1. Environment refers to the natural elements that make up the earth and surround living organisms, making life processes possible.
(i) Soil, water, air, light, and temperature are the physical aspects of environment and are known as its ‘abiotic‘ components.
(ii) All plants and animals collectively make up the biological aspects of environment and are referred to as its ‘biotic‘ components.
2. Natural Resources are materials or substances occurring in nature which can be exploited for economic gain. They can be divided into two types:
(i) Inexhaustible Natural Resources – Resources that are unlimited in nature and are not likely to be exhausted by human activities. Solar radiation, air, water, precipitation (rainfall, snowfall, etc.,) and atomic power are some instances of such resources.
(ii) Exhaustible Natural Resources – Natural resources that are limited in nature and are liable to be degraded in quantity and quality by human activities are exhaustible natural resources. Examples are forests, soil, wild animals, minerals, fossil fuels etc.
3. Environmental conservation has gained enormous importance since the last quarter of the 20th century. The terms environmental pollution, global warming, climate change, and destruction of rainforests, are all issues of global concern that are already affecting our lifestyles and sense of well-being.
4. Natural resources like forests, wildlife, water, coal and petroleum and see what are the issues at stake in deciding how these resources are to be managed for sustainable development.
5. While conservation and utilization of natural resources in a sustainable manner are what responsible citizens and the governments should aim to achieve. To ensure sustainable use of resources in our environment utilize the principle of ‘The Three R’s.’ – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Reduce: This means that you useless. You save electricity by switching off unnecessary lights and fans. You save water by repairing leaky taps. You do not waste food.
Recycle: This means that you collect plastic, paper, glass and metal items and recycle these materials to make required things instead of synthesizing or extracting fresh plastic, paper, glass or metal. To recycle, we first need to segregate our wastes so that the material that can be recycled is not dumped along with other wastes.
Reuse: In the ‘reuse’ strategy, you simply use things again and again. Instead of throwing away used envelopes, you can reverse it and use it again. The plastic bottles in which you buy various food-items like jam or pickle can be used for storing things in the kitchen.
6. The concept of sustainable development encourages forms of growth that meet current basic human needs while preserving the resources for the needs of future generations. Sustainable development implies a change in all aspects of life. It depends upon the willingness of the people to change their perceptions of the socio-economic and environmental conditions around them, and the readiness of each individual to alter their present use of natural resources.
7. Economic development is linked to environmental conservation.
NEED TO MANAGE OUR RESOURCES?
1. The management of natural resources utilization should be for long-term gains and not for short-term gains.
2. The management should also ensure equitable distribution of resources so that all, and not just a handful of rich and powerful people, benefit from the development of these resources.
3. Sustainable development method should be considered while exploiting natural resources to limit the damage caused to the environment while these resources are either extracted or used. For example, mining causes pollution because of a large amount of slag discarded for every tonne of metal extracted.
4. Here consider management of: –
(i) Forests and Wild Life
(iii) Coal and Petroleum
5. Conservation – Conservation is defined as the controlled utilization of natural resources for the benefit of all life so that it may yield sustainable benefit to the present generations as well as the future generations.
A – FORESTS AND WILDLIFE
1. Forests are ‘biodiversity hot spots’. One measure of the biodiversity of an area is the number of species found there. However, the range of different life forms (bacteria, fungi, ferns, flowering plants, nematodes, insects, birds, reptiles and so on) is also important.
2. One of the main aims of conservation is to try and preserve the biodiversity we have inherited. Experiments and field studies suggest that a loss of diversity may lead to a loss of ecological stability.
3. When we consider the conservation of forests, we need to look at the stakeholders who are –
(i) the people who live in or around forests are dependent on forest produce for various aspects of their life.
(ii) the Forest Department of the Government which owns the land and controls the resources from forests.
(iii) the industrialists – from those who use ‘tendu’ leaves to make bidis to the ones with paper mills – who use various forest produce but are not dependent on the forests in any one area.
(iv) the wildlife and nature enthusiasts who want to conserve nature in its pristine form.
4. There have been enough instances of local people working traditionally for conservation of forests-
(i) For example, the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan, for whom conservation of forest and wildlife has been a religious tenet.
(ii) Amrita Devi Bishnoi, in 1731 sacrificed her life along with 363 others for the protection of ‘khejri’ trees in Khejrali village near Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
(iii) The Government of India has recently instituted an ‘Amrita Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation’.
5. The Chipko Andolan (‘Hug the Trees Movement’) was the result of a grassroot level effort to end the alienation of people from their forests.
(i) The movement originated from an incident in a remote village called Reni in Garhwal, high-up in the Himalayas during the early 1970s.
(ii) There was a dispute between the local villagers and a logging contractor who had been allowed to fell trees in a forest close to the village.
(iii) The contractor’s workers appeared one day in the forest to cut the trees while the menfolk were absent.
(iv) Undeterred, the women of the village reached the forest quickly and clasped the tree trunks thus preventing the workers from felling the trees. The contractor had to withdraw.
(v) The Chipko movement quickly spread and forced the government to rethink their priorities in the use of forest produce.
6. An Example of People’s Participation in the Management of Forests –
(i) In 1972, the West Bengal Forest Department recognised its failures in reviving the degraded Sal forests in the southwestern districts of the state.
(ii) Thereafter, Department involved villagers in the protection of 1,272 hectares of badly degraded sal forest. In return for help in protection, villagers were given employment in both silviculture and harvesting operations, 25 per cent of the final harvest, and allowed fuelwood and fodder collection on payment of a nominal fee.
(iii) With the active and willing participation of villagers the sal forests of Arabari underwent a remarkable recovery.
B – WATER FOR ALL
1. Irrigation methods like dams, tanks and canals have been used in various parts of India since ancient times.
2. Of the fresh water, available there are three main sources.
(i) First one is rainwater (or precipitation).
(ii) Second source is surface water; there are 14 major river systems such as Ganga, Brahmaputra, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery.
(iii) Third is groundwater or underground aquifers which is the water that percolates down the surface soil into pore spaces of rocks.
3. It is evident that human intervention can change the availability of water in various regions; it can also lead to pollution of water sources.
4. Dams – Large dams can ensure the storage of adequate water not just for irrigation, but also for generating electricity. Canal systems leading from these dams can transfer large amounts of water great distances. For example, the Indira Gandhi Canal has brought greenery to considerable areas of Rajasthan.
5. Criticisms about large dams address three problems in particular –
(i) Social problems because they displace large number of peasants and tribals without adequate compensation or rehabilitation,
(ii) Economic problems because they swallow up huge amounts of public money without the generation of proportionate benefits,
(iii) Environmental problems because they contribute enormously to deforestation and the loss of biological diversity.
6. Water Harvesting – Watershed management emphasizes scientific soil and water conservation to increase the biomass production. The aim is to develop primary resources of land and water, to produce secondary resources of plants and animals for use in a manner which will not cause ecological imbalance.
7. Watershed management not only (i) increases the production and income of the watershed community, but also (ii) mitigates droughts and floods and increases the life of the downstream dam and reservoirs.
8. Water harvesting is an age-old concept in India. Some of the ancient water harvesting, including water conveyance, structures still in use today are: –
(i) Khadins, Tanks and Nadis in Rajasthan,
(ii) Bandharas and Tals in Maharashtra,
(iii) Bundhis in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh,
(iv) Ahars and Pynes in Bihar,
(v) Kulhs in Himachal Pradesh,
(vi) Ponds in the Kandi belt of Jammu region, and
(vii) Eris (tanks) in Tamil Nadu,
(viii) Surangams in Kerala, and
(ix) Kattas in Karnataka
9. In level terrain, the water harvesting structures are mainly crescent-shaped earthen embankments or low, straight concrete-and rubble “check dams”. Their main purpose is to recharge the groundwater beneath. The advantages of groundwater are:-
(i) It does not evaporate, but spreads out to recharge wells and provides moisture for vegetation over a wide area.
(ii) It does not provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes like stagnant water collected in ponds or artificial lakes. The ground-water is also relatively protected from contamination by human and animal waste.
10. In conclusion: –
(i) the management of water resources of a country does require government interventions like the national river commission under which the Ganga action plan I and II and major irrigation projects are managed.
(ii) utilize the local people and resources for water regeneration and harvesting.
C – COAL AND PETROLEUM
1. Fossil fuels are coal and petroleum
2. Coal and petroleum were formed from the degradation of bio-mass millions of years ago. Both have an organic origin and are called hydrocarbon fuels.
3. Coal was formed in nature as a solid from the remains of the trees buried deep inside the earth, some 500 million years ago.
4. Petroleum also occurs deep inside the earth’s crust, as a liquid, and is formed by the bacterial decomposition of marine plant and animal matter and prehistoric forests in the absence of air buried at the bottom of the seas. Petroleum is often referred to as liquid gold, due to its importance as a fuel in transportation (Petrol, Diesel, kerosene, gas oil, fuel oil).
5. Fossil fuels, like, coal, lignite, petroleum and natural gas are non-renewable natural resources.
6. Since coal and petroleum have been formed from biomass, in addition to carbon, these contain hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur.
7. When these are burnt, the products are carbon dioxide, water, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulphur. When combustion takes place in insufficient air (oxygen), then carbon monoxide is formed instead of carbon dioxide.
8. Of these products, the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and carbon monoxide are poisonous at high concentrations and carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas leading to intense global warming.
9. Conservation and managing of these resources are to: –
(i) substitute existing technologies so that hydrocarbon fuels are more efficiently used or used less.
(ii) is to affect the policy of finding non-conventional and renewable energy sources.
10. Some simple environment-friendliness steps would be: –
(i) Taking a bus, using your personal vehicle or walking/ cycling.
(ii) Using bulbs or fluorescent tubes in your homes.
(iii) Using the lift or taking the stairs.
(iv) Wearing an extra sweater or using a heating device (heater or ‘sigri’) on cold days.