8 top environmental issues in 2018 looks ahead and brings you highlights topical issues that would hit the headlines in the environment sector across the world in 2018.
After what seemed like a lifetime, 2017 finally completed the final lap of its crawl to permanent oblivion. But the outgone year was different things to different people. From Nigeria to Syria, to the USA and to all nooks and crannies of the world, year 2017 left indelible marks on all sectors of the world’s economy and on other aspects that directly touch on human lives. But what kind of year would 2018 be?
Experts have their say: 8 top environmental issues in 2018
Was there a bigger environmental issue in 2017 than 2017? Would there be a bigger global environmental issue in 2018?
Against all odds, climate change ensured it remained on the front burner across the world in 2017 and will be one of the top environmental issues in 2018. In a much-awaited report recently released by Google of the top searches globally on its search engine in 2017, Paris Climate Agreement was one of the top 10 questions!
President Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017 that he was withdrawing America’s participation from the 2015 global climate Paris Agreement jolted other world leaders and environmental experts alike. But thankfully, after a careful analysis of the rude shock and what it meant, everyone quickly concluded that climate change was a far too important issue to throw over the board, hence, the resolve to move on, with or without President Trump.
Looking back, many experts say that was a smart move.
In December 2015, 195 signed the Paris Climate Agreement. More countries have ratified the agreement locally. Up till date, of 197 Parties to the Convention, 171 Parties have ratified, including conflict-torn Syria, and China, the world’s biggest polluter. Countries continue to turn in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the Secretariat.
Some reports say President Trump is considering renegotiating the Paris Agreement; should that be true, it would be a welcome development. America is strategic to the world and its nod is a big plus for pressing world issues like climate change, but yes, the world must be ready to move with or without America’s leadership.
Already, the UK has also announced a €9bn funding for climate action. China and other leading countries are also making huge commitments and financial investments.
The Paris agreement remains our best opportunity to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees”, the central aim of the Agreement.
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Extreme temperatures and weather conditions
It’s barely five days into 2018, and already, it’s as though continuing from where they left off in 2017, extreme weather conditions have resumed sweeping across the world. Records of extreme temperature in 2018 seem set to beat those of 2016 and 2017. Australia swelters under its highest temperatures in eight decades. Residents say it had never been this hot in a generation in Sydney. On the other hand, North-Eastern parts of the US are currently experiencing extreme low temperatures and the worst show-storm in a generation- the area and neighboring ones are dangerously battered.
In Wisconsin, two men have been reported to have died from hypothermia (low temperatures). From Florida to Maine, Cincinnati, Boston, schools have closed as public officials scrabble to deal with the emerging from large scale disruption of public order by natural occurrences. Parts of California are also being battered by severe flooding.
In related news, various news report say deadly winter storm has left many dead in Northern Europe. From Spain to France to Switzerland to Iceland to England, broke sea defenses in coastal areas, dismantled barriers and flooded the streets. In some areas, power transmission has since been lost. One wild wind was so powerful, it derailed a train off its course.
The harmattan season is in full blare in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. The first few days of the new year were unforgettable. Without doubts, this season’s harmattan has been like no other- it’s been one of the one of the coldest ever! But this is not a rude shock as the NiMet (The Nigerian Metrological Agency) had earlier warned back in October 2017 that parts of Nigeria would experience intense hazy weather conditions (harmattan).
Would the world witness as much forest fires, heat waves, drought, hurricanes, flooding as it did in 2017? Some projections say so. But one thing is sure, extreme temperatures will be one of the top top environmental issues in 2018! We may be silent, but climate change is speaking out, loud and clear. And this year, it has shown it intends to speak even louder! It’s u to us to respond or continue to feel indifferent. When it gets loud enough, everyone would definitely hear it.
The world must consolidate on the gains of global efforts at combating climate change.
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Deforestationis makes it to our list of top environmental issues in 2018. Although it is often easily overlooked by many, it remains a serious global issue.
As world population continues to grow supported by rapid industrialization and urbanisation, one of the most hit collateral damages are the forests. Forests are disappearing at a rate the world had not seen before. As a result, some now say that global forests have a dark side.
Today, according to “Oceans”, about 30 percent of the earth’s land area is covered by forests – according to reports, this is about half as much as was available for agriculture just about 11,000 years ago. Reports also say about 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest are destroyed each year, mostly in the tropics. Tropical forests used to cover about 15 percent of the planet’s land area; today, they have reduced to just about 6 or 7 percent. Much of this paltry remainder continues to be threatened by indiscriminate logging or burning.
Loss of biodiversity
Many people don’t realize how biodiversity affect them and why loss of biodiversity should e any concern to them. Why is biodiversity important, one may be tempted to ask? Biodiversity is strategic to global food security, tourism, public health and general wellbeing of man, and balance of the ecosystem. “Not only do other species inherently deserve to exist, they also provide products and “services” essential to human survival.”
As world population reaches new heights, various factors continue to contribute to dwindling biodiversity. Biodiversity in simple terms, refers to the sum total of all living organisms (animals, plants and microorganisms) existing in a given geographical area. Recent statistics show that giraffes are under the threat of extinction, like many other organisms. In a recent report, it was claimed that world wildlife fell by a staggering 58% in just four decades.
Why is the loss of biodiversity an environmental concern? Because such losses, if left unchecked, disrupt the natural balance in ecosystem functions and negatively impact on the sustainability of human societies. In fact, in another recent study, published in Science, conducted by a team of leading researchers from UCL, the Natural History Museum and UNEP-WCMC, it was discovered that current level of loss of biodiversity is so high that if not addressed, fall outs from it could impede efforts towards long-term sustainable development.
Although safeguarding the world’s biodiversity is one of the UN’s SDGs, the IUCN’s Red List of threatened and endangered species continues to grow. Insects, giraffes, elephants, pangolin, plant species and a host of others are under direct threats from man’s activities.
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But all isn’t gloomy as there have been so encouraging developments in the recent past. For example, only some days, China’s full ban on sale of ivory came into full force. This is a significant development because before now, China was the world biggest market for the sale of stolen ivory and ivory gotten from illegally poached elephants. Ivory of elephants killed in Kenya, Zimbabwe find their way to China. But that is about change with the complete ban in effect. Some months ago after China imposed a partial ban on importation of ivory, an 80% reduction quantity of imported ivory seized by Chinese Customs officials, forcing a sharp fall in price of stolen ivory in China’s markets. With this new ban, more successes are predicted to be recorded.
While some progress seems to have been made, we must not forget to firmly place loss of diversity where it belongs; a place amongst the top environmental issues in 2018!
… To be continued.
- Written by Idowu Kunlere
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