Meaning of Environment

The environment is the sum total of external forces which surround us. The environment includes all the biotic and abiotic factors that influence each other. All living elements like birds, animals, plants, forests, fisheries, etc. are biotic elements. Abiotic elements include non-living elements like air, water, land, etc.

Q. Explain Functions of the Environment.

The environment performs 4 vital information

  1. Provide resources for production: The environment supplies renewable and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources like trees, fish, etc. A non-renewable resources like fuel, the natural resources provided by the environment are used as input for production.
  2. Environment assimilates waste: The process of production and consumption activities generates a lot of wastage which is absorbed by the environment.
  3. Environment sustains life: Some basis necessities of life (sun, soil, water, and air) are part of the environment. So, the environment sustains life by providing these essential elements.
  4. It provides aesthetic service: Environment includes land, forests, water bodies, rainfall, etc. man enjoys these surroundings to the quality of life.

Global Environment issues

There are many global environmental issues. These are :

  1. Global warming
  2. Ozone depletion
  3. Environment crisis
  4. The rise in Opportunity Cost of Negative Environmental Impacts
  5. Supply Demand Reversal of Environmental Resources
  6. Massive Overuse and Misuse of Environmental Resource

Q. What is global warming? Why does it occur? How does it adversely affect the earth?

Ans. Global warming: Global warming is observed and projected as an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The earth’s average temperature was about 0.6°C in the 20th century.

Causes of Global warming

  1. Most of the global warming used by man-made increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  2. Global warming is mainly caused by :
    1. burning of coal and petroleum products
    2. deforestation
    3. release of methane gas from animal waste
    4. increased cattle production

The main effect of Global warming

Global warming is adversely affecting the earth in two way

  1. The temperature on earth may increase by about 3 to 5°C by the year 2100.
  2. The sea level can also raise by atleast 25m by the year 2100.

Q. Discuss in brief the meaning of Ozone depletion?

Ans. Ozone depletion: It refers to the destruction of the stratosphere ozone layer which shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation harmful to life. Causes of ozone depletion

The depletion of the ozone layer has been caused by a high level of chlorine in the stratosphere. Cholorofluoro Carbons (CFCs) are used as cooling agents in air conditioners and refrigerators and bromofluorocarbon (halons) are used as fire extinguishers.

The main effect of ozone depletion

  1. It causes skin cancer in human being
  2. It lower the production of phytoplankton and other acquatic organism.
  3. It lowers the growth of terrestrial plants.

Q. What is an environmental crisis? Discuss the reasons for Environment crises?

Ans. Environment crisis: An environmental or ecological crisis occurs when the environmental environment where a species or population lives experiences changes that threaten its continuity. The environment is able to perform these functions without any interruption as long as demand on these functions is within its carrying capacity implies 2 things.

  1. Resources extraction should remain below the rate of resource generation.
  2. Generation of waste should remain within the absorption capacity of the environment.

If these two conditions are not fulfilled then the environment fails to perform its vital function and it leads to the situation of environmental crisis.

Reasons for Environmental crisis

  1. The population explosion and advent of industrial revolution has increased demand for environmental resources but their supply is limited due to overuse and misuse.
  2. The extensive and intensive extraction of both renewable and nonrenewable resources have exhausted some of the vital resources which has resulted in environmental crisis.
  3. The development process has polluted the atmoshere and water. It has resulted in increase incidence of respiratory and water borne diseases.
  4. The expenditure on health is also rising global environmental issue also contribute to the increased financial commitment for the govt. Thus, it is clear that opportunity cost of negative environmental impacts are high and environmental issue of waste generation and pollution have become critical.

Challenges to India’s Environment / Environmental Degradation Major challenges to India’s environment are :

  1. Land degradation
  2. Pollution
  3. Deforestation
  4. Biodiversity Loss
  1. Land degradation: It refers to a decline in the overall quality of soil, water, or vegetation condition, commonly caused by human activities. The major causes of land degradation include —
  1. Loss of vegetation due to deforestation
  2. Over grazing
  3. Encroachment into forest land
  4. Non-adoption of adequte soil conservation measures.
  5. Improper crop rotation.
  6. Improper planning and management of irrigation systems. (g) Indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides
  7. Extraction of groundwater in excess of recharge capacity.
  1. Deforestation: Deforestation can be defined as the large-scale removal of trees from forests (or other lands) for the facilitation of human activities. It is a serious environmental concern since it can result in the loss of biodiversity, damage to natural habitats, disturbances in the water cycle, and soil erosion. Deforestation is also a contributor to climate change and global warming. Large-scale deforestation is due to overexploitation and management of forest resources. There are serious and dangerous consequences of forest depletion in the form of increasing floods soil erosion and changes in climate etc.
  2. Pollution: refers to those activities of production and consumption which challenge the purity of air and water and the serenity of the environment. It is a serious emerging challenge related to the process of growth, particularly related to the process of industrialization. Pollution unfolds itself in three ways :
  1. Air pollution
  2. Water pollution
  3. Land pollution
  4. Noise pollution

Types of Pollution

  1. Air pollution : Air pollution is the result of a combination of factors which lowers the air quality. It is mainly due to carbon monoxide emitted by automobiles which contributes to air polution, smoke and other chemical from manufacturing plants pollute the air.
  2. Water pollution : Water becomes polluted primarily from chemical and waste dumping. For years business enterprises have been dumping waste into rivers streams and lakes with little regard for the consequences water pollution has led to the death of several animals and posses serious threat to human life.
  3. Land pollution : Dumping of toxic waste on land causes land pollution. This damages the quality of land making it unfit for agriculture or plantation. Restoring the quality of the land that has already been damaged is a big problem.
  4. Noise pollution : Noise caused by the running of factories and vehicles is not merely a source of annoyance but is also a serious health hazard. Noise pollution can be responsible for many diseases like loss of hearing, malfunctioning of the heart and mental disorder.

Causes of Environmental Degradation

  1. High population growth : Population explosion is are of the major causes for degradaton of environment. Its growth at about 2 per cent annually is a burden on natural resources.
  2. Industrial Pollution : In India, unplanned and uncontrolled growth of industries are creating huge atmospheric pollution regularly, leading to huge environmental problem.
  3. Increasing Urbansation : Urbanisation has been too rapid in recent decades, with bigger towns growing at a much faster rate. The overcrowding in cities (population, vehicles, etc.) has led to the increase of slums and undesirable land-use changes, besides causing deterioration of air and water quality and generation of huge waste.
  4. Mass poverty : The poor people earn their living through activities like gathering of forest produce, collection of firewood, excessively intensive use of small pieces of land or fishing in various ponds and rivers. All these activities lead to loss of natural assets and environmental degradation.
  5. Pattern of Economic Growth : The great emphasis on the development of basic and capital goods industries and the technologies used for them, have depleted natural resources and damaged the eco-system, besides contaminating water, air and land resources.
  6. Vehicular pollution : Increased road traffic in the cities and the sound of vehicles has also resulted in noise pollution.
  7. Increase in use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides : Agricultural development due to environmentally-unfriendly farming methods (high use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides) adversely affect the environment by causing soil erosion, land salivation and loss of fertility.

Biodiversity Loss

Measures to Control Environmental Degradation

The rapid economic growth has led to many undesirable consequences and unanticipated environmental problems. Some of the measures, that are needed to control environmental degradation etc.

  1. Public participation : The first step to control environmental degradation is to encourage public participation in protection of environment.
  2. Control population : The high growth rate of population adversely affects the environment. So, there is a serious need to control the growth rate of population to a level.
  3. Control of Vehicular, Industrial and Agricultural Pollution : Various strategies need to be adopted, like expansion of public transport, traffic planning and management, taxes on fuels and vehicles. Use of alternative fuels like CNG / LPG / battery and maintenance system. The agricultural pollution can be controlled by minimizing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
  4. Pollution monitoring control : The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been entrusted with the task of tackling pollution problems in the country. They investigate called and disseminate information relating to water, air and land pollution and lay down standards for sewage.
  5. Prevent land degradation : A well-defined integrated land use policy shold be developed. Rural fuel wood and grazing and fodder policies are to be developed, to guide management of land and forest, scientifically and sustainably.
  6. Protect Biodiversity : Most of the legal provisions are focused on use and exploitation of biological resources, than their conservation. A comprehensive legislation on biodiversity conservation and uses should be implemented.
  7. Mangement of hazardous waste : Strategies need to be developed to ensure scientific management hazardous waste. It includes all the aspects of waste management cycles, starting from generation of waste to its handling, segregation, transportation, treatment and disposal. In addition, the strategy should target waste minimisation / reduction as its primary focus.
  8. Environmental education, training and awareness : The government proposes to rely on both formal educational channels for creating environmental awareness. In the formal education system it intends to involve the NCERT for schools and the UGC for universities. In the field of non-formal education, the National Museum of Natural History would play an important role.
  9. Poverty Eradication : Poverty and a degraded environment are closely inter-related, especially where people depend for their livelihoods, primarily on the natural resource base of their immediate environment. Removal of poverty is a prerequisite for the protection of environment.
  10. Implement Eco-development programmes : The eco-development programmes aim at restoration of already degraded ecosystem through practical schemes, like land relamation, afforestation, cleaning of water bodies, etc. This programme also attempt to arrest further damage to ecosystems and promote a conservation based strategry.

Sustainable Development :

India’s rapid economic growth in the last several years had made us aware of two realities :

  1. Economic growth has lifted millions out of poverty.
  2. Economic growth has been accompanied by accelerated depletion of natural resources and rapid detorioration in environmental quality. Sustainable Development is the development which will allow all the future generation to have a potential average quality of life i.e. atleast as high which is being enjoyed by the current generation. Sustainable development aims to ensures.
  3. Sustainable and equitable use of resources to meet the needs of present and future generation without causing damage to the environment.
  4. To present furthers damage to our life support system.
  5. To conserve and nurture the bio diversity and other resources for long term food security.

Q. How to Achieve Sustainable Development?

Ans. Sustainable development can be achieved if we strictly follow the five given rules

  1. Restrict use of renewable resources : Renewable resources should be extracted on a sustainable basis, that is, rate of extraction should not exceed rate of regeneration.
  2. Substitute non-renewable with renewable resources : As nonrenewable resources are depleted, renewable substitutes must be developed, so as to maintain the flow of services over time. ie. rate of depletion of non-renewable resources should not exceed the rate of creation of renewable substitutes.
  3. Become input efficient : Technological progress should be made input efficient and not input consuming. It means efforts should be made to produce more per unit of input. It will reduce the exploitation of resources.
  4. Control pollution : Pollution emissions should be limited to the absorption capacity of the environment.
  5. Control the growth of population : The growth of human population should be controlled to a level, which is within the carrying capacity of the environment.

Steps to Achieve Sustainable Development The following needs to be done :

  1. Limiting the human population to a level Within the carrying capacity of the environment.
  2. Technological progress should be input efficient and not input consuming,
  3. Renewable resources should be extracted on a sustainable basis, i.e., rate of extraction should not exceed the rate of regeneration.
  4. For non-renewable resources, the rate of depletion should not exceed the rate of creation of renewable substitutes.
  5. Inefficiencies arising from the pollution should be corrected.

Strategies for sustainable development

Sustainable Development will not only save the present generation from the high opportunity cost of negative environmental impact but will serve the interest of future generations also. The following strategies should be adopted :

  1. Use of non-conventional sources of energy. Such as wind-power and solar rays which are cleaner and greener technologies can be effectively use to replace thermal and hydro power.
  2. Use of cleaner fuel such as CNG in the public transport system and LPG and gobar gas in households to reduce following to large extent.
  3. Traditional knowledge and practices : All practices relating to increase agriculture system, health care system, housing, transport etc. used to be environment friendly for eg. Use of AYUSH treatment.
  4. Use of bio composed : The use of chemical fertilisers to agricultural production has not only adversely affected the large areas of land but also contaminated water bodies with the rise in demand for organic food farmers have started using composed made from organic waste.
  5. Control of bio pest : To meet the challenges of environment better methods of pest control should be used, neem based pesticides are environment friendly and free from side effects.
  6. Change in unsustainable pattern of consumption and production.

Q. What happens when the rate of resource extraction exceeds that of their regeneration?

Ans. The environment includes sun, soil, water, and air which are essential ingredients for the sustenance of human life, The carrying capacity of the environment implies that the resource extraction is not above the rate of regeneration of the resources and the waste generated is within the assimilating capacity of the environment. The carrying capacity of the environment helps to sustain life. The absence of carrying capacity of the environment means the absence of life.

Q. Classify the following into renewable and nonrenewable resources (i) trees (ii) fish (iii) petroleum (iv) coal (v) iron-ore (vi) water.

Ans. Trees and fish are renewable resources.

Petroleum, coal, iron ore, and water are non-renewable resources.

Q. Two major environmental issues facing the world today are and.

Ans. Global warming and Ozone depletion.

Q. How do the following factors contribute to the environmental crisis in India? What problem do they pose for the government?

  1. Rising population
  2. Air pollution
  3. Water contamination
  4. Affluent consumption standards
  5. Illiteracy
  6. Industrialisation
  7. Urbanisation
  8. Reduction of forest coverage
  9. Poaching
  10. Global warming.

Ans. (i) The high rate of growth of the population adversely affects the environment. It certainly leads to soil and water pollution. India is one of the ten most industrialized nations of the world, It has led to unplanned urbanization, pollution, and the risk of accidents, The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) has identified 17 categories of industries that are significant polluters, Many states in India are on the edge of famine, Whatever water is available, it is polluted or contaminated. It causes diseases like diarrhea and hepatitis. With affluent consumption standards, people use more air conditioners. CFCs are used as cooling agents in air conditions which leads to ozone depletion.

Q. Give two instances of (a)Overuse of environmental resources (b) Misuse of environmental resources.

Ans. (a) There is massive overuse and misuse of environmental resources. Examples of the overuse of environmental resources are deforestation and land degradation.

(b) Examples of misuse of environmental resources are ozone depletion and global warming.

Q. Explain the supply-demand reversal of environmental resources.

Ans. Supply Demand Reversal of Environmental Resources:

The demand for resources for both production and consumption has gone beyond the rate of regeneration of the resources increasing the pressure on the absorptive capacity of the environment. This reversal of the supply-demand relationship with demand for resources exceeding the supply has led to the degeneration of the environment.

Q. Keeping in view your locality describe any four strategies of sustainable development.

Ans. Four strategies of sustainable development in my locality can be:

  1. Solar energy should be put up.
  2. People should use less air conditioners.
  3. People should use herbal cosmetics.
  4. People should not use polythene bags, instead they must use bags made of paper.

Q. Explain the relevance of intergenerational equity in the definition of sustainable development.

Ans. The Brundtland Commission emphasizes protecting future generations. This is in line with the argument of the environmentalists who emphasize that we have a moral obligation to hand over the planet earth in good order to the future generations, i.e., the present generation should give a better environment to the future generations, no less than what we have inherited. According to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) sustained development is, “Development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs.”

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