Humans have a moral obligation to protect the environment and promote the sustainable development of the planet for future generations. Environmental degradation is detrimental and is jeopardising the long-term health and security of animals, plants and humans. Now more than ever, it is important that we understand the impact our actions have on the environment. In order to become more environmentally aware, we also need to take measures to protect the planet and hopefully undo some of the damage already caused by human activity.
Behaving in a more environmentally conscious manner can be as simple as making minor changes to your lifestyle. Individuals affect the environment in a variety of ways including pollution emission to land, air and water, use of natural resources, energy consumption and waste.
Why is environmental awareness important?
There is no doubt that human activity is hugely responsible for damaging the environment. The fact that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased by more than a third since the industrial revolution highlights our impact. Therefore, it is our responsibility to improve our environmental awareness and change our behaviour.
The rise in greenhouse gas emissions contributes to the enhanced greenhouse effect, which has caused global temperatures to rise. These gases also cause air, land and water pollution. Pollution affects the quality of food, which might cause the ingestion of toxic substances. Poorer air quality also poses severe risks to human health.
Deforestation is another example of how human activity is impacting the environment. Forests provide us with raw materials such as food and medicine. Trees are also an important 'carbon sink', which means they help to balance out the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by absorbing it during photosynthesis. With less trees, we are enhancing the greenhouse effect which means global temperatures are rising. This causes drastic climate changes such as hurricanes, droughts and floods.
Issues such as climate change are also putting many species at risk of extinction as they cannot adapt to the new weather conditions. All ecosystems are connected, so the extinction of a species that may seem inconsequential has substantial consequences for humanity. For example, many people aren't aware of the severe risks associated with the decline of honeybees. Due to their reputation for nasty stings and ruining BBQs, some individuals may even feel excited by the prospect of bee extinction. Other than the revolutionary discovery that putting honey in porridge equals the perfect breakfast, we have little appreciation for bees. However, they are responsible for pollinating 35% of the 100 crop species responsible for most of our food. Therefore, the extinction of honeybees has a direct relationship with the sustainability of humanity's food supply. This highlights how a creature we might consider simply annoying as an essential component of our survival as a species. Even if the link between our behaviour and the severe environmental issues isn't clear, it doesn't mean we won't be affected by the consequences. This is why it's so important to take responsibility for protecting the environment wherever we can.
Who needs to be aware and why?
As we are all responsible for damaging the environment, it is important for everyone to improve their environmental awareness. It is especially imperative to teach children about the importance of environmental awareness, to ensure that the lives of future generations are secure. As things stand, it's the future generations that will be most affected by our actions. Therefore, we must equip our children with the tools necessary to behave in a responsible and informed way towards the environment.