Today is the 92nd Birthday of eminent environmentalist of world fame Sunderlal Bahuguna. While wishing the living legend all the very best n good luck for his long life , I m re publishing here the interview taken by me at his Dehradun residence about three years ago. It was indeed a great privilege to have got an opportunity to interview him. Hope you will go through n assess the interaction for yourself:
Interview of Sunder lal Bahuguna,
by SUNIL NEGI
Having completed 88 years of his struggleful life, a living legend and an institution in himself, Sunderlal Bahuguna is widely known as a Chipko leader of international fame. Recipient of many coveted honours for environment, ecological conservation n for preserving the forests of Uttarakhand Himalayas viz. Padmavibhushan, Padmashree, Jamunalal bajaj and prestigious international Right Livelyhood Awards, Sunderlal Bahuguna undertook 74 days of incessant hunger strike against Tehri dam during the eighties. Sunil Negi, a freelance journalist visited him at Dehradun and interviewed him in detail. Here are some excerpts of the interview.
Question: Sir, you‘ve just completed the protracted 88 challenging years of your life last month. You’ve almost given more than 7 decades of your pivotal life to environment conservation, against rampant deforestation and social service as a Gandhi an. How does u feel now?
As you know, having been on the 89th year of my life I am not keeping a good health. I am bed ridden most of the time. I am really grateful and rather thankful to my better half Vimlaji for looking after me entirely and taking care of my health very minutely. This is how I am able to push my immortality further ahead. However my son in law is also a senior doctor under whose able and experienced medical supervision and monitoring I am alive. I have been given to understand by the cardiologists that two of my heart’s arteries are blocked but due to being too old, surgery can’t be conducted. I am therefore moving ahead quite cautiously. Never mind, one has to leave this materialistic world one day. But till one is alive one should always try hard to live for the society, environment, ecology and peoples’ welfare. Even today I am deeply bothered and concerned about the environmental health of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand and its people. I regret to say that even after Uttarakhand gaining its separate existence 15 years’ ago , has not lived up truly, to the peoples’ expectations. The very concept for which Uttrakhand has been formed has been badly defeated despite 46 movement activists sacrificing their precious lives. The successive governments, I think eight in numbers, during the last 15 years , have proved to be completely futile as during this period more than 30 lakh people have migrated to cities, towns and metropolis of the country for want of better job and health avenues. What a tragedy? Had the governments of the state been genuinely concerned about people’s problems related to the social, economical, industrial, cultural, health and educational aspects, the exodus of the youth and the local populace would not have been so tremendous. Isn’t is shocking that in merely one and a half decade just more than a double digit figure( of people ) have migrated outside Uttarakhand as compared to the total influx during the last 5 decades prior to granting of separate Uttrakhand status.
Question: But the government of Uttarakhand had always been boasting of extraordinary growth rate and sufficient per capita income as compared to other states. What’s your take on this?
This is absurd and ridiculous. I have always been saying for years together and it has finally been substantiated by this mass scale exodus of youths to plains from UK and i.e. the youth and the water of Uttarakhand Himalayas has never been of any use for Uttarakhand.(Pahadon ki jawani aur paani kabhi bhi pahadon ke kaam nahi aaya).The way the water of the Ganges and its tributaries emanating(starting) from Uttarkhand Himalayas has been exploited by the outsiders either for power and irrigation through large scale dams or for other purposes, similarly the youths of Uttarakhand after migrating to cities and metropolis are of no use to the hills. This is something very unfortunate. You will be astonished and shocked to learn that during the 1960s when Dr. Longanathan had conducted the interstate and inter district economic survey in India, Tehri Garhwal was accounted for as the one of the most poorest districts’ with its per capita income the lowest in whole of India whereas the district of Kumaon division, Almora was the second most poorest in the country. And unfortunately even today, despite of the government’s tall claims of revolutionary change in terms of development and per capita income and growth, in my personal opinion the hills of Uttarakhand are still backward and poor as far as the question of unemployment, poor health services and industrialisation is concerned. It’s only because of the lack of total absence of decentralised socio-economic and industrial development and the anti people policies of the current and the successive state governments that Uttarakhand is still a number one state in India in terms of massive exodus of youths to the cities with villages becoming empty day by day and the agricultural fields not prone to KHETI or crop cultivation. During the ancient days the main source of income of the hill people was through spiritual tourism. Now, since roads have been constructed this very source of income of the local hill populace has also been finished. It sounds extremely surprising that in Uttarakhand the land use per human is comparatively much more but poverty is still prevalent in the interior villages, as usual. Our economic sources have been killed. The state’s economic status is in doldrums despite the government’s tall claims of economic prosperity. The hill of Uttarakhand had been merely dependent on the money order economy since ages and the same trend is still continuing as majority of the youths of the state have migrated to cities for jobs. This a very disturbing trend. If the government of the day would not reform itself and work on decentralised economic development right up to the village level I am afraid in the near future the villages will be totally bereft of people and the very purpose for which the Uttrakhand state came into very existence would be actually defeated.
Question: Being a seasoned environmentalist and a Gandhian what is the actual remedy to this very problem?
I personally think that the spate of huge exodus (migration) to the plains is extremely dangerous form the social, economic, cultural and security points of view of Uttarakhand. And I keep the security aspect on the top. It’s a universal fact that expansionist China considers India as its enemy number one, though number of mutual visits by the respective heads of the states of both the countries is being undertaken for normalisation of the relations. Everybody know how China backstabbed us in 1962 after giving the slogan of Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai. Today China is actively constructing its Army bases in neighbouring Nepal. It has even laid down its hi tech railway lines and roads in close proximity to our borders with Nepal playing a major role in helping them. Even the Nepalese population is widespread in various blocks, districts and cities of Uttarakhand. China is absolutely readying itself to capture, militarily our border areas and villages by bringing the local Nepalese people into confidence. Moreover, in view of our border villages being emptied day by day by the local populace in view of dearth of employment and other opportunities our already fragile borders are in grave danger. It’s only because of this major lacunae I had always been appealing to the central government to formulate a concrete Hiamalayan policy for all the Himalayan states of the country so as to enable not only the solid conservation of the environment of the Himalayas but also to safeguard the borders of the Himalayan states from the possible Chinese armed intrusion inside our already porous borders. Apart from this, we will also have to change the land use of the hills including the phased wise clearance of the pine trees from the higher altitudes of the hilly terrains which are direct threat to our agricultural and mountainous lands(slopes) making them totally barren and not prone to cultivation any further. The pine trees make the soil fully acetic and therefore impotent in terms of crops cultivation. All these measures would have to be inculcated in the Himalayan Policy structure of the government if we actually y want our hills, Himalayan states and Himalayas to be protected from future onslaughts of the nature and our neighbouring China. In addition to this the government is hell bent upon constructing bigger dams in the Himalayan states which are completely anti environment, anti rivers, anti people and anti development. In nutshell I would say that formulation of a concrete Himalayan policy with the above cited points and change of land use of Uttarakhand hills compounded with small and run of the river hydropower projects n repatriation of people from cities to hills is the only effective alternative that can save Uttarakhand from further destruction and deaths.
Question: Recently, the government of Uttarakhand had in principle agreed to your proposal that the pine trees situated at high altitudes of the mountains will be abruptly cut in a phased manner, under a special policy to rid the hills of this dangerous species, which is entirely harmful . Does it not amount to fulfilling of one of your major long pending demands? Are u satisfied now?
Had it been so easy and convenient, I think the previous governments would have conveniently made the Uttarakhand hills bereft of these pine trees. Making hills bereft of pine trees is one thing but planning multiple species of productive and environmentally friendly tree in large numbers alternatively to substantiate for the losses of pine is another important aspect of the problem. You see, you can’t make the forests bald at a single go without arranging for planting of huge number of good species on the high altitude terrains. If the mountainous terrains are made completely bereft of pine trees in a single go or even in phased manner the hills will become completely bald and there will be imminent danger of earthquakes, floods, landslides, natural catastrophes and other sort of calamities. The roots of the trees not only keep the soil together but also stop the floods and avoids huge landslides are the order of the day in the Uttarakhand Hills. Not only this but the incessant and massive cutting of pine trees will apart from creating environmental and ecological havoc also create a new breed of timber mafia who under the guise of making huge profits will also cut other useful species of productive and environment friendly trees. Uttarakhand is unfortunately already in the grip of such mafias who are amassing huge wealth in collaboration with politicians by way of illegal mining in various parts of the state as a result of which the already fragile environment of Uttarakhand is at stake and giving birth to natural calamities of gigantic proportions.
Question: You had always been concerned for the environmental conservation and deforestation of the Hills and had been on 74 days hunger strike against Tehri dam. How do u look at the catastrophic disaster of Kedar Valley that happened in June 2013. Can we avert such calamities in the near future?
Nobody can ever control the catastrophic disasters nor can we predict it on definite basis as to when exactly the calamity arrives. Yes we do can counter it to a great extent. Today unfortunately, under the guise of revolutionary scientific developments and the blind uncontrolled race of technological advancements, the whole world is under the grip of global warming created by huge green house emissions. A vast population of India and other countries of the world are suffering from various respiratory disorders and diseases like asthma, of heart and lungs including contagious abnormalities. This dangerous trend of global warming has not only increased the mortality rate world over but has also resulting in speedy melting of the Himalayan glaciers which are highly dangerous to the global civilization’s existence. The gigantic Himalayan catastrophe of 2013 which I consider purely a manmade one is merely an indication of future disasters in the offing measuring as just a tip of an iceberg. Whenever the humanity has played with the nature under the guise of anti environmental scientific developments or advancements, the nature has slapped humanity and governments with massive ecological disasters like that of Kedar valley one that happened in June 2013.Uttarakhand Himalaya is considered to be an abode of Gods where spiritual and cultural tourism would have been majorly encouraged but unfortunately the unholy nexus of the capitalists, builders, contractor, politicians and corrupt bureaucracy has by way of building huge dams, buildings, luxury hotels, buildings for commercial gains and huge structures alongside the rivers have literally played havoc with our already fragile environment, hills, rivers and the local populace thus inviting such huge calamities taking the toll of thousands and leading to colossal loss to public exchequer. We shouldn’t forget that huge dams not only control the smooth flow of rivers, but also lead to massive landslides and therefore in return to flash floods. The explosions at dam sites lead to landslides and make our hills hollow and vibratory from inside. Lots of deforestation takes place. Mountains become bereft of plants, trees and green vegetation. And when earthquake occur the hollow and weak hills in the form of huge landslides including building come down like the pack of cards. The tons of silt coming out of the tunnels of dams fall straightaway in the rivers making them narrow and hugely prone to flash floods. There are umpteen other reasons that make our hills and its environment prone to such disasters and fatal consequences.
Question: lst query. How do u rate the internationally famous CHIPKO MOVEMENT of which you were a very significant part. Do u think that it was a successful movement or a failure, not able to come to peoples’ expectation?
In my personal opinion and also in the opinion of environmentalists’ world over Chipko Movement was a trendsetter which mobilised a vast population of the globe towards environment conservation and against deforestation. It make people mobilised and worked as a major and most effective tool that not only made people environmentally friendly, conscious but also led to many struggles felling of trees and construction of big dams world over. I can say it did have a very strong international presence but not that much effective in India. I salute Gaura Devi who was the chief architect of this movement for her perseverance, grit , determination and dedication to this noble cause. Any movement which has with it the continuity is considered as success but in the context of this movement it definitely lacked the sequel. Had the governments strictly followed the tips of Chipko movement on toto I am sure the hills of Uttarakhand Himalayas , its environment, ecology and the conditions of its people would have improved manifold by now. My two main slogans to preserve the ecology of the hills and improve the lot of the people were” Dhaar Einch Paani meaning bring the water through the hydraulic system or other means on the hill tops” ar Dhaal par taal meaning plant productive trees and fruit plants on the slopes of these hills in huge numbers leading to all round prosperity, progress and economic viability of the hills, its environment and the people. That’s it.
Most Common Environmental Concerns of General Public
Today the entire world is focused on more than 30 environmental concerns that the Earth is currently facing. However, according to research conducted in 2016, people are most concerned about these six environmental issues.
Contamination of groundwater which is primarily used for household needs, including pollution of natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and other reservoirs, ranks top on the list of environmental issues.
In order to limit the levels of groundwater pollutants such as microorganisms, disinfectants, and their byproducts, inorganic/organic compounds, and radionuclides, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set standards and guidelines to ensure the quality of drinking water to safeguard the public health. However, levels of toxic fluorinated compounds are reported to cross over the minimum levels set by EPA in 33 states across the United States.
Water pollution is one of the major environmental issues. Most of the water resources such as rivers, streams, and oceans are polluted and associated issues include acid rain, ocean dumping, nutrient pollution, urban runoff, ocean acidification, oil spills, and wastewater.
As per the research conducted in 2016, half the rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America are contaminated. According to the report, there are 12 to 18 million water-borne diseases reported yearly in the United States, half of which are transmitted through rains.
Over the last decade, air pollution remained a steady concern for the entire world. Indoor, as well as outdoor air quality, has been deteriorating due to the carbon emissions, and other pollutants such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, sulfur oxides, refrigerants, and radon.
According to the World Health Organization report (2016), around ninety-two percent of the world population lives with the polluted air. Approximately, three million deaths per year occur due to outdoor air pollution.
Wildlife Conservation and Species Extinction
The next major global issue is Wildlife conservation and associated environmental problems, such as the extinction of fauna and flora, endangered species, the introduction of invasive species, coral bleaching, poaching, and loss of natural animal habitats.
As per the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world is currently witnessing its sixth extinction event primarily led by human activities. The rate of extinction is estimated to be 1000-10,000 times faster than natural extinction rates, which in turn leads to the extinction of around 200-2000 species yearly. According to Mother Nature Network (MNN), around 38% of all terrestrial animals and 81% of freshwater vertebrates went extinct between 1970 -2012.
Loss of Tropical Rainforests
According to research reports, rainforests cover only 2% of the land, however, it supports 50% of its species.
Despite this fact, among the tropical forests, the area of rainforests cleared is the maximum, and most of it is export-driven.
Climate Change/Global Warming
Climate change and global warming issues which majorly include tropospheric ozone depletion are primarily caused by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). The rise in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has resulted in global warming. NASA reported a decrease of 13% per decade in Arctic ice cover and around a 7-inch increase in sea levels over the last 100 years.
Additionally, according to NASA, melting down of glaciers on the mountain tops, warmer oceans, and the increase in extreme events in the United States and other countries are some of the evidence of climate change.
Genetically Modified Crops: Techniques used to improve agriculture
Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are referred to as the economic plants or crop plants in which, the DNA has been modified via genetic engineering techniques. In most of the cases, the primary objective is to induce a unique trait into the plant that does not occur naturally in the species. Some of the unique traits in food crops include resistance to specific diseases, pests, environmental conditions, resistance to chemical treatments, or improving the nutrient profile of the crop.
Let’s know about some of the common crop modification techniques.
This is a technique in which two sexually compatible crop plants are cross-pollinated to produce a hybrid. Some of the examples include plumcot (plum + apricot), tangelos (tangerine + grapefruit), the limequat (lime + kumquat) and most famously the rabbage (cabbage + radish).
Mutations are nothing but the genetic modifications which can switch, add, or delete the nucleotides such as A, T, G and C bases. However, these genetic modifications are sometimes induced by the plant breeders via radiations and chemicals which may lead to new and/or enhanced traits. This technique was introduced by Hermann Muller, Charlotte Auerbach and J. M. Robson in the early 20th century.
One of the examples of such induced mutation is the red grapefruit in which the deep red color is the result of mutagenesis via radiation.
In this technique, the hard cell walls or the protoplasts of two plant cells were removed and a chemical called polyethylene is added, which allows the two cells to stick together. Then, basic chemicals are added to help the cells to combine and exchange their genetic information.
This creates a hybridized plant cell, which sounds similar to a cross-breeding technique, however, it is done in a lab.
Human beings are referred to as diploid animals i.e. they have two sets of homologous chromosomes. Similarly, polyploidy has more than one, and the induction of polyploidy is used for controlling the reproduction.
Polyploidy can be introduced by soaking seeds in colchcine, which can either make sterile crosses fertile, such as the Triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye, or sterilizes crops, such as watermelon, to make seedless strains.
This process includes cutting, replacing or inserting genes within the seed cells using nucleases, the enzymes which have the ability to loosen, remove and add nucleotides, commonly referred to as “molecular scissors”.
These nucleases are artificially engineered so that these can be accurately placed in desired genes, or traits, into the genome of the crop. One of the examples is the herbicide-tolerant canola created using genomic editing techniques to help farmers control weeds.
This is a technique in which genes from one crop are induced into another crop. As the genetic code is readable by all living beings, the genes introduced will code for the same proteins as it did before. There are several methods to induce these new genes.
One of those methods is using agrobacterium to carry genes into the genome, while another method is using electricity to induce the same.
All of these techniques have similarities as well as differences. These genetic modifications are introduced to combine useful genetic traits in order to improve agriculture. However, these techniques sometimes affect the regulations for health and environmental safety.
Organic agriculture: A holistic approach to farming
Organisms illuminate with Bioluminescence phenomena!
Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon of producing light by living organisms. This light is majorly produced by the oxidization of the molecule luciferin, a reaction catalyzed by the enzyme luciferase. Some organisms generate their own glow while others act as a vector for some bacteria that emit light for them. The organisms emit light to serve several purposes, which include repelling predators, attracting preys or potential mates.
Here are some examples of bioluminescent organisms.
Over half of jellyfish species produce some type of bioluminescence, majorly as a restraint to the predators.
For example, a jellyfish called Aequorea victoria produces a green glow around the perimeter of its bell by emitting its preliminary blue light through a chemical compound called green fluorescent protein (GFP).
Most of the species of squid produce bioluminescence for various purposes.
Some of the deep-sea squid spurt glowing mucus to confuse their predators, while others, such as the tiny bobtail squid, use its small cavities underneath of its body, which serves as a shelter to bioluminescent bacteria.
Deep-sea anglerfishes attract their prey with glowing baubles hanging from rods in front of their mouths.
Its preys get attracted to the fleshy lanterns and are inhaled by the monstrous fish when they approach towards it.
Lanternfishes are tiny mesopelagic fishes of the family Myctophidae. One of the two families in the order Myctophiformes, the Myctophidae are represented by 246 species in 33 genera and are found in oceans worldwide.
The species is appropriately named after their evident use of bioluminescence. The species has a unique pattern of light-producing photophores, used for signaling and mating. The photophores comprised of lens-shaped, transparent scales covering the tissue that emits light; these lenses help in focussing and amplifying the light.
The firefly, which belongs to the Lampyridae family are insects in the beetle order Coleoptera with over 2,000 species.
These are soft-bodied beetles that are also called as lightning bugs for their conspicuous usage of bioluminescence during twilight to attract their mates or prey.
More than 70 species of fungus are known to bioluminescence. These fungi continuously emit greenish light at a wavelength of 520–530 nm, which occurs only in living cells.
There is no correlation between the fungal bioluminescence and their cell structure has not been found yet.
Solar Energy in India: Scope, Advantages and Disadvantages
India with more than 1 billion population is witnessing a huge demand for energy. The nation ranks at fifth position in the world for the production as well as the consumption of electricity. Undoubtedly, electricity production has increased over the years; however, the population of the country is also increasing, resulting in an unbalance between demand and supply.
In India, the electrical energy is produced mostly from coal which accounts for approximately 53% and it is estimated that the nation’s coal reserves won’t last beyond 2040-50. Over 72% of India’s population resides in villages and half of these villages remain without electricity. Therefore, it is essential for the Indian Government to focus more on energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy. One of the efficient ways to meet this increasing demand for energy is the production and consumption of solar power.
Solar Energy in India
The country has an incredible scope for generating solar power. The geographical position of the nation stands to its advantage for generating solar power. India being a tropical country receives solar radiation almost throughout the year, which accounts approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine, which in turn is equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kWh. Almost all the regions of the nation receive 4-7 kWh of solar radiation per sq meter, which equals to 2,300–3,200 sunshine hours per year. Due to the geographical location, some of the states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have great potential for generating solar power. Usage of solar energy can reduce the use of firewood and dung cakes by the rural household.
Advantages of Solar Energy in India
Here are some of the advantages of solar power which makes it suitable for India.
- Solar power is an inexhaustible source of energy and the best substitute to other non-renewable resources of energy in India.
- Energy generated from solar radiation is environment-friendly since it does not release poisonous air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
- The usage of solar energy can be used for various purposes such as heating, cooling, drying, or for electricity consumption in the rural areas in India. Additionally, solar power can also be utilized in motor vehicles, large powerboats, planes, satellites, calculators and many more such gadgets and objects, suitable for the urban population.
- In India, where energy is deficient and power generation is costly, solar energy is the best alternative mean of power generation since it is inexhaustible.
- There is no requirement of power or gas grid to obtain solar energy. Installation of the solar energy system can be done anywhere and the solar panels can be easily placed in houses. Therefore, it is a cost-effective energy production system as compared to other sources of energy.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy in India
- Solar power cannot be generated during the night time.
- During the day time, if the weather is cloudy or rainy or there is little or no solar radiation, solar energy panels become less reliable.
- Only regions receiving good amount of sunlight are the regions most suitable for generating solar energy.
- Solar panels require storage batteries and inverters to convert direct electricity to alternating electricity so as to generate electricity. Although solar panels installation is quite cheaper, installing other equipment becomes a bit costly.
- The land space which is required to install a solar plant with solar panel should be quite large and remains occupied for many years altogether and thus cannot be utilized for other purposes.
- Power production is quite low as compared to other forms of energy.
- Solar panels need considerable maintenance since they are fragile and can be easily damaged. So insurance costs incurred on these are an extra cost.
Solar Energy Power in India: Future
In India, there are many large solar projects have been proposed.
- Thar Desert has some of India’s best solar power projects, estimated to generate 700 to 2,100 GW.
- On March 1st, 2014, India’s biggest solar power plant was inaugurated in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) launched by the Centre is estimating to generate 20,000 MW of solar energy power by 2022.
- Gujarat’s pioneering solar power policy aims at 1,000 MW of solar energy generation.
- In July 2009, a $19 billion solar power plant was launched which projected to generate 20 GW of solar power by 2020.
India is gradually gaining its prominence in the production of solar power due to the comprehensive solar policies and projects by the Government and the National Solar Mission.
What is Sustainability of Resources?
Sustainability of natural resources is defined as the ability to maintain or sustain a resource at a certain level. And this is based on three scientific principles as below.
- Increased dependence on renewable energy
- Chemical cycling
Typically, it involves intervention to place limits on usage or to enforce standards of replacement. It encompasses the following areas.
Forestry and landscape sustainability
Forestry and landscape signify some of the oldest environmental protection laws across the world. Towards the end of the 19th century and beyond, the US and several other countries established National Parks or the protected natural spaces to promote ecology. Although terms, conditions, and policy differ by nation, the idea and approach to national parks mean protection of the environment from many destructive activities including construction and urban development. The government takes on the task for enforcing the law, setting policies, deciding the punishments and mitigating problems.
Impact assessment and monitoring
Environmental impact assessments analyze the potential outcomes under specific scenarios for the consequences of any activity. This can and includes the more extensive environmental impacts of development and advancement or expanded industrial output, but it can also incorporate the potential positives, for example, how land may recuperate from ecological issues or what the long haul environmental impacts will be of reforesting with a particular sort of tree canopy. Impact evaluation examines issues critically and with a view of the evidence and potential consequences. Governments usually require a formalized report before granting planning permission.
Mineral resource sustainability
Minerals are valuable metals, sold and fluid non-renewable energy sources, for example, oil and coal, are assets that require permitting and insurance for appropriate administration. These are limited assets and as they exist on government land, organizations wishing to work them must look for a permit. Mining is an untidy and conceivably risky business. Maintainability doesn’t matter to the asset itself (as it is limited) however the concerned needs to guarantee natural norms in its extraction and preparation, and the adherence of well being and security models for those removing it.
Water resource sustainability
Water is a sustainable asset yet when taken care of inadequately, can prompt deficiencies. In particular, water resource sustainability refers to the process of harnessing and utilizing it, in drought territories, managing its usage with minimal or no wastage. As water and water overflow doesn’t regard political limits, universal laws on preservation and use are normal and applied, particularly where there is shared use and duty or contending cases to it. Laws here apply to surface water, for example, waterways, lakes and seas, floodwater and ice meltwater, groundwater and the water table.
Wildlife and fishery sustainability
Laws protect wildlife and seek to control and restrict the impact of destructive activities of humans on animal species say by expansion and to prevent disturbances in natural food chains. Also, there are laws to protect plant species, particularly those vital to a local ecology or those that are endangered or threatened, or otherwise considered scientifically significant. It can include conservation status, quotas on the numbers that may be caught/hunted or a complete ban, or international ban on the commercialization of certain items. Ivory is one of such example.
Ozone Layer Depletion: Cause, Impact and Solution
Ozone depletion refers to the gradual thinning of Earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. The primary reason for the ozone layer depletion is the release of chemical compounds that contain gaseous chlorine or bromine from various industries and other human activities. The thinning of the layer is most prominent in the Polar Regions, particularly over Antarctica.
Ozone depletion is a major environmental concern since it increases the amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays that reach the Earth’s surface. As a consequence, excess of UV rays increases the rate of eye cataracts, skin cancer, genetic and immune system disorders.
Impact on Human Health
Ozone layer depletion increases the rate of UVB penetration into the Earth’s atmosphere. According to epidemiological studies, UVB causes non-melanoma skin cancer and promotes malignant melanoma development. UVB is also linked to the development of cataracts commonly referred to as the clouding of the eye’s lens.
Impact on Flora
Some crops species are vulnerable to strong UV rays and overexposure to this radiation may inhibit plant growth, photosynthesis, and flowering. The vulnerable crop species include barley, corn, wheat, rice, oats, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower among others.
Effects on Marine Ecosystems
Certain marine life, especially phytoplanktons is greatly affected by exposure to strong UV rays. As a consequence, a decrease in the number of phytoplanktons may disrupt the aquatic food chain in many ways. Further, certain species of marine life have been greatly impacted by overexposure to ultraviolet rays at a very early stage. For example, it has been observed that excess UV rays may disrupt early developmental stages of shrimp, fish, crab, amphibians, and other marine animals. The most adverse impact includes decreased reproductive ability and impaired larval development in aquatic animals. Slight increases in UVB exposure may result in population reductions for marine organisms with implications for the entire aquatic food chain.
Effects on Materials
Materials such as wood, plastics, fabrics, rubber are massively degraded by excess exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Solutions to Ozone Layer Depletion
Avoid pesticides usage
Pesticides contribute enormously to ozone layer depletion. Therefore, pesticides should be avoided and natural methods should be implemented to get rid of pests and weeds. Some of the natural methods include weeding the farm manually and use of alternative eco-friendly chemicals to control pests.
Minimize vehicles on the road
Another easiest way to minimize ozone depletion is to limit the number of vehicles on the road. Vehicles emit a lot of greenhouse gases which in due course form smog, a catalyst in the depletion of the ozone layer.
Usage of eco-friendly cleaning agents
Most of the household cleaning agents are packed with harmful chemicals that find the route to the atmosphere, ultimately contributing to the degradation of the ozone layer. People should give up the usage of such chemicals and instead use natural and environmentally friendly cleaning agents.
Prohibition on the use of nitrous oxide
Another harmful compound responsible for ozone depletion is nitrous oxide. Governments must take action to outlaw nitrous oxide usage to reduce the rate of ozone depletion.
SAVE WATER: It’s high time
This is a well-known fact that water is essential for the existence of life on earth. Although we are surrounded by vast water bodies which account around three-fourth of the Earth’s surface, however freshwater on the earth accounts only 2.5% in the form of glaciers out of which only 1% is suitable for drinking. So it becomes necessary for us to save water and avoid its wastage.
Reason for Fresh Water Scarcity
The primary reason for water pollution is inappropriate waste management. Dumping of industrial waste materials into the water bodies on a regular basis is one of the major factors of freshwater getting polluted. Another factor for contamination of groundwater is the use of powerful pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture. Reckless usage of water and excess of water wastage have also reduced the accessibility of fresh and clean water.
Prevention of Water Scarcity
- Implementation of appropriate water management systems in the industries, buildings, school, apartments, and hospitals is necessary to ensure efficient usage of water so that no drop of it gets wasted.
- General awareness programs should be arranged for the common people to bring consciousness about the significance of water and methods of its usage in a limited amount without wasting it.
- Rainwater harvesting projects should be promoted in all areas so that rainwater can be used in various purposes and helps to stock up groundwater.
How to avoid wastage of water?
Here are some better ways to save water on a daily basis
- People should water their gardens and lawns only when they need water.
- Sprinkling water is a better way to save gallons of water per month as compared to watering the garden with the pipe.
- Keeping drought-resistant plants at home is another way to save water as these plants need less water.
- Leakage of plumbing joints or faucets or water taps should be fixed immediately. This actually saves around 20 gallons of water per day.
- For car or vehicle washing it is better to use a bucket and mug instead of a pipe. This may save up to 150 gallons of water from each wash.
- Showers bath saves much more water than bathing in a bathtub or even with a bucket.
- Fully loaded washing machines and dishwashers help in minimal usage of water and save around 300 to 800 gallons of water per month.
- Minimum usage of water per toilet also helps in saving more water on a daily basis.
- Washing vegetables and fruits in a water-filled container instead of washing under the running water save more water.
- Rainwater harvesting is another way of saving freshwater. With this method water from rain can be stored and used for various purposes.
Ground Water Depletion crisis is going to surface…
Approach to Save Earth from Deforestation
Forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Trees are being sacrificed for making a profit, as the industrialists are pushing through forests in order to gain land for commercial purposes.
As per the surveys conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 33 million acres of forestland are lost annually around the globe. The major factors responsible for deforestation include wood and paper products, mining and oil exploitation, urbanization, acid rain, and wildfires. Besides these, supplying wood timber for wood and paper products and clearing land for crops, cattle and housing purposes are some of the other reasons for deforestation.
Deforestation causes serious impact on air and water pollution, soil erosion, climate change, loss of biodiversity. In this scenario, as an individual and being a part of the global community, one can at least plant a tree to combat deforestation. Apart from this, we can also take another step forward to alter our shopping, eating, or even driving habits. This small step can lead to giant leaps towards a global battle against deforestation.
Here are some exceptional ways that you can help in stopping or preventing deforestation.
- Start planting trees around you and promote tree plantation in your neighborhood.
- Go paperless and avoid printing. Whether at work or at home, most people still have the habit of using paper or hardcopy files. Cultivate a habit of using electronic files and folders properly.
- While shopping, shift your preference towards buying recycled products. At home, try to recycle or repurpose waste things as much as possible. By doing this, you will help in knocking down the demand for clearing land.
- Cut down your meat intake and try to eat vegetarian meals instead. This is healthy as well as a best practice as it remains problematic and time-taking to source meat products that are completely devoid of being harvested on land that once was covered with trees. Avoid buying meat products sourced from land where forests have been cleared.
- Stop using firewood to heat up fireplaces. It takes merely a few hours to burn the firewood but it takes several years to grow a tree. Try to change your approach to living your life in such a way that your daily activities cause the least impact on the environment.
- Bring awareness among people to live in a way that doesn’t impact the environment. Try to form a community and let other people know about the alarming rate of deforestation and the control measures to minimize our carbon footprint on the environment.
- Support and encourage companies that manufacture products by causing minimal or no damage to the environment.
Know amazing facts about the world’s second-largest rainforest.
Ground Water Depletion in India: The crisis which is going to surface everywhere
Global warming has been a concern for the dwellers on the earth. Its repercussions are many folded in variegated forms in recent times, especially the depletion of the groundwater level. As India is the second-most populous nation across the globe it shoulders the maximum burnt to his capacity. We as a citizen of India must prepare for the worst and hope for the best to overcome such inconceivable extreme situation.
Groundwater is the water that seeps through rocks and soil and is stored below the ground. The rocks in which groundwater is stored are called aquifers. Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone or limestone. India accounts for almost one-fourth of the total groundwater extracted globally, more than that of China and the US combined thus using the largest amount of groundwater 24 per cent of the global total, according to sources. Over the past fifty years, the use of groundwater for irrigation has dramatically increased in developing countries like India and China.
Increased groundwater irrigation has enabled higher and more consistent crop yields, which in turn has improved food security and reduced poverty. However, this increase in groundwater use has led to falling water levels and widespread concern about the long-term sustainability of irrigated agriculture.
These concerns are especially dire in India, where groundwater use has increased by 500% over the past fifty years. With 230 billion metre cube of groundwater drawn out each year for irrigating agriculture lands in India, many parts of the country are experiencing rapid depletion of groundwater. The total estimated groundwater depletion in India is in the range of 122–199 billion metre cube. The Indo-Gangetic Plain, north-western, central and western parts of India account for most intensive groundwater-based irrigation. And among these regions, western India and the Indo-Gangetic Plain have more than 90% of the area irrigated using groundwater.
India is an agrarian economy where 58.4% of people depend upon agriculture. The most popular cereals that have been cultivated are rice and wheat. These water-guzzling crops are heavily dependent upon irrigation which why the situation has been becoming alarming down the line. The report said that one kg of wheat and rice required an average 1,654 and2,800 litres of water respectively. So, just for rice, a family of four consumes approximately 84,600 litres of virtual water in a month. According to the report by Water Aid India, In 2014-15, India exported 37.2 lakh tonnes of basmati.
To export this rice, the country used around 10 trillion litres of water, meaning India virtually exported 10 trillion litres of water .it is calling for production of these goods to be made more sustainable and for consumers to be more thoughtful in their purchasing habits.
Lack of access to clean water further pushes the marginalised and vulnerable communities towards an inhuman circle of poverty. The burden of accessing water to meet daily needs prevents them from reaching their full potential by inhibiting their education, health and livelihood opportunities.
There is a dire need to invest in making clean water within the household accessible to everyone, everywhere. India’s success in providing its citizens with access to clean water will significantly impact the success of global goals that the government has committed to.
India’s over-exploitation of groundwater is contributing to—as stated by NITI Aayog—“the worst water crisis in its history”. Groundwater is one of the most important water sources in India accounting for 63% of all irrigation water and over 80% of the rural and urban domestic water supplies. In fact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Water Development Report states that India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world. Fifty-four percent of India’s groundwater wells have declined over the past seven years, and 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020.
Thus, India faces a dual challenge: to regulate the growing demand for groundwater while replenishing its sources.
Research indicates that although MSP has led to assured incomes, it has also led to groundwater depletion, income inequality and unsustainable agriculture. On the supply side, the performance of state governments has not been satisfactory, with the NITI Aayog Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report stating that the majority of states have scored less than 50% in the source augmentation of groundwater resource index.
Given this scenario, we require policies that promote the judicious use of groundwater. Although there are a number of potential interventions in the area of groundwater conservation, there are hardly any rigorous evaluations. In absence of rigorous research, such as randomized evaluations, which can establish the causal impact of an intervention, it is a challenge to identify solutions that are highly effective.
However, researchers could draw lessons from existing solutions, and use them to design interventions that could later be rigorously evaluated.
One of the proposed ways to reduce groundwater extraction is by reducing electricity subsidies. Subsidies on electricity are thought to play another major role in the Indian groundwater crisis. The vast majority of groundwater pumps are unmetered, and if charged, are billed at a flat, non-volumetric, and highly subsidized tariff. This flat rate is responsible, at least in part, for inefficient usage and excessive withdrawal of groundwater. In addition, the government encourages farmers to produce water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane through increased minimum support prices (MSP).
An analysis of panel data across 370 districts in India found that a reduction in electricity subsidy was correlated with a decrease in groundwater extraction. On average, a 10% reduction in electricity subsidy generated a 6.7% decrease in groundwater extraction. However, reducing electricity subsidies for farmers could be politically unpopular. One possible way to overcome this challenge is by limiting the electricity subsidy offered to farmers and compensating them with a direct cash transfer for every unit they save. This provides farmers with an incentive to use groundwater judiciously without any additional cost to the government.
Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater. In line with this, the central government in its 12th five-year plan proposed a policy of participatory groundwater management (PGM), which involves a collaborative approach among government departments, researchers, NGOs and community members. The plan involves training community workers to carry out aquifer mapping and implement innovative ways to use groundwater conservatively with the local community.
The PGM has been implemented in different states, albeit with some variations, such as the Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS) programme in Andhra Pradesh and Pani Panchayats in Maharashtra.
Advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources, World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22. It was established in the year 1993 to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world.
Today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive. Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.’ Safe water’ is shorthand for a ‘safely managed drinking water service’: water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.
The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. In 2015, the Indian government committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, which promises that by 2030 everyone will have access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene. The human right to water must take priority ahead of other competing demands.
However, there is almost no research study evaluating its impact. While this void is disconcerting, it also presents an opportunity for researchers and policymakers to design and test different interventions ranging from awareness campaigns to training programmes that effectively mobilize and equip the local community to work towards groundwater conservation.
Groundwater has helped India overcome food shortage in the 1960s by playing an instrumental role in ushering in the green revolution. However, the NITI Aayog CWMI report is a timely reminder of the need for policymakers and researchers to come together and conduct rigorous evaluations in order to understand what works and what doesn’t work for groundwater conservation.
No single action whether community-based, legislation, traditional water harvesting systems or reliance on market forces will in itself alleviate the crisis in India. The effective answer to the freshwater crisis is to integrate conservation and development activities – from water extraction to water management – at the local level; making communities aware and involving them fully is, therefore, critical for success.
All this will ultimately pave the way for combining conservation of the environment with the basic needs of people. Unless we take urgent measures to avert this crisis, we may find ourselves faced with an environmental catastrophe of our own making.
Animals that people Love to wear!!!
It sounds crazy but few people love to wear apparels made from animal skin or fur. Many people unknowingly stock their wardrobe with luxurious vanity, jackets, belts and even shoes made of animal skin. Each year, the worldwide leather industry slaughters about a billion animals for tanning their skins. These animals undergo all horrific methods of factory farming which includes incarceration, deprivation, and castration, stamping, and tail-docking. Animals are also slaughtered for their fur, silk, leather, wool, feathers and many more.
Here, we have listed ten poor animals that are very commonly killed for making garments.
It is a widely known fact the silk clothes we wear are made from silkworms but have anyone ever given a thought that how the silk is obtained from the worms? The silkworm is a caterpillar or the larva of an insect Bombyx mori, commonly known as Silkmoth.
Sericulture involves boiling the cocoon worms alive in order to get the skein or the silk threads. Approximately 3000 silkworms are killed to produce a pound of silk only.
Seal hunting for commercial purposes in Canada is one of the cruelest and largest butcheries of marine animals on the Earth. Baby seals are often clubbed to death in order that their pelt may be used for human clothing.
Over a decade, approximately two million seals were killed; thousands of baby seals clubbed or shot for their fur every year. Expert vets studied and confirmed that this is the most brutal slaughters of its kind. Most of the seals are skinned alive. About 95% of the seals slaughtered are pups that are the babies of seals who are just a few weeks old and haven’t even eaten their first solid meal or taken their first swim yet.
Rabbits or bunnies are raised in captivity and sheared by brutal methods to get a kind of wool called angora.
Female rabbit yields more wool than male rabbits, therefore, in larger farms male rabbits are killed at birth. In some places, the workers tear the fur out of their delicate skin as frequently as every three months.
On many fur farms, foxes are kept in small and filthy wire cages before being killed for their fur.
These are caught in traps crushing their legs to bleed and until they die or hunters arrive. Further, the fur farmers use cheapest methods such as electrocution, suffocation, gas, and poison to kill these animals brutally.
In Australia, the global leader in merino wool export, Sheep are subjected to a cruel mutilation method in which workers in the farm carve flesh and skin from the backsides of the animals, most of the time without giving them any anesthesia or painkillers.
The method is called as mulesing.
In some farms, lambs are killed while in the womb of a mother sheep, even before being born.
This method is practiced to obtain karakul, a much softer and smoother variety of fur.
Chiru, which considered being an endangered species of Tibetan antelope, is found in the high Himalayas. These animals are directly hunted and killed for its fur, as they cannot be domesticated.
There is a thriving black market of Shahtoosh wool obtained from these wild Tibetian antelope, even though there is stringent law against it.
Mink jackets and coats have been considered as a status symbol for a long time. Because of its high costs, people believe that it’s a luxury to wear mink and only a few people can afford this. This led the little animals to die in thousands or more.
In order to get the costly fur material, these little creatures go through brutal handling by the farmworkers who grab the petrified, screaming minks by their tails, crowd them into a small suffocating container, and pump it full of gas to suffocate them till they die.
Beaver is an exceptionally gentle, social animal that mate for life and create a strong bond with its offspring.
Beavers are caught for its fur by using the body-gripping traps, which causes severe pain to these sensitive creatures until they die.
Dogs & Cats
Most of the fur products are sourced from dogs and cat and the fact is kept hidden from most consumers who buy such products.
Actually millions of dogs and cats in China are hanged, beaten, bled to death or strangled with wire nooses to obtain a good quality fur, which often mislabeled and sold in in many countries across the world.
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