Development: An Inevitable Doom?

Rapid development and its deleterious impact on environment conundrum, now a decade old and has eluded the erudite minds of environmentalists and scientists, who are still grappling with this phenomenon. Development in economic jargon is often associated with industrialization and a spurt in the manufacturing sector of the country. This ostensible industrialization has bolstered the demand for fossil fuels, which are the main culprits in global warming and climate change.


Global warming is worsening the world’s hydrological cycle, which means that the wet areas are becoming wetter and dry areas are getting drier. Unplanned developmental activities which involve poor land use (building on flood plains, unstable slopes and coast line) and degradation of coast line ( Bleaching of coral reefs, destruction of coastal mangroves and deforestation of water catchments) is also precipitating the downfall in environment, which is impinging the development and growth of the entire globe.


Going by the statistics, we have witnessed nine out of the ten warmest years since 1990. The weather related disasters have doubled in the past decade, affecting two million people. An ironical situation is emerging out of this chaos – according to the financial services initiative of the UN environment program globally, the global warming disasters are costing us $300 billion per year and most of the burden is on the shoulders of the least developing countries. The World Bank report says that the funds meant for developmental activities are reallocated to finance the reconstruction work, which puts a strain on their long term developmental goals.


If the situation continues, the least developed countries are destined to lose all the benefits accumulated in the past century. Global warming is also causing global food insecurity, but the most severely hit people belong to the least developed world. For example the crop yields in sub Saharan region are expected to fall by 20% with the topical and sub-Saharan region being the major causalities. The poor in this region spend 60-70% of their total income on food, as compared to 12% in United Kingdom. The food insecurity is aggravating the already precarious economic situation of the people and is making poverty inevitable for them. Hunger makes the poor susceptible to malnourishment and reduces their resistance to diseases. The mothers are more likely to give birth to still born, weak or stunted children, which in turn affect the quality of the whole race. Climate change induced famines will result in 50 million refugees in Africa by 2060.


What is disheartening about the whole situation is the full knowledge of the fact that the main offenders of this environment felony are the developed countries, who are engaged in rapid industrialization and energy guzzling lifestyles. Their political leadership is quick to dismiss the allegations against them, by stating the lack of studies correlating the green house warming, environment degradation and the poverty and the unpredictability of the whole situation. It is easy to evade responsibility when you are not directly affected by the calamity, but it is not possible to remain distant from it for ever. The consequences will soon catch up and it will be too late to make amends for the past mistakes. The lack of consensus shown by the political leaders has to make way for a solution acceptable to all. The politicians have to look beyond electoral cycles and reflect on the well being of our posterity and our planet Earth.


Geetu Batra

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