The Oxford dictionary defines environment as, “The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates”.
It means our immediate area that encircles us which contains all our necessities including our habitat as well as food.
Environment broadly includes the trees, air, water bodies, other animals, and everything upon which we rely and which relies on us.
We are a part of a very intricately balanced system in which one species of animals, including humans, depend on the other for their survival. These groups are called food chains, and the environment consists of these food chains.
The other elements of the environment include the natural resources, i.e., air, water, minerals, trees, etc., on which we rely not just for our food but also for a decent survival.
One of the major components of our environment is the atmosphere, which includes various gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, etc. these gases are as we know, extremely essential for our survival.
We breathe in Oxygen (almost 21% in atmosphere) to breakdown food that gives us energy keeping us alive.
Proper levels of Carbon dioxide(less than 0.1% in atmosphere) is also very important factor in maintaining the balance of our environment, because the trees as well as algae absorb this carbon dioxide giving out oxygen.
However as a side effect of modernization, these carbon dioxide levels are way above normal which disrupts the environmental balance.
Nitrogen(almost 78% in atmosphere), is another extremely important gas that helps in the growth of plants which in the form of nitrates in the soil, which helps grow fruits and vegetables that the other animals feed upon and survive on.
One another marvelous gift of nature to mankind is the ‘Ozone layer’. It is a layer of a very unique gas called ozone which acts as a natural umbrella.
It protects us from various threats approaching the earth from the outer atmosphere including:
- Harmful X-Rays,
- Gamma Ray bursts,
- Asteroids, and
- Various space junk
However in the wake of modernization, we humans have depleted it to irrecoverable levels by the use of CFCs and other such plastics. Almost two-thirds of the world’s cash crops have been affected tremendously.
Pollution due to eases resulting in excess oxides of carbon and sulphur has already caused the global temperature to rise at an alarming rate (Global warming) of 1.5degree centigrade per century.
This might melt the polar glaciers that would bring floods to the whole world.
God has given to mankind nature’s treasure in so many forms and in so many shapes. Trees are one such boon bestowed upon mankind.
They play an extremely important part in the survival of the animals on earth as well as on the proper functioning of the earth itself and plays a very crucial role in moderating the food chains and are itself part of almost all of them.
- All food-chains essentially start from the plants and trees.
- Trees provide food, and shelter to the fauna and serve as a natural habitat for them.
- They control landslides in the mountainous regions helping save life and property.
- The trees also provide us with timber which is used for making shelters and can also be used as a fuel.
However, just as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed”, we are consuming four times as much wood as is being regenerated.
We do all this giving the excuse of industrialization and progress.
Acres and acres of forest land are burnt down to make towering high rises and in that same buildings live humans who run environment saving campaigns. Perhaps this irony is what is known as ‘civilization’.
Afforestation projects are not being able to cope with deforestation that is taking place, and If forests are to be saved, drastic steps have to be taken otherwise the malady would reach a proportion which would become hard to remedy.
The great Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose, had proved that trees have life as do the animals and humans.
They feel and react but have no language or tongue to express their feelings. Only if they had the power of speech, they would express themselves in much the same way as we do.
Leaves would say how they hate winter at heralds their impending death.
One person one tree – if this mission and message can get through, the Earth can again its lost grandeur.
In ancient Greece, they had Gods who commanded over water, like Achelous, the God of river, such was the importance they gave to water.
And so is water very important for our survival and for the survival of a balanced environment.
- About 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, and the oceans hold almost 96.5% of the world’s water.
- Water also exists in air as vapour, in icecaps, in ground-soil, in glaciers, in aquifers and even inside all animals, we are 70% water.
- Our body cells use water for survival.
- Water is a very important component of the hydrological cycle which brings change in climate.
But again because of our so called modernization we have not spared water too. Due to human activities water bodies have been polluted to unsalvageable levels.
- About 70% of all industrial wastes in developing countries are dumped into water bodies without treatment. This might result in eutrophication and causes damage to aquatic animals.
- The chemical waste as well as oil spills in water bodies release toxic substances like Lead, Mercury, Arsenic which also affects the groundwater and soil and when it reaches human beings in form of drinking water, it expresses itself in the form of diseases like paralysis, Alzheimer’s, etc.
There have been efforts by government as well as activists to educate people but all in vain, perhaps we human beings like to learn it the hard way.
Remedial Measures & Conclusion
Just as the name suggests we can only remedy and not reverse the damage that we have already done to our mother Earth. These steps include:
- Proper education of the people making them aware.
- Legislative steps, i.e. making strict laws and norms that we need to conform to.
- Encouraging people for waste segregation and recycling.
- Building more fuel efficient cars and encouraging the use of cleaner CNG and bio-fuels.
There are already laws and conventions to help check the pollution levels, like the Montreal Convention 1971, the Kyoto Protocol 1992 which extends the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ’92, etc.
The UNFCCC projections show that there has been a minor decrease in the estimated CO2 in the last decade by a minuscule amount.
However, these are just self-congratulatory back-patting and mere twaddle.
The truth is that the Earth is dying and we are killing it, and we have to take steps that extremely drastic in nature to stop an apocalyptic future.