Pollution. Kyoto Protocol. Ozone depletion. Melting of the glaciers. Extinction of species. Depletion of resources. Energy crises. Oil spills. Global warming. Do these words sound familiar, old maybe? Common? Maybe that’s because these are extremely critical to our planet today. Maybe it’s because we need to pay more attention to the world we live in. Maybe it’s just because we need to learn to care.
Newton said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction and every single thing we do has an effect on the environment we live in. We do not just affect the people around us or ourselves with our decisions. They impact the world we live in and this earth that we inhabit. Our decisions, needs and wants are intricately connected to the environment we occupy. This is something we need to understand and live by; otherwise we will obliterate ourselves through the consequences of our actions.
Ever since we’ve learnt that we could use the environment to fulfill our needs, we have only exploited it and stolen from it. We have pillaged and plundered without any thought for the repercussions. And now we are beginning to pay for our actions. The effects of air pollution with Mumbai topping the list of the most polluted cities of the country, is just one indication.
The standard of living of people has increased and with this the sale of vehicles, primarily cars has also increased. The levels of pollution have risen dramatically from 2009 to 2010 according to a survey done by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The report also states that Maharashtra has taken a leap from 3, 78,873 of JCB vehicles (excavators, forklifts, cranes and diggers) in 2000 to 8, and 45,617 in 2009, which means an addition of more than four lakh vehicles in nine years. A huge proportion of these are in Mumbai.
It has also been proved that the incidence of asthma has increased in India among varied age groups. This is not to say that air pollution is the only cause but it must be noted that children attending schools located in areas with high and low traffic zones show different prevalence of asthma (Sourced from: www.whoindia.org).
The oil spills near the coastlines of Maharasthra are another example of the effects of human actions on the environment. Oil spills are very hard to clean up and the cause of a lot of problems for a prolonged period of time. They affect the sea life and inturn harm people who are at the end of the food chain.
A study by the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) for the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) shows that the northern coastline of Maharashtra was the most polluted as compared to any other coastline in the entire country. Industrialization and indiscriminate dumping of waste have caused this, with the oil spills being a small factor. We have not taken responsibility for the waste we generate and this is why it is coming to bite us in the backside.
We are talking only about Mumbai and its pollution. When we take these results and then multiply them, we get the status of many other such places all over the world. We aren’t isolated and neither are the effects of our actions. The US is one of the most polluted countries of the world and global warming has caused snowfall in Saudi Arabia a few years back.
We must find ways to amend the destruction we have caused. And not just find ways but actually find methods of implementing these on large scales. Tapping into solar energy, using nuclear power, exploiting wind resources are all viable methods but they need to be properly applied. More money and policies should focus on these techniques and their refinement.
Maybe it is not too late to undo what we have done. There is still time to embrace the land we have come from and make amends. Maybe, we still have a chance.
Ayesha Sruti Ahmed