sound like a bad thing, we live on a planet that can only support roughly 10 billion souls, which means we’re less than a century away from overpopulation becoming a serious and even life-threatening problem.

As the world’s population rises, the amount of resources available for survival decreases. In fact, the population has grown to an unsustainable level. 

The more people there are on the planet, the more they release carbon dioxide and other gasses into the air. The growing population comes with the cost of greenhouse gasses and climate change. Until people realize that they have a direct impact on these pressing environmental issues today, their behavior won’t change. Resources aren’t always sustainably sourced, but without those resources, the population won’t survive. Hopefully, we don’t realize this too little too late.Fortunately, renewable energy sources are a great way to combat carbon emissions. By raising the amount of sustainable energy such as wind power and solar power, the resources needed can be sustainably sourced, reducing carbon emissions. You can’t change the population, but you can change what the population emits into the environment.

6. Loss of Biodiversity

Biodiversity — or the variety of life in the world or a particular ecosystem — is declining.  The levels of biodiversity across the board have significantly lowered to a dangerous amount. According to the World Wildlife Federation, biodiversity has declined 30% since 1970. Biodiversity is in critical condition due to various threats including urban sprawl, deforestation and climate change.

The lack of biodiversity puts the food chain, water sources and other resources at risk. Every animal — no matter how small — has a place in the food chain. When that balance gets disrupted, predators will hunt their prey into extinction or die off from a lack of food. Prey animals may also overpopulate and destroy necessary greenery. Without enough biodiversity, ecosystems deteriorate until they no longer exist. The world just can’t afford the cost of biodiversity loss.Education and protection are keys to conserve biodiversity. Think with a sustainable mind, make green choices and pread the word.

5. Water Scarcity & Water Pollution

A major issue happening now is water scarcity. There is a difference between water and fresh, clean water. Saltwater, freshwater, groundwater and surface water are the essential sources of water. There are two ways water can be scarce: the lack of water and the lack of drinkable water.

We often take the water coming out of the tap for granted — we turn the handle and water flows — but that’s not the case in many places around the world. Cape Town, South Africa, was nearly the first city to run out of water. A drought period lasting form 2015 to 2018 nearly depleted Cape Town of all its drinkable water, marking this time as their worst drought it recorded history. Thankfully, water recycling and city management were able to replenish the Theewaterskloof dam back up to 100%.

Potable water can become contaminated with things such as airborne diseases, toxins, and hazardous chemicals. An estimated 780 million people have no access to clean water at all. This isn’t just a problem in undeveloped countries though.

The 2017 drought in California, and the fact that Flint, Michigan hasn’t had clean water in nearly four years, serves as the perfect example to show us that water scarcity and pollution isn’t just a problem everywhere else — it’s a problem here at home too. Like the Earth, your body is made up of a lot of water, too. Both land and your body need clean water to survive.You can take action to reduce water scarcity. First, people must admit this is a problem — then they have to do something about it. Start by turning the water off while brushing your teeth or while soaping up in the shower. You’re not just saving the fish — you’re saving the population.

4. Pollution

Pollution comes in many forms. Air, soil, and water all have the capability to be polluted, and it poses a current and future threat to people and the environment. Contaminated waters are undrinkable. Polluted air weakens the ozone layer and causes health problems. Contaminated soil destroys habitats and irrigation.

As a human, your body is majorly affected by pollution if it’s in the air you breathe or the water you drink. Pollution puts animals and the environment in a critical condition only humans can restore. It is one of the biggest killers on the planet and it takes more than 100 million lives every single year — and that’s just human lives.

People who live in areas with high levels of air pollution are 20% more likely to die of lung cancer — even if they’ve never picked up a cigarette in their lives. We dump millions of pounds of garbage and trillions of gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the oceans and rivers every single year.

Additionally, over one million animals die annually after eating or getting themselves tangled in litter. While marine animals are the most common victims, birds also consume trash that ends up swelling in their stomachs and killing them. Scientists have also found them building their nests out of fishing line that fatally injures their young. Bigger fauna have also been discovered with their heads trapped in cans, buckets and plastic containers. Recent studies into microplastic have also shown how they travel up the food chain.

In order to see restored air, water, and soil, it’s essential to recover from pollution. By caring for the ecosystems, making sustainable choices and limiting the number of resources used, there is potential for recovery from pollution.

3. Deforestation

At least 15% of greenhouse gas emissions don’t come from cars or factories — they come from deforestation. By 2030, we may only have 10% of the rainforests left. The rest have been cut down for wood or wood pulp products, or cleared for agricultural uses.

In addition to this, more than 70% of the planet’s plant and animal species live in forests. Species lose their habitat. Ecosystems die out. Climate change continues. There are fewer trees to produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. It’s all due to deforestation. Lumber and land are leading reasons people cut down forests, but no idea is good enough if it means someday there won’t be any forests left. Deforestation has many side effects people don’t realize.

To preserve the remaining forests, humans should simply stop cutting down trees. Forests are in major need of preservation. For every tree that’s cut down, a new one needs to be planted in its place.

2. Ecosystems & Endangered Species

Due to the many types of environmental issues happening on this planet, both ecosystems and species are affected. In fact, one out of every 10 plant and animal species is expected to go extinct by 2050. The endangered species list continues to grow as ecosystems continue to decrease. Lost habitats mean losing the species that live there. While some may be able to migrate elsewhere, others are not so lucky.

With the rising temperatures of the Arctic, sea ice melts, which eliminates the habitat of polar bears. The list of endangered species includes other animals as well.

The best way to save species is to support organizations dedicated to fighting species extinction. By supporting the cause, you’re helping to combat the issue. You can also find laws and government acts available to sign that protect ecosystems and endangered species.

1. Climate Change

Unfortunately, the climate change debate continues despite decades of research on the subject. Climate change is here and it is happening. Ninety-seven percent of scientists who study the climate agree greenhouse gasses — both natural and those created by humans — are the main cause. Global temperatures are climbing, ice caps are melting, and droughts, wildfires, and super hurricanes are tearing their way across the landscape.

While the truth is plain to see, the inaction of deniers in power positions will only make matters worse. Not only does the Earth’s temperature continue to rise, but the sea levels are rising, too. Both the ocean and the Earth are growing warmer.

Greenhouse gasses are a leading cause of climate change, specifically those emitted from the human population. This has an impact on habitats, agriculture, the ocean and natural disasters. Severe weather events have increased in occurrence by five times over the last 50 years. They made up 50% of all disasters, 74% of worldwide economic losses and 45% of all deaths. Floods, droughts, storms and extreme temperatuers were the most damaging disasters in the same time period.

The best way to reduce climate change is to build sustainably. Using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power will assist the fight against climate change. Limiting waste and pollution will help preserve the environment.

Fighting the Top Types of Environmental Issues Today

Humans have created a host of environmental issues that threaten the continuation of life on Earth. While people have been making exciting developments to improve the environment, daily habits continue contributing to the natural world’s deterioration. Everyone must start paying attention to how they go about their day to make a true difference.

Don’t let this year be another year of environmental loss. These types of environmental issues are nothing to joke about and their consequences cannot go ignored. Give the planet a win by making sustainable choices and supporting the right causes.

Want to learn more ways to make a difference right now? Check out my new article about how you can help reverse top environmental issues and tell me how you’ve made a difference in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: Article updated March 29, 2023 to update statistics and content. This article was originally published on January 13, 2017. 

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.


  1. Marco on August 3, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    I think the key is to decrease the world population, or at least its growth. from now on no one should have more than one child.The fewer people, the less exploitation of natural resources.

  2. Payton Robinson on April 29, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    How can we help prepare for the future with water pollution and scarcity? Do you think that the water crisis and how it affects the public health will be the reason humans can no longer live on earth?

  3. Claire Hansen on December 17, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Emily,
    I love this article and how informative it is. Thank you for writing it! I actually used some of the information for a project I am working on. However, when I went back to double-check some of the claims, I couldn’t find any other source that stated pollution takes 100 million human lives every year. Could you please write back with the source you found that information from so I can cite it in my project? Thank you so much for your help, and keep on writing great articles like this one.

    • Emily Newton on December 17, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Claire,
      I’m glad you liked the article! I didn’t realize this source when missing during one of my updates. Here’s the source so you don’t have to go looking for it: I’ve also added it to the article so other readers can view the source. Thanks for bringing this to my attention and for reading Revolutionized!

  4. Montlier on October 22, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Emily, did you know there existed something called eco anxiety, and people who are diagnosed with this problem are increasing on a daily to daily basis.

    • Emily Newton on October 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Montlier, I wasn’t aware this existed. I’m interested to research this more. This could be an article in the future. Thanks for reading Revolutionized!

  5. Anastasia on October 17, 2019 at 4:07 am

    Hi Emily, thank you for such an amazing and enlightening article.
    I’m currently working on my final year project in school and it’s on environmental sustainability. At first, I didn’t actually had the idea on what to write but after reading your article, I realized that I even have more issues to tackle than I thought. The environment we live is killing us day by day because we killed it first. If there are other articles that you think might enlighten me more, kindly help. Thank you I’ll be referencing your work in my project too. I look forward to hear more from you.

  6. Cris on August 22, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Emily, great writing. Have you considered writing about the plastic crisis. Everything seems like an avalanche now. I have been an activist for 40 years. However plastic is our demise. We breath in plastic a liter of water has 15000-150000 particles of plastic. When I say we eat plastic and the ocean is dying of plastic I am not talking about the garbage patches. It is to me a very pressing topic. We cannot at this point stop climate change but we can sah’ what now? How to prepare? And we can still do something about plastic.
    It will not only kill the ocean but all wildlife and plants, lodge in our lungs and organs.
    We need to now make aware of what might come if we don’t start changing habits. Cheers

  7. Ivor Harrison on August 10, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Having read most if the Posts I feel that there are a lot of decent people who live on this Planet. How ever there are a number of issues that will never be dealt with..Why ..because of the Human being.. the way we think is like no other Animal.. Greed being one of the main problems,Greed is one of the main problems we have because we all want more and this comes at a cost, we can try to modulate Greed but this Human need is far out stripping any thing we do to save us , then (as it has been already mentioned) Population growth in out of hand and out of control ,who is going to tell a young couple that they can only have one Child? the Chinese did this because there Government forced this upon them, however this would not be possible in the so called Free World, its all a bit of a Problem. We like to think we are a intelligent and bright Animal and there again lies the Problem, unlike no other species we know how to Rape the World of life supporting items, I truly believe we are all on that very sad decline of our species , Mother Nature show her hand each century or so by culling us by the Millions (the last thing that we need) but I fear that the Planet will be fine without the Human being , I know that this is a very morbid out look but we my be able to hold back our decline but the inevitable outlook looks pretty bleak, As I have said there are some very decent people who walk upon this Earth but there are not enough to make any difference …..

  8. Manoj kumar Prusty on June 17, 2019 at 2:29 am

    This is a nice blog. Good clean and nice informative blog. I will be coming back soon, Thanks for posting some great ideas…

  9. Dodjie on May 26, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Dear Emily,
    I am an environmental law enforcer here in my country. I am very much aware of the environmental issues hounding us here as well as in the whole planet where we dwell. My heart bleeds especially in the rampant trafficking/sale (whether legal or illegal) of wildlife flora and fauna, and the fast-paced depleting of our forest as well as other natural resources. Nevertheless, our group never tire in our efforts to combat environmental crimes here (and with the assistance of our friends in the international community). That said, as part of our mandate in protecting the environment we also conduct lectures, training, symposia and awareness so the people will be enlightened more and to be proactive in the pursuit of a better and clean world to live by. I find this material helpful in propagating awareness to all stakeholders and I hope, with your kind permission, to use this material on my future lecture series to spread the word. More power Emily, regards!

  10. Okpata Paul on May 8, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Hi, Emily!
    Your article is educative. Keep it up. The problem now is that most people are unaware that ” mother earth” is sick of human-induced problems. I very much think that the way to go about it is by environmental crusading in public places and even in places of worship. This is exactly what I am doing doing in Nigeria. I use my quarterly newsletter(Greenfacts) to spread the messages around. The treaties and conventions are so slow in yielding positive results. If individuals will change from the negative attitudes that impact our world negatively, the earth would receive healing to some extent.

  11. Sasa on January 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Dear Emily,
    Thank you for this great article. I think people in general do not care enough for the environment, they think only about themselves so maybe you touched few souls with this awesome read. The issue is more serious than people can even imagine, we should act all together asap. Each individual needs to give maximum effort, that is the only way to save our planet for the next generations. Definitely it is not too late.
    Keep it up and stay well!

  12. Tim Yaotome on December 18, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    I definitely feel worried when you said that one out of four deaths is caused by unhealthy environments each year. When I read it, I thought that I can do my part to save that one person by donating for environmental sustainability such as funding for better water and electricity sources. Doing this will help create better communities and a better Earth.

  13. NANDIKANTI SAI KUMAR on December 3, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Forests provide the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, reduce carbon pollution and support the livelihoods of millions of people. Despite their critical importance, every year the planet loses an area of forest the size .so its hard to protect our forests. Governments, NGOS and celebrities should take more responsibility to do awareness on the importance of Forests..

  14. NANDIKANTI SAI KUMAR on December 3, 2018 at 12:17 am

    If human population keeps increasing, more people can be born. Water, food and other natural resources will be harder to get because there are more people. If we don’t limmit the population people might starve because more people will need more food and other resources. There might be a fight for food, water, space, clothing and some other things. So state governments, NGO’s , celebrities, political leaders should do more awareness on population control.NANDIKANTI SAI KUMAR.

  15. alexandrahollowayenglishblog on October 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Emily, I’m an English Language teacher at the University of Leeds. I was wondering if you would give me your permission to use this blog with my students when we are looking at sustainability? Many thanks, Alex

    • Emily Newton on October 17, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Alex,
      I’m glad you liked the article! Please feel free to use the blog in your class.

  16. Aishwarya on October 9, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I have been the green heart of my school during ninth and tenth. From eight I started collecting pens, just without realising. When I realised they can be recycled, I started doing waste management on my own. Reduce, reuse and recycle.

  17. David Trees on August 10, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Great article. I am 55, a first year undergrad starting my 3rd career. Once gradutated I want to teach secondary students Agriculture (Agroecology) and Pragmatic Environmental strategies, not that such a subject exists yet here in Australia (i think). I am doing a tutorial for college about the top 10 global environmental issues today. I am pleased to have found this site and also read the comments above. I agree with your comments about Veganism and being a meat eater. There are many more factors to our enviro issues than solely what we eat (and wear). Also, Lorene, what is the Faith and Practice Revision Committee please? Is it US based?

    • Emily Newton on August 13, 2018 at 10:34 am

      I’m glad you found the article useful, David! Wishing you the best in your new career!

  18. Seth Leonard on May 20, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    on page 564 of Hotevilla by Mails and Evehema, Dan Evehema, the late chief of the Hopi, describes a similar series of problems in the text. Interestingly enough, his list was in 1995. I suggest you buy a copy of Hotevilla for yourself and address his issues.

  19. Belle on March 13, 2018 at 5:30 am

    You CAN help to change the population by choosing to have smaller sized families. Access to contraceptives, education and acceptance of others’ life choices (eg. child free) on a global scale is where we should be headed.

  20. Chris on February 22, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me that the connection to all these issues and the animal agriculture industry is not made. Watch Cowspiracy. You CAN’T be an environmentalist without being a vegan. It’s the solution to the environment, human health, and the expansion of compassion.

    • Emily Newton on February 22, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Where is Cowspiracy available to watch again? I know it’s on my list of documentaries. I can’t say I agree your last statement though. I think finding a sustainable balance between vegans, vegetarians and carnivores would be a better option. I don’t think we have the land mass available to sustain the entire planet on a strictly vegan diet.

  21. luka on December 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    wow after reading this I realize how careless humans have been with the environment and this article makes me want to do something to stop this, thanks

    • Emily Newton on December 7, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Hi Luka,
      That’s how I felt after writing this post. It still baffles me that we’ve been so careless. This year I tried to me more conscious about how I impact the environment. Even the little things, like swapping bottled water for reusable water bottles has made a huge difference.
      Thanks for reading Revolutionized!

  22. Clayton Hooper on October 5, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Wow, crazy how this has changed my life. I want to make a difference in the world.

  23. Clayton Hooper on October 5, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I was very moved by this thank you changing my life.

  24. Kathrin Diaz on August 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    It actually worries me even more. Now, I have to be extra careful on my family’s health and water usage. This is very helpful. Thanks a lot!

  25. CA Lund on January 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Nicely said. We’ve got a few challenges to face as humans. that much is clear.

    • Lorene on February 25, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      As a member of that “Faith & Practice Revision Committee” who was not able to be present at the meeting, I was deeply touched by these words.If the materials that we prepared, and the process we set in place, led to such an experience . . . something is working right in this crazy woTdr.lhank you for this gift.

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