Causes and Solutions to Earth’s Environmental Problems

The challenges posed by these four environmental problems and the forces that drive them seem insurmountable. The effects of these problems have shown up at regional and global scales, and the prospect of overcoming the differences between countries, between factions within countries, and even between individuals seems insurmountable at times.

However, the world has solved global environmental problems before, like ozone depletion and acid rain. We tackled them by developing an understanding of the scope of the problem and coming together to develop sets of rules that eliminate the sources of the problem. It is a big to-do list, but we can use science, creativity, and sheer willpower to once again get things done.

Look into the root causes of our 21st-century environmental challenges and consider the tools we can leverage to bring about a sustainable world.

Know the General Causes

The major environmental problems that face our planet did not appear overnight. They are the result of several forces working together: our technological innovation, our consumptive habits, and our pursuit of wealth, along with the exponential rise in the human population over the last 200 years. These forces have worked together to transform the face of Earth to create economic opportunities and increase the standard of living for many people throughout the world. As time has passed, however, scientists have discovered that if population growth and the ravenous consumption of the planet’s natural resources continue unabated, they would pose serious threats to the survival of our species, as well as to the survival of millions of others. Look deeper into the underlying causes of Earth’s environmental problems and consider how each one contributed to create the challenges of global warming, pollution, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss.

We’re on this planet and in this fight together. Every person needs to contribute to the solution.

Know the General Solutions

It’s easy to fall into the trap of inaction. Perhaps Earth’s environmental problems don’t seem so bad, to you, right now, where you are. Conversely, perhaps they seem so overwhelming and complex that it’s hard to know where to begin. No one argues that Earth’s environmental problems are simple ones to solve, but there are several regulatory and policy approaches we can use to better take the environment into account. Learn about some of the big solutions that underpin the environmental steps we need to take to slow and halt greenhouse gas emissions, enact better pollution and species protection laws, and conserve the water resources we all depend on.

As of 2015


of plastic waste was accumulated
in landfills or the natural environment.

Source: Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R. & Law, K. L., “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made,” Scientific Advances, July 2017.

By 2017


of all carbon emissions were from the transportation sector.

Source: Center for Climate and
Energy Solutions (C2ES), Global Emissions, 2019.