Careers in STEM
IssuesLife on land and in water
- The oceans, seas and marine resources need to be conserved and used for sustainable development. They are sometimes known as the Earth’s life support system, as they help regulate the climate. Protecting marine environments, particularly key biodiversity areas, is vital, as these fragile ecosystems once lost will be impossible to revive. Overfishing and illegal fishing are huge issues when it comes to the sustainability of fish populations.
- Ocean acidification is a growing problem, as the ocean is the largest carbon sink, absorbing a large amount (approximately 23%) of the CO2 emissions emitted through human activity. This absorbed CO2 makes the ocean more acidic, with a large drop in pH recorded since preindustrial times.
- Terrestrial ecosystems need to be protected and restored, and their sustainable use needs to be promoted. One fifth of the land on Earth is degraded, which means it can no longer be used to grow crops, or even grow wild plants that would have previously grown, increasing the amount of desert land there is on Earth. This affects 3.2 billion people , pushing species to extinction and escalating climate change. Halting and reversing land degradation will be a vital part in making sure there is enough food, and safe habitats for humans and animals.
- Forests, which are declining at an alarming rate with many species still threatened with extinction, must be sustainably managed. Deforestation is still a huge issue with forests destroyed to make way for things such as plantations, or land for livestock, which is driven by consumerism. Biodiversity losses must be halted to retain the fine balance within important ecosystems.
- Wildlife crime endangers the animal species involved and human health, through trafficking, the spread of disease, and the emergence of new deadly diseases
- Land may be polluted by chemicals from the use of industrial materials such as cleaning materials, cosmetics, car oils, preservatives, industrial colours, food flavourings, chemical and insecticidal fertilizers, pesticides and other manufactured materials that are frequently used by humans. These could potentially cause birth defects, skin diseases, breathing disorders, and cancers, liver infections, diarrhoea, and some hormonal disorders.
- Contamination from remnants of war and the testing and use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons has disastrous environmental consequences. Disarmament and arms regulation reduce the impact of weapons on the environment.
 Data taken from United Nations ‘Transforming Our World - The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development’
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (un.org)
21252030 Agenda for Sustainable Development web.pdf (un.org)