In the future, will environmental problems be better or worse? Kids responded to this Environmental Report Card poll question, casting their votes almost equally between these two extremes.Which of the two viewpoints is correct? As the poll numbers show, predicting the future is extremely difficult. However, one thing is certain: the world will face significant environmental challenges in the years to come. Whether we are ready to face these challenges is the real question.
Facing Future Challenges
"Over the past century, humans have become agents of significant change to our planet," says Charles Groat, director of the U.S. Geological Survey. "We have reshaped rivers and coastlines. We have brought new species of plants and animals to places they could never have reached on their own. And, we have increased our vulnerability to the extreme events that are part of Earth's natural processes — earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, landslides, droughts and hurricanes."In addition, Groat points out, growing human populations are placing greater demands on the planet's finite resources.
Groat's team of scientists sees several major issues that must be dealt with in the future. These include:
- Safeguarding drinking water sources
- Controlling plant and animal invaders
- Addressing climate change
- Understanding the "life cycles" of Earth's natural materials
- Protecting coastal waters from pollution
- Gathering, studying, and sharing data on future conditions.
Do these topics seem familiar? Several have already been examined by kids responding to previous Kids' Environmental Report Card polls.