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Environment and Development
by Tirumala Prasad Bookmark and Share


There has been a heavy competition among the countries of the world for economic development within the available resources and the existing environment. Every country wants to increase the per capita availability of goods and services. Based on several economic indicators, the countries of the world are classified as the developed, developing, and the under developed. The U.S.A., Germany, and Japan come under the category of the developed nations; China, India, Ethiopia, etc are the best examples for developing countries; finally Bangladesh, Somalia, and many other African nations are categorized as the under developed countries. The latter two categories of the countries have been accusing the former nations for polluting the atmosphere, and other environmental problems. The developing and the under developed countries assume that they pay price at the cost of the economic development of the developed countries. The developed countries argue that the Earth being occupied by all the countries of the world irrespective of their economic development should be taken care of by all the nations of the world.
Some latest examples of interrelationship between the environment and the economic development: 

  1. The Maldives is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean. The environmental scientists opined that this nation would not be on the world map after a few years and if the environmental degradation continues at the present rate. The ice sheets or glaciers on the surface of the earth are being converted into water due to the rise in the temperatures, also known as the global warming. Thus due to increase in the water levels in the oceans and seas, this nation would be inundated or flooded. 
  2. There has been a greatest threat to the existence of fish resources in the water bodies in general and the oceans in particular. The oceans are being polluted due to several reasons such as oil sleeks, release of various types of chemicals, the usage of plastic materials and discharging them in to the oceans, etc. In Hungary’s water bodies a large amount of fish resources died recently due to the above mentioned reasons. Thus many people, whose livelihood was fishing, have lost the same, which will effect the economic development of this nation.    
  3. There were protests by some environmental scientists and the local people of a rural area in India against a multinational company’s interests to explore minerals. They opined that such a mining activity may cause damage to the environment and also severe ecological imbalances due to the cutting of forests (deforestation). If the company had started its operations, many local people would have got a source of employment or livelihood besides contributing to the national income, supplementing the local demand, and also helping in earning some foreign exchange to the nation. Thus the protests prevented the social and economic development on one hand and on the other hand the same protests helped in saving the planet earth or environmental degradation.    
  4. In another incident several years ago in India, the local people did not want the economic development at the cost of their lives! There were proposals to build an irrigation dam and also an atomic power project at two different locations.   In the first case the villagers protested against cutting of the trees and also as they were asked to vacate the location to pave the way for constructing the dam. The villagers were also afraid of flooding of the rivers due to soil erosion and also the deposition of silt in the river bodies. The forest cover helps in protecting the soil erosion. In the case of atomic power project construction, the local people concerned about the environmental pollution and thus their health as the atomic power generation would lead to the release of some toxicants into the atmosphere.      
  5. The Bhopal gas tragedy is known to the whole world. The release of Methyl Iso Cyanide (MIC) from an industry was responsible for the death of several people and also causing several types of injuries to some thousands of people. The Indian government and the company had to pay huge sums as compensation to the effected families.        

Population Growth and the Environment   

If the population of the world is in accordance with the available resources, there would not have been much damage to the environment. Until the last decade the world population on an average had been growing at a faster rate and at present the world population growth rate has declined due to the efforts of various countries of the world. Education, Health, Housing, and other civic amenities such as street lighting, drainage etc, are known as the social infrastructure. Similarly, Electricity or Power, Transportation, and Communication, Steel and Cement industries, are categorized as the economic infrastructure.   
Construction of Social/Economic Infrastructure

People need three basic necessities like housing, food, and clothing. There has been an increase in the demand for housing; hence there is exploitation of natural resources and the environment too. Various natural resources are required to construct houses, buildings, hospitals, schools, colleges, and universities. Even in the 21st century, many people depend upon fossil fuels for their cooking purposes. Similarly to lay the roads and to construct power projects like hydro power, etc the existing forest cover is being cut leading to ecological imbalances. According to environmental scientists the earth surface should have a minimum of 33% as the forest cover. Due to the ecological imbalances, there has been another effect on bio-diversity too.   

Modern Warfare 

There has been a lot of competition among the developed countries such as the U.S.A, European nations, etc to acquire atomic/ nuclear bombs. For instance, America destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the world war in 20th century which caused a great human resource loss besides causing a huge damage to the environment. The atomic bombs release harmful or toxicant gases into the atmosphere thus polluting the clean air.          
Improper Waste Disposal System 

Some countries of the world produce energy from the waste matter. But in many developing and the under developed countries, the waste disposal system is either lacking or not up to the required standards. The huge waste matter is from households, industries, and many other economic activities like mining, agricultural, etc.    

Economic Growth and the Environment 

The people of the world depend upon primary, secondary, and tertiary economic activities for their livelihood. Primary economic activities include agriculture, mining, fishing, forestry, etc. Secondary activities are all the manufacturing industries. The tertiary economic activities include all the services such as teaching, transportation, trade, banking, insurance, etc.

The petroleum resources are scarce. Hence the farmers had to be paid a heavy compensation since abundant petroleum resources were available in the agricultural fields. The farmers were paid huge sums as the exploration of petroleum in the fields causes damage to the crops. This example indicates a close intimacy among the population growth, environment, and economic growth.
The climate change, Global warming, Ozone layer depletion, Seafloor spreading, deforestation, acid rain, ecological imbalances, imbalances in bio diversity, Air, soil, Sound, and water pollution, etc are some of the serious environmental disasters due to economic growth. For instance, the release of certain poisonous gases in to the atmosphere has been causing damage to certain food and cash crops leading to crop failures and food shortages at certain locations on the earth. Such crop damages are also responsible for indebtedness among the farmers, and severe burden on government’s finances. Similarly, fog causes severe damage to the crops and is also responsible for the delays in flights and other modes of transportation thus fog and smog are responsible for reasonable losses to the economies of the world. 
Air, Soil, Sound, and Water Pollution 

Irregular and unplanned economic growths have been responsible for sound pollution too. For instance, our ears can hear only certain limits of decibels of sound but if it exceeds the specific levels, it may cause damage to the ears and thus affects the quality of the human resource. In some cities industrial zones and residential colonies are located closely thus affecting the health of the people due to sound and air pollutions. The agricultural activities pollute the soil. For instance the excessive usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is one of the reasons for soil pollution. The penetration of industrial chemicals into the underground is responsible for underground water pollution. Industrial gases, heavy vehicular emissions such as carbon monoxide, etc have been causing the air pollution. Expansion of the cities due to economic growth has been responsible for the increase in the demand for social and economic infrastructure. For instance, the expansion of the roads or laying of new roads demands a space, hence trees have to be cut leading to ecological imbalances and thus causing imbalances in bio diversity too.   
Climate Change, Global Warming, Ozone Layer Depletion, Seafloor Spreading  

These are the major discussions related to environment among the nations of the world. The environmental scientists observed that there has been a change in the seasonal cycles on the planet earth. They opined that either a season’s duration is extended or contracted. For example, in Ethiopia the recent summer season commenced earlier than the expected. Sometimes, the rainy season would be either very short or very long.  There are also reports of unseasonal rainfalls, untimely floods, extreme weather conditions such as severe cold or severe heat, etc. Such climatic changes are responsible for changes in the agricultural land usage and other economic activities on the planet earth.  Global warming is due to the increase in the release of certain gases like carbon monoxide. This increase is due to vehicular pollution, industrial gases, usage of refrigerators, etc. Global warming is responsible for the melting of ice sheets and the consequent increase in the levels of water bodies such as oceans and seas. For instance, Maldives, which is located in the Indian Ocean, will not be seen after a few years due to submergence or inundation or flooding caused by global warming.   Ozone layer protects the civilization from the harmful ultra violet radiations which cause skin cancer. But according to the scientists, there is a hole in the ozone layer due to the release of certain chemicals such as chlorofloro carbons from the usage of refrigerators.  

Sustainable Development and Economic Policies 

For a secured future, the countries of the world have been making policies and also trying to implement them successfully. For instance, mining lease grants will be given only after carefully examining if there would be any threat to the environment. Similar is the case with industrial licenses. The countries of the world are also making the people aware of the environmental disasters through the mass media such as internet, television, radio, press or print media. To make children and students aware of the environmental protection, several lessons on environmental protection are being taught at school as well as at the university levels. Heavy fines are being collected from the owners of vehicles and also industries which pollute the environment. There have been frequent checks of vehicles by pollution department authorities. Guidelines are being issued to all the owners of industries and also other environmental polluters to safeguard the environment.  Many governments of the world have been advising people to plant trees, conserve the bio diversity, etc. Many non governmental organizations and voluntary organizations are also actively involved in the process of protecting the environment. 
Image (c) Gettyimages.com

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