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Monday, December 13, 2010

Development and Environmnt

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Industrial Revolution and Green Revolution have great contributions in the modern development. New researches and investigations in Science and Technology have strengthened our efforts for development in industrial and agricultural sectors. However, environmentalists the world over don’t have a better feeling for it as most of the strategies adopted so far for the modern development  have been adopted at the cost of our natural environment and its resources. As such, the modern development has been declared to be unsustainable. A sustainable development takes care of environment and supports all the sections of society. It is based on equity and preservation of natural resources. 

The modern development has immense impact on different sectors of the natural environment. It has changed the pattern of Land use and vast areas of land including wet lands etc. have been reclaimed for different developmental purposes. Vast tracts of forests have been cleared for the utilization of the forest land for the extension of agriculture, building of apartments and establishments of factories. Most of our resources especially fossil fuels have been depleted considerably. Human activities of industrialization, mining and quarrying, misuse and overuse of resources etc. have caused serious pollutions in air, water and on land together with causing habitat destruction and even the extinction of several species of plants and animals. Let us discuss these impacts in more detail.

 Image 1
Changing Pattern of Land-use
With the growth of human population, more and more land was cleared for cultivation, housing and cattle rearing. Later, as towns and cities started developing, vast areas of land were started to be consumed in making roads, rail tracks, bridges, buildings, markets, trade centres, Educational and Research Centres, hospitals, railway junctions, etc. Thus, the patterns of land-use have been changed considerably due to the development associated with industrialization. Various Mega-dams, Power Plants etc utilize vast areas of land in both the developing and developed countries.

Land Reclamation
About 30 percent of the land surface is useless because it consists of marshy swamps, deserts and mountains. In some countries, vast areas of seas have been reclaimed for commercial use. In Japan and Netherlands, engineers have created additional land by filling bays and harbours. The developers in some countries are turning farmlands, wetlands, low lands and other lands into suburbs, shopping centres, motor ways and housing apartments. In India, 54 percent of the land area is arable and 22 percent of the land area is under forest cover. Wet lands are spread in 18 percent area and 4 percent of the land area has been protected under the National Wildlife Protection Plan.

Cutting of forest trees on a large scale or the clearance of forest land for different purposes is called as deforestation. Deforestation has close links with development. Let us see how.
(i). Many forests have been cleared during the implementation of different Mega River Valley Projects.
(ii). Vast tracts of forests have been destroyed for mining activities.
(iii). Large areas of land have been made available for setting up of industries, big institutions etc. and for urban expansion by destroying forests growing in those areas.
(iv). Expansion of agriculture has more demand of land which is met by cutting forests.
(v). Consumption of wood and charcoal for burning as fuel puts additional pressure on forests.
(vi). Many big and small industries like saw mills, pulp and paper mills etc. cause heavy burden on the existence of forests.
(vii). Illegal trade of valuable timber in many parts of the world is a great threat to forests in the world.
Forests of the world are being destroyed basically for timber for building embankments and roads, for agriculture, for mining activities and for ranching. A total of 1, 11,910 ha of forests were destroyed between 1987 and 1989 in India alone. At present, the rate of destruction of forests is 1.7 million ha per year in the world. In terms of forests, India is one of the poorest countries of the world as it has only 0.5 percent forests of the world.

Resource Depletion
The word ‘depletion’ means use of any resource until little or none is left for further use. A resource means ‘a source of spontaneous existence that can be used for supporting the survival of an organism. It may relate to anyone of the naturally existing components of environment which can be used through the application of appropriate knowledge and skill for survival and prosperity. Air, water, land, wildlife, minerals, fossil fuels, forests etc. are considered to be our natural resources that are being depleted for development since long. The natural qualities of air, water and soil have been altered seriously due to different types of pollutions from different sources. Most of the flora and fauna have already been reduced and the biodiversity is at risk. Many species of plants and animals have gone extinct. As we have discussed earlier, most of the forests of the world have been cleared by human activities in the name of development. Major stock of the fossil fuels like petrol, coal and natural gas has been finished so far and a stage of energy crisis is awaiting the world.

 Image 2  Biodiversity at risk 

 Thus we may conclude here that the progressing technological and economic developments have converted so many types of sources of nature into resources and accelerated the rate of their exploitation. The fast rate of consumption and exploitation of resources has nearly depleted many of our resources.

Image 3

Pollution and Environmental Degradation
The process of environment being damaged or made worse is called as Environmental Degradation. The natural qualities of air, water, and soil have been degraded seriously due to the high degrees of pollutions by agricultural, industrial and other human activities. The land has been degraded severely due to overgrazing, deforestation, monoculture, use of synthetic fertilizers and other agro-chemicals. Besides these activities, land has been degraded also due to housing and other construction works, large scale unplanned industrial developments etc.

Image 4  Eutrophication

Image 5 Air pollution

Image 6 Monoculture
The overuse and misuse of resources like fossil fuels have caused the energy crisis and water crisis. Various bio-geo-chemical cycles including the water cycle have been interrupted in many parts of the world. The excessive release of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into atmosphere has depleted the layer of ozone. Acid Rains, climate change and algal blooms in the pond water due to eutrophication are all the dangerous incidents occurring across the world due to pollutions. Most of the mineral resources have been depleted through excessive mining. Besides these, poaching, hunting and trades in the body parts of animals are causing their extinction at a faster rate. 

Key words: environment, development, land degradation, eutrophication, resource depletion

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