From DDL Wiki
Major environmental issues affected by design choices include:
Global warming (or climate change) results from the addition of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels, agricultural practices and industrial practices that raise the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The rising temperature increases the following phenomena: incidence of storms, desertification, range of tropical diseases, melting glaciers and polar ice, changes in marine ecologies and possible changes to ocean currents.
Stratospheric ozone depletion is caused by emissions of chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFC’s) such as Freon and related compounds. Ozone in the upper atmosphere is destroyed, leading to “ozone holes” above the North and South poles. Ozone loss increases the ultraviolet (UV) light falling on the Earth, leading to cancers and cataracts in animals and humans. The UV light also reduces the productivity of plants, affects marine algae and affects the life forms in high latitudes. The 1992 Montreal Protocol banned use of 42 ozone-depleting chemicals internationally.
Acid rain (acid precipitation) is caused by the release of acidic gases, primarily from burning fossil fuels. The acids dissolve aluminum and other metals from soils to the level at which they become toxic to plants and to aquatic organisms. Acidic rain dissolves cement and minerals in the built environment.
Eutrophication is caused by the addition of excess nutrients to water leading to reduction of available oxygen. Nitrogen and phosphorous compounds from municipal wastewater and agriculture pollute surface waters. This results in algal blooms that lower the quantity of dissolved oxygen that kills fish and other aquatic organisms.
Habitat alteration (also referred to as land-use) is the physical modification or destruction of natural habitats. Ecosystems are destroyed to provide for agriculture, roads and urban growth. Habitat alteration is the primary cause of the loss of biodiversity on the planet.
Ecotoxicity is the effect of toxic substances on plants, animals and other biota in the natural environment. The range of possible effects is large and methods of assessing these impacts are still developing.
Human Health Damage
Photochemical smog & air pollutants
Photochemical smog is caused by the emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds(VOCs) that generate ground level ozone in the presence of sunlight. Other air pollutants (referred to as “criteria air pollutants” by the US EPA) include small dust particles. Smog and air pollutants increase the incidence of asthma in humans and reduce the ability of plants to photosynthesize.
Health damaging substances
Non-cancer causing substances can include skin irritants, growth inhibitors, and hormone disrupting chemicals. Potential toxic effects can include transient irritation, physical or mental disability, inhibition of physical or mental development, temporary or permanent disability and/or death.
Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances that can cause permanent disability and/or death. Mutagens are substances that can cause genetic mutation. Most carcinogenic substances are also mutagenic. Teratogens are substances that can cause defects in developing babies in the womb.
Current consumption rates for fossil fuels (including oil, natural gas and various types of coal) convert the fuels into carbon dioxide (CO2) at a rate millions of times faster than nature can replenish the fuel reservoirs.
Consumption of fresh surface water or fresh groundwater converts them into forms that are typically not recoverable. Access to clean potable water is a growing international problem.
Metal ores are converted into metal alloys that are eventually oxidized or dispersed as waste that is often not recycled.
Agriculture can erode topsoil at a rate faster than natural processes replenish it.