Theodore Roosevelt advised “Here is your country, cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as sacred heritage, for your children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests, skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance”. This statement holds more relevance than ever in the current scenario. Lifestyles demanding excessive consumption and depletion of natural resources, non-monitored industrialization, unsustainable methods of production and population cloud bursts have resulted in poisoning of soil, habitat degradation, ozone depletion, freshwater pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Facts highlighting INDIA’S current situation:
According to WHO, out of India’s 3119 towns and cities just 209 have partial sewage treatment facilities and only 8 have full sewage treatment facilities. In July 2012, about 670 million people faced power cuts due to severe droughts restricting the power delivered by hydroelectric dams. A survey suggests that over 100 million households possess stoves which use biomass cakes and fuel wood as cooking fuel and it produces air pollutants 5 times higher than coal. Indian cities generate more than 100 tonnes of solid waste per year. 70% of all available water in India is polluted. India’s fourteen major river systems are heavily polluted causing gastro intestinal diseases.
Measurement Techniques and Efforts accomplished towards Environmental protection:
Different techniques have been developed to measure the impact of all such hazardous factors. Ehrlich Identity, I=PAT, relates in a multiplicative way, Population, Affluence and Technology to environmental impact, I. Environmental Kuznets curve marks the curve between environmental degradation and per capita income of people in an area. Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing is used to mark urban growth, forest fragmentation, loss of agricultural lands and increase in impervious surface area.
There have been many inclusions in the Prevention and Control of Pollution Act since its origin. In 1985, Ministry of Environment and Forests was formed to regulate and ensure environmental protection. National Environment Policy, 2006 was the first initiative in strategy-formulation for environmental protection in a comprehensive manner. It undertook a diagnosis of the causative factors of land degradation with a view to flagging the remedial measures required in this direction. Many International initiatives like Kyoto Protocol have been agreed upon by India limiting the release of Green House Gases. At present, India accounts for nearly 17% of the world’s population, but only 4% of global GHG emissions. Trade of carbon credits from developing to developed countries has come out as an entirely new area for business opportunities.”TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE” principle, which ensures equal consideration for Social, Environmental and Economical aspects before starting any project, has been adopted by sixty percent of the Fortune 500 companies for expanding their strategic goals.
Even after making ardent efforts we are still lagging behind and we need to ensure a more holistic approach towards environmental protection and pollution control and a sense of ownership towards one’s surroundings which should be instilled in every citizen.
New techniques suggested
As the environmentalist, Gary Snyder said “Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” So let us spark a revolution at home by using CFL bulbs for energy efficiency and the right size, shape and brightness of each can be identified at edf.org (Environmental Defense Fund). Recycling sites for dead batteries can be located through earth911.com. We should opt for rechargeable batteries as they last longer along with being recyclable. For regular cleaning purposes use microfiber towels as they are lint free along with hydrogen peroxide based bleach. For maintaining indoor air quality and lowering the indoor temperature designs ensuring cross ventilation, double glazing and installing a geothermal cooling system underground helps. Optimizing the use of sunlight for internal illumination is also critical and the required changes in orientation of rooms and their design have to be incorporated. Replacing paper cups or Styrofoam cups for tea / coffee at offices by mugs for each would help as paper cups are coated and cannot be recycled or composted. For industries a concept called Industrial Ecology can be adopted which is an approach to manage human activity on a sustainable basis by essential integration of human systems into natural systems, by minimizing energy and materials usage and by minimizing the ecological impact of human activity to levels natural systems can sustain.
Embracing the fact that without natural capital there is no life and hence no economic activity possible, we need to put brakes to water and nutrient cycle disturbing elements and should work towards strengthening atmospheric and ecological stability and check disrupting pollination and biodiversity.
We must never forget that “We have not inherited this earth from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children and we must be careful to use it in their interests as well as our own”.
Contributed by: Darpan Chandalia. Darpan is a qualified Engineer and has obtained PGDM in Advanced Construction Management from NICMAR, Pune