Global Megatrend Update: Increasing environmental pollution
Across the world, ecosystems are today exposed to critical levels of pollution in increasingly complex
mixtures. Human activities (such as energy generation and agriculture), global population growth and
changing consumption patterns are the key drivers behind this growing environmental burden.
Historic trends and business-as-usual projections suggest that in the coming decades pollution may reduce in some regions but could increase markedly in others. For example, emissions to air of nitrogen oxides, sulphur and tropospheric ozone are projected to decrease in Europe and North America but may increase significantly in Asia. The trends in Asia could, however, impact other world regions — including Europe — via long-range transport of pollutants.
Nutrient effluents from agriculture and wastewater into the soil and oceans are projected to increase in most world regions, driven in part by the demand for increased agricultural production. The increasing complexity of chemical mixtures released into the environment is also a concern globally.