- What is the Challenge? The global warming crisis,
waste and energy problems,how it is affecting us now
and projections for the future.
- Resources are divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources. Use of resources beyond the rate of replacement is called resource depletion.
- Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources because they take millions of years to form. They are made from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals through exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years.
- Fossil fuels include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. It was estimated by the Energy Information Administration that in 2006, fossil fuels accounted for 86% of world energy production.
- The mining of metals and minerals and deforestation of millions of trees are also examples of resource depletion.
- If the exploitation of our natural resources continues to be done unsustainably, in correlation to population and economic growth, it will ultimately threaten human existence.
- The burning of fossil fuels produces about 21.3 billion tons (21.3 gigatons) of carbon dioxide per year. It is estimated that the earthís natural processes can only absorb half of this amount.
- Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that trap heat from the sunís rays. This contributes to global warming which causes the average surface temperature of the Earth to rise.
- Deforestation further adds to the problem by reducing the number of trees that could potentially absorb excess carbon dioxide.
- Warming of the seas melts the polar ice cap which reduces the reflection of the sunís rays. Warmer temperatures also melt the permafrost in the artic region which releases methane, a potent greenhouse that further contributes to global warming.
- Global warming will lead to a dangerous rise in sea level and erratic weather patterns such as hurricanes and draughts. This will affect the habitats of species and reduce agricultural yields.
- Water pollution is the contamination of bodies of water by human activities. Pollution occurs when waste has been deliberately dumped into bodies of water, is blown in from open landfills, or when litter is washed into storm drains.
- Contaminants from solid waste can also enter the soil and leach into ground water systems.
- Water pollution can cause adverse health problems when the water is consumed or animals, like fish, that have absorbed the contaminants are consumed.
- Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials into the atmosphere, causing harm to living organisms.
- When fossil fuels and waste is burned, it releases harmful chemicals and toxins into the air. Air pollution causes smog and respiratory problems when breathed.