The three R’s to save the environment: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. What do they refer to?
Reduce: This means that you use less. You save electricity by switching off unnecessary lights and fans. You save water by repairing leaky taps. You do not waste food.
Recycle: This means that you collect plastic, paper, glass and metal items and recycle these materials to make required things instead of synthesising or extracting fresh plastic, paper, glass or metal.
Reuse: This is actually even better than recycling because the process of recycling uses some energy. In the ‘reuse’ strategy, you simply use things again and again. Instead of throwing away used envelopes, you can reverse it and use it again. The plastic bottles in which you buy various food-items like jam or pickle can be used for storing things in the kitchen.
Sustainable development: The concept of sustainable development encourages forms of growth that meet current basic human needs, while preserving the resources for the needs of future generations.
- Resources are limited: We need to manage our resources Because these are not unlimited and with the human population increasing at a tremendous rate due to improvement in health-care, the demand for all resources is increasing at an exponential rate.
- It damages our environment: Damage we cause to the environment while these resources are either extracted or used. For example, mining causes pollution because of the large amount of slag which is discarded for every tonne of metal extracted.
- Forests are ‘biodiversity hot spots’.
- One measure of the biodiversity of an area is the number of species found there.
- However, the range of different life forms (bacteria, fungi, ferns, flowering plants, nematodes, insects, birds, reptiles and so on) is also important.
- One of the main aims of conservation is to try and preserve the biodiversity we have inherited.
- loss of diversity may lead to a loss of ecological stability.
Stakeholders of forests are :
- The people who live in or around forests are dependent on forest produce for various aspects of their life
- The Forest Department of the Government which owns the land and controls the resources from forests.
- The industrialists – from those who use ‘tendu’ leaves to make bidis to the ones with paper mills – who use various forest produce, but are not dependent on the forests in any one area.
- The wild life and nature enthusiasts who want to conserve nature in its pristine form.
- The Chipko Andolan (‘Hug the Trees Movement’) was the result of a grassroot level effort to end the alienation of people from their forests.
- The movement originated from an incident in a remote village called Reni in Garhwal, high-up in the Himalayas during the early 1970s.
- There was a dispute between the local villagers and a logging contractor who had been allowed to fell trees in a forest close to the village.
- On a particular day, the contractor’s workers appeared in the forest to cut the trees while the men folk were absent.
- Undeterred, the women of the village reached the forest quickly and clasped the tree trunks thus preventing the workers from felling the trees. Thus thwarted, the contractor had to withdraw.
An Example of People’s Participation in the Management of Forests
- In 1972, the West Bengal Forest Department recognised its failures in reviving the degraded Sal forests in the southwestern districts of the state.
- Traditional methods of surveillance and policing had led to a ‘complete alienation of the people from the administration’, resulting in frequent clashes between forest officials and villagers.
- Forest and land related conflicts in the region were also a major factor in fuelling the militant peasant movements led by the Naxalites.
Large dams can ensure the storage of adequate water not just for irrigation, but also for generating electricity.
Canal systems leading from these dams can transfer large amounts of water great distances. For example, the Indira Gandhi Canal has brought greenery to considerable areas of Rajasthan.
Criticisms about large dams address three problems in particular –
(i) Social problems because they displace large number of peasants and tribals without adequate compensation or rehabilitation,
(ii) Economic problems because they swallow up huge amounts of public money without the generation of proportionate benefits,
(iii) Environmental problems because they contribute enormously to deforestation and the loss of biological diversity.
2. Water Harvesting
Generally, water harvesting is direct rainwater collection. This collected water could be stored for later use and recharged into the ground water again.
Watershed management emphasises scientific soil and water conservation in order to increase the biomass production.
Watershed management not only increases the production and income of the watershed community, but also mitigates droughts and floods and increases the life of the downstream dam and reservoirs.
Water harvesting is an ancient concept in India:-
- Tanks and nadis in Rajasthan, bandharas and tals in Maharashtra,.
- bundhis in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh,
- ahars and pynes in Bihar,
- kulhs in Himachal Pradesh,
- ponds in the Kandi belt of Jammu region,
- and eris (tanks) in Tamil Nadu,
- surangams in Kerala, and
- kattas in Karnataka
Are some of the ancient water harvesting, including water conveyance, structures still in use today.
In largely level terrain, the water harvesting structures are mainly crescent shaped earthen embankments or low, straight concrete-and-rubble “check dams” built across seasonally flooded gullies.
Monsoon rains fill ponds behind the structures. Only the largest structures hold water year round; most dry up six months or less after the monsoons.
Their main purpose, however, is not to hold surface water but to recharge the ground water beneath.
The advantages of water stored in the ground are many. It does not evaporate, but spreads out to recharge wells and provides moisture for vegetation over a wide area.
In addition, it does not provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes like stagnant water collected in ponds or artificial lakes. The ground-water is also relatively protected from contamination by human and animal waste
4. COAL AND PETROLEUM
Fossil fuels, that is, coal and petroleum, are important sources of energy for us.
Formation of Coal and petroleum: Coal and petroleum were formed from the degradation of bio-mass millions of years ago and hence these are resources that will be exhausted in the future no matter how carefully we use them. And then we would need to look for alternative sources of energy.
Effects of Coal and petroleum in environment:-
- Since coal and petroleum have been formed from bio–mass, in addition to carbon, these contain hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur.When these are burnt, the products are carbon dioxide, water, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulphur. When combustion takes place in insufficient air (oxygen), then carbon monoxide is formed instead of carbon dioxide.Of these products, the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and carbon monoxide are poisonous at high concentrations and carbon dioxide is a green-house gas.
- They are huge reservoirs of carbon and if all of this carbon is converted to carbon dioxide, then the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is going to increase leading to intense global warming.