Polluting Industries: The Worst Polluters and Contributors to Global Warming

The word “pollution” is often used loosely. Pollution is any change to an aspect of the environment that negatively affects living things or human activity. It can be in the form of toxic gases, liquids, solids, radiation, or biomaterial released in large amounts into the environment. Pollution is caused by human activities and can adversely affect human health, the environment, and the economy.

The most dangerous industries in the world are the ones whose pollution harm both human health and the environment. Pollution is making the earth and its atmosphere unfit for life. In this article, we’ll look into the most polluting industries worsening the health of our planet. 

Pollution is At Levels Not Seen Before

Despite decades of progress in cleaning up causes of air pollution, the “State of the Air” 2022 report reveals that more than 40% of Americans, or over 137 million people, reside in areas with harmful pollution levels. Compared to last year’s data, this is an increase of 2.1 million people breathing poor air. Compared to the previous year, about 9 million more people were affected by daily surges in lethal particle pollution. In just a span of 3 years, more Americans than ever before suffered “extremely unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality.

Most of the time, air pollution in developing countries is worse than in developed countries. Developing countries often don’t have the technology, political will or money to fight pollution. And because developed countries have stronger institutions and more resources, they are more likely to invest in cleaner fuel sources and technologies that reduce emissions.

6 Most Polluting Industries

Here is a rundown of some of the worst environmental polluters and contributors to global warming.

Industry #1: Energy

The number one industry that contributes to pollution is the energy industry. The energy industry uses mostly coal, oil and natural gas, to produce electricity. These power plants produce pollution that is harmful to the environment.

power plant

The energy industry makes up about 28% of the United States’ green gas emissions. This is the number one reason why the U.S. is one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in the world.

How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Support companies that are using renewable energy
  • Elect leaders who support sustainable policies
  • Protest against sectors that rely excessively on non-renewable energy
  • Make sustainable energy the better option

Related: Types Solar Energy Panels, Is Solar Energy Renewable?

Industry #2: Transportation

Many people overlook the impact of transportation on the environment and health. However, transportation accounts for 23% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. According to official data, transportation is the 2nd most polluting industry. This covers cars, trucks, boats, aircraft, and trains. Almost every non-human powered or electric means of transportation, with automobiles and “light duty” vehicles, accounts for 60% of the emissions. These numbers only consider the fuel used to power the cars, not their real production.


How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Avoid using airplanes unless extremely necessary
  • Make use of alternative modes of transport whenever possible
  • Commute using public transport more often
  • Demand walkable and bicycle friendly areas in your local community
  • Buy local

Related: Sustainable Transportation, Electric Cars, Car Innovation

Industry #3: Agriculture

Not only does agriculture use an excessive quantity of natural resources – up to 70 percent of freshwater in the world is used by the industry. The agriculture industry also produces excessive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture generates 11% of greenhouse gases, with methane and nitrous oxides from cattle accounting for two-thirds of that amount. Moreover, deforestation and land removal to create room for pastures and farms are equally detrimental to the environment.


How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Go vegan
  • Buy and shop organic produce
  • Support and encourage movements that combat deforestation for agriculture

Industry #4: Fashion

Not all clothes are harmful to the environment, but the standard practices of rapid fashion are. Rapid fashion refers to the disposable culture dominant in many western nations, in which inexpensive garments are abandoned in favor of new ones while they still have a good amount of life. Made from low-quality materials, these garments frequently include microplastics, which, despite sophisticated new strategies to combat their spread, remain a big environmental blemish for the sector.


How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Invest in high-quality clothes
  • Opt for clothes rental
  • Visit and shop in thrift stores more often

Industry #5: Construction

Did you know that the construction industry uses 50% of the world’s natural resources? In addition to accounting for 25% of timber harvesting and 16.5% of water extraction, China is responsible for 50% of landfill waste and 25% of all world waste. In addition, it is a significant source of air, water, and noise pollution. Urbanites may have become accustomed to it as a normal part of life, but there is no denying construction’s significant role in pollution.


How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Campaign against urban sprawl, especially in natural reserves or wildlife areas
  • Support your local area by helping preserve local flora and fauna
  • Choose sustainable materials if you’re planing a construction

Industry #6: Technology

The technology sector accounts for over 2% of worldwide emissions. Still, if current trends continue, by 2040, it will account for 15% of global emissions, equivalent to half of the world’s transport industry emissions.

This includes electronics such as mobile phones, computers, tablets, etc. These electronic devices contain toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and other harmful elements. Over one-third of the world’s electronic waste is in landfills each year.


How you can help to minimize the risks:

  • Get your gadgets from companies that promote sustainability
  • Reduce your reliance on technology by spending more time outdoors instead.
  • Consider recycling or donating your unwanted gadgets instead of throwing them into landfills.

Author’s Note

Human activities are causing catastrophic damage to the environment. We can all help to reduce these risks by taking care of our environment and doing our part to reduce our carbon footprints. We can change our world for the better by minimizing our consumption habits and encouraging more sustainable lifestyles. We can support environmentally friendly businesses and opt for better alternatives wherever possible. Everything we do matters, and even the slightest shift can make the biggest difference.

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