Man is an integral part of the environment, yet he is the arch-enemy of it. For centuries man has been thriving on its generosity. But in his quest to make life very simpler and more luxurious,, he has turned a blind eye to the damage caused to the environment. Our greed to get the most out of everything has made us contemptuously neglect the environment, although we all know that our very existence depends on it. A careful analysis of why there are imbalances in the environment will highlight numerous mistakes and aberrations on our parts. After doing so, I reason that there are certain traits in us that have led to the present situation.
The first is the innate tendency to discriminate. After divining the world into geographical entities by drawing imaginary lines called ‘borders’, man has divided societies on the basic of color, creed, religion etc.
The immediate effect of such division is bias. Primarily our world has been divided into major categories based on the qualities of life- developed and developing. Although the word ‘developed’ seems to have comforting implications, the problematic aspect is that these countries have not attained this status without damaging the environment. In fact, they have tampered with it to a great extent. Every element of the environment, be it land or water, has been exploited.
The other category, the developing nations, is like a teenager who has just turned adult. He wants to enjoy every bit of comfort and freedom that was till now the prerogative of the developed nations. Lately both the developed and the developing nations woken up to the ramifications of damaging the environment.
Various conference and summits have been held to find solutions to the problem. But the outcome of all these has been the same; no consensus has been reached on how to preserve the environment. The prime reason of the discord is the question of responsibility. Both the parties present their own set of arguments to evade the issue.
The developing nations allege that it is the developed which have misused natural resources and hence, the onus is on them to preserve the environment and undo their actions that have led to the present scenario. At the end of the day, the victim of this blame game is the environment, which is languishing due to mankind’s apathetic nature.
In order to progress, every country needs to set up industries for manufacturing essential commodities. Both the developed and the developing nations have extensive set-up of such industries that cause more pollution than any other thing on the planet. The amount carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by these has already reached dangerous levels. Carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, is the main cause of global warning. It has been reported that the average global surface temperature has risen by 0.56 degree C.
One of the effects of this surge is that the Antarctic ice caps have stared melting thereby making the sea level rise. Based on their respective findings, concerted scientists fraternity has been trying to draw the attention of the policymakers to the grave situation that we have put ourselves in. Some lo-lying areas are already facing the threat of being submerged by rising sea levels. The increase in average temperature has also caused warming of sea waters. We all are well aware of EI Nino that occurs dues to warming of the Pacific.
Countries, particularly those encircling the Pacific, are the worst affected by the weather disturbance that it brings along. Heat waves, one of such weather problems, kill a large number of people very year.
The above paragraph present a global picture of discrimination and divided politics. Even within a country we find it very common. We do not have to rack our brains to find a suitable example. Our very own India has deeply entrenched caste lines. People of superior castes believe that certain activities should be carried out only by those from the lower strata of the society.
Cleaning drains and toilets and picking rags from the streets are expected to be carried out by these people. If these workers go on leave, no individual from the upper echelons of the society would engage himself in such work. Young individuals from lower castes ni longer wants to continue with this petty work and want to pursue something that is socially more acceptable.
It has widened the demand-and-supply gap resulting in squalid surroundings. If people understand their duties and change their outlook a bit, the problem can be readily solved. As has been practiced in the developed countries for years now, home owners should themselves collect and dump the garbage at the local collection point. They should not look down upon this because keeping’s one’s surroundings clean is not dis-respectable. They should also not expect someone else to do this on their behalf just because that person stands lower on the social ladder.
The second trait that has led to the damage of the environment is self-centeredness. The motto of people goes like “If it suits you, carry on and forget about everything else”. Unfortunately, the word “everything” is that seems to refer o the environment because it is that one thing which everyone tends to forget about. Again, no better example comes to mind other than India to substantiate this. Right from the festivals, to holiday trips to part celebrations, our actions disrupt the balance in nature.
Starting with the festival many of them involve submerging sacred status in rivers or seas causing water pollution. Water bodies have self-cleaning ability, but if polluted beyond the saturation point they disturb the aquatic life . Many varieties of fish are known to have become endangered due to our negligence. Some festivals involve blasting crackers which causes air pollution.
Not only this, stray animals suffer severe trauma because of the unbearable noise of crackers. Moving on to our overzealous vacation trips, we somehow damage the environment there also. Some of our hill stations have started getting warmer.
The rise in temperature is partly due to the vehicles coming to these areas packed with visitors and emitting CO2 copiously. Such scenes have especially become common in places like Mussoorie, Shimla, Khandala, etc, which are close to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. People do not mind taking their high emission vehicles to these serene places, thus disturbing their ecology. And all this is due to inadequate government policies and the indifferent attitude of the people.
It should not be surprising that after enduring so much, the environment also runs out of patience sometimes. And then its fury is unleashed. This is quite evident from the fact that the rise of sea level due to global warming is giving nightmares to scientists across the world. It is posing a serious hazard to the existence of a number of islands by threatening to wipe many of them off the world map.
Nature is hitting mankind back in some other spheres as well. In parts of Indian, climate changes due to heat wave render the crops useless and on occasions this happens right before the harvest. Being primarily an agrarian economy, it becomes very difficult for India to cope with such a challenge. This makes evident that the environment retorts whenever it is tampered. Another very compelling example is that of yaks, Yaks, that are suited to very cold climate and are confined only to upper regions of the mountains, are brought down to lowers areas where tourists throng because they are a major tourist attraction.
Lately it has been found that these Yaks meet untimely death because their bodies are not able to adapt to the warmer conditions downhill. In turn there owners suffer heavy loss. Another area where meddling with environment can have dire consequences is land pollution. Whenever waste is not disposed of properly, the dump becomes the perfect breeding ground of pathogens resulting in epidermis such as plague and dengue. Other diseases such as asthma are one the rise in large cities where air pollution is more acute.
The groundwater level has been plummeting in more of the cities due to improper use of the precious water resources. Whenever there us scarcity of water, people fight it out to get their share when the local water tankers arrives in their locality. These examples clearly, indicate that whenever man disturbs the environment balance, he is in fact digging his own grave.
It is the time man undid the damage done to his surroundings. Both the developed and the developing nations should come together to protect the environment. Instead of questioning each other’s duties, they should collectively strive for a solution and step up their efforts to save the enviroement. In fact, every county should do its bit.
Likewise we, in India, should cooperate with the government on its politics and also help formulate new ones to protect the environment. Closing the tap properly and switching off appliances when not in use are some of the basic appliances when not in use are some of the basic measures that require almost no effort on one’s part but still can make a huge difference. Other measures like using public transport, ensuring that surroundings are not polluted during festival celebrations can go al long way towards protecting environment.
Effective advertising campaigns proper education imparted to poor people, involving business hoses, etc, will also pave the way for a better environment. At the end of the day, we must understand that maintaining the balance would not only help us but more importantly, would ensure the very existence of life on Earth.
Courtney from Study Moose
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