Tuesday, 29 October 2013

POPULATION, DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT

On 20th April 2010 the world witnessed one of the worst environmental disasters, when Deep water Horizon platform, located in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire and plunged into the ocean. The spill causing 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil to contaminate the Gulf of Mexico each day causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing and tourism industries, and human health problems that have continued through 2013. The total discharge is estimated at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3)!

We have had our share of such instances over time, with the occasional oil spill from merchant vessels, pollution due to industrial wastes, the Chernobyl disaster, and closer home, the Bhopal gas tragedy. These disasters impact not only on the life of the ecological system but also on the livelihood of man for it puts an end to his basic necessities of food, clean air and water.

Humanity in 21st century is posed with serious challenges of rapid population growth fast depletion of resources severe environmental pollution and damage to fragile ecosystem through which life on earth survives. Increased level of industrial activities to meet the ever increasing demand of humankind has caused irreversible damage to the pristine ecosystem that earth once had.

So can the complex inter-relationship among population, need for growth and environment sustainability sustain?

Currently, we are facing a problem of population boom. Just India and China account for nearly half of the world’s population. With India poised to overtake China by 2030, there is immense pressure on our agricultural fields to produce food to feed our massive population of 1.2 billion people. To sustain such a huge population, rapid increase in the economic and industrial activities must also take place. These factors further tend to put immense pressure on our ecosystem.

As we all know there is a constant increase in the population of the world and there is limited availability of land. Thus it has led to a number of conflicts like conflicts between the citizens/ civil society organizations and industries for land, as in case of POSCO plant at Paradip,  between industries and government for environmental laws, as in case of the VEDANTA ALUMINIUM PLANT at Niyamgiri. Not only in our country but all over the world such struggles can be seen.

Let’s imagine a situation where there is an industry levitating 10 feet above the ground. Drawing all its resources from space but showering all the monetary benefits on us!

Yes, this is impossible but it seems one of the best solutions for humans who have been struggling to prioritize between population parameter, development and environment.

Shifting our focusing to international arena USA, which has comparatively very less population than India and China, alone has contributed most towards the destruction of the ecological balance.

According to a study done by TATA Institute of Social Science, USA has used up, in 150 years nearly three times its carbon emission entitlement of over 200 years. And not only USA, EU and RUSSIA are also on the same side.

By now everybody must be thinking that I am only rambling about the problems but where are the solutions to these.

I want to remind everybody about a famous saying “Nature has everything to satisfy a man’s need but not his greed.”

We can’t just keep exploiting the nature to meet our aspirations and justifying our acts by saying that nature is very resilient!

Population, development and environment can have a synergistic relation if populations grow and developments are done keeping in mind the limitations of our Mother Nature. Its high time governments all over world shift their focus towards incorporating building environmental as an integral part of nation building. Devote a considerable part of their GDP towards developing technologies that will address various impediments towards environmental sustainability.

 From ages we are calling our environment as “Mother Nature” but it’s high time we start treating her like one.

Thank You 
Prateek Jena
First Year
IMI-Bhubaneswar

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