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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A global issue is any issue (problem, risk) that adversely affects the global community and environment, possibly in a catastrophic way, including environmental issues, political crisis, health crisis, social issues and economic crisis. Solutions to global issues generally require cooperation among nations.[1]

In their book Global Issues,[2] Hite and Seitz emphasize that global issues are qualitatively different from international affairs and that the former arise from growing international interdependencies which makes the issues themselves interdependent.[3] It is speculated that our global interconnectedness, sometimes instead of making us more resilient, makes us more vulnerable to global catastrophe.[4]


Waste generation, measured in kilograms per person per day
Waste generation, measured in kilograms per person per day

Overconsumption is a situation where resource use has outpaced the sustainable capacity of the ecosystem. A prolonged pattern of overconsumption leads to environmental degradation and the eventual loss of resource bases. Generally, the discussion of overconsumption parallels that of world overpopulation;[5] that is the more people, the more consumption of raw materials takes place to sustain their lives. But, humanity's overall impact on the planet is affected by many factors besides the raw number of people. Their lifestyle (including overall affluence and resource utilization) and the pollution they generate (including carbon footprint) are equally important. Currently, the inhabitants of the developed nations of the world consume resources at a rate almost 32 times greater than those of the developing world, who make up the majority of the human population (7.4 billion people).[6]

However, the developing world is a growing market of consumption. These nations are quickly gaining more purchasing power and it is expected that the Global South, which includes cities in Asia, Latin America and Africa, will account for 56% of consumption growth by 2030.[7] This means that consumption rates will plateau for the developed nations and shift more into these developing countries.

Global warming

Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system, an aspect of climate change shown by temperature measurements and by multiple effects of the warming.[8][9] The term commonly refers to the mainly human-caused observed warming since pre-industrial times and its projected continuation,[10] though there were also much earlier periods of global warming.[11] In the modern context the terms global warming and climate change are commonly used interchangeably,[12] but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes to precipitation and impacts that differ by region.[13][14] Many of the observed warming changes since the 1950s are unprecedented in the instrumental temperature record, and in historical and paleoclimate proxy records of climate change over thousands to millions of years.[8]

Future climate change and associated impacts will differ from region to region.[15][16] Ongoing and anticipated effects include rising sea levels, changing precipitation, and expansion of deserts in the subtropics.[17] Future warming is expected to be greater over land than over the oceans and greatest in the Arctic, with the continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. Other likely changes include more frequent extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, heavy rainfall with floods, and heavy snowfall;[18] ocean acidification; and massive extinctions of species due to shifting temperature regimes. Effects significant to humans include the threat to food security from decreasing crop yields and the abandonment of populated areas due to rising sea levels.[19] Migration of animals has been a serious situation, the effects from Global Warming are messing with animals, their habitats, and when animals migrate. Studies show that in the future, changes will happen to how animals forage in the micro and macro habitat. A selection of these animals could become climate change sensitive species, for example high-alpine birds. Because the climate system has a large "inertia" and greenhouse gases will remain in the atmosphere for a long time, many of these effects will persist for not only decades or centuries, but tens of thousands of years.[20]

Consumption-based CO₂ emissions per capita in 2017
Consumption-based CO₂ emissions per capita in 2017

Possible societal responses to global warming include mitigation by emissions reduction, adaptation to its effects, building systems resilient to its effects, and possible future climate engineering. Most countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),[21] whose ultimate objective is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change.[22] Parties to the UNFCCC have agreed that deep cuts in emissions are required[23] and that global warming should be limited to well below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) compared to pre-industrial levels,[a] with efforts made to limit warming to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).[25] Some scientists call into question climate adaptation feasibility, with higher emissions scenarios,[26] or the two degree temperature target.[27]

Public reactions to global warming and concern about its effects are also increasing. A global 2015 Pew Research Center report showed that a median of 54% of all respondents asked consider it "a very serious problem." Significant regional differences exist, with Americans and Chinese (whose economies are responsible for the greatest annual CO2 emissions) among the least concerned.[28]

Most of the habitat selection that was studied was affected by grassland cover. An issue at the footnote of global warming is ocean acidification, it is an issue today regarding the rising amounts of acidity in both surface and deeper waters that threaten biological and biochemical processes. The role of the ocean is a major role in climate regulation, yet ocean acidification is not looked at as a big deal when it comes to global warming. It alters marine ecosystems which include destroying a wide array of marine ecosystem services. There is no policy, international or nationally, to help with ocean acidification. Although, it is a global issue, ocean acidification will have great effects along coastlines and in coral reefs. Some people think that ocean acidification can be dealt with through UNFCCC, this is thought because climate changes is causing ocean acidification because of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, but some do not agree. There are multiple reasons why nothing has been done on a larger scale regarding ocean acidification, such as the fact that it is not well understood scientifically. Also, the impacts may be felt locally but the problem is a global issue and cannot be dealt with easily. More people need to realize the problems of ocean acidification; coral reefs are becoming bleached and more animals are becoming extinct because it is not a livable habit for aquatic animals.[29]

World overpopulation

Map of population density by country, per square kilometer
Map of population density by country, per square kilometer
Map of countries and territories by fertility rate as of 2020
Map of countries and territories by fertility rate as of 2020

The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.8 billion in 2020.[30] It is expected to keep growing, and estimates have put the total population at 9.8 billion by mid-2050.[31] World overpopulation has occurred when the ecological footprint of the world population exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet.

The rapid increase in world population over the past three centuries has raised concerns that the planet may not be able to sustain the future or even present number of its inhabitants. The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, circa 1994, stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, are aggravated by the population expansion.[32]

Human impact on the environment

Human impact on the environment (or anthropogenic impact on the environment) includes changes to biophysical environments[33] and ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources[34][35] caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming,[33][36] environmental degradation[33] (such as ocean acidification[33][37]), mass extinction and biodiversity loss,[38][39][40][41] ecological crisis, and ecological collapse. Modifying the environment to fit the needs of society is causing severe effects, which become worse as the problem of human overpopulation continues.[42] Some human activities that cause damage (either directly or indirectly) to the environment on a global scale include human reproduction,[43] overconsumption, overexploitation, pollution, and deforestation, to name but a few. Some of the problems, including global warming and biodiversity loss pose an existential risk to the human race,[44][45] and overpopulation causes those problems.[46] People are mostly malnourished in countries where the population is growing very rapidly, like third world countries that do not have access to birth controls or family planning. Overpopulation is a growing issue among many people, at a growing rate of 1.2%, the population is projected to double to 14 billion people in 60 years. It is believed that the earths carrying capacity is going to be around 14 billion people because of the food shortages most of the world's population is already experiencing. More than 66% of the world's population is malnourished or starving according to the World Health Organization. In 1950 only 20% of the world's population was recorded as malnourished or starving, the percentage has more than tripled, which is alarming. Natural resources that are becoming critically low due to over harvesting are; oil, natural gas, and coal, once these resources run out the earth's population could drop from 14 billion to 2 billion. It is important that humans start recycling and reducing the amount of natural resources, in doing this we can hopefully prolong the quality and sustainability of life on earth. .[47]

Water scarcity

Water scarcity is the lack of fresh water resources to meet water demand. It affects every continent and was listed in 2019 by the World Economic Forum as one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impact over the next decade.[48] It is manifested by partial or no satisfaction of expressed demand, economic competition for water quantity or quality, disputes between users, irreversible depletion of groundwater, and negative impacts on the environment.[49] One-third of the global population (2 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year.[50][51][52][53] Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round.[50] Half of the world's largest cities experience water scarcity.[52]

Mass surveillance

Mass surveillance is considered as a global issue. Mass surveillance has often been cited as necessary to fight terrorism, prevent crime and social unrest, protect national security, and control the population. Conversely, mass surveillance has equally often been criticized for violating privacy rights, limiting civil and political rights and freedoms, and being illegal under some legal or constitutional systems. Another criticism is that increasing mass surveillance could lead to the development of a surveillance state or an electronic police state where civil liberties are infringed or political dissent is undermined by COINTELPRO-like programs. Such a state could be referred to as a totalitarian state.

Conflict-related global issues

Artificial intelligence arms race

An artificial intelligence arms race is a competition between two or more states to have its military forces equipped with the best "artificial intelligence" (AI). Since the mid-2010s, many analysts have argued that such a global arms race for better artificial intelligence has already begun.

According to Siemens, worldwide military spending on robotics was US$5.1 billion in 2010 and US$7.5 billion in 2015.[54][55]

China became a top player in artificial intelligence research in the 2010s. According to the Financial Times, in 2016, for the first time, China published more AI papers than the entire European Union. When restricted to number of AI papers in the top 5% of cited papers, China overtook the United States in 2016 but lagged behind the European Union. 23% of the researchers presenting at the 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference were Chinese.[56] Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Alphabet, has predicted China will be the leading country in AI by 2025.[57]

AAAI presenters:[56]
Country in 2012 in 2017
US 41% 34%
China 10% 23%
UK 5% 5%

Nuclear proliferation

UN vote on adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 7 July .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Yes  Did not vote
UN vote on adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 7 July 2017
  Did not vote

Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information to nations not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT. Proliferation has been opposed by many nations with and without nuclear weapons, as governments fear that more countries with nuclear weapons will increase the possibility of nuclear warfare (up to and including the so-called "countervalue" targeting of civilians with nuclear weapons), de-stabilize international or regional relations, or infringe upon the national sovereignty of states.

Four countries besides the five recognized Nuclear Weapons States have acquired, or are presumed to have acquired, nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. None of these four is a party to the NPT, although North Korea acceded to the NPT in 1985, then withdrew in 2003 and conducted announced nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2016, and 2017.[58] One critique of the NPT is that the treaty is discriminatory in the sense that only those countries that tested nuclear weapons before 1968 are recognized as nuclear weapon states while all other states are treated as non-nuclear-weapon states who can only join the treaty if they forswear nuclear weapons.[59]

Weapons of mass destruction

A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or any other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans or cause great damage to human-made structures (e.g., buildings), natural structures (e.g., mountains), or the biosphere. The scope and usage of the term has evolved and been disputed, often signifying more politically than technically. Originally coined in reference to aerial bombing with chemical explosives during World War II, it has later come to refer to large-scale weaponry of other technologies, such as chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear.

Nuclear holocaust

A nuclear holocaust, nuclear apocalypse, or atomic holocaust is a theoretical scenario involving widespread destruction and radioactive fallout causing the collapse of civilization, through the use of nuclear weapons. Under such a scenario, some or all of the Earth is made uninhabitable by nuclear warfare in future world wars.

Besides the immediate destruction of cities by nuclear blasts, the potential aftermath of a nuclear war could involve firestorms, a nuclear winter, widespread radiation sickness from fallout, and/or the temporary loss of much modern technology due to electromagnetic pulses. Some scientists, such as Alan Robock, have speculated that a thermonuclear war could result in the end of modern civilization on Earth, in part due to a long-lasting nuclear winter. In one model, the average temperature of Earth following a full thermonuclear war falls for several years by 7 to 8 degrees Celsius on average.[60]

Potential for World War III

Large nuclear weapons stockpile with global range (dark blue), smaller stockpile with global range (medium blue)
Large nuclear weapons stockpile with global range (dark blue), smaller stockpile with global range (medium blue)

World War III (WWIII or WW3) and the Third World War are names given to a hypothetical third worldwide large-scale military conflict subsequent to World War I and World War II. The term has been in use since at least as early as 1941. Some have applied it loosely to refer to limited or smaller conflicts such as the Cold War or the War on Terror, while others have operated under the assumption that such a conflict would surpass both prior world wars in both the level of its widespread scope and of its overall destructive impact.[61]

Because of the development and use of nuclear weapons near the end of World War II and their subsequent acquisition and deployment by many countries, the potential risk of a nuclear devastation of Earth's civilization and life is a common theme in speculations of a Third World War. Another major concern is that biological warfare could cause a very large number of casualties, either intentionally or inadvertently by an accidental release of a biological agent, the unexpected mutation of an agent, or its adaptation to other species after use. High-scale apocalyptic events like these, caused by advanced technology used for destruction, could potentially make Earth's surface uninhabitable.

Prior to the beginning of the Second World War, the First World War (1914–1918) was believed to have been "the war to end all wars," as it was popularly believed that never again could there possibly be a global conflict of such magnitude. During the inter-war period between the two world wars, WWI was typically referred to simply as "The Great War." The outbreak of World War II in 1939 disproved the hope that mankind might have already "outgrown" the need for such widespread global wars.

With the advent of the Cold War in 1945 and with the spread of nuclear weapons technology to the Soviet Union, the possibility of a third global conflict became more plausible. During the Cold War years, the possibility of a Third World War was anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities in many countries. Scenarios ranged from conventional warfare to limited or total nuclear warfare. At the height of the Cold War, a scenario referred to as Mutually Assured Destruction ("MAD") had been calculated which determined that an all-out nuclear confrontation would most certainly destroy all or nearly all human life on the planet.

Global catastrophic risk

A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event which could damage human well-being on a global scale,[62] even crippling or destroying modern civilization.[63] An event that could cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity's potential is known as an existential risk.[64]

Potential global catastrophic risks include anthropogenic risks, caused by humans (technology, governance, climate change), and natural or external risks.[63] Examples of technology risks are hostile artificial intelligence and destructive biotechnology or nanotechnology. Insufficient or malign global governance creates risks in the social and political domain, such as a global war, including nuclear holocaust, bioterrorism using genetically modified organisms, cyberterrorism destroying critical infrastructure like the electrical grid; or the failure to manage a natural pandemic. Problems and risks in the domain of earth system governance include global warming, environmental degradation, including extinction of species, famine as a result of non-equitable resource distribution, human overpopulation, crop failures and non-sustainable agriculture. Examples of non-anthropogenic risks are an asteroid impact event, a supervolcanic eruption, a lethal gamma-ray burst, a geomagnetic storm destroying electronic equipment, natural long-term climate change, hostile extraterrestrial life, or the predictable Sun transforming into a red giant star engulfing the Earth.

Civilization's perception and handling of such issues

A complex fabric of economic mechanisms, ethical motivations, societal incentives, international coordination, national purposive structures, international organizations, technological means, inter-group competition, communication and more was designed and emerged in the global human civilization that aims to or effectively addresses such issues.

In 2021, a group of 17 high-ranking ecologists published a Perspective piece reviewing research and data that indicate future environmental conditions will be "far more dangerous than currently believed", and conclude that the current challenges that humanity faces – when considered individually – are enormous, that an "optimism bias" is prevalent and that fundamental socioeconomic changes are required. In the largely static document that was published by a scientific journal, the small group lists a few of such changes they deduced to be adequate or necessary in the form of very brief and broad descriptions.[65][66][67]

See also


  1. ^ Earth has already experienced almost 1/2 of the 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) described in the Cancún Agreement. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F) with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades.[24]


  1. ^ Bhargava, Vinay (2006). Global issues for global citizens : an introduction to key development challenges. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. ISBN 9780821367315. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ Global Issues
  3. ^ "Global Issues (2012), Foreword"
  4. ^ Hotchkiss, Michael (2014-12-01). "A Risky Proposition: Has global interdependence made us vulnerable?". Princeton University. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  5. ^ Ceballos, Gerardo; Ehrlich, Paul R; Dirzo, Rodolfo (23 May 2017). "Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines". PNAS. 114 (30): E6089–E6096. doi:10.1073/pnas.1704949114. PMC 5544311. PMID 28696295. Much less frequently mentioned are, however, the ultimate drivers of those immediate causes of biotic destruction, namely, human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich. These drivers, all of which trace to the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet, are themselves increasing rapidly.
  6. ^ Diamond, Jared: (2008-01-02). "What's Your Consumption Factor?" The New York Times
  7. ^ Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Jaana Remes, Jesko Perrey, Greg Kelly, Kanaka Pattabiraman, and Hemant Sharma. (2016, March). Urban world: The global consumers to watch. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from
  8. ^ a b Stocker, T.F.; Qin, D.; Plattner, G.-K.; Tignor, M.; Allen, S.K.; Boschung, J.; Nauels, A.; Xia, Y.; Bex, V.; Midgley, P.M. (2013). "The Physical Science Basis – Summary for Policymakers" (PDF). IPCC WGI AR5 (Report). p. 4. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  9. ^ "Myths vs. Facts: Denial of Petitions for Reconsideration of the Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2016-08-25. Retrieved 7 August 2017. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have each independently concluded that warming of the climate system in recent decades is "unequivocal". This conclusion is not drawn from any one source of data but is based on multiple lines of evidence, including three worldwide temperature datasets showing nearly identical warming trends as well as numerous other independent indicators of global warming (e.g., rising sea levels, shrinking Arctic sea ice).
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  13. ^ "What's the difference between global warming and climate change?". NOAA 17 June 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2018. Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the 'side effects' of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. Said another way, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change.
  14. ^ Mach, Katharine J.; Serge, Planton; von Stechow, Christoph (2014). "Annex II Glossary" (PDF). IPCC SYR AR5 (Report). p. 120. Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings such as modulations of the solar cycles, volcanic eruptions and persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. .... {WGI, II, III}
  15. ^ Field, Christopher B.; Barros, Vicente R.; Mach, Katharine J.; Mastrandrea, Michael D.; et al. "IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability – Technical Summary" (PDF). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. pp. 44–46.
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  18. ^ On snowfall:
  19. ^ Battisti, David S.; Naylor, Rosamond L. (9 January 2009). "Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat". Science. 323 (5911): 240–44. doi:10.1126/science.1164363. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 19131626. S2CID 8658033.
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  23. ^ "Conference of the Parties – Sixteenth Session: Decision 1/CP.16: The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (English): Paragraph 4" (PDF). UNFCCC Secretariat: Bonn, Germany: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2011: 3. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) "(...) deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science, and as documented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above preindustrial levels"
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  25. ^
  26. ^ James Hansen; Makiko Sato; Gary Russell; Pushker Kharecha (September 2013). "Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 371 (2001): 20120294. arXiv:1211.4846. Bibcode:2013RSPTA.37120294H. doi:10.1098/rsta.2012.0294. PMC 3785813. PMID 24043864.
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