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Kerala Plus One Economics Notes Chapter 9 Environment Sustainable Development
The environment is defined as the total planetary inheritance and the totality of all resources. It includes all the biotic and abiotic factors that influence each other. While all living elements – the birds, animals and plants, forests, fisheries, etc. are biotic elements and abiotic elements include air, water, land, etc. Rocks and sunlight are all examples of abiotic elements of the environment. A study of the environment then calls for a study of the interrelationship between these biotic and abiotic components of the environment.
Functions of the Environment
The environment performs four vital functions
- It supplies resources: resources here include both renewable and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are those which can be used without the possibility of the resource becoming depleted or exhausted. That is, a continuous supply of the resource remains available.
- It assimilates waste
- It sustains life by providing genetic and bio-diversity
- It also provides aesthetic services like scenery, etc.
Global Warming and Ozone Depletion
Two important issues faced by our environment is global warming and ozone depletion.
Global warming: Global warming is a gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. Much of the recent observed and projected global warming is human-induced. It is caused by man-made increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Ozone Depletion: Ozone depletion refers to the phenomenon of reductions in the amount of ozone in the stratosphere The problem of ozone depletion is caused by high levels of chlorine and bromine compounds in the stratosphere The origins of these compounds are chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), used as cooling substances in airconditioners and refrigerators, or as aerosol propellants, and bromo fluorocarbons (halons), used in fire extinguishers. As a result of depletion of the ozone layer, more ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes to Earth and causes damage to living organisms. UV radiation seems responsible for skin cancer in humans; it also lowers production of phytoplankton and thus affects other aquatic organisms. It can also influence the growth of terrestrial plants.
State of India’s Environment
India has abundant natural resources in terms of rich quality of soil, hundreds of rivers and tributaries, lush green forests, plenty of mineral deposits beneath the land surface, vast stretch of the Indian Ocean, ranges of mountains, etc. The black soil of the Deccan Plateau is particularly suitable for the cultivation of cotton, leading to a concentration of textile industries in this region. The Indo-Gangetic plains – spread from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal – are one of the most fertile, intensively cultivated and densely populated regions in the world.
India’s forests, though unevenly distributed, provide green cover for a majority of its population and natural cover for its wildlife. Large deposits of iron ore, coal and natural gas are found in the country. India alone accounts for nearly 20% of the world’s total iron-ore reserves. Bauxite, copper, chromate, diamonds, gold, lead, lignite, manganese, zinc, uranium, etc. are also available in different parts of the country. However, the developmental activities in India have resulted in pressure on its finite natural resources, besides creating impacts on human health and well-being.
The threat to India’s environment poses a dichotomy -threat of poverty-induced environmental degradation and, at the same time, threat of pollution from affluence and a rapidly growing industrial sector. Air pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, deforestation and wildlife extinction are some of the most pressing environmental concerns of India.
The priority issues identified are :
- land degradation
- biodiversity loss
- air pollution with special reference to vehicular pollution in urban cities
- management of fresh water and
- Solid waste management. Land in India suffers from varying degrees and types of degradation stemming mainly from unstable use and inappropriate management practices.
The concept of sustainable development was emphasized by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which defined it as: ‘Development that meets the need of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs’.
Strategies for sustainable development
Strategies for sustainable development include the following.
- Use of Non-conventional Sources of Energy: LPG, Gobar Gas in Rural Areas:
- CNG in Urban Areas
- Wind Power
- Solar Power through Photovoltaic Cells
- Mini-hydel Plants
- Traditional Knowledge and Practices
- Bio-pest Control