POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Trends in the Environment

Published Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Human activities interact with natural systems in complex ways; they can cause long-term damage to systems humans are dependent on. This POSTnote summarises a range of such pressures on the environment. It also identifies a number of trends and their effects on the UK.

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Key points in this POSTnote include:

  • Human activities have altered natural processes on a planetary scale, which may affect the wellbeing of future generations.
  • The main pressures on the environment are activities that emit wastes or prioritise the short-term use of natural resources over the long-term consequences.
  • There have been some environmental improvements in developed countries, but negative global trends persist in the atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial environments.
  • There are policy options that could protect the environment while meeting human needs. They require more efficient use of resources and mitigation of drivers of environmental change, such as pollution

POSTnotes POST-PN-0516

Author: Jonathan Wentworth

Topics: Climate change, Environmental protection, Fisheries, Forestry, Pollution, Waste management, Water

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.