Those of us who pay attention to the news are assaulted daily by a barrage of information: international conflicts, sport tournaments, religion, gun rights, marriage rights, terrorism, and a plethora of other topics. What topics are truly important? Are not the most relevant topics those which most directly relate to humanity´s continued survival on this planet? If so, what could possibly endanger our survival: are we not the dominant species? Yes, but we, like all other organisms, depend on our environment for our survival: we must eat, drink, breathe, and reproduce. Increased environmental instability leads to an increased rate of permanent mutations, which in turn leads to a genetic instability in the species and either death/extinction or successful mutation (http://www.pitt.edu/~jhs/articles/Maresca_Schwartz_sudden_origins.pdf).
The most commonly mentioned environmental theme is global warming, which is overly polarized and, due to the complex interactions within the environment, is hard to speak of in concrete terms: it will thus not be included in this text.
An important, but rarely mentioned, theme is ocean acidification. Our oceans have seen an increase in acidity of over 30% since industrialization and, unless current trends are altered, an increase of 150% acidity by the end of the century is expected, which according to NOAA (National Oceananic and Atmospheric Administration) will result “in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.” The acidification is due to many factors, but the leading factor is anthropogenic (human produced) atmospheric CO2, which forms carbonic acid with the ocean water. The lower pH prevents shellfish from forming shells and hinders the growth of coral, as well as having negative effects on other marine species (http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+Acidification%3F). Numerous other problems also affect the oceans, such as pollution from plastics, which poison marine animals that confuse the pieces of plastic for food. The problem is so severe that “in some parts of the North Pacificgyre, plastic bits outweigh plankton by more than six to one in the surface waters.” (http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/ocean-trash-plaguing-our-sea) This, or pH changes, may be related to the 40% decline in phytoplankton in the ocean since 1950 – phytoplankton representing yet another key ecological species, such as bees, that play an important role in ecological balance- (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/07/29/206497/nature-decline-ocean-phytoplankton-global-warming-boris-worm/?mobile=nc). Endocrine disruptors are often leeched from plastics such as BPA (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184607.htm), and play a role in destabilizing marine ecosystems.