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New Era University

College of Arts and Sciences

Biology Department


Submitted by:
Diwa, Angela Marie M.

Prof. Mylene Ortiz- Andaya

Extinction and threats among rare species
For the past decades, the Earth undergone on different changes and faces different
environmental challenges and issues. According to Cable News Network (2000), there was a
dramatic increase in the number of species threatened with extinction, the World Conservation
Union released its "red list" of endangered plants and animals in which there were 11,046 plants
and animals were said to be facing a high risk of extinction in the near future, in almost all cases
as a result of human activities.
In the last 500 years, human activity has forced 816 species to extinction or extinction in
the wild. One hundred and three extinctions have occurred since 1800, indicating an extinction
rate 50 times greater than the natural rate. The 5,611 threatened plants currently listed as threatened
may represent only a small fraction of the number of species truly under attack since the group
estimates that only 4 percent of all known plant species have been fully evaluated -- and many
more plant species may have not yet been discovered. The total number of threatened animal
species has increased from 5,205 to 5,435. Another, the Earth's most critically endangered animals
and plants have disappeared very rapidly since 1996.
Habitat loss which was largely through deforestation and the spread of cities -- is a factor
in roughly 90 percent of the endangered listings. Habitats with the highest number of threatened
mammals and birds were lowland and mountain tropical rainforest. Moreover, reports stated that
the status of river dwelling specie were under "extremely serious deterioration" due to water
development projects and other habitat changes. In addition, the Philippines, another biodiversity
hotspot, has lost 97 percent of its original vegetation and has more Critically Endangered birds
than any other country.
The 2000 analysis now lists 180 Critically Endangered and 340 Endangered mammals.
Primates such as apes and monkeys showed the greatest increase in the number of threatened
mammals, from 96 to 116 specie. For birds, there is an increase from 168 to 182 Critically
Endangered and from 235 to 321 Endangered species. A total of 18,276 species and subspecies
are included in the 2000 Red List. Approximately 25 percent of reptiles, 20 percent of amphibians
and 30 percent of fishes, mainly freshwater, so far assessed are listed as threatened.

These conditions paved way for the rapid depletion of gene pool in the ecosystem in the start
of 21st century.

Deforestation is caused by the growing demand for forest products and the conversion of
forest to agriculture as the human population continues to expand. It is estimated that the world
is currently losing over 9 million hectares per year which is an area the size of Portugal.
Deforestation not only affects the climate by increasing the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide
but also affects the environment by inhibiting water recycling, triggering severe flooding, aquifer
depletion, soil degradation and the extinction of plant and animal species.

On 2010, tropical rainforest contained about 7% of land surface but over half of the plant
and animal species on the planet. If tropical rainforest deforestations continue the trend at that
current rate, it was estimated that by the first part of the 21st century about half of the remaining
rainforest will be lost along with about 5 to 10% of all the species on the planet.

Earth is constantly changing. Some changes are a natural part of the climate system, such
as the seasonal expansion and contraction of the Arctic sea ice pack. The responsibility for other
changes, such as the Antarctic ozone hole, falls squarely on humanity’s shoulders. Our World of
Change series documents how our planet’s land, oceans, atmosphere, and Sun are changing over

 In the early 1980s, scientists began to realize that CFCs were creating a thin spot—a hole—
in the ozone layer over Antarctica every spring. This series of satellite images shows the
ozone hole on the day of its maximum depth each year from 1979 through 2016.

 The Athabasca Oil Sands are at once a source of oil, of economic growth, and of
environmental concern. This series of images shows the growth of surface mines around
the Athabasca River from 1984 to the present.
 The shoreline of Cape Cod provides a visual case study in the evolution and dynamic
motion of barrier islands and spits.

 Since 1980, the volume of this glacier that spills into the Prince William Sound has shrunk
by half. Climate change may have nudged the process along, but mechanical forces have
played the largest role in the ice loss.

 A massive irrigation project has devastated the Aral Sea over the past 50 years. These
images show the decline of the Southern Aral Sea in the past decade, as well as the first
steps of recovery in the Northern Aral Sea.

 Combined with human demands, a multi-year drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin
caused a dramatic drop in the Colorado River’s Lake Powell in the early part of the 2000s.
The lake began to recover in the latter part of the decade, but as of 2015, it was still well
below capacity.

 The world is getting warmer, whatever the cause. According to an analysis by NASA
scientists, the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°
Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975.

 Images of sunspots and UV brightness document the 11-year cycle of solar magnetic
activity. The series spans 1999–2010, capturing the most recent solar maximum and
minimum, as well as the emergence of solar cycle 24.
 To expand the possibilities for beachfront tourist development, Dubai, part of the United
Arab Emirates, undertook a massive engineering project to create hundreds of artificial
islands along its Persian Gulf coastline.

 In early 2002, scientists monitoring daily satellite images of the Antarctic Peninsula
watched in amazement as almost the entire Larsen B Ice Shelf splintered and collapsed in
just over one month. They had never witnessed such a large area disintegrate so rapidly.

Our environment is constantly changing. There is no denying that. However, as our

environment changes, so does the need to become increasingly aware of the problems that surround
it. With a massive influx of natural disasters, warming and cooling periods, different types of
weather patterns and much more, people need to be aware of what types of environmental problems
our planet is facing.

Global warming has become an undisputed fact about our current livelihoods; our planet
is warming up and we are definitely part of the problem. However, this isn’t the only environmental
problem that we should be concerned about. All across the world, people are facing a wealth of
new and challenging environmental problems every day. Some of them are small and only affect
a few ecosystems, but others are drastically changing the landscape of what we already know.

Our planet is poised at the brink of a severe environmental crisis. Current environmental
problems make us vulnerable to disasters and tragedies, now and in the future. We are in a state of
planetary emergency, with environmental problems piling up high around us. Unless we address
the various issues prudently and seriously we are surely doomed for disaster. Current
environmental problems require urgent attention.

15 Major Current Environmental Problems

1. Pollution: Pollution of air, water and soil require millions of years to recoup. Industry and motor
vehicle exhaust are the number one pollutants. Heavy metals, nitrates and plastic are toxins
responsible for pollution. While water pollution is caused by oil spill, acid rain, urban runoff; air
pollution is caused by various gases and toxins released by industries and factories and combustion
of fossil fuels; soil pollution is majorly caused by industrial waste that deprives soil from essential

2. Global Warming: Climate changes like global warming is the result of human practices like
emission of Greenhouse gases. Global warming leads to rising temperatures of the oceans and the
earth’ surface causing melting of polar ice caps, rise in sea levels and also unnatural patterns of
precipitation such as flash floods, excessive snow or desertification.

3. Overpopulation: The population of the planet is reaching unsustainable levels as it faces

shortage of resources like water, fuel and food. Population explosion in less developed and
developing countries is straining the already scarce resources. Intensive agriculture practiced to
produce food damages the environment through use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and
insecticides. Overpopulation is one of the crucial current environmental problem.

4. Natural Resource Depletion: Natural resource depletion is another crucial current

environmental problem. Fossil fuel consumption results in emission of Greenhouse gases, which
is responsible for global warming and climate change. Globally, people are taking efforts to shift
to renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, biogas and geothermal energy. The cost of
installing the infrastructure and maintaining these sources has plummeted in the recent years.

5. Waste Disposal: The over consumption of resources and creation of plastics are creating a
global crisis of waste disposal. Developed countries are notorious for producing an excessive
amount of waste or garbage and dumping their waste in the oceans and, less developed countries.
Nuclear waste disposal has tremendous health hazards associated with it. Plastic, fast food,
packaging and cheap electronic wastes threaten the well-being of humans. Waste disposal is one
of urgent current environmental problem.
6. Climate Change: Climate change is yet another environmental problem that has surfaced in
last couple of decades. It occurs due to rise in global warming which occurs due to increase in
temperature of atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels and release of harmful gases by industries.
Climate change has various harmful effects but not limited to melting of polar ice, change in
seasons, occurrence of new diseases, frequent occurrence of floods and change in overall weather

7. Loss of Biodiversity: Human activity is leading to the extinction of species and habitats and
and loss of bio-diversity. Eco systems, which took millions of years to perfect, are in danger when
any species population is decimating. Balance of natural processes like pollination is crucial to the
survival of the eco-system and human activity threatens the same. Another example is the
destruction of coral reefs in the various oceans, which support the rich marine life.

8. Deforestation: Our forests are natural sinks of carbon dioxide and produce fresh oxygen as well
as helps in regulating temperature and rainfall. At present forests cover 30% of the land but every
year tree cover is lost amounting to the country of Panama due to growing population demand for
more food, shelter and cloth. Deforestation simply means clearing of green cover and make that
land available for residential, industrial or commercial purpose.

9. Ocean Acidification: It is a direct impact of excessive production of CO2. 25% of CO2

produced by humans. The ocean acidity has increased by the last 250 years but by 2100, it may
shoot up by 150%. The main impact is on shellfish and plankton in the same way as human

10. Ozone Layer Depletion: The ozone layer is an invisible layer of protection around the planet
that protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. Depletion of the crucial Ozone layer of the atmosphere
is attributed to pollution caused by Chlorine and Bromide found in Chloro- fluoro carbons (CFC’s).
Once these toxic gases reach the upper atmosphere, they cause a hole in the ozone layer, the biggest
of which is above the Antarctic. The CFC’s are banned in many industries and consumer products.
Ozone layer is valuable because it prevents harmful UV radiation from reaching the earth. This is
one of the most important current environmental problem.

11. Acid Rain: Acid rain occurs due to the presence of certain pollutants in the atmosphere. Acid
rain can be caused due to combustion of fossil fuels or erupting volcanoes or rotting vegetation
which release sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Acid rain is a
known environmental problem that can have serious effect on human health, wildlife and aquatic

12. Water Pollution: Clean drinking water is becoming a rare commodity. Water is becoming an
economic and political issue as the human population fights for this resource. One of the options
suggested is using the process of desalinization. Industrial development is filling our rivers seas
and oceans with toxic pollutants which are a major threat to human health.

13. Urban Sprawl: Urban sprawl refers to migration of population from high density urban areas
to low density rural areas which results in spreading of city over more and more rural land. Urban
sprawl results in land degradation, increased traffic, environmental issues and health issues. The
ever growing demand of land displaces natural environment consisting of flora and fauna instead
of being replaced.

14: Public Health Issues: The current environmental problems pose a lot of risk to health of
humans, and animals. Dirty water is the biggest health risk of the world and poses threat to the
quality of life and public health. Run-off to rivers carries along toxins, chemicals and disease
carrying organisms. Pollutants cause respiratory disease like Asthma and cardiac-vascular
problems. High temperatures encourage the spread of infectious diseases like Dengue.

15. Genetic Engineering: Genetic modification of food using biotechnology is called genetic
engineering. Genetic modification of food results in increased toxins and diseases as genes from
an allergic plant can transfer to target plant. Genetically modified crops can cause serious
environmental problems as an engineered gene may prove toxic to wildlife. Another drawback is
that increased use of toxins to make insect resistant plant can cause resultant organisms to become
resistant to antibiotics.

The need for change in our daily lives and the movements of our government is growing.
Because so many different factors come into play; voting, governmental issues, the desire to stick
to routine, many people don’t consider that what they do will affect future generations. If humans
continue moving forward in such a harmful way towards the future, then there will be no future to
consider. Although it’s true that we cannot physically stop our ozone layer from thinning (and
scientists are still having trouble figuring out what is causing it exactly,) there are still so many
things we can do to try and put a dent in what we already know. By raising awareness in your local
community and within your families about these issues, you can help contribute to a more
environmentally conscious and friendly place for you to live.

Conserve energy future. (2016). Environmental Problems. Retrieved from http://www.conserve-

Earth Observatory (n.d.) World of Change. Retrieved from http://earthobservatory.

Hilderman, R. (2010, December 27). The Effect of Deforestation on the Climate and
Environment. Retrieved from