The Most Difficult Environmental Problem in Our Country: Identifying and Addressing Significant Pollution Threats

Choose the environmental problem you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 11, 2024 06:37
Are you passionate about our planet and eager to make your voice heard on pressing environmental issues? Look no further! StrawPoll presents an exclusive ranking of "What is the most difficult environmental problem in our country?" where you can cast your vote for the most critical issue or even suggest a new one. Join thousands of other environmentally-conscious individuals in this thought-provoking poll and collectively decide which problem demands immediate attention. Your vote matters! So, let's come together, take a stand, and pave the way for a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future. Don't miss out on this opportunity to make your mark and contribute to the global conversation on environmental challenges. Dive in, explore the options, and vote now!

What Is the Most Difficult Environmental Problem in Our Country?

  1. 1
    Climate Change
    Femke Nijsse · CC BY-SA 3.0
    The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, including rising sea levels, more frequent severe weather events, and changes to ecosystems. The source of climate change is largely due to human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agriculture.
    Climate change refers to long-term alterations in temperature patterns and weather conditions on Earth as a result of human activities. It is primarily caused by the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and leading to global warming. The consequences of climate change include rising sea levels, extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity, and disruptions to ecosystems and agriculture.
    • Temperature rise: It is estimated that the average global temperature has increased by about 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial era and is projected to rise further.
    • Greenhouse gases: The main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O).
    • Extreme weather events: Climate change leads to an increase in severe weather events such as hurricanes, droughts, heatwaves, and heavy rainfall.
    • Sea-level rise: As a result of melting ice caps and expanding ocean waters, global sea levels are rising, putting coastal areas at risk of flooding.
    • Loss of biodiversity: Climate change contributes to the loss of species and habitats, disrupting ecosystems and reducing biodiversity.
    Climate Change in other rankings
  2. 2
    Air Pollution
    Sergei Dorokhovsky · CC BY-SA 3.0
    Air pollution can have serious health effects, including respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer. Sources of air pollution include fossil fuel combustion, industrial activity, and transportation.
    Air pollution refers to the presence of harmful or excessive quantities of substances, such as gases, particles, and biological molecules, in the air. It is a significant environmental problem that affects the quality of the air we breathe.
    • Primary Pollutants: Particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and lead (Pb).
    • Secondary Pollutants: Ground-level ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) formed from chemical reactions.
    • Health Impacts: Air pollution can adversely affect human health, causing respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, and even lung cancer.
    • Environmental Impacts: Air pollution can have detrimental effects on ecosystems, leading to acid rain, smog formation, and damage to plants, animals, and aquatic life.
    • Global Warming: Certain air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), contribute to climate change by enhancing the greenhouse effect.
  3. 3
    Water Pollution
    CNRC · Public domain

    Water Pollution

    Human activities
    Water pollution can have a significant impact on human health and the environment, including contamination of drinking water and harm to aquatic ecosystems. Sources of water pollution include agricultural runoff, industrial activity, and improper disposal of waste.
    Water pollution refers to the contamination of water bodies such as rivers, lakes, oceans, and groundwater, making it unsafe or unsuitable for use by humans, animals, and plants. It is a significant environmental problem that adversely affects aquatic ecosystems and poses serious health risks to humans. The primary cause of water pollution is human activities, including industrial waste discharge, agricultural runoff, and improper waste disposal.
    • Impact on ecosystems: Water pollution disrupts aquatic ecosystems, causing harm to aquatic organisms and their habitat.
    • Health hazards: Contaminated water can lead to various health issues such as gastrointestinal illnesses, skin problems, and even poisoning.
    • Decreased water quality: Water pollution reduces the quality of usable water, making it unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and irrigation.
    • Biodiversity loss: The pollution of water bodies can lead to the loss of biodiversity, impacting the balance of ecosystems.
    • Economic impact: Water pollution has economic consequences, including the cost of treating polluted water and the loss of revenue from affected industries such as fishing and tourism.
    Water Pollution in other rankings
  4. 4
    Deforestation has significant environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and climate change. Deforestation is driven by human activity, such as agriculture, logging, and urbanization.
    Deforestation is the process of clearing, destroying, or removing forests or tree cover from a land area. It is a significant environmental problem facing Nepal, as it results in the loss of biodiversity, contributes to climate change, and impacts local communities and ecosystems. Deforestation often occurs due to human activities like logging, agriculture expansion, infrastructure development, and fuelwood collection. Its consequences include soil erosion, loss of habitat for wildlife, alteration of local climates, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Loss of biodiversity: Deforestation negatively impacts the variety and abundance of plant and animal species in Nepal.
    • Climate change: Deforestation contributes to climate change by releasing carbon stored in trees and reducing forest's capacity to absorb CO2.
    • Local communities: Deforestation affects local communities who depend on forests for livelihoods, food, and resources.
    • Ecosystem disruption: It disrupts ecosystems, leading to imbalances, extinction of species, and alteration of natural processes.
    • Soil erosion: Deforestation leaves soil vulnerable to erosion and decreases its fertility, affecting agriculture and water quality.
  5. 5
    Improper waste management can lead to pollution and harm to human health and the environment. Sources of waste include household and industrial waste, construction debris, and hazardous waste.
    Waste management is the process of collecting, treating, and disposing of waste materials in order to reduce their impact on human health and the environment. It involves various activities such as collection, transportation, sorting, recycling, and disposal of waste.
    • Waste Hierarchy: Prioritizes waste management strategies in the order of prevention, minimization, recycling, energy recovery, and landfilling.
    • Waste Collection: Involves the organized gathering of waste from households, businesses, and public areas for further treatment.
    • Waste Sorting: The process of separating different types of waste materials for recycling, treatment, or disposal.
    • Recycling: The practice of converting waste materials into reusable materials to conserve resources and reduce pollution.
    • Composting: The controlled decomposition of organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, to produce nutrient-rich compost.
  6. 6
    Biodiversity Loss
    Bureau of Land Management · Public domain
    Biodiversity loss can have a significant impact on ecosystems and human health. Causes of biodiversity loss include habitat destruction, climate change, and invasive species.
    Biodiversity loss refers to the ongoing decline in the variety of plant and animal species in a particular habitat or ecosystem. It is considered one of the most difficult environmental problems as it has a profound impact on ecosystems, communities, and the overall functioning of the planet. Biodiversity loss can occur due to various factors such as habitat destruction, deforestation, pollution, overexploitation, climate change, and invasive species.
    • 1: Loss of habitat for numerous species.
    • 2: Disruption of ecosystems and ecological balance.
    • 3: Reduction in genetic diversity, making species more vulnerable to diseases and extinction.
    • 4: Impacts food security and availability as many species contribute to pollination, pest control, and nutrient cycling.
    • 5: Threatens the livelihoods and cultural practices of indigenous communities who rely on biodiversity for survival.
    Biodiversity Loss in other rankings
  7. 7
    Land use change can have significant environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and climate change. Land use change is driven by human activity, such as agriculture, forestry, and urbanization.
    Land Use Change refers to the process in which the purpose or condition of a piece of land is altered, typically resulting in the conversion of natural ecosystems into human settlements, agriculture, mining, or other land uses. This alteration of land use patterns can have significant environmental, social, and economic impacts.
    • Environmental Impacts: Land Use Change often leads to deforestation, habitat loss, soil erosion, and disruption of natural ecosystems.
    • Biodiversity Loss: The conversion of natural habitats for urbanization or agriculture reduces the available habitat area, leading to the loss of diverse species and ecosystems.
    • Climate Change: Land Use Change can contribute to climate change by releasing stored carbon dioxide from forests and vegetation, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Agricultural Expansion: Agricultural activities often drive the conversion of forests and grasslands into farmland, which can lead to soil degradation and water pollution.
    • Urbanization: Land Use Change for urban development impacts natural ecosystems, increases surface runoff, alters hydrological processes, and enhances the urban heat island effect.
    Land Use Change in other rankings
  8. 8
    Overfishing can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems, including depletion of fish populations and harm to other marine species. Overfishing is driven by human activity, such as commercial fishing and aquaculture.
    Overfishing refers to the practice of extracting fish from the sea at a rate faster than they can reproduce, leading to depletion and imbalance in the marine ecosystem. It is a critical environmental problem that poses a serious threat to worldwide fish stocks and marine life.
    • Declining Fish Stocks: Overfishing has led to a significant decline in fish populations worldwide, disrupting the marine food web.
    • Impaired Ecosystems: Overfishing can cause detrimental effects on marine ecosystems, altering habitats and endangering various species.
    • Economic Impact: Overfishing affects the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on fishing for income and food security.
    • Bycatch: Overfishing often results in the capture of non-target species, causing unintended harm to marine life.
    • Disruption of Food Chain: Overfishing disrupts the natural balance of the food chain, leading to cascading effects throughout the ecosystem.
  9. 9
    Soil degradation can have significant environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity and reduced agricultural productivity. Causes of soil degradation include erosion, nutrient depletion, and pollution.
    Soil degradation refers to the deterioration of the quality and fertility of the soil due to various human activities and natural processes. It is considered one of the most difficult environmental problems in many countries, including ours. Soil degradation is characterized by the loss of soil nutrients, decline in soil structure, erosion, pollution, and overall degradation of its productive capacity. This has significant negative impacts on agricultural productivity, biodiversity, water quality, and climate regulation.
    • Loss of soil nutrients: Results in decreased fertility and reduced agricultural productivity.
    • Soil erosion: Leads to the physical removal of the topsoil, which is rich in nutrients and essential for plant growth.
    • Decline in soil structure: Reduces the ability of the soil to hold water and nutrients, resulting in diminished plant growth.
    • Chemical pollution: Contamination of the soil by toxic substances such as pesticides, heavy metals, and industrial waste.
    • Physical degradation: Compaction of soil, caused by heavy machinery or livestock, reduces pore space and oxygen availability for plant roots.
  10. 10
    Energy use has significant environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and climate change. Sources of energy include fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources.
    Energy use is a major environmental problem in our country, as it contributes significantly to the emissions of greenhouse gases and leads to the depletion of natural resources. Excessive energy consumption also puts a strain on the national power grid and can lead to power shortages. The way we produce and consume energy has a direct impact on air quality, climate change, and overall sustainability.
    • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: High energy use leads to increased CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.
    • Resource Depletion: Energy production, particularly through fossil fuel extraction, depletes non-renewable resources.
    • Power Grid Strain: Excessive energy consumption puts stress on the national power grid infrastructure, leading to potential power shortages.
    • Air Pollution: Certain forms of energy generation, such as coal combustion, result in air pollutants that negatively impact air quality.
    • Renewable Energy Transition: Reducing energy use encourages the adoption of renewable energy sources, promoting sustainability.

Missing your favorite environmental problem?


Ranking factors for difficult environmental problem

  1. Scale and severity of the problem
    Evaluate the environmental problem in terms of the size of the affected area and the severity of the issue. A problem affecting a vast area or causing significant harm should be prioritized.
  2. Impact on human health
    Consider the extent to which the environmental problem poses risks to human health. Problems with serious health consequences should get higher priority.
  3. Impact on ecosystems and biodiversity
    Assess the extent to which the problem threatens ecosystems and biodiversity. A greater threat to ecosystems and species diversity should be given higher priority.
  4. Irreversibility
    Evaluate the potential for the problem to cause irreversible damage to the environment, ecosystems, and species. Problems posing irreversible consequences should receive higher priority.
  5. Long-term consequences
    Consider the long-term implications of the environmental problem, including the potential for future generations to inherit issues that are difficult or impossible to address.
  6. Socioeconomic implications
    Assess the social and economic impacts of the environmental problem, including potential job loss, decreased quality of life, and negative effects on vulnerable populations.
  7. Feasibility of solutions
    Evaluate the availability, cost, and effectiveness of potential solutions to address the problem. If solutions are readily available, it might be easier to prioritize the problem.
  8. Public awareness and political will
    Consider the level of public awareness and political will to address the problem. Higher levels of awareness and political support can help facilitate action on environmental issues.
  9. Interconnectedness of issues
    Many environmental problems are interconnected, so it is important to consider the relationship between different problems. Addressing a highly interconnected issue may have positive effects on other environmental problems.
  10. Global impact and responsibility
    Assess the extent to which the problem contributes to global environmental issues and the country's responsibility in addressing the issue. Problems with significant global impacts and national responsibilities should be prioritized.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult environmental problem in our country. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or issue is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 195 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each issue once every 24 hours. The rank of each issue is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult environmental problem in our country

Environmental problems are a growing concern worldwide, and the United States is no exception. From pollution to climate change, there are a plethora of issues that threaten the health and well-being of our planet. However, identifying the most difficult environmental problem in our country can be a challenge. One issue that stands out is the problem of plastic pollution. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans, harming marine life and polluting our waterways. Plastic pollution is a complex problem that requires systemic changes in how we produce and dispose of plastic products. Another issue is climate change, which is causing rising sea levels, more frequent natural disasters, and other catastrophic effects. The United States is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and reducing our carbon footprint is essential to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. Overall, the most difficult environmental problem in our country is a matter of perspective. Each issue requires attention and action to protect our planet for future generations.

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