What are three environmental issues and the relevance/significance that they have on the environment?

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There are several environmental issues that the planet is facing today.  They are all by definition significant to the environment.  I will outline three of them below.

Climate change is probably the environmental issue that you hear about most regulary from the media/news.  There is little doubt that the Earth is in a warming phase right now.  Outside of the question of the effect that will have on weather and living organisms, the rise in sea level from melting polar ice could affect millions of people inhabiting coastal areas  The key question here is if the warming is part of a natural cycle or if it is caused by humans.  The Earth has gone through numerous dramatic climate changes in the past before humans ever existed and certainly before the burning of fossil fuels.  But the flip side to the question is even if man is accelerating the warming, what can we really do about it?  The Western world's entire lifestyle is ultimately based on combustion, thus producing the greenhouse gas CO2.  And the Eastern world is quickly catching up with Western lifestyles.  Do we have the technological means and the trillions of dollars to alter this combustion-dependence on a global scale?

Agriculture and food production is another major topic.  The Earth's population is growing at a rapid pace and it will be many more years before the growth starts to level off.  We need more food to feed all of these people.  But how do we feed everyone without turning more forests into farmland?  And how do we maintain the farmland that we have now and prevent it from being used up and becoming unusable?

Water conservation is another major topic.  Although water covers most of the planet, most of it is saltwater that is not directly usable.  And of the freshwater supplies on the planet, much of it is tied up in polar ice.  Only about 1% of the water on the planet is directly usable by people.  And increasing global temperatures are only going to increase the stress on the water supply.  We need to cut down our water usage and step up conservation efforts to protect the water that we do have and pretect ourselves from being so vulnerable to drought.

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