5 Environmental Problems You Should Care About

We all know that the environment has some issues. Pollution, resource depletion, habitat destruction, you name it, it’s probably happening right now somewhere in the world. Here are five issues you may not even have realized are happening around the world right now. 

Red Tide Along the Gulf Coast

Sarasota's normally crystal clear water turned brown by Red Tide

What is normally a picture-perfect spring and summer destination is still fighting one of the worst outbreaks of red tide in years. Red tide is a seasonal algal bloom that usually shows up in early spring and is gone before most of the summer crowd hits the quartz-white sand along the West Florida coast. This year, however, a particularly bad strain of the algae has been leaving a trail of death as it winds its’ way up the coastline, leaving dark waters, hundreds of thousands of dead fish, and tourists with irritated throats and noses. While red tide is a natural occurrence, this year’s outbreak may have been prolonged by extra polluted runoff from sugarcane farms in central Florida, although thoughts are divided on whether this strain has been aggravated by human activity or not. 

Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

Flint River flowing through downtown Flint, Michigan

Do you remember a few years ago when everyone was going crazy over the fact that Flint, Michigan’s water had been contaminated with lead? Yeah, that’s still happening. While the city ended distribution of free bottled water back in April, clean water has reportedly still not been restored to all citizens in Michigan. Emily Sioma, also known as this year’s Miss Michigan commented on this during her 8 second introduction at the Miss America pageant last week, reminding us that the citizens of Flint will not be silenced. 

Starving Polar Bears

A polar bear and her cubs are stranded on an iceless shoreline in Svalbard (Credit: Paul Nicklen)

The ice caps are melting, that’s for sure. But this change in the ecosystem is affecting those at the top of the food chain, specifically polar bears. Polar bears rely on seals for most of their everyday diet, and these fatty animals are hard for polar bears to get without catching them off guard when the seals come up for air in small holes they make in ice. With melting of ice becoming worse every day, polar bears are having trouble catching the calorie-loaded seals and are starting to get desperate. National Geographic explains the findings of a U.S. Geological Survey study where they followed several polar bears over the course of two weeks to see how the difficulty of finding food is affecting these predators, and the results were shocking. 

Coral Bleaching

Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 (Credit: The Ocean Agency)

Due to climate change among other factors, about half of the coral in The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia died in 2016 and 2017. Once some of the most beautiful and colorful coral in the ocean, this wonder is disappearing, and fast. Loss of coral also means less food and habitat for the fish and sharks that once called The Great Barrier Reef home, not to mention that the world’s coral could be gone by 2050 if the current rate of bleaching continues. If you plan on visiting somewhere that still features coral reefs, be mindful of the sunscreen you’re heading into the water with too, because many harmful ingredients in sunscreen are said to be speeding up the coral bleaching process as well. 

Mountaintop Mining

Mountain top mining in West Virginia (Credit: Rick Eglington)

Coal-mining has been declining in the last several years, which is a good sign for our natural resources. However, the process of mountaintop mining for coal is still taking place in some areas. This method requires mining companies to clear entire mountaintops of forests, before blasting through the bedrock to reach the coal under the mountain. This, of course, ruins the natural landscape of the mountains, particularly in “coal country” like Appalachia. The rubble form these explosions can also block up streams running through the mountain ranges, causing all sorts of problems for the ecosystem even miles away. 

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