Environment means all that surrounds us. It is a very complex and comprehensive phenomenon. It consists of the climate, geography, geology and all the natural resources that nature has bestowed upon us. Life is there because of our peculiar biosphere and ecosystem. There is life on this planet because of a certain balance between these various elements. Without this balance, our planet would have been just another sterile and lifeless planet revolving round the sun. Our life depends on healthy and balanced environmental conditions. Our health, working habits, lifestyle, and behaviour, etc. are closely linked with all that surrounds us.
The climate is an integral part of the environment. The varied climatic conditions on our planet have been responsible for all the variety that we have in our cultures, clothing, foods, festivals, and social customs, etc. The human population is scattered all over the world. But there are marked socio-cultural differences among the various races, groups, and countries because of different geographical and climatic conditions. Existence on the earth presupposes maintenance of biodiversity and the preservation of the delicate balance between the various elements that constitute our environment, geographical conditions and climate.
Preservation and protection of environment means the protection of the earth, its atmosphere, and its various vital resources. These are the essential ingredients of our life and existence, and should be kept alive, pure, vibrant and rich. Of late, it has been keenly felt that their depletion can prove disastrous. For example, the depletion of the ozone layer of our atmosphere has caused a huge hole in the sky, which is growing bigger and bigger with the passage of time. Consequently, the very harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun are reaching the earth. This hole in the atmosphere was discovered over Antarctica.
It has been caused by the release of chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs) in huge quantity from chemicals mainly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. There is a direct correlation between environmental conditions and our physiological functions. Change in climate affects our behavioral pattern in spite of our marvellous adaptability. For example, hot tropical climate and heat of the desert causes fatigue, exertion, lethargy and irritability. Similarly, very cold climates may cause inertia, morbidity and respiratory infections. Extreme climates and sudden change of environment have a direct influence on our lifestyle and work culture.
Obviously, the conflict between environment and our so-called developmental activities is the main cause of so many of our problems. For example, for the conservation of our natural resources it is necessary that there is a proper check on our ever-growing population. The rapid growth in human population has adversely affected our land, forests, water, atmosphere, biodiversity and biomass. The overcrowding of our cities and towns, as a result of this explosion of population, is at the root of many of our evils. This has resulted in tremendous pressure on our agriculture, irrigation, forestry, energy and use of natural resources.
Due to this imbalance, there has been a meteoric rise in crimes, diseases, squalor, poverty and misery. Our over-exploitation of the gifts of nature has created an unprecedented chaos in the environment. Our rivers are either dead or dying. The level of our groundwater is going down because of too much and indiscriminate pumping of water. Our earth has been green and wonderful, full of food and other goodies, and with other valuable boons of nature, but now it finds itself under an unbearable strain and stress because of our various acts of commission and omission.
It is imperative that we soon strike a balance between our environment and industrial development. Environment can no more be sacrificed for economical growth and development. Many of our power and industrial projects are still being implemented without proper environmental clearance. Our thermal power projects, based on coal, should be located far away from cities, towns, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, lakes, coastal areas and places of historical, tourist and religious importance. And, a 5-km buffer zone is a must around such a plant.
Moreover, there should be installation of all necessary pollution control mechanisms and devices for the treatment of waste products. Similarly, to check the environmental degradation in case of hydroelectric plants, there should be proper arrangements for treatment of catchments area and compensatory forestation for the forest-cover submerged in the process of erection of such a plant. To save the humanity from this looming ecological crisis, it is necessary that there is a mass movement against environmental degradation. The sooner we recognize this, the better.
Our so-called industrial development, growth, and advancement at the cost of ecology is nothing but a regression, nay an ‘ecocide’. Our oneness with nature and our environment is an established fact. Instead of fighting and destroying it, we should be with it because our fate as individuals is inseparable from the fate of Mother Nature. Our very survival depends on the survival and health of our eco-system. People should come forward voluntarily and participate in the movement to stop the over-exploitation of our rivers, oceans, lakes, forests, mountains, atmosphere and the earth.