Environmental and ecological stress are both the stress suffered by natural systems in accommodating distubance and the stress on humans experiencing environmental degradation and resource depletion.
Human life depends on healthy ecosystems which supply life-sustaining resources and absorb wastes. Current growth and consumption patterns are placing increasing stress on ecosystems. Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and the breakdown of social and economic systems are some of the signs indicating that ecosystems are stressed.
The linkages among environment, development, poverty (or limited resources) and conflict are complex. Environmental stress is both a cause and an effect of political tension and military conflict. Thus communities or countries may engage in conflict to assert or resist control over what they perceive are limited raw materials, water, energy supplies, land, river basins, sea passages, and other environmental resources.
The United States places the greatest pressure on the environment, with its carbon dioxide emissions and over-consumption. It takes 12.2 hectares of land to support each American citizen and 6.29 for each Briton, while the figure for Burundi is just half a hectare.