The soil around Chernobyl is too contaminated with nuclear fallout to be used for farming after the nuclear accident there. 

Soil contamination

The top soild is worn away by wind or washed away by floods and rainwater. Loss of trees speeds up this process. 

Soil erosion

This is where fertile land loses its ability to support plantlife and the soil degrades to become a desert.


Land degradation

Resource depletion

Natural resources running out

For example, it is expected that the amount of oil that can be feasibly recovered will run out during this century.

Lakes, seas and fresh water running out

The Aral sea, the Dead sea and Lake Chad are all examples of lakes that are drying up due to overextration of water from their sources.

Opencast mines destroy the land where they operate. Deep mines have spoil tips which do a similiar job. 


Farmland and natural habitats are lost when cities expand. 

Urban sprawl

When land is flooded with seawater, the salt in the water remains in the soil making it difficult for plants to grow.

Soil salination

Some waste is so poisonous that it cannot be thrown away in the normal way. It is often shipped to developing world countries.

Toxic waste

Rubbish is thrown away in a landfill dump and this can lead the water and the soil to be polluted. Plus they are unsightly.


When used in excess quantities, pesticides and herbicides can make the food that grows on them poisonous.

Overuse of pesticides
Water is taken from the rivers that flow into the Aral sea for farming but over extraction has reduced the lake's size.

Growing food many thousands of miles away from where it is consumed leading to lots of CO2 produced as a result. 


Fisherman harvest their fish at faster rates than the fish can naturally replace themselves leading to their decline.


Farmers use plastic tunnels to grow fruits and vegetables in this increasing the growing season and the water use. 


Farmers in forested areas burn the trees to clear the land to make space for fields and crops.

Slash and burn

Cows and pigs eat large amounts of animal feed but instead of the feed, crops like corn and maize would feed more people.

Increased meat consumption

When farming only one crop over a large area, it leads to the wiping out of large amounts of incidental wildlife.


By taking water from rivers and placing it on the land for farming, it increases the amount of farmland 


This can be achieved in a number of ways, for example, through having two crops a year and not one or by larger fields.

Intensive farming

This refers to the scientifically modifying of seeds to create stronger, more drought resistant plants.




Water pollution

  • Overpopulation in water shortage areas
  • Gender imbalance
  • Acid rain
  • Ocean dumping
  • Sea pollution
  • Oil spills
  • Thermal pollution
  • Urban runoff
  • Marine debris
  • Ocean acidification
  • microplastics
  • ship pollution
  • algal bloom
  • impact of reservoirs
  • Smog
  • Atmospheric particulate matter
  • CFCs
  • Ozone layer hole

Air pollution

  • Light pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Visual pollution

Other pollution

  • Electronic waste
  • Litter
  • Medical waste
  • Landfill
  • Leachate


Deforestation leads to loss of habitat for wildlife.
environmental geography
Animals becoming extinct


Scientists predict that up to half of the species currently around will be extinct by the year 2100. Famous extinctions include the dodo, the tasmanian devil and the quagga.

Disappearance of bees

Bees are disappearing around the world and the reasons for this are unknown. This will result in more than a loss of sweet honey, the number and range ofplants around the world will also diminish rapidly. 

The cheetah, prized for its luxurious fur, is an example of an endangered animal.
Invasive species

When the brown tree snake managed to hop on a ship / plane? and establish itself on the island of Guam, it wiped out most of the native bird populations as there was no natural predator for the snake.

Endangered animals
Loss of biodiversity
Habitat destruction/fragmentation

These are animals which are becoming so few in number, the species may become extinct. 

The killing of animals for their fur or horns or other parts. Laws make poaching illegal but it still takes place.

The reduction in the number of plants and animals around the world.

The reduction in the number of plants and animals around the world.


By pumping water underground at high pressure, it can crack rocks releasing the natural gas within them. 

Hydraulic fracturing

More efficient use of energy helps the enrgy we have to go further and last longer.

Conserving energy

Energy that is made from resources that will not run out. E.g. solar and wind power.

Renewable energy

Nuclear issues

Radioactive waste management

When the nuclear fuel in a power plant loses its ability to keep cool and gets so hot, it can melt anything.

Nuclear meltdown

Electricity derived from the use of nuclear fuel. 

Nuclear power
Solar power is a renewable energy source that will not run out.
A nuclear power plant can produce huge amounts of electricity.
There are many environmental issues facing the world today? 










Which is the most important?
Can you rank these issues according to importance?

Climate change

The amount of carbon in the air is increasing and it is absorbed by the seas, making them more acidic and slowly killing off the sealife within them.

Ocean acidification

This refers to the chemicals that are released into the air that make the planet warmer. Human activity is increasing the number of greenhouse gases in the air.

The world is getting hotter and this is melting the ice at the poles leading to higher sea levels.

Sea level rise
Greenhouse gases

The world is getting hotter and it is doing so at an increasing pace.

Global warming
Thermohaline circulation shutdown

Currents in the sea help carry warm water to places far from the equator. It is predicted that this process will be affected as a result of climate change.

Sea level rise is one of the main problems associated with global warming.
Geography topics for you to learn and enjoy
Environmental issues range from the very big to the very small. Here we have compiled and illustrated a comprehensive list of environmental issues for you to find out more about the ecological problems we face in the world. These environmental hazards vary in size, impact, distribution and cost to repair. Whilst reading about these ecological problems, have a think as to how these problems can be solved.


  • Clear cutting
  • Deforestation