URBANISATION, POPULATION, POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION, GLOBAL WARMING
“ The Earth , the Air , the Land and the Water are not an inheritance from our fore – fathers but on loan from our children . So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us ” this famous quote of one of eminent personality of our country Mahatma Gandhi signifies the importance of the natural resources which should be kept protected in order to bring the Sustainable Development . Factors including Urbanization , Population , Pollution , Deforestation and last but not the least Global Warming threatens our Sustainable Development . If they are not being controlled then they will definitely have a negative impact on our Sustainable Development . The most important weapon which helps to conserve and protect our Sustainable Development and hence builds a better World is Education . As rightly said , “ Education is key to the global integrated framework of sustainable development goals . Education is at the heart of our efforts both to adapt to change and to transform the world within which we live ” . As we are in the Second Decade in the Third Millennium , all the human beings are facing a very dangerous threat because we continues to exploit the natural resources of our Planet. Many exhaustible resources are being depleted due to the unrestrained use of fuel and energy. The depletion of resources and biodiversity, the production of waste, and the destroying of natural habitat are serious problems that must be addressed in order to ensure that life on earth will be sustainable throughout the next century
Hazards and Challenges to Sustainable Development
The main threats to sustainable development are – Urbanization , Population , Pollution , Deforestation and Global Warming . The degree of Urbanization in India from 2007 to 2017 shows that approximately 33.6% of the total population in India living in urban areas. The current population of India is 1,362,855,957 as of Wednesday , February 6 , 2019 , based on the latest United Nation estimates . The current Indian population is equivalent to 17.74% of the total World population . According to Environmental Performance Index ( EPI ) 2018 , India belongs to the bottom five countries on the EPI 2018 , it ranks 177 out of 180 in EPI and is at bottom in green ranking . India ranks 11th in The Climate Change Performance Index 2019 . The detailed information about those threats are given below –
Urbanization : Urbanization can be described as the process of migration of rural population to towns, causing an increase in the development of slums, increased pollution and waste, apart from the compulsion to develop infrastructure for housing the masses, educational facilities, roads and highways, healthcare, civil supplies, etc. congestion of living space, inadequate lung space , traffic , etc. causes to the various increased diseases . Recent farming practices results in the soil erosion and causes destruction of precious micro ecosystem that takes centuries to form and supports all life on land. Between 10,000 and 20,000 plant species are used in medicines worldwide. The diversity of nature helps to meet the recreational, emotional, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic needs of people. The land serves as storage for water and nutrients required for plants and other living micro-macro-organisms. The necessities for food, energy and other human requirements depends upon the preservation and improvement of the productivity of land. Remarkable loss of fertile land has been caused by a number of factors, many or most of which are tied to human development. Basic causes are deforestation, over exploitation for fuel wood, overgrazing, agricultural activities and industrialization. On the global basis, the soil degradation is caused primarily by overgrazing (35%), agricultural and farming activities (28%), deforestation (30%), over exploitation of land to produce fuel-wood (7%), and industrialization (4%) .
Population : The use, overuse and misuse of physical resources are increased due to the growth excessive human population. More population means more mouths to eat food which requires more agricultural production and more cultivable land has been made available by clearing forests and by reclaiming wet lands, ponds and green belts. Advanced agriculture requires utilization of more water, more fertilizers and more pesticides. Use of fertilizers and pesticides makes the soil infertile. Cutting down of forests has its own negative impacts and the environment on the whole gets imbalanced. Increased population means more space to construct houses and availability of more consumer goods. It also requires more means of transport, more consumption of fossil fuels and more pollution of air, land and water. Thus the rapid growth of population leads to pollution of air, land and water. Urban populations consume much more food, energy and durable goods than rural populations. The rapid increase of human population is putting an remarkable stress on our environment. While developed countries continue to pollute the environment and deplete its resources, developing countries are under excessive pressure to compete economically and their industrial advancements are damaging as well. The demands that this growth places on our global environment are threatening the future of sustainable life on earth. Different types of pollution are causing a number of problems in the physical environment that are further affecting the ecosystem immensely .
Pollution : Because of increasing population , more and more forests are cleared. The two most common reasons for deforestation are to make houses for increased number of people to live in , and to use wood as a fuel in the industries. As a result, the trees that help us in reducing the air pollution through the process of photosynthesis are not able to do so any more. This rapid cutting down of forests result into global warming. The property of some gases like carbon dioxide , methane and carbon monoxide to entrap the solar energy is called the greenhouse effect. Air pollution is not the only environmental damage being done by the increasing population. Today water pollution is also one of the increasing problems due to the population explosion. Water is considered the essence of life. The factories leads to various kinds of pollutions, including air and water pollution . Our country being an agrarian country, the water pollution also comes from pesticides used for agriculture. As we can observe, the growing population size is leading to increased pollution, which in turn is leading to a more hostile environment for human beings life.
Deforestation : The most important natural resource of India are Forests . They have influence against floods and thus they protect the soil erosion. Forests also play an important role in enhancing the quality of environment by influencing the ecological balance and life support system by checking soil erosion, maintaining soil fertility, conserving water, regulating water cycles and floods, balancing carbon dioxide and oxygen content in atmosphere etc. India has a forest cover of 76.52 million square kms. of defined forest area, while only 63.34 million square kms. can be enlisted as actual forest cover. Continuing deforestation, therefore, has brought us face to face with a major ecological and socio-economic crisis. Deforestation is related to negative environmental consequences such as bio-diversity loss, global warming, soil erosion and conversion of land into desert.
· Global Warming : The climate change through out the world is one of the biggest threats to our planet. There is a worldwide survey done by climate scientists which says that global average temperature has raised about 1F (0.4C –0.8C) in the past 140 years. The greatest environmental consequences of human population growth is the problem of Global Warming , which will lead to rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions in the future. The 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire millennium and the last 5 years were among the seven hottest on record. Looking to times long past, scientists recognized that massive ice sheets had once covered a good part of the Northern Hemisphere. The Ice Age was tens of thousands of years in the past, however, and it had been an aberration . It has been observed that the temperature in the Middle East to increase by 1 –2C by 2030 to 2050. The Ozone layer has been gradually ruined by the effect of the CFCs ( Chlorofluorocarbon ) . These CFCs were used as solvents, refrigerants, aerosol propellants, and to blow foam plastics. For this reason, the use of CFCs in aerosols has been banned everywhere. Various other chemicals, such as bromine halocarbons, as well as nitrous oxides from fertilizers, may also attack the ozone layer. Nitrogen oxides and methane are also compounds which adversely affect the stratosphere’s ozone. Scientists have found that there are other emissions derived from human activities, which have contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer. Antarctica was an early sufferer of ozone destruction. A big hole in the ozone layer right above Antarctica now threatens not only that continent, but many others that could be the victims of Antarctica’s melting icecaps because of the Ozone layer depletion.
The presence or the absence of favorable natural resources can accelerate or retard the process of socio economic growth and development. Three primary demographic factors of births (natality) ,deaths (mortality) and human migration (migration) and immigration (population moving into a country produces higher population) causes changes in population size, composition, distribution. Population growth and economic development are contributing to many serious environmental fear in our country which include heavy pressure on land, land degradation, climate change , forests, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. The final outcomes of these are air pollution, global warming, climate change, water scarcity and water pollution. All fossil fuels are made up of hydrocarbons and they release carbon dioxide when burned. The principal greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere because of human activities are : Carbon dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), solid waste, trees and wood products ; also as a result of other chemical reactions (e.g. – manufacture of cement) ; and through biological cycles ( respiration ) of plants. Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices apart from the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills. Nitrous oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste. Fluorinated gases : Hydro fluorocarbons, per fluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes. These gases are typically released in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases (High GWP gases). In addition to the above gases, volatile organic compounds, radon, asbestos, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and combustion particulates may affect indoor air-quality. These are introduced into the indoor nature by painting, glues, solvents, wood preservatives, carpets and cleaning products. We know that asbestos products are not yet banned in India .Though nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases, no any other way out has been found till now to dispose Plutonium and other wastes from nuclear power plants, which are highly radioactive. As per the above facts the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations tells that, by the end of the 21st century climate change will result in the following : A probable temperature rise between 1.8°C and 4°C . Sea level rise most likely to be in the range of 28 – 43 cm , summer sea ice in the second half of this century will not be seen , increase in heat waves in tropical , increased storm intensity also, which is a remarkable matter of concern.
Few Solutions to the Threats for Maintaining Sustainable Development
Few solutions to produce clean energy and to maintain sustainability include: Geothermal Power, Solar Energy, Wind Power, Modern Forms of Bio-Energy, Solar Photo-Voltaic, Advanced Biomass Gasification, Bio-Refinery Technologies, Solar Thermal Power Stations and Ocean Energy. Development of alternative fuels such as Bio-Diesel, Bio-Alcohol (Ethanol and Butanol), Chemically Stored Electricity (Batteries and Fuel Cells), Hydrogen, Non-Fossil Methane, Non-Fossil Natural Gas, Vegetable Oil and Other Biomass sources have also been attempted till date. The Brundtland Report and major UN (United Nation) summits have also described action by governments, civil society and business. In order to combat land degradation, several efforts have been made at the national and regional levels to develop monitoring and data collection methodologies and to formulate appropriate policies, programs and projects. At the national level, these measures have already been taken which include watershed management, soil and water conservation, sand dune stabilization, reclamation of waterlogged and saline land, forest and range management and the replenishment of soil fertility in arable lands by use of green manures and cultivation of appropriate crops etc.
KEEP READING, KEEP GROWING!