Interconnected Environmental Problems

A number of environmental problems are continuing as a major part of our concern. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, biodiversity loss, stratospheric ozone depletion, global climate change, herbicides, pesticides, pollution of surface- and ground-water, acid deposition, oil spills, and thermal pollution are direct environmental problems. Human population growth, unsustainable consumerism, urbanization, international conflicts, and inequities in the distribution of wealth are indirect environmental problems. All such problems are presently being viewed in a totality, to ameliorate the said problems, and to ensure the future of life on earth. Expansion of chemical industries, during and after World War II, has aggravated such problems. “Silent Spring” written by Rachel Carson awakened about pollution threats to living species. Environmentalism has become accepted in the public Agenda since the first National Earth Day in 1970. The 1970s were the decade of environment.Between the 1980s and 1990s, environmental issues were pushed into the political background, and now coming to the forefront as human abuse of the earth is continuing. Emphasis on preventive measures rather than curative measures on environmental problems is believed to contribute a lot.

Diversity in living forms occurs due to changes in their genetic make up, inheritance of changes, and operation of natural selection. Interaction between environment, genetic variation, and natural selection leads to evolution. Origin of new species is the result of evolution. Existing biodiversity is the result of evolution, and extinction. Evolution and extinction are make, and breake system in nature. Diversity of species and the complex interrelationships that sustain them are encompassed by the term biodiversity. The term “Biological Diversity” was coined by Thomas Lovejoy in the year 1980. E. O. Wilson applied the term “Biodiversity” in 1986. The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro defined biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.

Brown, an administrator of UNDP has recently argued that biodiversity is far from being optional or a luxury; rather a key development issue that frequently provides the welfare system for poor people and communities. Most of the world’s biodiversity exist in the economically poorest countries, which offer opportunities to the poor to enhance their income by exploiting the biodiversity resource. According to Brown, our future programmme should focus on “biodiversity for development”, not biodiversity or development.

Increasing population degrades natural habitat in a number of ways. An assessment of wildlife habitat loss in tropical Asia reported that India had already lost about 80% of its natural habitat. Biological diversity has become a topic of international convention, and is no longer the private domain of biologists. The complexity on this planet lies in the dynamics of the “biodiversity/biosphere” system. The concept of Sustainable development has been emerged for conserving the natural and biological resources. Understanding biodiversity necessitates the knowledge of taxonomy, evolution, genetics, behavioral biology, economics, ecology, environmental science, political science, and sociology. In fact, economy and ecology intersect in a 3 fold system of biodiversity, biosphere, and human society.

Evolution of the diversity of life is associated with interaction involving biosphere, human society, and climate. In both Rio and Johannesburg, economic and social development of humanity was emphasized, as they depend on long-term environmental health. Central role of biodiversity in sustainable development and in eradication of poverty was recognized at Johannesburg. World Commission on Environment and Development report states that “If needs are to be met on a sustainable basis, the Earth’s natural resource base must be conserved and enhanced”. Developing countries are plagued with social inequalities with features, including poverty, inadequate social amenities, high unemployment rates, and lack of proper infrastructure. These countries base their development policy on the paradigm set by the market economy. The pursuit of developmental objectives by such countries comes into conflict with environmental protection.Poverty and present trends of development leads to environmental degradation. The World Bank has asserted that the poor are both victims and perpetuators of environmental abuse. The World Bank has claimed that up to 1991, more than 1500 environmental components were added to power, transportation, industry and agriculture projects,with a few being implemented to improve soil conservation, to manage forests and rangelands, to prevent desertification, to protect biological diversity, and conserve water resources and fisheries. However, an interdisciplinary approach can help in the conservation of biodiversity along with the environmental resources, and essentially with involvement of the people.

Source by Dr Fatik Baran Mandal

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