Europe is a diverse continent in which industries and agriculture vary. All countries in Europe face environmental problems and work hard to control and reduce the effects of pollution. The former communist countries of eastern Europe are trying to attain the same economic and environmental standards as the other countries.
Living in Europe The European Union has united many of the diverse economies in Europe to boost trade and efficiency. Plans are underway to include the former communist countries of eastern Europe, which are moving from command economies to market economies. Europe has major heavy industrial centers, light industry, and thriving service and technology industries. Fertile farmlands supply a variety of crops. Climates and economic development determine the types of crops grown and the approach to agriculture in each country. Western Europe has extensive networks of railroads, highways, waterways, and airline routes, and those of eastern Europe are improving. Communications systems also are well developed in western Europe and expanding in eastern Europe.
People and Their Environment The varied physical environments of Europe pose challenges of earthquakes, droughts, major storms, and floods. Manmade problems include acid rain, which destroys forests, waters, and historic buildings; air pollution from factories especially in eastern Europe and the high number of cars everywhere; the threat of global warming due to increased carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere; and water pollution in lakes, rivers, and the Mediterranean Sea. Factories built without pollution control and the heavy use of lignite coal in eastern Europe during the communist era have added to this problem. Europeans are working hard to control and reduce pollution, demonstrating the global range of Europe's environmental concerns.