The Ailing Planet: The Green Movement's Role
About the Author
Nani Palkhivala (1920-2002) was a celebrated jurist and an economist of repute. He was from Mumbai (Bombay, then), and endeared himself to the people through his articulate analysis of the Annual Budget. Businessmen, teachers, economists, and just common folks used to throng to the Brobourne Stadium to listen to his brief, but succinct analysis of the Budget. In the Bar, he was an acclaimed expert in Constitutional Law and matters related to Income tax. This essay reflects his commitment to the civic responsibilities of the people towards preservation of their endangered planet. The Indian Express newspaper carried this essay on November 24, 1994.Synopsis
This chapter is an article written by Nani Palkhivala and was published in The Indian Express on 24th November 1994. The issues raised in this article are relevant to this day and the main focus of the article is on the declining health of Planet Earth. The whole concept of coexistence is questioned and the issues of depletion of the environment are highlighted. This article gives various details about the Green Movement which played a major role in addressing this issue. It is very relevant, and the topics discussed to show how the human race is dominating on Earth and has left no or little place for other species. The entire article is based on different Committees framed for the betterment of the planet as a whole.
The article ‘The Ailing Planet: The Green Movement’s Role’ discusses various environmental issues. It was written in 1994 but is relevant to this day due to the continuous deterioration in the health of the planet Earth. This article shows Earth as an ailing patient whose condition is getting critical day by day. It also focuses on the activities of human beings which contribute to the depletion of the environment. You will learn about the Green Movement and its role in conserving the environment.
There is also a focus laid on the human race being the most dangerous and destructive force in the world. A large number of species are there on the Earth and everyone has an equal right to live on this planet, but the point is raised about the domination of the human race over other species. The concept of coexistence is lost. There are industrialisation, urbanisation, and modernisation at the cost of a healthy environment.
This article also highlights the facts and statistics about the trees being cut and the growing deforestation either to acquire land or for the purpose of industrialisation. The chapter brings to light various important yet neglected issues which might cause devastation if not addressed immediately.
In this chapter, you will understand the importance of conserving natural resources and how this planet is a place to live for everyone and not just humans alone. It brings the true yet harsh reality of the destruction by human beings in the name of modernisation and improvement. The article also talks about the problem of over-population which is also responsible for the imbalance in the environment.
The chapter comments on the deteriorating condition of our planet. It speaks of the problems faced by our planet, reasons for its poor condition and the changing view of the world for the planet.
The Green Movement
The author begins by commenting on the great attention received by the Green Movement that began some 25 years ago. The world’s first nationwide Green party was founded in New Zealand in the year 1972 and the movement has been a great success since then.
A change in the human perception
A revolutionary change has come in the perception of the human beings bringing in a “holistic and ecological” view of the world. There has been a shift from the understanding developed by Copernicus to the people’s belief that the earth is a living organism whose needs must be respected and preserved by us. According to the writer, our earth is like a “patient in declining health”. Thus, we have to realise our ethical responsibility of guarding the planet.
The World Commission on Environment and Development propagated the concept of “sustainable development” in 1987. Sustainable development calls for a well-balanced development so as to meet the demands of the present and not to deprive our future generations from the natural world of resources.
Man and the other living-species
Man has been considered as the most dangerous being on the planet. However, due to the efforts of a number of agencies all over the world, man is learning to live in harmony with the other living species on the planet. Man’s existence is shifting from the system of domination to that of partnership.
The depletion of the principal biological systems
There are still many millions of living species that have not been catalogued. The author mentions the ecological concern pointed out by Mr. Lester R. Brown in his book “The Golden Economic Prospect”. Mr. Brown points out four principal biological systems- fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands. These form the foundation of the global economic system as they supply food and provide raw materials for industries except minerals and petroleum-derived synthetics.
The demand of the human beings on these systems is increasing to such an ‘unsustainable’ extent that the productivity of these systems is being hampered. The excessive demand result in deterioration and depletion of resources leading to the breakdown of fisheries, disappearance of forests, deterioration of croplands and turning of grasslands into barren lands.
The forests are being destroyed in large proportions to obtain firewood in poor countries. Depletion of tropical forests has led to the extinction of several species. In fact, the tropical forests or “the powerhouse of evolution” are eroding at the rate of forty to fifty million acres per year. Besides, the increasing use of dung for burning deprives the soil of important natural fertilisers.
According to our Parliament’s Estimates Committee, a near “catastrophic depletion” has been marked in the number of the forests of India over the last four decades. Ironically, article 48A of the Indian Constitution states that the state shall “protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”. However, India is losing its forests at the rate of 3.7 million acres a year.
The condition of the environment is ‘critical’ as per a study conducted by the United Nations.
The problem of over-population
One of the major factors adding to the deforming future of the human society is the fast-growing world population. The present world population is estimated at 5.7 billion. With this ever-increasing population, development seems a far-fetched dream.
As per the author, the best contraceptive to control the population is development. Voluntary family planning with an element of coercion is the only alternative. Rise in income, spread of education and improved health would lead to fall in fertility. Population and poverty are directly proportional to each other. Thus, control of the population should be our top-most priority.
“Era of Responsibility”
The author now re-mentions the “holistic view” of the basis of our existence. He points that it is an “Era of Responsibility” that calls for “seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts”. Industry plays an important role in this responsibility. Excellence in environmental performance is required for the manufacturers to continue their existence. Our earth belongs as much to the future generation as much to us. We should soon realise our duty towards our planet and should not treat it solely as our property.
The chapter concludes with the beautiful lines of Mr. Lester Brown, “We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children.
Understanding the Text
Question 1. Locate the lines in the text that support the title ‘The Ailing Planet’.
Answer: The following lines in the text support the title, ‘The Ailing Planet’.
(a) “The earth’s vital signs reveal a patient in declining health.”
(b) “Are we to leave our successors a scorched planet of advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes and ailing environment”?
(c) “ severed species of life face extinction as a result of its destruction.”
(d) “ the environment has deteriorated so badly that it is ‘critical’ in many of the eighty-eight countries investigated.”
Question 2. What does the notice ‘The world’s most dangerous animal’ at a cage in the zoo at Lusaka, Zambia, signify?
Answer: The notice signifies that man is responsible for the depletion of resources and deterioration of the environment on earth. This is so serious that even man’s survival is threatened.
Question 3. How are the Earth’s principal biological systems being depleted?
Answer: The Earth’s principal biological systems are being depleted by excessive use. According to Lester R Brown, there Eire four principal biological systems of the globed economic system. They are fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands. They are the foundation of the global economic system. They supply us food and provide raw materials for industry, except minerals.
But man’s demands on these systems are reaching an unsustainable level. Over-fishing is common because of a protein hungry world. The tropical forests face extinction due to the demand of firewood for cooking. Grasslands are being converted into wastelands and deserts due to over-grazing. Pressure of population on croplands has affected their productivity.
Question 4. Why does the author aver that the growth of world population is one of the strongest factors distorting the future of human society?
Answer: The growth of world population is one of the strongest factors ‘distorting’ the future of human society. Nani Palkhivala avers that the population explosion will pose a great threat to the future of human society.
Overpopulation upsets all plans of development and puts a severe strain on the Earth’s principal biological systems. This leads to poverty and unemployment, due to which development is hampered.
Talking About the Text
Discuss in groups of four.
Question 1. “Laws are never respected nor enforced in India.”
Answer: It is a very sad state of affairs that in India laws are neither respected nor enforced. There is a very well written Constitution of India that covers all the aspects of the running of the country. New laws are also made, and reforms take place. But generally, Indians believe in breaking the laws or interpreting them according to their convenience. Examples are dowry, child labour and female foeticide. There is a general apathy towards the system of law. There could be a lot of reasons behind this. Corruption is one of them. We in India know that everyone and everything can be bought for a price. The second reason could be that, in our country, the course of justice takes a long time.
We believe in the fact that, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” So, there is a possibility that people take law in their own hands and try to meet their demands according to what they want. What needs to be done is to make people more aware about right and wrong. People should respect laws rather than break them. Corrupt officials should be punished strictly, and justice should be delivered quickly. Only after some serious measures have been taken can the situation be improved.
Question 2. “Are we to leave our successors a scorched planet of advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes and an ailing environment?”
Answer: The ever-rising inflation, the high cost of living, paucity of drinking water and frequent power cuts are some of the problems we face every day. We fall sick with all kinds of new ailments. These are the assets we have inherited from our ancestors. But the question is, if we are suffering, should we not think of finding solutions to these problems and give a better world to our successors?
We certainly have to take corrective measures to ensure that we do not leave our successors a scorched planet of advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes, and an ailing environment. We should not make unreasonable claims on the four biological systems of fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands. Over-fishing should be avoided, and forests should be preserved. New plants should be planted. We should try to avoid using cow dung for burning, so as not to deprive soil of its natural fertiliser.
If utmost care is not taken now, then the future of all of mankind would become endangered. It is high time that we keep our selfish motives in check and try to build a healthy future.
Answer: Man suffers from many misconceptions. He considers himself to be the lord of this world. Perhaps he doesn’t know that his actions are leading to the degradation and destruction of this Earth. He thinks that he has a freehold on this Earth.
The hungry world has ruined fishing. Forests’ are disappearing at the rate of an acre and a half every second. Grasslands and croplands are being converted into wastelands and deserts. Man’s greed and claims have made this earth a scorched planet of advancing deserts and an ailing environment.
Man should remember that he has to hand over this planet to the coming generations. He is only the trustee and not the master. It is the duty of every living being to leave this Earth in good health and ‘good shape. According to Margaret Thatcher, we have only a life tenancy and not the ownership. Nor have we inherited this world from our forefathers.
We have borrowed it from our children. At any cost, we have to maintain sustainable development in order to meet our present needs without harming the interests and needs of the future generations.
Question 4. “The problems of overpopulation directly affect our everyday life”.
Answer: There is no doubt that the growth of world population is one of the strongest factors distorting the future of human society. World population is increasing at a rapid speed.
This is a very alarming situation. Every day, we face the brunt of this menace. There is not a single utility location where there are not long queues, be it a hospital, ration shops or educational institutes. Overpopulation makes the poor still poorer. More children do not mean more hands to work. It only means more people without work and more mouths to feed. There are not enough houses for everyone, so we find slums everywhere.
In government hospitals, where the treatment is available at a reduced cost, there are not enough beds for the patients. Every day, there are new colleges and schools opening, but still the illiteracy is not reducing.
Moreover, high population affects the environment adversely. Trees are cut to make new settlements. As a result, forests recede. More food is needed to support an increasing population. A protein hungry world creates a perpetual pressure on fisheries and croplands. Ultimately, it also adds to impaired productivity.
Thinking About Language
The phrase ‘inter alia meaning ‘among other things’ is one of many Latin expressions commonly used in English.
Find out what these Latin phrases mean.
1. Prima facie
2. ad hoc
3. in camera
4. ad infinitum
5. mutatis mutandis
7. tabula rasa
1. prima facie at first sight, before closer inspection
2. ad hoc for the specific purpose, case, or situation at hand and for no other, temporary
3. in camera in secret, in private
4. ad infinitum to infinity, having no end
5. mutatis mutandis having substituted new terms, the necessary changes having been made
6. caveat warning or caution
7. tabula rasa blank slate, an opportunity for a fresh start
Working with Words
Locate the following phrases in the text and study their connotation.
1. gripped the imagination of
2. dawned upon
3. ushered in
4. passed into the current coin
5. passport for the future
1. gripped the imagination of received much attention
2. dawned upon realised for the first time
3. ushered in introduced something, began a new idea
4. passed into the current coin been brought into use
5. passport for the future permit for taking us to a brighter future
(II) The words ‘grip’, ‘dawn’, ‘usher’, ‘coin’, ‘passport’ have a literal as well as a figurative meaning. Write pairs of sentences using each word in the literal as well as the figurative sense.
Literal: The baby gripped my finger with her tiny hand.
Figurative: The movement of ‘India Against Corruption’ had gripped the minds of Indians.
Literal: We walked all night and reached the station at dawn.
Figurative: Suddenly, the idea dawned on him.
Literal: The waiter ushered them to their seats.
Figurative: The Green Movement ushered in a new era of awareness.
Literal: I have five coins of ₹10.
Figurative: The term was coined by a famous philosopher.
Literal: Finally, she got her passport made to visit her daughter in Germany.
Figurative: Education is the passport to a bright future.
Things to Do
Question 1. Make posters to highlight the importance of the Green Movement.
Answer: do it your self
Question 2. Maintain a record of the trees cut down and the parks demolished in your area, or any other act that violates the environment. Write to newspapers reporting on any such acts that disturb you.
Answer: Letter to Editor: See the specimen given below:
271 Green Road,
20 March 20 XX
The National Herald
Sub: Illegal felling of trees
May I use the columns of your daily to draw the attention of the public and the authorities concerned towards an act that has caused severe violation of environment. The central park adjacent to Green Road had many tall and beautiful trees which added to its glory. Of late some people began to use it for hosting wedding parties or political functions. They caused much damage to the environment by damaging the plants, flowers, young trees, and grass growing in the lawns as well as creating noise pollution through loudspeakers.
Yesterday, some enthusiastic members of the green club protested to the organiser of a political assembly against the misuse of the park and the untold harm to environment. To our surprise, we found that all the tall trees had been felled and cut down into logs overnight.
We have lodged a complaint with the local police station. We appeal to you to publish this letter of protest against the illegal felling of trees with your comments and remind the authorities that it is the responsibility of the state to preserve healthy environment.
I am confident that you will take up this cause.
Short Questions and Answers
Question 1. What is the significance of Green Movement in the modern world?
Answer: The Green Movement has brought a great awareness among people. It has taught us that we are just partners on the earth sharing this planet with other living organisms.
Having learnt this, human beings worldwide have reduced the large amount of destruction being caused on Earth. People have realised that the earth’s existence has been threatened and have begun to do whatever was possible individually.
Question 2. What do you understand by the Green Movement?
Answer: The Green Movement was founded in 1972 in New Zealand and brought great awareness to humanity about preserving our planet for the future. It taught us that we are only partners, having equal rights as any other organism to live on Earth. The Green Movement has made people realise that Earth’s existence was threatened and so they started to do whatever was possible to save it through the efforts of each individual and each nation. They reduced the large amount of destruction that was caused to the various economic systems on Earth.
Question 3. What shift in human perception has been seen as a result of the Green Movement?
Answer: Man’s view about the earth was earlier a mechanistic view. But now it has moved towards a holistic and ecological view of the world. This shift in perception is revolutionary.
For the first time in human history, there is a growing worldwide consciousness that Earth itself is a living organism, an enormous being of which we are parts. It has its own metabolic needs and vital processes which need to be respected and preserved.
Question 4. What are the changes that have come in the perception of man? What is his holistic and ecological view of the world?
Answer: A great transformation has come in the perception of man. Initially, man’s view was only mechanistic in nature. But fortunately, he has changed his outlook. He doesn’t consider this world to be a machine. There is a growing worldwide consciousness that Earth itself is a living organism. It has its own metabolic needs. It has some vital processes and they need to be preserved. This holistic and ecological view is a comprehensive view of the world with all its natural resources and species.
Question 5. Define the concept of sustainable development. How do the earth’s vital signs reveal a patient in declining health?
Answer: Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without harming the needs of future generations. Earth’s vital signs give dangerous signals that it is not in good health. In most parts of the world, fisheries have been ruined. Forests are disappearing. Grasslands and croplands are being converted into deserts and wastelands. Earth and its environment show all-round degradation and deterioration. Hence, these are definite signs that Earth is like a patient in declining health.
Question 6. Why is Earth said to be an ailing planet?
Answer: Due to the insensitive exploitation of Earth’s resources by humans for their survival and development, Earth has lost almost all its vital resources. With drying rivers, depleted and polluted environment and deteriorated forests and greenery, Earth is having a difficult time to its survive and thus it is said to be an ailing planet.
Question 7. What question did the First Brandt Report raise?
Answer: One of the early international commissions which dealt with the question of ecology and environment was the Brandt Commission. The First Brandt Report raised the question, “Are we to leave our successors a Scorched planet of advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes, and ailing environment?”
Question 8. How are Earth’s principal biological systems important?
Answer: Mr. Lester R Brown in his thoughtful book, The Global Economic Prospect, points out that earth’s principal biological systems are four – fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands. They form the foundation of the global economic system. They supply our entire needs of food, besides providing virtually all the raw materials for industry except minerals and petroleum derived synthetics.
Question 9. How do fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands form the foundation of the global economic system?
Answer: Mr. Lester R Brown has pointed out that the earth’s principal biological systems, fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands, form the foundation of the global economic system. In addition to supplying our food, these four systems provide virtually all the raw materials for industry except minerals and petroleum-derived synthetics.
Fish are a major source of proteins required for growth. In developing countries, local forests are being cut to provide firewood for cooking. Croplands are required for growing crops which are essential for nutrition. Grasslands provide fodder for various domesticated animals, which provide many items consumed or used by mankind. Thus, these four forms the foundation for the global economic system.
Question 10. What is the cause of the collapse of fisheries?
Answer: Fisheries have collapsed due to over-fishing. Fish are an important source of protein which is essential for growth. With the spread of education, people all over the world have become conscious about consuming proteins. This has led to fishermen trying to meet the demand for fish by over-fishing, leading to the collapse of fisheries.
Question 11. What happens when the productivity of the principal biological systems gets impaired?
Answer: In large areas of the world, human claims on the principal biological systems are reaching such an unsustainable level that their productivity is being impaired.
When this happens, fisheries collapse, forests disappear, grasslands are converted into barren wastelands and croplands deteriorate. Thus, for example, in some places firewood has become more expensive than the food which is cooked by burning the firewood.
Question 12. Why and how are our grasslands being converted into barren wastelands, and croplands deteriorating?
Answer: One of the greatest reasons of the deterioration of these grasslands, and croplands is the growth of population. Population has been increasing drastically. As a result, the pressure on land is increasing.
Over-grazing of animals has caused havoc to our grasslands. Due to this, grasslands are being converted into barren wastelands. In the same way, the pressure of population on croplands is affecting their productivity. More mouths mean more food and hence, more pressure on croplands.
Question 13. “What goes under the pot now costs more than what goes inside it.” Explain.
Answer: This statement means that with growing population and rapid global development, the cost of food has touched new heights. Amazingly, the cost of cooking fuel has overtaken that of food grains, fish, meat, and vegetables. As a result, the fuel required to cook, such as gas, firewood, and electricity, now costs more than the raw food.
Question 14. Why are tropical forests called the powerhouse of evolution?
Answer: Tropical forests are called the powerhouse of evolution because it is in the heart of tropical forests where newer plants and animals evolve to more adaptable forms. If they are drastically reduced, as at present, it will affect evolution as a whole and many species of plants and animals will be rendered extinct in this process.
Question 15. What do you understand by the statement, “Forests precede mankind; deserts follow?”
Answer: Forests are one of the principal biological systems of Earth. They form the foundation of the global economic system. It is true that if forests disappear, deserts will replace them.
Forests were in existence much before the coming of man on this planet. Local forests are disappearing to provide firewood and timber. The world is losing 40 to 50 million acres of forests a year. If this process continues, nothing will be left except deserts and wastelands.
Question 16. The world’s forest cover is in a pathetic state. Comment with reference to the chapter.
Answer: The world’s ancient inheritance of tropical forests is now eroding at the rate of 40 to 50 million acres a year. The World Bank estimates that a five-fold increase in the rate of forest plantation is needed to cope with the expected fuelwood demand after six years. James Speth, President of the World Resources Institute, said that we are actually losing forests close to an acre-and-a-half every second.
Question 17. Explain the unusually alarming statistics about the population that the author mentions.
Answer: The author mentions that the population explosion has distorted the future of human society. Mankind took a million years to reach the first billion. The second billion was added in just another 100 years and the twentieth century has added 3.7 billion more. The population in 1994 was over 5.7 billion. Every four days the population increased by one million at that time.
Question 18. What does more children mean to the poor section of people of India?
Answer: Poverty is directly caused by lack of education, as an illiterate person is unable to meet the needs of the family properly, causing it to become poor. Having more children means having more mouths to feed as well as more unemployment when the children grow up. It also leads to inadequate healthcare, leading to illnesses and further poverty.
Question 19. How can the growth of population be checked or controlled?
Answer: The growth of population can be checked by spreading education and awareness among the masses. The people, especially the ones below the poverty line, think that if they have more children, they will have more earning members, which is not true.
In order to stop the people from thinking in this manner, development by means of education is the only solution. This will lead to a better life among the masses and will indirectly contribute towards curbing the population explosion.
Question 20. What do you mean by the Era of Responsibility?
Answer: The author points that this time is an ‘Era of Responsibility’ that calls for ‘seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts.’ Industry plays an important role in this responsibility. Excellence in environmental performance is required for the manufacturers to continue their existence. Our earth belongs as much to the future generations as to us. We should soon realise our responsibility towards our planet and should not treat it solely as our property.
The Green Movement, a part of this Era of Responsibility, has recognised the critical state in which planet Earth is at present.
Question 21. What does Mr Edgar S Woolard mean by assuming the post of his company’s Chief Environment Officer?
Answer: Mr Edgar S Woolard, Chairman of Du Pont, an international manufacturer, by co-assuming the post of the company’s Chief Environmental Officer (CEO), has become a model for the owners and chairpersons of all industries worldwide. He implies that the chief motive of an industry is to preserve the stability and life of Earth and profit comes afterwards.
Question 22. What do you understand by this statement of Margaret Thatcher, “No generation has a freehold on this earth? All we have is a life tenancy-with a full repairing lease.”
Answer: We understand from her statement that man has been the victim of many false illusions. In his view, he is the lord of this world. This attitude and misdeeds of man have caused untold havoc and destruction. He has always indulged himself in plundering natural resources.
However, man should remember that he has to hand over this planet to the coming generations. He should not forget that he is only a trustee and not the master. It is his foremost duty to leave this earth in good health and good shape for future generations.
Question 23. What did Mr Lester R Brown mean when he said “We have not inherited this, Earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children?”
Answer: Mr Lester R Brown believes that the present generation of people has no right to think that the Earth is their property. In fact, everyone should believe that they are responsible to leave Earth for future generations in the same condition as they found it. Mr Lester R Brown further says that human beings have no right to misuse Earth because we are accountable to future generations.
Question 24. Justify the title of the article by Nani Palkhivala.
Answer: The title of the article by Nani Palkhivala, ‘The Ailing Planet: The Green Movement’s Role’, is totally justified and appropriate. The earth’s vital signs are that of a patient in declining health. We have overexploited its resources.
But the Green Movement has changed our thinking. We have started to understand that earth is also a living organism and we have to respect its needs.
Long Questions and Answers
Question 1. The author in his article has brought out a very important fact that we need to preserve the planet Earth for our future generations. Do you feel that Earth is our legacy? Why/why not?
Answer: Earth is not our ancestral property. We cannot make undue claims on it. In our foolishness, we have depleted the natural resources without realising how it is going to affect our future generations. The fruits that we eat today are the products of a tree which was not planted by us. We have to base our thought process on similar lines. What we sow today, our next generation will reap in future.
Our earth is not our legacy. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease.”
We should take care of earth’s resources as borrowed wealth. We can neither overuse them nor neglect them. We have to return them for the next generation to use without any damage and, if possible, with further additions.
Mr Lester R Brown has rightly said, “We have not inherited this Earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children.”
Question 2. In spite of knowing the deplorable condition of the environment, human beings only make a show of doing something about it. Elaborate.
Answer: The issue of indiscriminate exploitation of nature has become an essential feature of human existence. Although sustainable development of resources is a goal for most nations, the reality is hardly so.
This uncaring behaviour is manifested in practices such as deforestation, destruction of wetlands, excessive mining for oil and mineral supplies, over-fishing and so on. The root causes for such practices are overpopulation, inefficiency in resource utilisation, over-consumption, poverty, and ineffective structures such as human institutions, regulatory bodies, and attitudes.
Moreover, the funds meant to help in conservation of critically endangered species are being siphoned off for other causes and the concerned authorities are not taking this matter seriously.
Question 3. Overpopulation not only leads to under development but also to unemployment and poverty, which are related to one another. Support your answer with suitable arguments.
Answer: The world population is on the rise at an increasing rate. With this ever-increasing population, development of human civilisation and the well-being of the planet seems almost next to impossible. It is rightly said that overpopulation not only leads to underdevelopment but also to unemployment and poverty, which are related to one another.
In fact, it is the rise in population which has posed numerous environmental problems because of the ever-increasing demands. More and more grasslands are converted into wastelands; croplands have lost their fertility due to over-utilisation; fisheries are in a poor condition due to over-fishing; the number of trees in forests is dwindling because of the excess need of fuelwood and other products for human consumption. All these are in a poor state only because of the rise in population. Another adverse effect of population rise on the environment is global warming, which also needs to be addressed.
Question 4. Why does the author call Earth ‘The Ailing Planet’? Who is responsible for its condition? In your opinion, how can the ailing planet survive?
Answer: According to the author, the planet Earth is going through a difficult phase. Human beings are solely responsible for the deteriorating condition of the environment, the depletion of natural resources leading to an imbalance in the ecology of the earth, which in turn is bound to affect our flourishing civilisation and us.
Earth’s main biological systems are adversely affected by such developments. With the rise in human population and the ever-increasing human needs, these demands are reaching an unsustainable level. Fisheries are being overexploited, forests are disappearing, grasslands are being converted into wasteland and croplands are insufficient and lacking in fertility. These are referred to as ailments of planet Earth.
The ailing planet can survive only with human intervention. A holistic approach towards the environment and its related ecological issues is the need of the hour. In fact, it is essential to examine the world as an integrated whole rather than a collection of parts. This, according to the author, is an Era of Responsibility where the world is to be viewed as a complete system, which needs to be cured of its environmental and ecological ailments.
Question 5. To protect our ailing planet there have been, from time to time, a number of movements going on in different parts of this planet. What are some of the ways in which you can contribute towards the conservation of our environment?
Answer: We have been aware from quite some time of remedies to protect Earth like planting trees, using public transportation, saving electricity etc, which actually are sometimes practical and sometimes not. However, there can be more innovative, better, and other small ways by which we as youth of the world can contribute to reduce ours as well as the nation’s carbon footprint and help our planet recover.
In today’s world, when technology is in everybody’s power, we can use it to help reduce our carbon footprint, which will help save energy and thus help the environment. We should use either solar cookers or heaters, which are cheap and easy to construct. We can use reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap. We can use latex paint instead of oil-based paint, as oil-based paint is highly toxic. Using cloth bags instead of plastic and paper bags can be of great help. These are a few steps that can help save our ailing planet.