Environmental damage

CO2 and methane emissions

CO2 and methane emissions cause climate change.Global Land-Sea Temperature

Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index, Data source: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Whether man-made or a natural event, climate change is likely to present challenges to water resources and food production – both agriculture and fisheries. Global warming is also driving a shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy (see Decarbonization).


Severe storms (green below) are on the increase according to Ed Yardeni at Yardeni Research:

Severe Storms


The flip side of China’s impressive growth has been its disastrous degradation of the environment. At the 18th Party Congress Xi Jinping gave the environment a major part; at the 19th he put it center stage. Water shortage is a major reason. A lack of inspection, transparency, enforcement and punishment (it has
been cheaper to pay fines than to follow regulations) has led industry and mining to pollute on a heroic scale….(C.Parton)

Water shortages

As widely cited, China has 20% of the world’s population but only 7% of the world’s freshwater resources. Regional differences make the water issue even more challenging: North China (12 provinces north of the Yangtze River) accounts for more than 60% of China’s agricultural land and 40% of China’s population, while possessing only 20% of the nation’s freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for approximately 60% of China’s water consumption with power generation/manufacturing consuming another 20%; Chinese household consumption accounts for most of the remainder…..The challenges of water availability mean that seasonal power demand shifts or weather disruptions can bring China’s electric grid down quickly. (Gopal Reddy)


Global plastic production now averages more than 300 million metric tons per year, which is a staggering increase compared to the 1.5 million metric tons produced in 1950. The quantity of plastic materials produced since 1950 has now surpassed more than nine billion metric tons, with much of this produced in the past decade. However, more than half of all plastics ever produced have ended up as waste. The improper disposal of plastic waste poses a serious issue because some plastic products can take 500 years to decompose. (Statista)

Plastics recycling

Here is a projection of UK plastic waste flows for 2030:

UK: Plastics Recycling

With a drive to divert more plastic to recycling, plastic going to Energy from Waste (EFW) is expected to decrease to 30% (from over 45%).

Non-mechanical recycling could be the end-of-life route for 7% of material in 2030. It includes recycling processes known under the umbrella term ‘chemical recycling’ as well as processes such as purification.

The industry estimates it will take £1–1.3 billion to build required facilities in the UK just for mechanical recycling. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is proposed as a major source of funding. (LetsRecycle)


Over the past 50 years, the world has witnessed a massive decline in the health of its fisheries. Quite simply, we are removing fish from the ocean at a far greater rate than they can naturally replenish.

Marine fisheries support approximately 260 million jobs, and fish is one of the most highly-traded food commodities globally – worth over US$160 billion in 2018. Additionally, seafood consumption continues to grow every year, with more than three billion people dependent on seafood for one-fifth of their protein needs.

…..Alarmingly, one in five stocks within our data is estimated to be below 20 per cent of unfished levels of abundance, far below what is considered sustainable. Additionally, eight per cent of stocks have been reduced to less than 10 per cent of unfished populations – the point of collapse. (Minderoo Foundation)

Fish Stocks