Chapter 7 People, Development And Environment (UGC NTA NET JRF Teaching and Research Aptitude Book)
The Concept Of People
This unit deals with people, development and environment. Thus, the foremost thing is to get familiarized with the basic defi nitions. Population is a near permanent group of interbreeding individuals of a species found in a space or geographical area at a particular point. It is called local population or deme.
Metapopulation is a complex of local populations connected by dispersing individuals. The main factors affecting population are as follows.
1. Natality (birth rate) 2. Mortality (death rate) 3. Population dispersal (emigration, immigration and migration) 4. Age distribution (pre-reproductive, reproductive and post-reproductive) 5. Population growth rate 6. Carrying resources mainly food, water, space and there are limited resources to support all life forms.
Population density is the number of individuals divided by space (such as per square km). The term environment is derived from the French word environner. It means ‘to surround’. According to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, environment includes all the physical and biological surroundings of an organism and their interactions. Environment is defined as the sum of water, air and land, and the interrelationships that exist among them and with the human beings, other living organisms and materials. The flora, fauna, microorganisms and the manmade structures in our surroundings have a bidirectional interaction with us, either directly or indirectly. The totality of all these components and their interactions constitute the environment. Air, water and land constitute our environment and influence us directly.
We too exert an influence on our environment due to overuse or over exploitation of resources or due to discharge of pollutants in air, water and land.
In context of relation between people and environment, the following concepts developed:
1. Environmental determinism: It developed in 19th century Europe, a belief that environment determines how a culture develops. For example, white European nations believed that people from warmer climates were lazier because they did not have to work as hard to survive.
2. Environmental possibilism: It developed in the first half of the 20th century. It is the belief that the environment puts limits on people, but it does not determine how they will behave.
The term ecology was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1869. Ecology deals with the study of organisms in their natural home. Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other, their natural environments and ecosystems.
It is present at three levels, which are as follows:
1. The individual organism (how individuals are affected by the environment and how they, in turn, affect the environment) 2. The population 3. The community Ecology is defined as the study of ecosystems.
Ecological Footprint: The ecological footprint measures human consumption of natural resources in comparison to Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them. Calculation of the footprint takes into account our consumption habits both at (i) micro (individual) level and (ii) macro (area or nation) level. The objective of its calculation is also to educate people about the need to change our consumption behaviour to make it more sustainable.
Ecological footprint is measured in global hectares (gha).
Species, Population and Community
The organisms in this world can be divided into different species, just as human beings are a species, so are the roses and neem trees.
A species is a set of organisms that resemble each other in certain features. The members of a species living together and interacting with each other are called a population. The members of a population live within a given area.
• It is an important attribute of biotic community, which is determined by the total number of species and their relative abundance.
• Greater species diversity indicates higher number of niches and greater stability of the community.
• It is a species that has a significant and disproportionately large influence on the community structure and characteristics.
• It has often considerably low abundance and biomass as compared to dominant species.
Critical Link Species
• These are the species that play an important role in supporting network species as pollinators, dispersal agents, absorption or circulation of nutrients, etc. Mycorrhizal fungi help the vascular plants in obtaining inorganic nutrients from soil and organic residues.
A community is an assemblage of all the interacting populations of different species in a geographical area.
It is a complex interacting network of plants, animals, and microorganisms. Each population has a defined role in the community.
The term ecosystem was defined by Arthur Tansley in 1935. Ecosystem is a self-regulating community of living organisms (populations of species), interacting with each other and their non-living, physical environment, for example, forest ecosystem and ocean ecosystem.
Even a clump of bushes can be an ecosystem. All ecosystems on the planet are interconnected and interdependent, and together, they make up the biosphere. There is also exchange of matter and energy with physical environment. In an open ecosystem, there is free exchange of energy and matter with the outside world. In a closed ecosystem, there is no or very limited exchange.
An ecotone is the transitional area of vegetation between two different plant communities, such as forest and grassland. The influence of the two bordering communities on each other is known as the edge effect.
Ecosystems show large variations in their size, structure, composition and so on. However, all the ecosystems are characterized by certain basic structural and functional features which are common. There can be different types of ecosystems, such as forest ecosystem, marine ecosystem and desert ecosystem. The composition and organization of communities and physical components decide the structure of an ecosystem. Thus, ecosystems have basically two types of components, namely biotic and abiotic.
Biotic Components (Living Components)
Living components in an ecosystem are either producers or consumers and they are also called biotic components.
Producers produce organic components, for example, plants produce starch, carbohydrates and cellulose by a process called photosynthesis.
Different living organisms constitute the biotic component of an ecosystem and it belongs to the following categories.
1. Producers (or Autotrophs): These components produce their own food. Green plants produce food through photosynthesis by combining carbon dioxide and water with the help of energy in the form of sunlight.
2. Consumers: Consumers depend upon producers for their food, for example, human beings and other animals. These organisms get their food by feeding on other organisms and they are of the following types.
(a) Herbivores feed on plants, for example, rabbit and insects.
(b) Carnivores are those animals that eat other animals and they are of two types.
(i) Secondary carnivores feed on herbivores, for example, a frog and a small fish.
(ii) Tertiary carnivores feed on other carnivores, for example, a snake and a big fish.
(c) Omnivores feed both on plants and animals, for example, humans, rats and many species of birds.
(d) Detritivores feed on dead organisms, for example, earthworms, crabs and ants. The living beings that feed on dead or decayed organic matter are also called saprophytes. They are fungi and bacteria, which does not contain any chlorophyll and they are dependent on dead organisms for their food. The parasites depend on living organisms for food. They can be (i) endoparasites, which live inside the body, such as liver flukes and tapeworms and (ii) ectoparasites, which live on the exterior, such as fleas and lice.
3. Decomposers: These are microorganisms that break down organic matter into inorganic compounds and in this process, derive their nutrition. They play a very important role in converting the essential nutrients from unavailable organic form to free inorganic form which is available for use by plants, for example, bacteria, fungi and so on.
In ecology, abiotic components are non-living chemical and physical factors in the environment that affect the ecosystems.
Some of the real time examples are water, light, wind, soil, humidity, minerals and gases. They affect the ability of organisms to survive and reproduce.They also help determine the types and number of organisms able to exist in an environment.
Functions of Ecosystem
Every ecosystem performs the following important functions.
1. It has different food chains and food webs. Food chain is the sequence of eating and being eaten.
Grasshopper Frog Snake
Food chains are generally found to be interlinked and interwoven as a network and hence, known as a food web. There are several options of eating and being eaten in a food web. Hence, these are more stable.
2. There is unidirectional flow of energy. It flows from sun and then after capture by primary producers (green plants), it flows through the food chain or the food web.
3. Materials (nutrients) in an ecosystem move in a cyclic manner. The cycling of nutrients takes place between biotic and abiotic components.
4. Every ecosystem functions to produce and sustain some primary production (plant biomass) and secondary production (animal biomass).
5. Every ecosystem regulates and maintains itself. This self-regulation or control system is known as cybernetic system.
Trophic Levels and Ecological Pyramids
The trophic levels form a pyramid with producers at the bottom, then primary consumers (herbivores), secondary consumers (carnivores) and tertiary carnivores.
Ecological Pyramids – Trophic Levels
The concept of ecological pyramid was developed by Charles Elton. All ecological pyramids begin with producers like plants at the bottom and proceed through various trophic levels, such as herbivores (consume plants), carnivores (prey on herbivores) and so on. The highest level is at the top of the food chain. There are three types of ecological pyramids and they are as follows.
• Pyramid of energy • Pyramid of numbers • Pyramid of biomass
1. Pyramid of Energy
The pyramid of energy or the energy pyramid describes the overall nature of the ecosystem. During the flow of energy from one organism to other, there is considerable loss of energy in the form of heat. In primary producers, like the autotrophs, large amount of energy is available. The least energy is available in the tertiary consumers. Therefore, shorter food chain has more amount of energy available even at the highest trophic level.
• The energy pyramid is always upright and vertical.
• This pyramid shows the flow of energy at different trophic levels.
• It depicts that the energy is minimum at the highest trophic level and is maximum at the lowest trophic level.
• At each trophic level, there is successive loss of energy in the form of heat, respiration, etc.
2. Pyramid of Numbers
The pyramid of numbers depicts the relationship in terms of the number of producers, herbivores and the carnivores at their successive trophic levels. There is a decrease in the number of individuals from the lower to the higher trophic levels. The number pyramid varies from ecosystem to ecosystem. There are three types of pyramid of numbers and they are as follows.
• Upright pyramid of number • Partly upright pyramid of number • Inverted pyramid of number
Upright Pyramid of Number
This type of pyramid number is found in the aquatic and grassland ecosystems. In these ecosystems, there are numerous small autotrophs that support lesser herbivores, which in turn support smaller number of carnivores, and hence, this pyramid is upright.
Partly Upright Pyramid of Number
It is seen in the forest ecosystem where the number of producers are lesser in number and support a greater number of herbivores which in turn support a fewer number of carnivores.
Inverted Pyramid of Number
This type of ecological pyramid is seen in parasitic food chain where one primary producer supports numerous parasites, which in turn supports more hyperparasites.
3. Pyramid of Biomass
The pyramid of biomass is more fundamental. They represent the quantitative relationships of the standing crops. In this pyramid, there is a gradual decrease in the biomass from the producers to the higher trophic levels. In simple terms, biomass here represents the net aggregate weight of dried organisms collected from each feeding level. This dry weight is the biomass and it represents the amount of energy available in the form of organic matter of the organisms. In this pyramid, the net dry weight is plotted to that of the producers, herbivores, carnivores, etc. There are two types of pyramid of biomass and they are as follows.
• Upright pyramid of biomass • Inverted pyramid of biomass
Upright Pyramid of Biomass
This occurs when the larger net biomass of producers support a smaller weight of consumers, for example, forest ecosystem.
Inverted Pyramid of Biomass
This happens when the smaller weight of producers support consumers of larger weight, for example, aquatic ecosystem.
The trophic levels are linked through food chains and these food chains form interlocking patterns called food webs.
Eutrophic: Water bodies having good quantity of minerals and hence supra optimum growth of plants.
Oligotrophic: Water bodies deficient in minerals and organic growth.
Dystrophic: Water bodies rich in undecomposed organic matter, for example, bogs and marshy lakes.
Related to Ecological Pyramids: Trophic Levels
There are different types of ecosystems around us, which involve living organisms and non-living things. If we combine all the ecosystems present on earth, then it is called biosphere.
The terrestrial portion of biosphere is divided into biomes. They usually have distinct climates and life forms adapted to that climate. Deserts, grasslands, tropical forests and rain forests are the main examples of biomes.
The area or natural environment in which an organism or population normally lives is called habitat. A habitat is made up of physical factors, such as soil, moisture, range of temperature and availability of light as well as biotic factors, such as availability of food and the presence of predators.
When organisms of different species live together, then it is called cohabitat.
A habitat is not necessarily a geographic area. If particular organism(s) live in a small and specific part(s) of a habitat, then it is known as microhabitat. For example, within the forest habitat, certain organisms live beneath the bark of a tree and a parasite may live in the body of the host.
Four Spheres of Earth
The area near the surface of the earth can be divided into four interconnected geospheres, namely the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere.
Scientists can classify life and material on or near the surface of the earth to be in any of these four spheres. The names of the four spheres are derived from the Greek words for stone (litho), air (atmo), water (hydro) and life (bio).
The lithosphere is a solid, rocky crust covering the entire planet. This crust is inorganic and is composed of minerals. It covers the entire surface of the earth from the top of Mount Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
The hydrosphere is composed of all the water on or near the earth. This includes the oceans, rivers, lakes and even the moisture in air. Evidently, 97 per cent of the earth’s water is present in the oceans. The remaining 3 per cent is freshwater. Furthermore, three quarters of freshwater is in the form of ice sheets and glaciers, hardly one per cent is left for human consumption.
The biosphere is composed of all the living organisms.
Plants, animals and one-celled organisms are all part of the biosphere. Most of the planet’s life is found from 3 metres below the ground to 30 metres above it and in the top 200 metres of oceans and seas.
We live at the bottom of an invisible ocean called the atmosphere, which is a layer of gases surrounding our planet. Nitrogen and oxygen account for 99 per cent of the gases in dry air, with argon, carbon dioxide, helium, neon and other gases making up minute portions.
Water vapour and dust are also part of earth’s atmosphere. Other planets and moons have very different atmospheres and some have no atmospheres at all. The different layers of atmosphere are discussed below.
It is the lowest layer of atmosphere and contains about four-fifths of the earth’s air, but extends only to a height of 18 km at equator and 8 km at poles during winter. Almost all weather developments occur in the troposphere. Air in the troposphere thins as altitude increases and the temperature also decreases. The rate at which temperature decreases is known as lapse rate and it is 6.4° per km. Fast-moving, high-altitude winds called jet streams occur at the top level of the troposphere that helps aeroplanes to fly at high speeds. This layer also absorbs heat that is reflected back from the ground in a process called the greenhouse effect.
The stratosphere extends from the tropopause, the upper boundary of the troposphere to about 50 km above the earth’s surface. It is characterized by the following properties.
1. Strong horizontal winds blowing in the stratosphere that is ideal for planes that can fly in this part of the atmosphere.
2. The stratosphere is crucial to life on earth because it contains small amounts of ozone, a form of oxygen that prevents harmful UV rays from reaching the earth.
The mesosphere extends up to 80 km above the surface of the earth. This layer is characterized by the following properties.
1. It has the coldest temperatures in the atmosphere, dipping as low as -100°C.
2. The phenomenon of ‘shooting stars’ also occur in this layer.
It extends to about 690 kilometres and is extremely thin. It is generally considered as a part of outer space. This atmospheric layer conducts electricity. It is characterized by the following properties.
1. The ionosphere is a layer of free electrons and ions, reflecting radio waves.
2. It is broken into distinct layers, called the D, E, F1 and F2 layers. The lower D layer absorbs high frequency radio waves.
3. It also reflects particles from solar wind, which is a stream of highly charged particles called aurora ejected by sun in the polar regions.
Temperatures in the thermosphere can rise well above 1000°C up to 1500°C. This layer is characterized by the following properties.
1. It is the thickest (most vertical expansion) layer in the atmosphere.
2. Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station (ISS) orbits the earth in the thermosphere.
The exosphere expands and contracts as it comes into contact with solar storms (solar flares and coronal mass ejections). Hydrogen and trace amounts of helium, carbon dioxide, oxygen and other gases are present.
Many weather satellites orbit earth in the exosphere.
Development and Environment
Millennium Development and sustainable development goals
Development or say human development refers to the biological and psychological changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescent period as the individual progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. These developmental changes may be strongly influenced by the genetic and environmental factors during prenatal life, these are part of the study of child development. Growth refers to the development of children from birth to adolescence. There are four areas in which children grow, such as physical, psychological and cognitive, social and emotional and finally, it is sexuality and gender identity.
According to Educational Foundation (2001), lifespan development is a process beginning at conception that continues until death. The progression initiates with the emergence of a fetus from a one-celled organism. As the unborn child enters the world, the environment in which the child exists begins to influence the child’s development. There are four interactive forces that combine to shape human development
1. biological forces 2. psychological forces 3. socio-cultural forces and 4. life cycle forces. To understand the pattern of development, certain fundamental facts must be taken into consideration.
Each of these has important implications. To know the developmental techniques we need to use some research methods, such as longitudinal method, cross-sectional method, sequential and time lag method. There are always some obstacles to apply the research methods as human beings as samples are not perfect representatives. There are many variations within human beings.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains two key concepts within it and it is as follows.
1. The concept of needs.
2. The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization.
Sustainable development presupposes the existence of space and time. Human development is being incorporated in the development strategy of the world. Now it is in the core of the UN’s International Development Strategy. Apart from income, health and education, a good physical environment and freedom are important. The concept of human development was largely developed by UNDP since 1990s. The National Human Development Report, 2001 was prepared by Planning Commission of India and many states follow them.
Human development is defined as a process of enlarging people’s choices. If these choices are available, other opportunities will become accessible. The term ‘human development’ refers to the process of widening people’s choices and ensuring well-being. Thus, human development has two sides as listed below.
1. Formation of human capabilities, such as improved health, knowledge and skill.
2. To make use the acquired capabilities for productive purposes, leisure, and for being active in cultural, social and political affairs. The major elements in concept of human development are as follows.
1. Productivity: People must be able to increase their productivity and they must be able to participate fully in the process of income generation and remunerative employment 2. Equity: People must have access to equal opportunities.
3. Sustainability: All forms of capital, such as physical, human and environmental should be replenished, including future generations.
4. Empowerment: People must participate fully in the decisions and processes that shape their lives.
UN Concepts of Human Development
HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development, where it emphasizes a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions. The HDI simplifies and captures only part of what human development entails. It does not reflect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, etc.
Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)
The difference between the IHDI and HDI is the human development cost of inequality, also termed as the loss to human development due to inequality. The IHDI allows a direct link to inequalities in dimensions, it can inform policies towards inequality reduction and it leads to better understanding of inequalities across population and their contribution to the overall human development cost.
Gender Development Index (GDI)
The GDI measures gender gaps in human development achievements by accounting for disparities between women and men in three basic dimensions of human development, such as health, knowledge and living standards using the same component indicators as in the HDI. The GDI is the ratio of the HDIs calculated separately for females and males using the same methodology as in the HDI.
Gender Inequality Index (GII)
The GII is an inequality index. It shows the loss in potential human development due to disparity between female and male achievements in three dimensions:
1. reproductive health 2. empowerment and 3. economic status.
Overall, the GII reflects how women are disadvantaged in these dimensions. The GII ranges between 0 and
1. Higher GII values indicate higher inequalities and thus higher loss to human development. There is no country with perfect gender equality. All countries suffer some loss in achievements in key aspects of human development when gender inequality is taken into account. The GII is similar in method to the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI).
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)
The MPI is a very versatile methodology that can be readily adjusted to incorporate alternative indicators, cut-offs and weights that might be appropriate in regional national or subnational contexts. There are currently two broad categories of MPI measures, such as multidimensional poverty index and regional or national MPIs. Today, people, nations and economies are more connected than ever, and so are the global development issues we are facing. These issues span borders, straddle social, economic and environmental realms.
Six Key Findings from the 2018 Analysis
1. The world has made impressive progress in human development.
2. Quality, not just quantity of human development is important and it reveals large deficits.
3. Progress is not linear or guaranteed, and crises and challenges can reverse gains. Countries experiencing conflict show HDI losses, which can be felt for generations.
4. Disparities between and within countries continue to stifle progress.
5. Gender gaps in early years are closing, but inequalities persist in adulthood.
6. Environmental degradation puts human development gains at risk.
Millennium Development and Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that all 191 UN member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000 commits world leaders to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. The MDGs are derived from this declaration, and all have specific targets and indicators.
The legacy and achievements of the MDGs provide us with valuable lessons and experience to begin work on the new goals. But for millions of people around the world, the job remains unfinished. We need to go the last mile on ending hunger, achieving full gender equality, improving health services and getting every child into school beyond primary. The SDGs are also an urgent call to shift the world onto a more sustainable path. The SDGs build on decades of work by countries and the UN, including the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
1. In June 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Agenda 21 was adopted, a comprehensive plan of action to build a global partnership for sustainable development to improve human lives and protect the environment.
2. Member States unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration at the Millennium Summit in September 2000 at UN Headquarters in New York. The Millennium Summit at UN Headquarters in New York led to eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
3. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation, adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in 2002, reaffirmed the global community’s commitments.
4. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012, the member states adopted the outcome document ‘The Future We Want’.
5. In 2013, the General Assembly set up a 30- member open working group to develop a proposal on the SDGs that led to UN’s General Assembly’s post-2015 development agenda. The process culminated in the subsequent adoption of the 2030 agenda for sustainable dDevelopment, with 17 SDGs at its core, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
6. 2015 was a landmark year for multilateralism and international policy shaping, with the adoption of several major agreements.
(a) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (March 2015) (b) Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (July 2015) (c) Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 SDGs was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York on September 2015.
(d) Paris Agreement on Climate Change (December 2015) 7. Now, the annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development serves as the central UN platform for the follow-up and review of the SDGs. Today, the Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) provides substantive support and capacity-building for the SDGs and their related thematic issues, including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanization, transport, science and technology, the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), partnerships and Small Island Developing States. DSDG plays a key role in the evaluation of UN systemwide implementation of the 2030 Agenda and on advocacy and outreach activities relating to the SDGs. In order to make the 2030 Agenda a reality, broad ownership of the SDGs must translate into a strong commitment by all stakeholders to implement the global goals. DSDG aims to help facilitate this engagement. The idea of UN sustainable development goals has mainly started by the UN. It needs support of nations, businesses, civil society and NGOs for its funding and implementation.
Sustainable development can be achieved through some of the following effective ways:
1. In present context, the use of natural resources is excessive. So, we must take a step to minimize the excessive use of natural resources in order to preserve it from getting extinct forever.
2. It is a must to conserve the national, cultural and traditional heritages for its self dignity.
3. There must be an effective and strict governing system for smooth development and administration.
4. There must be almost zero corruption governing bodies for sustainable development.
5. Awareness programs must be conducted for the importance of sustainable development.
6. Having mutual and cooperative understanding among various people.
7. Providing formal as well as informal education to the illiterate people for better knowledge on sustainable development. The Eight Millennium Development Goals (2000–2015) vs. The Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (2015–2030)
|Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015)||Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030)|
|Reduce extreme hunger and poverty||End poverty|
|Achieve universal primary education||Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education.|
|Promote gender equality and||Achieve gender equality.|
|empower women||Reduce inequality within and among countries.|
|Reduce child mortality||Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being|
|Improve maternal health|
|Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases|
|Ensure environmental sustainability||Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.|
|Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.|
|Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.|
|Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.|
|Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.|
|Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.|
|Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum).|
|Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.|
|Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.|
|Promote global partnership||Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.|
|Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize global partnership for sustainable development.|
Source: Yojna, December 2015
Here, as per comparison, we can see that maximum focus has been on the environmental issues.
Human and Environment Interaction: Anthropogenic Activities and their Impacts on Environment.
There are basically two types of activities, namely natural and man-made. Natural activities mean occurring in a natural manner. Man-made activities are also termed as anthropogenic activities. Their meaning is to improve human living conditions with human efforts. Once they reach a point, they can cause harm to the human life as well. Anthropogenic activities are opposed to those occurring in natural environments without human influences. The energy consumption and technical evolution related to these sources is one main cause of the man made pollution. For instance, it is widely believed that the production of carbon dioxide is the primary factor driving anthropogenic climate change.
When single celled life emerged 3000 million years ago, for which tiny oxygen concentration was an essential prerequisite. Then there was gradual increase in atmospheric oxygen concentration. Then O3 (ozone) also developed as a necessary shield against Solar ultraviolet rays. There was sort of play between carbon dioxide and oxygen for millions of years.
Now the anthropogenic (man-induced) pollutants have overloaded the system, and the natural equilibrium is disturbed.
Perpetually aims to achieve better standard of living for all, it leads to certain problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, exploitation of resources etc. Despite technological constraints, there were issues relating to social sciences. Looking at environmental, economic and social aspects, interdisciplinary approaches were adopted that were spatial (local to global) and temporal (short term to long term). Thus, the impact of anthropogenic activities on human health is very significant.
Industrialization is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial society, involving the extensive reorganization of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing.
The Main Impacts on Traditional Type of Agriculture The major impacts on agriculture are deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of nutrients, etc. There have been both positive and negative effects on environment in order to increase production. Among fertilizers related problems, it is mostly micronutrient imbalance (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), nitrate pollution (leaching deep into the soil and contaminating ground water, when the concentration exceeds 25 mg/L, they cause blue baby syndrome or methaemoglobinemia), eutrophication (excessive use of N and P fertilizers in agriculture and leading to algal blooms). There can be pesticide related problems that includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, biocides, etc. Pesticides can also be classified as inorganic, synthetic, or biological (biopesticides), although the distinction can sometimes blur. Pesticides are usually classed as inorganic, synthetic or biological (biopesticides), although the distinction can sometimes blur.
Water logging (over irrigation of croplands) and salinity (increased concentration of soluble salts in the soil) are other major issues.
Impact of Housing Related Anthropogenic Activities on Environment
The poor housing cause directly measurable impact on physical and mental health of the citizens. The high-tech modern buildings reduce spiralling energy costs but it may cause health problems due to indoor air pollution.
Several building materials, such as solvents, finishes and cleansers for maintenance and protection of building materials can cause ‘sick building syndrome’.
Production of plastics causes generation of greenhouse gas, such as carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and polyvinyl chloride. Disposal of polyvinyl chloride is a major problem.
Manufacturing of metals from their ores has several environmental impacts some of which may be carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Some insulating materials are made from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and their safe recovery is difficult. Their release of CFCs in the atmosphere would enhance the global warming problem.
Asbestos, which has been quite useful in buildings is now known to be very harmful for our health and not recommended now. The indoor air pollution is a major source of public exposure to air pollutants having potential to cause chronic health problems. The fumes, vapours or gases of indoor air pollutants cause the following issues:
1. Formaldehyde, (specifically in modern buildings):
Pressed wood products use adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Formaldehyde is also present in tobacco smoke, natural gas and kerosene.
2. Benzene is a solvent used in petrol, ink, oil, paint, plastic and rubber. Trichloroethylene is used in metal degreasers, dry cleaning solvents, inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives. Ozone is produced from copying machines. Fumes are produced from cleaning solvents.
3. Air conditioning equipment harbours the diseasecausing bacteria in air ducts and filters.
4. Some varieties of asbestos can cause a particular type of lung cancer.
5. Cockroach droppings trigger allergic asthma.
Effects of Anthropogenic Mining Activities on Environment
Mining is the extraction (removal) of minerals and metals from earth for better life. For example, tantalum is needed to make cell phones, pagers and laptops, copper and tin are required for pipes, cookware etc. The environmental effects of mining depends upon factors such as ore quality, mining procedures, local hydrological conditions, development stage of resource etc. The small scale mining is also devastating to the environment. It is mainly of two types – land dredging (doing a hole in land) and river dredging.
River dredging involves moving along a river on a platform or boat. The miners use a hydraulic suction hose and suction the gravel and mud as they move along the river.
Mining is one of the main causes of deforestation.
In order to amalgamate (cluster) the extractions, they use chemicals, such as cyanide, mercury or methyl mercury. The following can be defined as the major environmental damage caused by mining activities: • Devegetation and defacing of landscape • Subsidence of land-tilting of buildings, cracks in houses, etc. • Groundwater contamination: With sulphur as the main element that gets converted into sulphuric acid, which makes the water acidic. Some heavy metals also get leached into the groundwater and contaminate it by posing health hazards.
• Surface water pollution: The acidic water is detrimental to many forms of aquatic life. Sometimes radioactive substances like uranium also contaminate the water bodies.
• Air pollution: It has been discussed separately in the chapter.
• Occupational health hazards: Miners working in different types of mines suffer from asbestosis, silicosis, black lung disease, etc.
Effects of Transportation Activities on Environment
The activities of the transport industry release several million tons of gases each year into the atmosphere. These include lead (Pb), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrogen oxides (NOx), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), heavy metals (zinc, chrome, copper and cadmium) and particulate matters (ash, dust).
1. Nitrous oxide participate in depleting the stratospheric ozone (O3) layer which naturally screens the earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation.
2. CO, CO2 and CH4 participate in green house effect, etc.
Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ultimately it is the chemical causing acid rain. Acid precipitation affects construction, reduces agricultural crop yields and causes forest decline.
Long term exposure to noise levels above 75 dB seriously hampers human hearing and affects both physical and psychological well-being. The main effects of marine transport operations on water quality predominantly arise from dredging, waste, ballast waters and oil spills. Dredging is the process of deepening harbour channels by removing sediments from the bed of a body of water. The environmental impact of transportation on soil consists of soil erosion and soil contamination that occurs through the use of toxic materials by the transport industry.
Earlier we discussed about ‘sustainable development’ that can be best realized by ‘A Common Future’ or ‘Global Sharing’ concept. The structural inequalities in the global economic system are also responsible for the hindrance in realizing the issue of sustainable development in totality. So we need to develop the concept of common focus as well, that can integrate the outlook and efforts of various participants in development, worldwide, realizing the diversity, in terms of geography, society, economics, level of science and technology (S&T) capabilities and capacities, education standards/levels.
In case, we look at the aspects of developing and developed nations, the following situation may emerge. The issues may emanate from local level, regional level and global level. The 1972 UN World Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm also highlighted the differences in the points of view of the developed and the developing countries regarding development and environment. The same kind of issues emerged in Rio summit as well. The issues can be divided into three levels as listed below.
1. Local issues: These relate to issues, such as water shortage in certain areas, soil erosion of some local forest, different pollution level in the same city, landslides, etc. They need to be tackled at the local level.
2. Regional issues: Some regional issues have been mentioned below.
(a) Desertification and droughts (b) Floods and soil erosion (c) Rise in sea level, beach erosion, saltwater intrusion resulting in increased salinity, floods and flood damages, threats to coastal wetlands and threats to agriculture.
(d) Deforestation 3. Global issues: The global issues that has to be addressed are as follows.
(a) Climate change and global warming:
Increasing drought and desertification, crop failures, melting of the polar ice caps, coastal flooding, displacement of major vegetation regimes, coral mortality, change in ocean behavior, natural disasters, infectious diseases, degradation of ecosystems, scarcity of food supply and rise in sea level.
(b) North-South divide: This ‘North’ world has just over 20% of the world population but consumes 80% of the world’s energy. On the other hand, the ‘South’ comprising of the developing nations of the world is still struggling to provide the basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, basic education and health for its population.
(c) Biodiversity: Loss of diversity of life including both flora and fauna.
Geopolitics of Climate Change
Industrially and historically, they are the biggest emitters of CO2. They are also part of ‘Common But Differentiated Principle’ (CBDP), they need to provide technological access to developing for their economic development in a sustainable manner.
Developing Nations: These nations are developing economically and technologically but still burn fuel inefficiently. Countries such as China, India, Brazil have developed during recent times, and so their contribution to emission levels is also very high. They are also accused for the same. UN Environment Programme in 2002 highlighted Asian Brown Cloud (later as Atmospheric Brown Cloud due to shift patterns), it has many smog like features. There has been increase in population, shifts in rainfall patterns etc.
Specifically Green India mission has the following projects:
1. Green Highway Policy – 1,40,000 km long ‘Tree Line’ along both sides of national highways – 1% of the project cost to be earmarked for plantations.
2. Namami Gange – Plantation along rivers.
Environmental Concerns of the Developed and
|Developing countries aspect||Developed|
|Air||Air pollution in major cities.||Air pollution, global warming, ozone depletion.|
|Land and soil||Soil erosion, desertification and loss of arable land.||Soil loss, solid waster disposal and changing land use.|
|Water||Fresh water shortage.||Inland and marine water pollution|
|Flora and fauna||Deforestation and fuel wood shortage.||Loss of genetic diversity and loss of cropland.|
3. Under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) – there allocation of 6 billion dollars to states.
4. Then there are provisions under REDD-Plus, National Agro-forestry Policy (NAP), Joint Forest Management etc.
5. Under Finance Commission incentives for creation of carbon sinks – centre attaches 7.5% weightage to ‘area under forests’ to states. These topics have been dealt separately as per NTANET syllabus.
Pollution And Its Types
Pollution is a negative/undesirable change in the environment, which is usually the addition of something hazardous or detrimental. Generally, degradable or non-persistent pollutants, such as domestic sewage, discarded vegetables are broken down by natural processes.
Some persistent or non-biodegradable pollutants do not get destroyed and are our source of worry. The different types of pollution, such as air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and radiation pollution have been discussed in the ensuing paragraphs.
Clean, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen by volume and 20.94% oxygen. The remaining 0.97% is made of gaseous mixture of carbon dioxide, helium, krypton, argon, xenon, nitrous oxide and very small amounts of other organic and inorganic gases.
It is also known as atmospheric pollution. The degradation of air quality of natural atmospheric conditions due to pollutants is known as air pollution. World Health Organization defined it as the presence of materials in the air, which are harmful to the living beings once they cross their threshold concentration levels. The foreign bodies, gases and so on act as air pollutants.
It is the most extensive and worst form of pollution. Types of Air Pollution
There are two types of air pollutants, namely primary and secondary.
Primary pollutants enter the atmosphere directly from the source. Some important primary pollutants are as follows.
1. Suspended particulate matter (SPM) 2. Oxides of carbon 3. Hydrocarbons (Methane) 4. Sulphur oxides (SOx) 5. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) 6. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) 7. Lead Secondary Pollutants
Secondary pollutants are not directly emitted from sources. These pollutants are formed as a result of chemical reactions between the primary pollutants and certain atmospheric constituents, in the presence of sunlight. Sulphates, nitrates and organic particles can be transported over large distances, such as hundreds and even thousands of kilometres. Some important secondary pollutants are as follows.
1. Sulphur trioxide: It is a compound formed when sulphur dioxide reacts with oxygen. It combines with water to form sulphuric acid.
2. Smog formation: Smog is an odd combination of smoke and fog. The effect of smog is maximum just before sunrise as smog particles that are entrapped between cold air are unable to rise. Two types of smog are prevalent as per records.
(a) Sulphurous or London smog: It affected London for a very long time and hence, its name. It is also termed as ‘reducing smog’ as its mixture of components is chemically reducing in nature. This is due to the presence of sulphur dioxide in air. It is more prevalent during the morning hours of winter season when the relative humidity is high and air near the ground is also cooler. London smog causes throat irritation and difficulty in breathing.
(b) Photochemical or Los Angeles smog: This type of smog is due to the presence of oxides of nitrogen in the atmosphere, formed as a result of vehicular exhaust. It is formed due to chemical reactions involving ozone, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons and peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) in the presence of sunlight. This phenomenon mainly occurs during warm sunny days as sunlight is required to carry out photochemical reaction in seasons when the sky is clear.
Photochemical smog consists of brown hazy fumes. It irritates the eyes and lungs, causes cracking of rubber and extensive damage to plant life.
(c) Ground level ozone: Tropospheric or groundlevel ozone is formed from photochemical reaction between two major classes of air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides.
3. Acid rain: Acid rain is caused by a chemical reaction that begins when compounds like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air. These substances can rise very high into the atmosphere, where they mix and react with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form more acidic pollutants known as acid rain.
• Aerosols: They are stable suspensions of solid or liquid particles in air. Aerosols affect the weather conditions by blocking solar radiations. Deposition of aerosols on leaves affects the process of photosynthesis.
• Mist: Aerosols consisting of liquid droplets.
• Dust: Aerosols consisting of solid particles.
• Fume: Aerosols consisting of hot vapours of metals.
• Smoke is also an aerosol, which is a mixture of liquid and solid particles as a result of burning.
• Plume: It is a geometrical form of smoke.
• Smog is the mixture of smoke and fog (discussed separately)
Air Pollution and Aerosols Effects
1. Acid rain has many ecological effects, but none is greater than its impact on lakes, streams, wetlands and other aquatic environments. Acid rain makes water acidic and causes them to absorb aluminium.
2. Acid rain also damages forests, especially those at higher elevations. It erodes the soil of essential nutrients and releases aluminium in the soil, which makes it hard for trees to take up water.
3. The effects of acid rain combined with other environmental stressors, such as leaves, trees and plants are less able to withstand cold temperatures, insects and disease. The pollutants may also inhibit the trees’ ability to reproduce. The following are the major government initiatives to monitor air pollution.
1. National Air Quality Monitoring Programme 2. National Ambient Air Quality Standards 3. System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting
1. National Air Quality Monitoring Programme:
The Central Pollution Control Board is executing a nation-wide programme of ambient air quality monitoring known as National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP).
National Air Quality Index (NAQI) was launched on 17 October 2014 to disseminate information on air quality in an easily understandable form for the general public. The measurement of air quality is based on the pollutants mentioned below:
(a) PM10 – Particulate matter (Size less than 10 μm)
(b) PM2.5 – Particulate matter (Size less than 2.5 μm)
(e) CO (f) Ozone (g) Ammonia (h) Lead The unit of measurements in case of pollutants mentioned above is microgram per cubic metre except in the case of CO where it is milligram. The AQI is classified along one of the six categories.
(a) Good (0–50) (b) Satisfactory (51–100) (c) Moderately polluted (101–200) (d) Poor (201–300) (e) Very Poor (301–400) (f) Severe (401–500) The formulation of the index was an initiative under Swachh Bharat Mission (Cleanliness Mission) based on the recommendations of IIT Kanpur and the expert group formed in this regard.
2. National Ambient Air Quality Standards: It may be noted that ambient air quality standards are specified separately in India for around 12 pollutants including the 8 that constitute the NAQI. The additional four pollutants are arsenic, nickel, benzene and benzopyrene. PM2.5 is particularly dangerous and can cause adverse health effects owing to its greater penetrability into the human respiratory system and eventual accumulation in human organs and blood. PM concentrations are higher in winter season and are lower during monsoon months.
SO2 levels are within the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standards in residential areas of all the cities. Decreasing trend may be due to various interventions that have taken place in recent years, such as reduction of sulphur in diesel, use of cleaner fuel such as CNG in Delhi, implementation of Bharat Stage-III emission norms. In addition, there has been a change in the use of domestic fuel from coal to LPG, which may have contributed to reduction in ambient levels of SO2.
NO2 levels are within the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standards in residential areas of most of the cities. The reasons for low levels of NO2 may be various measures taken, such as banning of old vehicles, better traffic management, etc. Despite an increase in the number of vehicles, CO levels have reduced during last few years. The decrease may be attributed to measures, such as conversion of three-wheelers of CNG.
3. System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting:
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the Government of India has introduced a major national initiative, ‘System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research’ known as ‘SAFAR’ for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide locationspecific information on air quality in near realtime and its forecast 1–3 days in advance for the first time in India. It has been combined with the early warning system on weather parameters. The SAFAR system is developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
WHO has its own standards. Across the globe, most of the emissions that reach the atmosphere come from coal (43%) followed by oil (33%).
Indoor Air Pollution
The major reasons for indoor air pollution are inefficient burning of inferior fuels during cooking or heating, such as cow dung, agricultural residue, and coal and fuel wood, along with poor ventilation systems inside the house. The problem aggravates during winters when the doors and windows of the houses, especially in rural areas are kept shut. The smokeless chulhas were introduced as a solution to the problem of indoor air pollution. However, they could not make much impact.
Water Pollution and Its Causes
Water covers about 70% of earth’s surface. Water is an important resource for the people and the environment.
Water is the basis of life and it makes up to 60–95% of the total weight of any functioning living cell.
The discharge of harmful substances by specific sources into a water body leads to point source pollution.
Industrial wastewater and hot water from thermal power plants cause point source pollution. The discharge of pollutants into a water body from large areas leads to non-point source pollution. Construction runoff and acid rain cause non-point source pollution. The major sources of this type of water pollution are as follows:
1. Industrial wastewater: Both small and large industrial units produce wastewater, which has a variety of organic and inorganic pollutants. This is the major reason for river pollution in India.
2. Hot water: Industries such as thermal power plants and oil refineries use water as coolant.
When this water discharged into the water body, its temperature is higher by 15°C. The warmer temperature decreases the solubility of oxygen and increases the metabolism of fish. This changes the ecological balance of the river.
Non-point Source Pollution
Non-point source pollution is caused by the following pollutants.
1. Municipal wastewater: Wastewaters from domestic sources, such as kitchen and toilet are sometimes discharged into a river or large water body nearby. This is the major reason for river pollution in India and across the globe.
2. Surface run-off: The practices followed in agriculture affect the groundwater quality. Intensive cultivation causes fertilizers and pesticides to seep into the groundwater, where this process is known as leaching. Irrigation run-off from agricultural fields causes high nitrate content in groundwater. The problem is aggravated if industries are located in that area.
3. Oil spills: An oil spill is the accidental discharge of petroleum into oceans or estuaries, leading to the pollution of marine ecosystem.
Oil spills are caused due to capsized oil tankers or offshore oil mining and oil explorations.
Impact of Water Pollution on Life
Water pollution affects all types of organisms, from microorganism to humans. Let us take a look at the harmful effects of water pollution on various forms of life.
Pollution situation became so alarming in Delhi that it was declared as a ‘gas chamber’ by the Delhi High Court in 2015. The Delhi government started a pilot project ‘Odd Even Formula’ on 1 January 2016 to bring down the air pollution levels amidst reports that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world. Accordingly, odd number cars were to ply on city roads on odd dates and even numbered cars on even days for 15 days.
Similar schemes have been tried at Mexico City, Bogota (Capital of Columbia) and Beijing. The odd even scheme showed mixed results.
Although the percentage effect could be small, but given the concentrations as high as in Delhi, the absolute reductions in PM 2.5 concentrations are ‘significant’ as it can help reduce health impacts. The scheme brought ‘considerable’ additional benefits including reduction on road congestion, increase of average car speeds, reduced fuel usage and made significant impact on public awareness levels on air pollution and its impacts on human health.
Odd Even Formula in Delhi
Although 70% of earth’s surface is covered with water, only 0.00192% of the water is available for human consumption. Less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh, where the rest is seawater and undrinkable.
Of this 3%, over 2.5% is frozen as glaciers, which are locked up in the Arctic and Antarctica regions and they are not available to man. Thus, humanity must rely on the remaining 0.5% for all of man’s and ecosystem’s fresh water needs. The sector-wise breakup of water withdrawal in India is
1. Agriculture and livestock—91%, 2. Municipalities—7%, and 3. Industry—2%.
Pollution of water affects drinking water, lakes, river and oceans all over the world. Water pollution is the presence of harmful substances in a water body and thus, it makes water unfit for intended use. Types of Water Pollution
According to the sources of pollution, there are two types of water pollution, namely point source and nonpoint source pollution.
Oxygen Depletion in Water Bodies
High levels of organic wastes increase the rate of decomposition by bacteria, which use oxygen for this process. This causes a drop in dissolved oxygen in water. In other words, the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of water increases. A high BOD indicates a low level of dissolved oxygen in water. This destruction leads to the destruction of sensitive organisms, such as phytoplankton, molluscs and fish.
The accumulation of a toxic chemical in the bodies of organisms as we move from producers, to primary consumers, to secondary consumers, etc., is called biomagnification.
It occurs when a chemical becomes more and more concentrated as we move up a food chain. This is specifically true in case of non-biodegradable chemicals or pollutants. The classic example is DDT. It is first eaten by planktons, then by small fish and then by big fish. The fish are eaten by birds and so on. At each level, its concentration goes up. The consumption of DDT by birds causes thinning of their eggs, which rupture prematurely during their warming by birds and babies dying a premature death. The process of biomagnification is also called bioaccumulation.
The inorganic nutrients in the run-off from agricultural fields reaching a water body increases the nutrient content of the water body. These nutrients causes the profuse growth of algae (algal bloom) in it. This growth eventually causes the death of small fish and organisms in them.
Effect of Water Pollution on Human Life
Water contamination due to domestic sewage containing pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, parasitic protozoa and worms can cause diseases, such as jaundice, cholera, typhoid and amoebiasis. This type of contamination renders the water unfit for drinking, bathing, swimming and even irrigation.
Contamination of Water by Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are commonly defined as those having a specific density of more than 5 g/cm3. The main threats to human health from heavy metals are associated with exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic (a metalloid). Heavy metal contamination of water bodies and groundwater due to industrial wastewater affects health in a number of ways. Industrial effluents containing lead, fluorides, nitrates and arsenic pose a grave danger to human beings.
1. Mercury: Mercury compounds in wastewater are converted by bacterial action into extremely toxic methyl mercury. Fish accumulates this poison in their bodies. The consumption of such fish can cause numbness of limbs, lips and tongue, deafness, blurring of vision and mental derangement. This syndrome is called Minamata disease since it was first noticed in Japan in 1950s, where people developed it after consuming fish from the Minamata Bay. It can also cause gingivitis.
2. Pesticides: Organophosphates and carbonates present in pesticides that get washed off into water bodies damage the nervous system and can cause cancer.
3. Fluoride: Excess fluoride can cause yellowing of teeth and damage to the spinal cord.
4. Nitrates: Drinking water contaminated with nitrates can prove fatal, especially to infants feeding on formula milk made with this water. Nitrates restrict the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain causing blue baby syndrome.
5. Chromium: Chromium is a known carcinogen.
6. Arsenic: Earlier it was widely used as an insecticide, rodenticide, for wood preservation and medical preparation. It has many industrial applications.
Different fungi and microorganisms convert arsenic to dimethyl arsenic in water, which gets detected in natural water, bird egg shells, sea shells, and human urine. Arsenic poisoning through water can cause damage to the liver, nervous system disorders, vascular disease, skin cancer (dermatitis) and bronchitis.
7. Cadmium: Cadmium compounds are mainly used in rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries.
Cadmium is also used in making fusible alloys, electroplating and as control rods in nuclear reactors.
Cigarette smoking is a major source of cadmium exposure. In non-smokers, food is the most important source of cadmium exposure. It damages the heart, liver, lungs, reproductive organs and also causes kidney damage. The itai-itai disease in Japan was due to cadmium pollution, where it causes bone defects and fractures.
8. Cyanide: It is used in extraction of gold and silver metals, metal painting and in pesticides. Its consumption leads to nausea and death.
9. Manganese: It is abundant in nature. Higher concentration of manganese causes cramps, tremors, hallucinations, manganic pneumonia and renal degeneration.
10. Iron: The excessive presence of iron in human body can aggravate thalassaemia that is basically a genetic disorder. This has an adverse impact on red blood corpuscles (RBCs) count and haemoglobin.
Water bodies also become foul due to abundance of iron-oxidizing microbes.
Chromium is a mineral that aids in the body’s ability to use insulin to convert carbohydrates to energy. It is used in many industries as well.
Naturally occurring trivalent chromium is essential for good health and the normal intake from eating foods is 70–80 μg per day and it is considered safe.
Hexavalent chromium does not occur naturally but is produced by certain industrial processes.
It is the most toxic form of chromium and is shown to cause lung cancer when workers are exposed to high levels for longer time periods.
Breathing chromium dust or fume is the main route for exposure to chromium.
Plants can absorb chromium and it can be passed on to those who eat the plants.
Contact with contaminated soil can result in exposure to chromium.
More About the Effects of Chromium Intake on Human Health
Effect of Water Pollution on Marine Life
Marine oil spills is also a type of water pollutant and has direct impact on marine life. It is the accidental release of petroleum products into the ocean or coastal waters.
1. Tanker spills: Even small amounts of oil spread across large areas of water prevents oxygen in the air from dissolving in water, thus making it difficult for organisms to breathe.
2. Oil coating: Oil coating results in poisoning of marine birds such as seagull. The oil coating reduces their body temperature and makes it impossible for them to survive the cold temperature of the ocean.
Soil and Its Pollution Causes
The soil is a thin covering over the land consisting of a mixture of minerals, organic materials (carbon compounds, generally derived from organisms), living organisms, air and water.
Mature soil is arranged into a series of zones called soil horizons. Different types of soils vary in content of clay (very fine particles), silt (fine particles), sand (medium sized particles) and gravel (coarse particles). In combination, they determine the soil texture. The following are the different causes of soil pollution:
1. Industrial waste: Heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
2. Municipal and medical wastes: Some wastes are non-biodegradable.
3. Radioactive wastes 4. Agrochemicals: Pesticides, weedicides and excess inorganic fertilizers.
5. Opencast mining: Digging the earth’s surface for extraction of mineral ores degrades the top soil of earth.
6. e-waste: Used computers, mobile phones, TV, etc., simply dumped into landfills. Since these are of toxic nature, they affect the quality of soil. The toxins may leach from landfills and also spoil the groundwater.
7. Pesticides and fertilizers: Temperature, light and carbon dioxide levels affect photosynthesis.
Farmers use fertilizers, pesticides and biological control to increase crop yields. Excessive use of fertilizers reduces the population of soil-born organisms, the crumb structure of the soil and productivity of the soil. This can cause problem of water logging. The plant roots cannot respire due to excess water in soil profile. Nitrogen is lost from waterlogged soils due to leaching and denitrification (degassing).
Denitrification leads to the gaseous loss of nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere, which is the major greenhouse gas and adds to the phenomenon of global warming.
8. Other pollutants: Many air pollutants (acid rain) and water pollutants ultimately become a part of soil pollution.
A good quality soil can support vegetation without which life on earth cannot be sustained. It may take up to 1000 years to form an inch of soil and buildingup of organic matter can also take a very long time.
Even soil makes a dynamic ecosystem to sustain itself.
For example, though nitrogen is the major gas in the atmosphere, it can be absorbed in the form of nitrates, which is carried out by nitrifying bacteria present in the soil. Soil exchanges gases with the environment.
Here, the soil breaks down the organic wastes and recycles the nutrients back to the plants.
1. Soil ecosystem is disturbed by deforestation.
2. The use of heavy machinery results in soil compaction or pressing, which reduces the porosity of soil and also its water holding capacity.
3. Sewage water is used to irrigate the fields or sewage sledge is used as a fertilizer, which increases the heavy metal content in the soil.
4. With intensification of agriculture as a result of green revolution, the same type of crop is raised again and again, which deprives the soil of a particular type of nutrient. To prevent this, crop rotation should be followed as a regular process.
High-yielding varieties of food grains demand use of more water and fertilizers.
5. Use of water with high salt content to raise crops may result in high salinity of soil. Salt makes the layer at the top impermeable, which does not allow water to seep into the soil and thus, it results in the problem of water logging.
6. Excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers to increase land productivity also degrades the quality of soil and ultimately these fertilizers and pesticides enter into our ecological system.
7. The overexploitation of groundwater results in the fall of water table and ultimately in desertification.
Noise pollution may be defined as environmental noise that causes physiological or psychological damage if the volume is high or exposure is prolonged. Noise is also defined as unwanted sound, where it is an irritant and a source of stress. The hair cells in the ear are damaged to an extent that cannot be repaired or replaced. The intensity or loudness of sound is felt in the form of pressure waves and affects our eardrums. Just like any other form of pollution, noise pollution too has serious impact on the working of our vital organs.
Measurement of Sound
Sound is measured in decibel (dB). The unit was chosen in the honour of Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone. It is not a linear scale but a logarithmic scale. For example, a change from 40 dB to 80 dB represents a 10,000-fold increase in loudness.
A modified scale known as decibel-A takes into account the pitch as well. The permitted noise level is 125 dB as per the Environment Protection Rules, 1999.
Sources of Noise Pollution
The following are the common sources of noise pollution:
1. Industries 2. Vehicles 3. Sound amplifiers (music system and loudspeakers) 4. Crackers 5. Passenger aircrafts and fighter jets The permissible sound levels and typical average decibel levels are provided in Tables 9.4 and 9.5.
It is formed as a result of flooding of plain areas especially in lower courses of rivers. The alluvial soil is very fertile. These are basically sedimentary rocks. They lack humus and nitrogen. They have high potassium content. They are suitable to grow paddy, sugarcane and so on. In India, they are found in the Indo-Gangetic Plains.
They are rich in iron and hence, it is red in colour. They are formed as a result of breakdown of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The soil is found in areas of India with low rainfall, such as in Madhya Pradesh, South Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Crops such as red gram, groundnut and castor seed are grown in red soil.
Laterite soil is formed from a mixture of clay and red soil and also as a result of leaching process. They are rich in minerals, such as aluminium and iron and are found in hot and wet tropical areas.
It has very low fertility and becomes hard when exposed to air, so it is used as a building material.
Crops such as coffee, coconut and cashew are capable of growing in laterite soil.
It is also known as black soil or cotton soil and found in the Deccan trap. Black soil is rich in nutrients, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, but has poor nitrogen content. Black soil is appropriate for growing crops, such as cotton, tobacco, oil seeds and maize.
Apart from these, other varieties of soil are desert soil (coarse or sandy texture) and mountain soil (formed from deposition of organic matter from woodlands and forests).
Soil Types in India
Effects of Noise Pollution on Human Health
WHO has included noise as one of the most hazardous factors that affect living conditions in crowded cities.
The intensity, frequency and duration of noise have a proportionate impact on our body. The threshold of human hearing is 0 dB. Persistent exposure to intensity of noise in the range of 71–85 dB or even below can cause permanent loss of hearing. When noise level reaches around 130 dB, it can even cause physical pain.
It is the inability to hear important environmental cues and animal signals.
Noise affects the heart rate, peripheral circulation and breathing patterns. Persistent noisy environment can cause irritability, headache and sleeplessness by decreasing productivity.
The Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 47) in the Indian Constitution requires not only that the state protects the environment but it also compels the state to seek improvement in polluted environments. The Ministry of Environment and Forests continuously monitors the progress made by various State governments and Union Territories with respect to the implementation of India’s Hazardous Wastes Rules.
According to the Environment Protection Act, 1990, waste is defined as ‘any substance which constitutes a scrap material, or an effluent or other unwanted surplus substance arising from application of any process’.
With rapid urbanization, industrialization and an explosion in population in India, solid waste management will be a key challenge for State governments and local municipal bodies in the 21st century. The waste is usually of the following types:
1. Biodegradable waste: They degraded through microbial activity. The prominent examples are food residue and human excreta.
2. Non-biodegradable waste: They do not degrade and the main examples are petroleum, plastic, glasses, etc.
Radiation is defined as the transmission of energy in the form of waves through space or a material medium. Radiation is of two kinds, namely ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation or high energy radiation like X-rays or gamma rays can alter DNA and can be harmful.
Non-ionizing radiation is low energy radiation as emitted by mobile phones or radio towers and tends to generate heat.
Radiation can be natural or can arise from human activities. Most radiation exposure is from natural sources, such as rocks, earth’s crust and cosmic among other sources. Radon is the most prominent example of natural radiation. Human activities typically accounts for up to 20% of our radiation exposure on an average.
Radiation particularly associated with nuclear medicine and the use of nuclear energy, along with X-rays is ‘ionizing’ radiation, which means that the radiation has sufficient energy to interact with matter, especially the human body and produce ions.
Effects of Radioactive Pollution
Some of the ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun are considered as ionizing radiation and provide a starting point while considering its effects. UV from sunlight is important in producing vitamin D in humans, but too much exposure produces sunburn and potentially, skin cancer. The skin tissue gets damaged and the damage to DNA (though mutation) could not be repaired properly and hence, over time, cancer develops and could be fatal. The depletion of ozone layer may increase our exposure to UV rays and thus, it causes skin cancer.
Genetic abnormalities occur in children of parents who had significant exposure to radiation.
Radioactive Pollution 3. Biomedical: Usually, the leftovers from medicine, such as needle, syringe, body parts are counted as biomedical wastes.
4. e-waste: Computer parts, batteries, CFL bulbs are some of the main examples.
Sources of Waste
1. Domestic waste: Polythene, bottles, food, cotton, etc.
2. Industrial waste: They originate from industrial activities and divided into the following.
(a) Food processing: Organic wastes, pathogens.
(b) Paper industry: Chlorine, sulphur dioxide, methyl mercaptan.
(c) Textile industry: From boiling and processing of fibres.
(d) Petroleum: Inorganic sulphur, hydrocarbons, organic acids, etc.
(e) Chemical: Phosphorus, fluorine, silica, etc.
(f) Metal: Copper, lead, chromium, cadmium.
(g) Cement: Particulate matter, dust.
(h) Nuclear reactor: Radioactive wastes such as plutonium.
(i) Agricultural waste: Fertilizer, crop residue, pesticides, fumigants.
(j) Radioactive waste: X-Ray machines, nuclear plants, laboratories, etc.
(k) Municipal waste: Waste produced by public offices, parks, shops, etc.
Now we can discuss the different types of wastes as mentioned in the NTA-NET syllabus.
A solid waste is basically a solid or semi-solid domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, etc. There are many categories of solid waste, such as food waste, rubbish, commercial waste, institutional waste, street sweeping waste, industrial waste, construction and demolition waste and sanitation waste.
‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Mission) was started on 2 October 2014 to deal with issues related to waste management, cleanliness and sanitation on a national level.
Presently about 960 million tons of solid waste is being generated annually in India. It is not only the amount of waste generated but it leads to health issues and environmental degradation. Only 68% of the garbage generated in the country is collected, of which 28% is treated by municipal authorities.
Untapped waste can generate more than thirty thousands of TPD of combustible waste. The amount of waste that is generated, if collected and treated well can be effectively used to generate energy.
World Health Organization says that 22 types of diseases can be prevented or controlled by improving solid waste management in India. Hence, the casual attitude towards waste management should change.
Now we can look at various options to deal with waste management.
Solid Waste Management
After the collection of municipal waste from households, there are three ways of disposal by municipal authorities
1. Composting units: It is the cycle of sustainable nutrient reuse by turning waste into valuable organic input. It helps to improve soil vitality, root growth and soil moisture retention. The main objective is to collect only organic waste.
2. Bio-methanation to produce bio-gas.
3. Recovering heat energy in the form of dry fuels from combustible fractions. The composting units can further be categorized into the following.
(a) Aerobic composting: The bacterial conversion of the organics present in solids under the presence of air under hot and moist conditions is called composting, where the ﬁnal product is called compost (humus) that is used as fertilizer, non-odorous and free of pathogens. The waste volume can be reduced to 50–85%. The composting methods may use either manual or mechanical means.
(b) Vermicomposting: It is basically the joint action of earthworms and aerobic microorganisms. The worm cast is a ﬁne, odourless and granular product. This product can be used as a bio-fertilizer in agriculture. (c) Anaerobic digestion: If the organic waste is buried in pits under partially anaerobic conditions, then it will be acted upon by anaerobic microorganisms. The methane and carbon dioxide are released and the leftover organic residue is good manure.
It is slower than aerobic composting and it occurs naturally in landﬁlls. It may lead to energy recovery through biogas generation that has 55–60%
methane, can be used directly as a fuel for power generation.
It is not that attractive in India due to high moisture and organic content and low calorific value of the wastes. The Lucknow biomethanation plant in 1990 failed because it was designed to handle only wet segregated waste but had to cope with mixed waste. There is a need to provide appropriate incentives and regulatory framework needs to be provided. There are other schemes as well to deal with solid wastes and they are discussed below.
1. Incineration: One of the most attractive features of the incineration process is that it can be used to reduce the original volume of combustible solid waste by 80–90%. Incineration of solid waste under oxygen deﬁcient conditions (incomplete combustion) is called gasiﬁcation that replaces a large part of the carbon dioxide we get from combustion with carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Gasification also eliminates the threat from dioxins. The material to be treated is directly converted into SynGas (synthetic gas) which has hydrogen and carbon dioxide as its components. However, its installation is expensive (high cost of equipment and skilled operators), it generates ash and toxic gases (HCL, CO, SO2).
2. Pyrolysis: Here, the solid is converted into liquid state and liquid is converted into gas. These products of treatment can then be used for production of energy.
3. Landfill: It is burying off the waste in vacant locations around the cities that should be covered with soil to prevent contamination. Suitable trees should be planted to hold the soil (of shallow roots). Though it is quite economical and sanitized for waste dumping but may result in the release of poisonous gases, secretion of toxic liquid and destruction of vegetation.
4. Methanogenesisor: It is biomethanation, that is the formation of methane by microbes known as methanogens. The main purpose of the refuse derived fuel (RDF) method is to produce an improved solid fuel or pellets from MSW (Management of Solid Waste).
5. Recycling of items such as plastic, paper, glass, rubber, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
6. Rag pickers: They play a key role here, where the process of manual recycling cannot be scaledup and at the same time, handling these wastes directly poses health and environmental risks.
Further, all the work is done in informal sector.
7. Leachate: A major problem arising from landfills is the discharge of leachate that moves into the surrounding soil, ground water or surface water could lead to severe pollution problems.
8. Sensitization of citizens as well as government authorities, community participation, involvement of NGOs. Littering should be prohibited.
9. Bioremediation: It is the use of living organisms, primarily microorganisms, to degrade environmental contaminants into less toxic forms. For example, Pseudonymous bacterium can decompose synthetic pesticides. Here, the pollutants can be treated on site and thus, it reduces exposure risks for personnel.
Segregation and community participation are the key factors. Plastic bags have been banned in a number of big cities. Thus, we can see that waste reduction can be done in two ways, where one is through waste reduction and the second method is through recycling.
Government of India had notified the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 2000, thereby making it mandatory for all urban local bodies in the country to engage in collection, segregation, secondary storage in covered bins, transportation in covered vehicles, processing through composting or waste-to-energy technologies and disposal of rejects in engineered/sanitary landfills.
CPCB report reveals that only 68% of the MSW generated in the country is collected of which 28%
is treated by the municipal authorities. Thus, merely 19% of the total waste generated is currently treated.
Processing and safe disposal are being attempted only in a few cases.
Some of the major issues concerning solid waste management are as follows.
1. Absence of segregation of waste at source.
2. Lack of financing. 3. Lack of technical expertise and appropriate institutional arrangement.
4. There is some unwillingness to introduce proper collection, segregation, transportation and treatment/ disposal systems. The indifference of citizens, lack of community participation and sewage management plan are some important issues.
Kasturirangan Report by erstwhile Planning Commission highlights the need for an integrated approach, that means that principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recover, Recycle and Remanufacture (5Rs) should be adopted. It emphasizes setting up centralized (for incineration, gasification, pyrolysis) or decentralized (for biomethanation, vermicomposting) waste processing facilities keeping in view the quantity and quality of waste generated and financial viability of the processing technology.
The liquid wastes are wastewater, fats, oils or grease, used oil, liquids, solids, gases or sludges and hazardous household liquids that are hazardous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. They can also be discarded commercial products classified as ‘Liquid Industrial Waste’, such as cleaning fluids or pesticides or the byproducts of manufacturing processes. These are general regulatory requirements relating to waste, additional regulations apply to generating, storing, transporting, treating and disposing of hazardous and liquid wastes. The composition of liquid waste depends on its source. The three main sources are residential, commercial and industrial areas. Storm water is also a source of liquid waste. Liquid waste from domestic sources can be classified as black water, which contains excreta and grey water. Liquid waste from commercial areas is broadly similar to wastewater from residential areas. Fats and oil from restaurants and cafes can be removed using a grease trap. The characteristics of industrial wastewaters depend on the type of industry.
Some industrial wastewaters are hazardous. The characteristics of wastewaters can be described in physical, chemical and biological terms. Physical characteristics include the amount of suspended solids, the temperature and odour. The amount of suspended solids is measured by filtering a known volume of wastewater and weighing the solids retained on the filter. The quantity of organic matter in liquid waste is an important measure of its polluting potential. If discharged into a river or lake, the organic matter exerts an oxygen demand which can reduce the availability of oxygen for fish and other aquatic organisms. Organic matter is measured in terms of biochemical oxygen demand or chemical oxygen demand. These are the following main ways to deal with the liquid wastes. The sewage treatment includes the following methodology.
1. Dilution: The dissolved oxygen in natural water decomposes the organic wastes completely, by reducing the turbidity that favours easier penetration of sunlight. Finally, the natural ecosystem is restored.
2. Mechanical treatments: The sewage is allowed to pass through different screens, filters, grit chambers and sedimentation basins. The sewage is filtered first to remove the suspended particles and then the sewage is subjected to grinding, and then other chemical treatment.
3. Biological treatments: The sewage is passed through trickling filters where aerobic bacteria degrade the sewage as it seeps through large vat beds filled with crossed stones covered with bacterial growth. Alternatively, the sewage is to decrease bacterial degradation of organic waste.
4. Chemical treatments: The sewage obtained after mechanical or biological treatments is subjected to specific chemical treatment followed by some physical operation.
5. Precipitation: Calcium oxide treatment to precipitate up to 90% of phosphates and suspended particles. The precipitate separates and settles at the bottom.
6. Adsorption: The effluent is treated with activated charcoal.
7. Osmosis: Both for separation of dissolved organic and inorganic substances can also be separated by the process of osmosis.
8. Chemical oxidation: Here, it is oxidation in the presence of ozone or hydrogen peroxide to remove dissolved organic compounds.
9. Removal of ammonia: After the first operation, the wastewater is introduced into a metal tower from which it trickles down over a series of plastic baffles plates and air is forced upwards which removes ammonia gas.
Biomedical Waste or Biological
Management Waste (BMW)
It is the waste produced during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human or animal research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps. The three basic principles of such good practice are 3Rs, such as Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse. It aims at avoiding the generation of waste or recovering as much as waste as possible rather than disposing. Hence, the waste should be tackled at source rather than ‘end of pipe approach’.
Usually 10%–25% of BMW is hazardous (physical, chemical and/or microbiological) and the remaining 75%–95% is nonhazardous.
World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2007 meeting in Geneva defined the core principles for treatment of linked healthcare. The first edition of WHO handbook on safe management of wastes from healthcare activities known as ‘The Blue Book’ came out in 1999. The second edition of ‘The Blue Book’ published in 2014 has newer methods for safe disposal of BMW, new environmental pollution control measures and detection techniques.
International Agreement and Conventions
There are three international agreements and conventions which are particularly pertinent in biomedical waste management.
1. Basel convention on hazardous waste: The most inclusive global environmental treaty on hazardous and other wastes.
2. Stockholm convention (2006): On Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the chemicals are formed by medical waste incinerators and other combustion processes.
3. Minamata convention on mercury (2014):
Phasing out of certain medical equipment in healthcare services, including mercury-containing medical items, such as thermometers and blood pressure devices.
Biomedical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998 notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 needs requirement to segregate according to colour code and to treat and dispose.
It means any waste which by reason of any of its physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive characteristics causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or when in contact with other wastes or substances.
Hazardous substances mostly contain the following contaminants.
1. Components of electronic waste: Cadmium and lead and PVC sheathing on cables.
2. Household chemicals: Bleach, oven cleaners, turpentine and paints.
3. Products incorporating nano particles: Zinc and titanium oxide in sunscreen, cosmetics, skin gel, etc.
4. Commercial and industrial waste stream:
Chemicals and heavy metal.
5. Construction and demolition waste stream:
Asbestos 6. Outside those waste streams biosolids, particularly sewage sludge. There is a fairly comprehensive legal and regulatory framework in place in India to deal with such issues that include a lack of financial resources, a shortage of staff, a lack of standardized protocols and a lack of legal authority.
The composition of electronic waste is well diversified.
It falls under ‘hazardous’ and ‘non-hazardous’ categories. The ten states contribute to 70% of the total electronic waste generated in the country, while 65 cities generate more than 60 per cent of the total electronic waste in India. According to a UN report, India’s electronic waste from old computers will jump five percent by 2020 when compared to 2007. Producers and consumers of electronic goods have a responsibility under the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 to ensure proper disposal. Now the E-waste (Management) Rules 2016 provide several options to manufacturers, such as collection of a refundable deposit and paying for the return of goods to meet the requirements of law.
According to the UNEP Report, much of the 40 million tons of electronic waste produced around the world like old smartphones, TVs, laptops and obsolete kitchen appliances are sent abroad as it is much cheaper. China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan are the main destinations. The vast majority of illegal e-waste ends up in landfills, incinerators and in ill-equipped recycling facilities, that have been described as a ‘toxic time bombs. The onus on garbage management would continue to be the responsibility of municipal bodies, they would be allowed to charge user fees and levy spot fines for littering and non-segregation. There is a short life span of electronic products. The availability of choices, affordability of products, changing pace of life, rapid urbanization and increased purchasing capacity of the middle class have all contributed to the growth of the electrical and consumer durable industry. The most potent risks of electronic wastes in India are the following.
1. Environmental: Toxic metals, like lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, chromium, PCBs, CFC, etc., can cause soil, water pollution, air pollution in the form of fumes due to burning (dioxins and furans).
2. Health concerns: For general populace as well as for those who handle it.
3. Electronic waste often ends up in landfills in India. There are potential asset that must be recovered, for example, aluminium, copper, platinum, gold, silver, palladium, etc.
Electronic waste rules were notified by the Ministry of Environment Friendliness in 2011 for proper management and handling. The concept of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) has been enshrined in these rules.
Electronic waste recycling can be undertaken only in facilities authorized and registered with State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committee (PCCs). The wastes generated are required to be sold to a registered or authorized recycler or re-processor having environmentally sound facilities.
However, there are some limitations of electronic waste rules. There are no take-back targets for manufacturers and hence, there is no clear responsibility. There are no guidelines to set up an electronic waste collection system. The current law does not provide for any plan to rehabilitate those involved in informal recycling. There are many other administer and certifying issue, such as declaring the end-of-life of a product, nor any legal format for issuing destruction certificate for an electronic item. It also ignores the unorganized and small and medium sectors where 90 per cent of the e-waste is generated.
Climate Change And Globa L Warming
Climate change is the most important issue of the 21st century with potential direct adverse impact on global economy and civilization. It is a long-term change in the average weather patterns. It may occur over a period of time, which may range from a decade to millions of years. Climate change may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole earth.
Paleoclimatology or Palaeoclimatology is the study of climatic changes taken on a scale of the entire history of earth. It makes use of data from ice sheets, tree rings, sediments, corals, shells and rocks.
Global warming is the progressive increase in the average temperature of earth’s near surface air and oceans during the last few decades and its likely continuation in future as well. This is mainly due to the emission of heat-retaining GHGs into the atmosphere, which results from human activities such as burning of fossil fuel and deforestation. One of its main effects is a shift in the global weather patterns, referred to as climate change. Here, it is important to mention that global warming is closely associated with climate change and both terms may be used interchangeably.
Causes of Climate Change
They can be divided into two types of factors, namely natural and anthropogenic.
The main natural factors are as follows:
1. Continental drift: A glance at the map shows how South America fits snugly into Africa’s Bight of Benin. Almost all continents on the globe appear to fit into each other like the components of a jigsaw puzzle. Continents were formed when parts of a large landmass called Pangaea began drifting apart gradually around 200 million years ago. There are many similarities between plant and animal fossils and rocks on the two continents.
2. Volcanoes: Large volumes of SO2, water vapour, dust and ash are thrown out into the atmosphere during volcanic eruption. SO2 can reach the upper levels of atmosphere (called stratosphere) where they combine with water to form tiny droplets of sulphuric acid. These small droplets and dust particles reflect sunlight and partially block the incoming rays of the sun, leading to cooling in lower levels of atmosphere (troposphere). Winds in stratosphere carry the aerosols rapidly around the globe in either an easterly or a westerly direction. This gives some idea of cooling, which is brought about for a few years after a major volcanic eruption.
3. Earth’s tilt: Earth makes one revolution around the sun in 365 days. It is tilted at an angle of 23.5°
to the perpendicular plane of its orbit, which causes seasonal variations. Furthermore, earth’s orbit is somewhat elliptical, which means that the distance between the earth and the sun varies during the course of a year.
4. Ocean currents: Oceans cover about 71% of the earth and absorb about twice as much of the sun’s radiation as the atmosphere. Ocean currents transfer vast amounts of heat across the planet, which causes temperature difference and climatic changes.
Anthropogenic Causes (Human Causes)
Beyond a point, human activities and consumption styles are considered as human interference in nature.
Urbanization and industrialization have been powered by fossil fuels and thus, contribute to global warming and climate change. All our gadgets run on electricity, which is generated mainly from thermal power plants that further run on fossil fuels (coal). The greenhouse effect like a greenhouse keeps things warm for us, here on earth. The greenhouse effect works hand-in-hand with the sun’s radiation. Without greenhouse gases, the planet would be much colder.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket for earth and this blanket can be found in the troposphere layer of the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have kept the planet warm by trapping radiation from the earth for billions of years. The only thing is greenhouse gases are very picky about which kind of radiation they will absorb. The whole process begins when the sun heats the earth. Shortwave solar radiation passes through the atmosphere and this energy makes the atoms of the earth vibrate faster (heat up). The earth then radiates long-wave radiation or infrared radiation back into the space. This infrared radiation heats the atmosphere and some of it is trapped by the greenhouse gases. After the greenhouse gases trap the infrared radiation, it is re-radiated back to the earth, thereby warming the air.
Globally, carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up about three-fourths of all human GHG emissions. The other onefourth GHG emissions, such as methane, nitrogen oxides, ozone and synthetic industrial GHGs are gases that trap heat even more effectively than CO2. Greenhouse effect is linked with the carbon cycle.
The following are all greenhouse gases in order from strongest to weakest. Notice how all of these gases contain three or more atoms.
1. Methane (CH4) is the strongest greenhouse gas because it has the most atoms. This is why it is the best at trapping radiation and it has more atoms to do so. Even though it is the strongest greenhouse gas, it is one of the least abundant.
2. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second strongest and one of the most abundant greenhouse gases. It is the second strongest because it has the most mass, which helps it to trap heat more efficiently.
3. Nitrous oxide (NO2) is the third strongest greenhouse gas because it only has three atoms and does not have as much mass as CO2. It is not as efficient as CO2 and CH4 at trapping infrared radiation, but it is stronger than water vapour.
4. Water vapour (H2O) is the weakest because it is the lightest of the greenhouse gases. It often changes into liquid and solid forms as well. Hence, it is the least effective at trapping infrared radiation.
Here, we need to get familiar with the term ‘Global Warming Potential’ (GWP). CO2 is considered as the main GHG because of its volume; otherwise, its GWP is very less in comparison to methane and nitrous oxide. CO2
is chosen as the reference gas because it has 100 year’s GWP of 1 and all other gases’ GWP is measured against this. The 100 year’s GWP of methane and nitrous oxide is 21 and 310, respectively.
Because of industrialization, CO2 has increased in the atmosphere from about 280 to more than 400 parts per million and the GHG emissions are increasing continuously and steadily.
Combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) oxidizes carbon present in the long-buried ancient plants to form the greenhouse gas CO2. As our chief source of energy for generating electricity, heating buildings and operating vehicles, fossil fuels contribute most of the CO2 we emit. Some ancient carbon has been sequestered chemically, for example, as calcium carbonate in limestone rock. These compounds convert to CO2
when the rock is heated to make cement.
Deforestation and land use change releases the carbon stored more recently in trees and soils. Besides adding significant CO2 to the atmosphere’s GHG load, deforestation diminishes the biosphere’s present and future capacity to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Humans’ massive infusion of CO2 has unbalanced earth’s carbon cycle by adding more carbon than natural processes can remove.
Effects of Climate Change and Global Warming
Both the intensity and frequency of tropical storms have increased in the past decade. They are caused by evaporation of water from oceans. Coriolis effect causes the storms to spin and a hurricane is declared when this spinning mass of storms attains a wind speed greater than 119 km per hour.
An ice storm is a particular weather event in which precipitation falls as ice due to atmospheric conditions.
Loss of Biodiversity
The most dramatic impact is the loss of habitat for millions of species.
1. Seventy per cent of earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the loss of their natural habitat. Deforestation results in decline in biodiversity and in the extinction of many species.
2. Forests support biodiversity, providing habitat for wildlife. Moreover, forests foster medicinal conservation.
With forest biotopes being an irreplaceable source of new drugs (such as taxol), deforestation can destroy genetic variations (such as crop resistance) irretrievably.
3. It was only during Earth Summit in 1992 that these figures came out, which equates to 50,000 species a year.
Sea-level Rise and Small Islands
The role of oceans in global warming is very complex. They serve as a sink for CO2, taking up much that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere, but increased levels of CO2 have led to the acidification of oceans. Furthermore, as the ocean temperature rises, their ability to absorb excess CO2 decreases. Global warming is projected to have a number of effects on the oceans. The on-going effects include rising sea levels due to thermal expansion and melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and warming of the ocean surface leading to increased temperature stratification. Other possible effects include large-scale changes in oceanic circulation.
Bleaching of Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are a collection of biological communities forming one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world (termed as rainforests of the oceans). Corals are important for a variety of reasons and some of these are as follows.
1. They provide habitat for a variety of organisms.
2. They prevent erosion of soil on beaches.
3. They function as carbon sink (helps in absorption of CO2). They are found in shallow coastal areas of tropical and sub-tropical regions, where light can penetrate for synthesis of food. They feed on small fish and live in colonies, where each coral is called a polyp. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship with algae. The increase in sea temperature, salinity of water, increased UV radiation and so on will result in decreased photosynthesis activity and this in turn leads to loss of algae. Ultimately, the reefs become dead and lose their colour. This is called coral bleaching.
Melting of polar ice and migration of fish are other effects of climate change on marine life.
Runaway Climate Changes and Tipping Point
Runaway climate change is what happens when global warming becomes self-sustaining and beyond control of human beings. This may upset the normal system of checks and balances that keep the climate in equilibrium.
A global warming spiral kicks in if the following possibilities occur.
1. The environment absorbs less CO2: About 50% of our current emissions are absorbed by the environment, i.e., roughly half of that by the oceans and the other half by the plants on land. The uptake of CO2 by the environment may already be in decline.
2. Reflection of sunlight drops: As snow covers in the form of glaciers are retreating (means they are shrinking in terms of geographical extent), dark grounds and darker water are exposed, which absorb less sunlight and that has caused further increase in global warming.
3. Emission of CO2 and methane: More CO2 and methane are emitted from nature. Soils, forests, peat, seas, organic deposits in permafrost and methane clathrates, all emit some amount of CO2
and methane. As the environment warms, natural emissions increase. Tipping point is a small amount of warming that may set off unstoppable and irreversible changes. The best example is the melting of ice caps. Once the temperature goes up by certain degrees, then all ice caps may melt (even though, complete melting of ice at the Arctic and Antarctic may take thousands of years). The tipping point in many scientists’ view is a 2°C rise in temperature. European Union has adopted that as the maximum limit that mankind can risk. Beyond that point, there is a possibility of runaway climate change.
Key Developments in the Context of Climate Change and Global Warming
1. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1824) was the first to describe that without the presence of GHGs, the earth would have been cooler by 33°C. When radiations from the sun enter into earth’s atmosphere, they are of short wavelength and when emitted by earth they are of longer wavelength. GHGs do not allow these radiations to escape into the outer atmosphere and hence, they are reflected back to the earth. This causes the heating of earth.
2. In 1896, Svante Arrhenius claimed that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming. As much as 25% of CO2 emissions are naturally absorbed by the ocean and another 25% are absorbed by the biosphere, such as trees, plants and soil. It is evident that 50% of the CO2
emissions are not absorbed by nature and accumulate in the atmosphere.
3. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was set up in 1950 in Geneva to promote international exchange of weather reports and other weather related services.
4. In the 1950s and 1960s, aerosol pollution called smog became a serious local problem in many cities, causing dimming and fall in temperature to such an extent that many scientists talked about the return of Ice Age. The phenomenon of London Smog in 1954 is a prominent example.
5. Keeling curve is a graph, which has been showing the variations in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 since 1958. It is based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.
6. Roger Randall Dougan Revelle suggested that earth’s oceans would absorb excess CO2 generated by humanity at a much slower rate, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Revelle factor is a measure of resistance to the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by ocean surface layer due to different factors.
7. The UN’s first major initiative was the UN Conference on Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference) held in Sweden in the year 1972. WMO sponsored a conference on the long-term climatic fluctuations at the University of East Anglia at Norwich in 1975.
8. Wallace S. Broecker was the first person to use the term global warming in 1975.
9. The first World Climate Conference took place in Geneva in 1979.
10. World Commission on Environment and Development was convened by the UN in 1983, named after its Chairman Gro Harlem Brundtland, also known as the Brundtland Commission. It was recognized by the UN that as environmental problems were global in nature, there was a need to decide common policies for sustainable development.
11. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 by two organizations of UN, i.e., the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the risk of human-induced climatic change, its impact and to suggest alternatives solutions. Its reports have generated good awareness about climate changes and forced the governments worldwide into action. IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 with the former US Vice President Al Gore who also wrote ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ about climatic changes and global warming. Five Assessment Reports have been presented by IPCC so far.
12. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty produced at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in June 1992. Its objective is to stabilize GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate system.
13. UNFCCC was opened for signature on 9 May 1992.
After having received over 50 countries’ instruments of ratification, it entered into force on 21 March 1994. By December 2009, UNFCCC had 192 parties.
14. Agenda 21 is an action plan of the UN related to sustainable development and was an outcome of the Earth Summit. It is a comprehensive blueprint of the actions that need to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment.
Natural And Energy Resources
There are basically two approaches in the context of man-environment interaction. The two approaches are environmental determinism and possibilism.
According to determinism, our earth is the creation of nature and not just a matter of chance. It is the conditions in which the environment that tell us what we are capable of doing. Man is subservient to nature.
According to pragmatic possibilism, anything is possible.
Man is intelligent and has the necessary knowledge, skills, technology and money to manage the environment. The exploitation of natural resources is a key factor in economic growth and development, but it is not without serious negative environmental and socio-economic impacts.
In the last few decades, the developing nations are trying to develop a model which the developed countries did in the past. Deforestation is on going and is shaping the climate and geography. In fact, the demand for natural mineral and energy sources is coming from newly industrialized nations and emerging economies such as China and India. The exploitation of natural resources has intensified during the last few decades because of the following reasons.
Rapid Industrialisation, Urbanisation, and Increase in Population
All our gadgets run on electricity, generated mainly from thermal power plants, which further run on fossil fuels (coal). Manufacturing industries are primarily located in urban areas, which create jobs and people have moved from rural areas to the cities over the years. This process is continuing even today.
During the twentieth century, world population increased by four and a half times, from 1.5 billion to 6.2 billion, but urban population grew 13 times from 225 million to 3.4 billion or 47% of the total population.
By 2030, the figures are likely to increase to 4.9 billion or 60%. Urban areas cover just 3–4% of the world’s land surface, and accommodate half of the world’s population but consume around 80% of the global energy supply and thus, emit the bulk of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Transport vehicles also run mainly on petrol or diesel, both of which are fossil fuels. Out of consumer cult, plastics, timber and other natural resources are being used in a big way.
Availability of Technology
Increase in sophistication of technology enables quick and efficient extraction of natural resources. For example, rates of deforestation have increased greatly due to electric saws.
Intensive Agricultural Practices
To meet the food requirements of large population, more and more land has been brought under cultivation.
Culture of Consumerism
Excessive demand leads to a mad scramble for resources and conflicts.
Non-equitable Distribution of Resources
The raw material for finished goods is available in underdeveloped or developing nations. To earn foreign exchange and taxes, the governments allow the exploitation of resources, however, without a longterm approach to replenish them or mitigate the after effects. The natural resources around us provide a variety of sources of energy around us. During the Stone Age, it was wood. During the Iron Age, we had coal. In the modern age, we have petroleum and natural gas. In near future, solar energy, geothermal may dominate the scene.
Good sources of energy should have the following qualities.
• Optimum heat production per unit of volume/ mass used • Easy to transport • Least Polluting • Cost-effective
Natural And Energy Resources
A natural resource is something that is found in nature and can be used by people. Earth’s natural resources include light, air, water, plants, animals, soil, stone, minerals, and fossil fuels. People need some natural resources to stay alive. They use others to make their lives better.
Energy is the capacity to do work. It is the basic requirement for a living being, machine and matter to move, function or perform any kind of work. The whole development of civilization is based on the availability of energy. Energy is present in different forms and it has been further modified from time to time to suit the requirements of mankind. The common forms of energy are as follows.
1. Mechanical energy of a body is the energy it possesses by virtue of its motion or its position. When a body is in motion, it possesses kinetic energy.
Potential energy is the energy possessed by a body due to its position. For example, energy stored in a compressed spring is an example of potential energy.
2. Thermal energy is the energy a substance or system has in relation to its temperature, i.e., the energy of moving or vibrating molecules.
3. Chemical energy is stored in the form of molecular bonds.
4. Nuclear energy is the mass converted into energy.
5. There can be a few other forms of energy, such as radiant energy or light energy.
Law of Conservation of Energy
The total amount of energy in the universe remains constant. It changes from one form to another. For example, when water is stored in a dam at a height, it possesses potential energy. However, when water falls on the turbine, it possesses kinetic energy.
Primary Energy and Secondary Energy
Primary energy form is directly found in nature, such as coal and sunlight. This energy can be renewable or non-renewable. When primary energy form is converted into some convenient form of energy, then it is known as secondary energy. For example, coal or sunlight is converted into electrical energy, which can be consumed in homes or industry.
Non-renewable Energy Sources
A non-renewable resource is a natural resource that cannot be reproduced, grown, generated or used on a scale, which can sustain its consumption rate.
However, once it is depleted there is no more available for future needs. Resources that are consumed much faster than nature can create them are also considered as non-renewable. They basically consist of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels consist of oil and coal. They are preferred for the following main reasons.
1. They have high calorific value.
2. The technology is available to exploit these resources. The market is well developed for trading of the fossil fuels. Our conventional infrastructure and transport systems, which are fitted with combustion engines, remain prominent throughout the globe. The main disadvantages of using fossil fuels are in terms of harm to environment:
1. Global warming: The continued use of fossil fuels at the current rate will increase global warming and cause more severe climatic change. The SO2
and CO2 produced during the burning of fossil fuels contribute towards global warming and acid rains.
2. Health hazards: Fly ash and other particulate matter cause health hazards, such as asthma and tuberculosis.
3. Oil spills: They are a threat to marine life and our ecosystem.
Eventually, fossil-based resources will be expensive in the future to harvest and humanity will need to shift its reliance to other sources of energy.
As fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus finite, that it will eventually run out of stock, they have become too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. In contrast, many types of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar energy are constantly replenished and will never run out. At present, the main energy source used by humans are nonrenewable fossil fuels as they meet 80% of our energy needs.
Oil occurs in rock formations in the earth, which before getting processed in refineries is called crude oil, which is a mixture of hydrocarbons. It is processed by fractional distillation and transported to points of consumption.
Coal is a black or brown carbonaceous sedimentary rock formed by combustion of partially decomposed plant material. It takes millions of years to form from decayed plants. The process of formation of coal is termed as coalification.
Coal provides 30.3% of global primary energy needs and generates 42% of the world’s electricity.
In India, 70–80% of electricity is produced by burning coal. The amount of energy in coal is expressed in British Thermal Units per pound (a BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.) Higher the carbon content, higher is its calorific value and its quality. The grading of coal is done on the basis of the carbon contents.
1. Peat: Peat is not a typical variety of coal. The carbon content is 50–60%. Under conditions of temperature and pressure, it converts into lignite, bituminous and subsequently into anthracite. The carbon contents increase in subsequent stages.
2. Lignite or brown coal: It contains 70% carbon and is found in geologically young mines, the lowest rank of coal with high moisture content.
3. Bituminous coal: It is also termed as soft coal and it contains around 80% carbon.
4. Anthracite coal: It is the best quality coal and contains 90–95% carbon and around 5% volatile matter. Therefore, its burning gives very little smoke. When bituminous coal is heated at extremely high temperature, the residual matter is called coke. Different types of coal have different uses. Steam coal also known as thermal coal is mainly used in power generation.
Coking coal also known as metallurgical coal is mainly used in steel production. It is composed primarily of carbon and hydrocarbons. Its extraction causes environmental hazards. Air pollution (mainly suspended particulate matter) due to burning of coal causes respiratory problems. Thermal power stations produce waste in the form of fly ash. Large dumps are required to dump this waste material. Burning coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming and toxic air emissions.
Coal is the most abundantly available fossil fuel, which at current rate of consumption may last up to 200 years. China, USA, India, Australia, and Indonesia are the five major coal producers in the world. Coal deposits in India belong to Gondwana age. Nearly three-fourths of coal deposits are situated in Damodar Valley.
An unconventional form of gas formed during coalification process and found on the internal surfaces of coal is called ‘coal bed methane’.
1. Natural gas mainly comprises of methane, butane, ethane and propane, and it has very high calorific value.
2. Some of the organic material was changed by heat and pressure into oil and coal while natural gas was trapped within the earth’s crust.
3. It was formed from decaying plants and animals, millions of years ago
Renewable Energy Resources
Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. Sunlight, or solar energy can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and other buildings, for generating electricity and for hot water heating, solar cooling, and a variety of commercial and industrial uses. The sun’s heat also drives the winds, whose energy is captured with wind turbines. Then, the winds and the sun’s heat causes the water to evaporate. When this water vapour turns into rain or snow and flows downhill into rivers or streams, its energy can be captured using hydroelectric power.
At least 40% of India’s total power capacity will come from renewable sources by 2030. This ambitious target will help India offer the global community a 35 per cent reduction in the greenhouse gas emission intensity of its economy below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under the Paris agreement.
Solar energy is the ultimate source of energy for almost all living organisms. It is the heat and light energy produced as a result of nuclear fusion and fission reactions taking place inside the sun. The producers (discussed earlier) produce food by photosynthesis. Energy from the sun is responsible for all the weather phenomena in nature, such as the wind, storms, rain and sea waves.
Now, scientists are devising methods to make optimum use of solar energy in routine lives in the form of solar cooker, water heater and solar cells, which can be used in multiple devices. Many advanced nations have come up with concepts such as energy-efficient green buildings.
1. Readily available, inexhaustible, clean, uninterrupted and continuous source of energy.
2. Solar devices can be installed in remote, inaccessible areas, such as small villages in interior regions, forests, deserts, mountains, off-shore platforms and remote oceanic islands.
3. It is possible to produce solar energy in large quantities across many regions in the world, especially tropical regions.
1. It can be produced in tropical and subtropical areas only that too in specific seasons.
2. Technology is still expensive and involves high installation cost.
3. Difficult to store and run heavy machines.
4. Solar panels consume land, as power generation per square unit is low.
5. Silicon used in the production of SPV (solar photo voltaic) cells is a pollutant.
National Solar Mission: National Solar Mission is one of the eight missions set up of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that was released on 30 June 2008.
Government stepped up India’s solar power capacity target under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) by five times, reaching 1,00,000 MW by 2022. The new targets were approved in June 2015. The target comprises 40 GW rooftop and 60 GW through large and medium scale grid connected solar power projects. With this ambitious target, India will become one of the largest green energy producers in the world, surpassing several developed countries.
During recent times, with improvements in technology and scaling up production capacities, solar energy has become cost competitive and targets seem to be more viable now.
Kamuthi Solar Power Project is the largest single location solar power plant in the world, located at Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu. This solar plant is the world’s second largest solar park with a capacity of 648 MW, commissioned by Adani Power. The total installed capacity of solar power in India crossed the milestone of 5000 MW on 15 January 2016, total being 5130 MW. The leading solar energy producing states are Rajasthan (1264 MW), Gujarat (1024 MW), Madhya Pradesh (679 MW), Tamil Nadu (419 MW), Maharashtra (379 MW) and Andhra Pradesh (357 MW).
The wind energy possesses some kinetic energy due to its high speed. It can produce mechanical or electrical energy by using windmills. Wind is a result of solar energy, as heating of land results in the movement of air. Wind energy has been used for hundreds of years for sailing, grinding grains and for irrigation. Wind energy systems convert the kinetic energy of winds to other forms of energy or to generate electric power.
Windmills for water pumping have been installed in many countries, particularly in the rural areas. To generate electricity on a large scale, a number of windmills are set up over a large area called a wind energy farm. Such areas need a wind speed of 15 kmph.
1. Inexhaustible source of energy.
2. No pollution and emission of GHGs.
3. Possibility of large-scale production.
4. Scope of direct use as mechanical energy.
5. Land around wind turbines can be used for other purposes, for example, farming.
1. Requires expensive storage during peak production time.
2. Winds are uncertain and unpredictable.
3. The visual aesthetic impact is not good.
4. Large open areas are required for setting up wind farms.
5. Noise pollution.
6. Possible threat to wildlife.
7. High maintenance cost. Tamil Nadu has become a leader in Wind Power in India. In Muppandal windfarm the total capacity is 1500 MW, the largest wind power plant in India.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka are the other states in the sequence. India now ranks 5th in the world after China, USA, Germany and Spain in grid connected wind power installations. The Netherlands is called ‘The Land of Windmills’.
1. National Institute of Solar Energy – Gurgaon 2. National Institute of Wind Energy – Chennai 3. SSS National Institute for Renewable Energy – Kaputhala (Punjab) 4. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency – New Delhi 5. Solar Energy Corporation of India – New Delhi
Major Renewable Energy Institutes in India
1. It is electricity generated using the force of running water from a height. The water may be stored in the form of dams. The potential energy is converted into kinetic energy.
2. It is the second largest source of electricity.
3. Heavily dependent on rainfall and melting of snow in the mountainous regions.
4. It entails heavy investment for construction of dams, but per unit cost of electricity is low.
Risk factors include the following:
1. As a huge water body is created, the release during heavy rainfall may cause floods and loss of biodiversity.
2. Dams impede the migration of fish along the river. The silt pile-up may threaten the structure and decrease the life of the dam.
The core of the earth is very hot and so it is possible to make use of this geothermal energy. These are areas where water and steam gush out in the form of hot springs and geysers, which may be used to run turbines to produce electricity. The water can be pumped from underground hot water deposits and used to heat people’s houses.
Organic matter that makes up the plants is known as biomass. Biomass is derived from sources such as byproducts from timber industry, agricultural crops, forest waste, household waste and municipal waste dumps. Biomass can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels or chemicals. The use of biomass for any of these purposes is called bioenergy.
For example, Indian sugar mills are rapidly turning to bagasse, the leftover of cane after it is crushed and its juice extracted to generate electricity.
1. It is renewable, cost-effective and less polluting source of energy.
2. It provides manure for agriculture and gardens.
3. There is tremendous potential to generate biogas energy.
4. Growing biomass crops use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
1. Initial cost of construction of biogas plant is high.
2. Continuous supply of biomass is required to generate biomass energy.
3. Difficult storage and transportation.
4. Many food crops such as corn and wheat are being diverted to make ethanol, which may lead to high food inflation.
Biofuels are renewable liquid or gaseous fuels made from living organisms or the wastes that they produce.
Bioethanol and biodiesel are the two main types of biofuel that are currently commercially produced. This oil is extracted and mixed with diesel and is used as fuel.
Bioethanol is produced from sugar beet, sugarcane and corn. The biofuels are divided into two categories.
First-generation or Traditional Biofuels
Other source of biofuels is oil extracted from seeds of plants, such as Jatropha and Pongamia which have good calorific value. They are less sustainable as they have an adverse impact on the supply of food for the human population and hence, are less preferred. The food prices increase as a result.
Second- and Third-generation Biofuels
They are generated from non-food crops. Microbes play a key role in the development of these biofuels. They are more sustainable than first generation biofuels, as they produce higher yields, reduce GHG production, and do not compete with crops grown for food.
Example is oil extracted from seeds of plants, such as Jatropha and Pongamia, which have good calorific value.
In the beginning of 2013, it was recommended that 5% ethanol blending is mandatory for petrol, whereas in 2007, it was recommended to be as low as 10% by the Group of Ministers.
1. Bacterial action is introduced in digesters with sewage of human beings and animal (animal dung).
2. The decomposition of sewage produces methane, which is used for cooking and fuel.
3. The leftover matter called slurry is used as manure in agriculture fields.
Biomass fuels used in India account for about one-third of the total fuel used in the country, being the most important fuel used in over 90% of the rural households and about 15% of the urban households.
Biomass can be used in briquettes form, which is used directly as fuel instead of coal in the traditional chulhas and furnaces. Alternatively, gasifier converts solid fuel into a more convenient-to-use gaseous form of fuel called producer gas.
1. It is the most abundant element on the earth and has the highest calorific value.
2. It does not occur naturally as a gas.
3. As it is highly reactive, it combines with other elements such as oxygen to form water.
4. Once separated from other elements, hydrogen can be burned as a fuel or converted into electricity.
5. As it burns completely, it does not result in atmospheric pollution and in greenhouse effect.
Fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel. Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of a fuel directly and efficiently into electricity and heat. Thus, they are electrochemical devices. There is no combustion as in the case of fossil fuels. Hydrogen or a mixture of compounds containing hydrogen is used as a fuel. It consists of two electrodes, with electrolyte in between. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other and they react electrochemically to generate electricity, water and heat. The fuel cells have been used in space flights as well. Electric vehicles using fuel cells for their energy requirements are the best options available to dramatically reduce urban air pollution. Not all renewable energy resources come from the sun.
A hybrid car is a petrol and electricity driven vehicle, a car starting with petrol engine and switching to electric motor at low speed.
Renewable Power Capacity (Ministry of Non-Renewable
Energy) as of March 31, 2018
Earlier, we discussed about the law of conservation of energy in which energy can be changed from one form into another. The source of nuclear energy is the mass of the nucleus and energy generated during a nuclear reaction is due to conversion of mass into energy (Einstein’s theory). The energy produced is given by e = mc2, where m is the mass and c is the speed of light. This equation was developed by Einstein. There are two ways to obtain nuclear energy, namely nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
In a nuclear fission reaction, the nucleus of a heavy radioactive element, such as uranium, plutonium, or thorium splits up into smaller nuclei, when bombarded with low-energy neutrons. A huge amount of heat is generated in this process. At this point, carbon dioxide in gas form is pumped into the reactors with uranium, removing heat from the system. The gas turns very hot and this heat is used to convert water into steam. The steam created from this process drives the turbines, which in turn drive the generators that produce nuclear energy.
Nuclear fusion reaction involves the combination or fusion of two light elements, such as hydrogen to form a heavier element resulting in the release of uncontrollable energy. Thus, it cannot be used to generate electricity and cannot be commercialized as is the case with fission reaction. Sun’s energy is generated by nuclear fusion reaction. The heat and light that we receive from sun is all due to the continuous fusion reactions going on inside it. The nuclear power reactor that creates all these reactions is controlled through rods of boron, known as control rods. These boron rods absorb the neutrons. The rods are lowered into the reactor to absorb neutrons and slow down the process of fission. To generate more power, the rods are raised again to allow even more neutrons to crash into the atoms of uranium.
1. Nuclear energy is more cost-effective when compared to coal.
2. It does not use as much fuel in the process.
3. It produces less waste and does not produce carbon dioxide or smoke. Thus, nuclear energy does not contribute to environmental hazards or greenhouse effect.
4. Nuclear power stations are usually very compact when compared to the thermal stations. Although the initial capital cost of building a nuclear plant is high, the maintenance and running costs are relatively low.
Creating nuclear energy is a complex chemical process that can be very dangerous.
1. There is a great deal of radiation danger associated with nuclear energy. It is capable of causing genetic disorders. Thus, if someone is once exposed to these radiations, then it can affect the generations to come adversely.
2. Storage of nuclear wastes can lead to disastrous effects if not disposed or stored in a proper manner.
3. Once it was assumed that the supply of nuclear fuel will not be a problem. However, that appears to be a fallacy now. Nuclear power is not a renewable source of energy. Uranium is a metal that is mined from the ground which is almost similar to coal mining. It is a scarce metal and the supply of uranium will run out one day, making all the nuclear power plants obsolete.
4. Radioactive minerals are unevenly distributed around the world and are found in limited quantities.
5. Starting a nuclear plant requires huge capital investment and advanced technology.
6. There have been instances of proliferation of nuclear technology and the number of restrictions by international community for use of nuclear technology. There are many moral groups opposing the production of nuclear energy in the wake of nuclear accidents. There have been many nuclear accidents in the last five decades, such as Three Miles (1979, USA) and Chernobyl (1987, Ukraine). The most recent nuclear mishap was the Fukushima Accident in Japan in March 2011. It was caused by an earthquake-generated tsunami.
Germany declared that it would phase out all the nuclear power plants in near future.
Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR): A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor capable of generating more fissile material than it consumes. It uses uranium- 238 or thorium-232 as fuel. Breeders were at first considered superior because of their superior fuel economy compared to the light water reactors. India is focusing on using thorium as an alternative fuel to uranium in nuclear reactors. There is a growing interest in developing a thorium-fuel cycle due to its safety benefits, absence of non-fertile isotopes and its higher occurrence and availability when compared to uranium. India has the world’s largest reserves of thorium in the world.
Exploitation of Forest Resources
Deforestation is clearing the earth’s forests on a massive scale, resulting in damage to the quality of land. The world’s rain forests will completely vanish in about hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
Expansion of Agriculture
The major direct cause of deforestation is agriculture, with subsistence farming responsible for 48% of deforestation, commercial agriculture for 32% and fuel wood for 5%.
Shifting cultivation is practiced in Assam and Madagascar (Indian Ocean) for subsistence farming.
Shifting cultivation has occurred due to poor fertility of soil. In this cultivation, a small patch of tropical forests is cleared, vegetation is destroyed and burned.
Crops are grown as long as the soil is productive, after which the cultivation is abandoned and cultivations move on to fresh patch of land. Timber Harvesting
Logging (for world’s wood and paper products) is responsible for 14% of deforestation. Countries such as Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina and many African countries are examples.
Extension of Cultivation on Hill Slopes
This is termed as contour farming. Although agriculture has always been concentrated on planes and floors of valleys, farming on narrow flat steps cut one after another across the slope or terrace is an age old practice. There are many medicinal plants, which should better be raised in hilly areas.
Not all deforestation is intentional. Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors, such as wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees. However, in the last decade, the intensity and frequency of wild fires has increased due to global warming.
Negative Effects of Deforestation on the Environment
Globalization is viewed as another root cause of deforestation. The degradation of forest ecosystems has been traced to economic incentives that make forest conversion appear more profitable than forest conservation. The forest cover, which helps in absorbing Green House Gas has shrunk from 4.7 billion hectares in 1949 to 714.9 million hectares in 2015.
Deforestation is the main driver of climate change.
Conventionally, trees play a critical role in absorbing Green House Gases (GHGs), which is the main cause of global warming.
Now, deforestation or less tree cover means more quantities of GHGs being released into the atmosphere. This has increased the severity of global warming (the concept of GHGs has been discussed separately). Tropical deforestation is responsible for approximately 20% of world’s GHG emissions. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, deforestation accounts for up to one-third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions in tropical areas.
Other plants remove carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis and release oxygen back into the atmosphere during normal respiration. Only when actively growing, can a tree or forest remove carbon over an annual or longer time frame. Both the decay and burning of wood release much of this stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
A GHG is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of greenhouse effect. The primary GHGs in the earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. GHGs greatly affect the temperature of the earth and without them, the earth’s surface average would be about 33°C colder than the present average of 14°C.
Forests are effective as carbon sinks or biodiversity reserves.
Reduced Moisture Content in the Environment
Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sunblocking tree cover, they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapour back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.
Effects of Deforestation on Water Cycle
Deforestation changes the quantity of water on surface, in soil or in the atmosphere. This in turn changes the erosion rates and the availability of water, either for ecosystem functions or for human services.
Decrease in Water Precipitation
Trees extract groundwater through their roots and release it into the atmosphere. When trees are removed, there will not be any evaporation, resulting in a much drier climate. Thus, trees help in perpetuating the water cycle by returning water vapour back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, it would result in reduced rainfall and many former forest lands would quickly become barren deserts. Deforestation reduces the content of water in the soil and groundwater as well as the atmospheric moisture. 99% of the water absorbed by the roots moves up to the leaves and transpires. Forest cover brings down the temperature of the area, which is crucial for rainfall.
Tree roots bind soil together and if the soil is sufficiently shallow, they act to keep the soil in place by binding with the underlying bedrock. Tree removal on steep slopes with shallow soil increases the risk of landslides, which threatens the people living nearby. The quicker transport of surface water translates into flash flooding and more localized floods than those which would occur with the forest cover.
Deforestation generally increases the rate of soil erosion by increasing the amount of run off and reducing the protection of soil from tree litter. Yellow river is an example. Its yellow colour is caused by the downstream carriage of loess and causes flooding of river in lower reaches (hence, the river’s nickname China’s sorrow).
Desertification and deforestation are linked closely.
Desertification is a systemic phenomenon resulting from excessive felling of trees. It is the degradation of land in any dry land. Dry land ecosystems are already very fragile and can rarely sustain the increased pressures that result from intense population growth. Many of these areas are inappropriately opened to development, when they cannot sustain human settlements.
1. The most common cause of desertification is the over cultivation of desert lands. Over-cultivation causes nutrients in the soil to be depleted faster than they are restored. Improper irrigation practices result in salinated soils and depletion of aquifers.
2. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the biological composition of soil. The soil erosion and water run off decreases with increased vegetation cover. Overgrazing removes vegetation, causing erosion and loss of topsoil.
3. Forests cause precipitation and maintain humidity of an area. Air humidity not only results in less penetration of solar heat to ground during the day but also checks heat escape to outer atmosphere during the night. Thus, forests tend to provide seasonal stability to the terrain.
4. As result of deforestation, there is higher wind velocity, which increases the rate of soil erosion.
Natural Resources—Our Mineral Assets
India is rich in metallic minerals of ferrous groups, such as iron, manganese, chromite and titanium. However, petroleum and some non-ferrous minerals, such as copper, lead, zinc, tin and graphite are not adequate.
Iron ores have been categorized into three grades, namely, (1) haematite, also known as red ore, which contains up to 68% iron, (2) magnetite (60%, known as black ore) and (3) lignite contains between 35 and 50% iron. Pure iron is soft, but it is hardened due to metallurgical processes. A certain proportion of carbon is required in ferrous to make it steel. Chromite is essential for the manufacture of stainless steel and high-temperature alloys.
India has deposits of high-grade iron ore, i.e., haematite and magnetite. India is the second largest producer of iron ore after Brazil. The mineral is found mainly in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
In Goa, there are open cast iron ore mines, which are mechanized.
Bauxite is an aluminium ore. Aluminium is used in manufacturing of aeroplanes, electrical gadgets and so on. India is the third largest producer of bauxite in the world. The major bauxite producing areas are Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
India is the largest producer and exporter of mica in the world. Mica deposits mainly occur in Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is used for manufacturing of electrical fittings.
It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable.
It is mainly produced in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
India is the third largest producer of manganese after Russia and South Africa. India’s manganese deposits lie in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Limestone with high silica content is used for the manufacture of white cement. Major limestone producing states in India are Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Kolar in Karnataka has deposits of gold in India. These mines are among the deepest in the world which makes mining of this ore a very expensive process.
It is obtained from seas, lakes and rocks. India is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of salt.
Coal is used as a raw material in chemical and fertilizer industries. It is found in two regions, namely in (i) Gondwana and (ii) extra-peninsular areas, such as Assam and other north-east states. There are high lignite reserves in Tamil Nadu.
Petroleum exists in anticlines and fault traps. In India, it is found in sedimentary rocks.
Uranium and Thorium
Uranium is embedded in igneous and metamorphic rocks in Bihar (Jaduguda in Singhbhum district of Bihar), Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
USA, Australia and India have particularly large reserves of thorium. In India, thorium is found in monazite sands across the coasts of Kerala.
Natural Hazards And Mitigation
Hazard may be defined as a dangerous condition or event, which threatens or has the potential for causing injury to life or damage to property or the environment.
Natural hazards are hazards that are caused by natural phenomena (hazards of meteorological, geological or even biological origin). Examples of natural hazards are cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which are exclusively of natural origin. Landslides, floods, drought, fires are socionatural hazards since their causes are both natural and man-made. For example, flooding may be caused due to heavy rains, landslides or blocking of drains with human waste.
It is the sudden shaking of earth’s crust. The impact of an earthquake is sudden and there is hardly any warning, making it impossible to predict. Seismology is the study of earthquakes and seismic waves that move through and around the earth.
Causes of Earthquake
Earth’s crust is not one piece but consists of portions called plates, which vary in size from a few hundred to thousands of kilometres. According to the Theory of Plate Tectonics, when these plates contact each other, stress arises in the crust. The plates may pull away from each other, push against each other or slide sideways. If plates get locked together, they are unable to move. It results in stress in areas around the plate boundaries called faults. When this reaches a maximum point, the fault rupture generates vibration called seismic waves, which radiates in all directions from the focus (Figures 9.17 and 9.18). To put simply, the focus can also be defined as underground origin of an earthquake.
These are waves of energy that travel through the earth’s layers and there are two main types of seismic waves
1. Body waves 2. Surface waves Earth
These are called body waves as they pass through the body of earth and they are further categorized as follows.
1. Primary or compressional waves also popularly known as P waves.
2. Secondary or transverse waves also popularly known as S waves.
Primary waves travel faster than the secondary waves. Thus, they are the first to reach the seismograph stations.
They travel along the earth’s crust and vibrate the ground horizontally and vertically. They are more dangerous than the body waves and destroy buildings and highways, which come in their path. Their amplitude decreases with increasing depth into the earth. These are further categorized as (i) Love waves and (ii) Rayleigh waves.
Love waves move the ground from side-to-side.
Confined to the surface of the crust, Love waves produce entirely horizontal motion.
Rayleigh moves the ground up and down, and sideto- side. Love waves are faster than Rayleigh waves. The earthquakes can be shallow (less than 60 km), medium (60–300 km), and deep (300–600 km).
Shallow-focus earthquakes are the most damaging because of the proximity to the surface.
Measurement of Intensity of Earthquakes
There are mainly two techniques available to measure the intensity of earthquakes and they are as follows.
1. Richter scale: Earthquake’s magnitude or amount of energy released is determined by the use of a seismograph, which is an instrument that continuously records ground vibrations. An earthquake with a magnitude 7.5 on the Richter scale releases 30 times more energy than the one with 6.5 magnitude and will also have a shaking amplitude of 10 times higher. Similarly, an earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0 and corresponds to a 30 times larger release of energy. An earthquake of magnitude 3 is the smallest that is normally felt by humans.
2. Modified Mercalli scale: It expresses the intensity of earthquake’s effect on people, structure and the earth’s surface on scale from I to XII.
Mitigation of Earthquakes
The Bureau of Indian Standards has published certain building codes and guidelines for safe construction of buildings against earthquakes. Before the buildings are constructed, the building plans have to be checked by the municipality, according to the rules laid down by the law.
Educating the public on causes and characteristics of an earthquake and preparedness measures helps to a certain extent in mitigating the natural disaster.
Buildings need to be designed and constructed as per the laws to withstand ground shaking. Architectural and engineering inputs need to be put together to improve building design and construction practices. The soil type needs to be analysed before construction.
The term tsunami has been derived from a Japanese term Tsu meaning harbour and nami meaning waves.
A tsunami is a series of ocean waves with very long wavelengths (typically hundreds of kilometres) caused by large-scale disturbances of the ocean such as the following.
India has been recently divided into four seismic zones by Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, on the basis of Modified Mercalli (MM) intensity scale.
Broadly, Zone-V comprises the entire northeastern India, parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, parts of North Bihar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Zone-IV covers the remaining parts of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Union Territory of Delhi, Sikkim, northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, parts of Gujarat and small portions of Maharashtra near the west coast and Rajasthan.
Zone-III comprises Kerala, Goa, Lakshadweep islands, and remaining parts of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and West Bengal, parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
Zone-II covers the remaining parts of the country.
Furthermore, as a part of pre-disaster preparedness measure, the Government of India has also completed seismic microzonation studies of some of the major cities in the country, such as Jabalpur, Guwahati, Bangalore, greater Bharuch in Gujarat, Jammu in Jammu & Kashmir, Shillong in Meghalaya, Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Sikkim state.
Earthquake Prone Zones in India
1. Earthquakes 2. Landslide 3. Volcanic eruptions 4. Explosions 5. Meteorites These disturbances can either be from below (for example, underwater earthquakes with large vertical displacements and submarine landslides) or from above (for example, meteorite impacts). Tsunamis can have wavelengths ranging from 10 to 500 km and wave periods of up to an hour. As a result of their long wavelengths, tsunamis act as shallowwater waves. A wave becomes a shallow-water wave when the wavelength is very large compared to the water depth. Tsunamis may reach a maximum vertical height onshore above sea level, often called a run-up height of tens of metres. Tsunamis can result in massive destruction when they arrive onshore and it can cause severe coastal erosion, which is wearing away coastal land or beaches. The power of water can wash away vegetation, making it hard to establish the shoreline. As tsunamis are triggered by sudden events, there may be little time to warn coastal residents of its arrival. This fact became evident in March of 2011 when Japan was struck by a large tsunami that was triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which damaged several nuclear power plant reactors followed by massive radioactive pollution. Tsunami originated in Indian Ocean caused massive damage in Indonesia and India.
A volcano is an opening or rupture in the earth’s surface or crust, which allows hot magma, volcanic ash and gases from within the earth to reach the surface. Most volcanoes have a volcanic crater at the top. When they are active, materials pour out of it. This includes lava, steam, gaseous compounds of sulphur, ash and broken rock pieces. Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates diverge or converge. Subduction zones are places where two plates, usually an oceanic plate and a continental plate, collide; as is the case with earthquakes as well. Volcanoes tend to exist along the edges between tectonic plates, massive rock slabs that make up earth’s surface. About 90 per cent of all volcanoes exist within the ‘Ring of Fire’ along the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
Eruption of volcanoes away from the subduction zone is referred to as mantle plumes also known as ‘hotspots’. These are columns taking out the magma from the deep interior of the earth.
Erupting volcanoes can pose many hazards. Volcanic ash can be a threat to aircraft, especially jet aircrafts. Large eruptions can affect temperature as ash and droplets of sulphuric acid obscure the sun and cool the earth’s lower atmosphere or troposphere.
Cyclone is a region of low atmospheric pressure surrounded by high atmospheric pressure, resulting in swirling atmospheric disturbances, accompanied by powerful winds blowing in anticlockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere. They occur mainly in the tropical and temperate regions of the world.
Cyclones are called by various names in different parts of the world. Cyclones in India are moderate in nature.
Some of the general features of a typical cyclone are as follows.
1. Strong winds 2. Exceptional rain 3. Storm surge Cyclones are called by different names, such as typhoons and hurricanes (Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico), tropical cyclones (India), willie (Australia) and tornadoes (South America).
Damage by Cyclones
First, in a sudden, brief onslaught, high winds cause major damage to infrastructure and housing, particularly in fragile constructions. They are generally followed by heavy rains and floods and in flat coastal areas by storm surge riding on tidal waves and inundating the land over long distances of even up to 15 km inland. There can be loss of life due to flooding and flying elements and contamination of water supplies may lead to viral outbreaks, diarrhoea and malaria.
Mitigation of Cyclones
Green belt plantation along the coastal line in a scientific, interweaving pattern can reduce the effects of hazard. Providing a cover through green belt sustains less damage. Forests act as a wide buffer zone against strong winds and flash floods. The roots of the plants and trees keep the soil intact and prevent erosion and slow run off to prevent or lessen flooding.
Flood is a state of high water level along a river channel or on the coast that leads to inundation of land, which is not usually submerged. There are different types of floods, namely flash flood, riverine flood and urban flood.
These are rapid inland floods due to intense rainfall.
A flash flood describes sudden flooding within a short duration. In sloped terrains, the water flows rapidly with a high destruction potential. In flat terrains, the rainwater cannot infiltrate into the ground or run off (due to small slope) as quickly as it falls. Flash floods are typically associated with thunderstorms. A flash flood can occur at virtually any place.
Causes of Flash Floods
1. Heavy rainfall in a short span of time.
2. Heavy siltation of the river bed reduces the water carrying capacity of the rivers or stream.
3. Blockage in the drains leads to flooding of the area.
4. Landslides blocking the flow of the stream.
5. Construction of dams and reservoirs.
6. In areas prone to cyclone, strong winds accompanied by heavy downpour along with storm surge leads to flooding. The understanding of the concept of catabatic (also termed as katabatic) and anabatic winds can help further to understand the phenomenon of flash floods. The term catabatic wind is used for downslope winds flowing from high elevations of mountains, plateaus and hills, down their slopes to the valleys or planes below. This happens during the night time. The concept of anabatic winds is just opposite to catabatic winds, which flow up the hill, specifically during the daytime. The catabatic winds cause occurrence of flash floods.
A cloudburst is an extreme amount of precipitation sometimes with hail and thunder, which normally lasts no longer than a few minutes but is capable of creating flood conditions. Colloquially, the term cloudburst may be used to describe any sudden heavy, brief and usually unforecasted rainfall. The heavy rainfall, flash floods, landslides and cloudbursts in June 2013 caused havoc in Uttarakhand causing death of thousands of people.
Drought is either the absence or deficiency of rainfall from its normal pattern in a region for an extended period of time leading to general suffering in the society.
It is an interplay between the demand that people place on natural supply of water and the natural event that provides water in a given geographical region. The state of Kerala, which receives more than 3000 mm of rainfall every year was declared drought-affected in the past as it was insufficient to have two good crops. The more the imbalance in supply, the higher is the drought. The following explains this general definition further.
1. It is the slow onset of disaster and is difficult to demarcate the time of its onset and the end.
2. Any unusual dry period that results in shortage of useful water.
Although drought is basically caused by rainfall deficit, which is a meteorological phenomenon it manifests into different spheres because of various vulnerability factors associated with it. Some of these factors are induced by humans.
Although drought is a natural disaster, its effects are made worst in developing countries due to overpopulation, overgrazing, deforestation, soil erosion, excessive use of ground and surface water for growing crops and loss of biodiversity. The four types of droughts are as follows.
1. Meteorological drought: It is simply the absence or deficit of rainfall. It is the least severe form of drought and is identified by sunny days and hot weather.
2. Hydrological drought: It leads to reduction of natural stream flows or ground water levels, plus stored water supplies. The main impact is on the water resource systems.
3. Agricultural drought: This form of drought occurs when moisture level in the soil is insufficient to maintain average crop yields. The initial consequences are reduced seasonal output of crops and other related production. An extreme agricultural drought can lead to a famine, which is prolonged shortage of food in a restricted region causing widespread disease and death from starvation.
4. Socio-economic drought: It correlates the supply and demand of goods and services with the three above-mentioned types of drought.
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, its potential to change directions unexpectedly and its ability to jump gaps, such as roads, rivers and fire breaks.
The term landslide includes all varieties of mass movement of hill slopes and can be defined as the downward and outward movement of slope-forming materials composed of rocks, soils, artificial fills or a combination of all these materials along surfaces of separation by falling, sliding and flowing, either slowly or quickly from one place to another. Although the landslides are primarily associated with mountainous terrains, these can also occur in areas where activities, such as surface excavation for highways, buildings, and open-pit mines take place. Landslides take place in conjunction with earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes. At times, prolonged rainfall causing landslide may block the flow of river for quite some time. The formation of river blocks can cause havoc to the settlements downstream on its bursting.
Causes of Landslides
1. Geologically weak material: Weakness in the composition and structure of rock or soil.
2. Erosion: Erosion of slope top due to cutting down of vegetation and construction of roads.
3. Intense rainfall: Intense rainfalls, heavy melting of snow in the hilly terrains.
4. Human excavation: Mining, deforestation and irrigation.
5. Earthquake 6. Volcanic eruption
Environment Protection Act (1986)
India is one of the few countries in the world where ‘environment’ finds an explicit mention in the constitution itself. Although not guaranteed as a fundamental right, ‘environment’ has acquired the status of a right by being recognized as an integral component of the ‘right to life’ by the higher judiciary in judicial decisions spanning over the last two decades.
Set up in 1972, The National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) was earlier the apex advisory board relating to issues of environmental protection.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was set up in 1974 as an implementing agency of the Water Act.
Later, it also took on the implementation of the Air Act of 1981. The CPCB is a statutory body attached to the MoEF.
In 1980, a separate Department of Environment was constituted with a mandate to plan, promote and coordinate programmes relating to the environment. A fullfledged Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was established in 1985 to oversee the environmental protection measures at the national level. The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) was set up in 1997.
A new institutional set-up is envisaged for conservation issues under the Biodiversity Act of 2002, comprising a National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards and Biodiversity Management Committees.
• The genesis of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 is in Article 48-A (Directive Principle of State Policy) and Article 51-A(g) (Fundamental Duty) of the Indian Constitution.
• There is a directive, given to the state as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy regarding the protection and improvement of the environment.
Article 48A states ‘The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests
and wildlife of the country’.
• The Environment Protection Act of 1986 (EPA) came into force soon after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and is considered umbrella legislation as it fills many lacunae in the existing legislations.
• Environmental protection act 1986 is also the Umbrella act because it provides the framework to the central government in order to make the coordination between different state as well as the central authorities using different act like water act, etc.
• The main emphasis is given to ‘Environment’, defined to include water, air and land and the inter-relationships which exist among water, air and land and human beings and other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and property.
• It defines environmental pollution also. ‘Hazardous substances’ include any substance or preparation, which may cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms, property or the environment. The main provisions of this Act are given below.
1. The Act empowers the center to ‘take all such measures as it deems necessary’.
2. By virtue of this Act, the Central government has armed itself with considerable powers which include, (a) coordination of action by state, (b) planning and execution of nationwide programmes, (c) laying down environmental quality standards, especially those governing emission or discharge of environmental pollutants, (d) placing restriction on the location of industries and so on.
(e) Authority to issue direct orders, included orders to close, prohibit or regulate any industry.
(f) Power of entry for examination, testing of equipment and other purposes and power to analyze the sample of air, water, soil or any other substance from any place.
3. The Act explicitly prohibits discharges of environmental pollutants in excess of prescribed regulatory standards.
4. There is also a specific prohibition against handling hazardous substances except those in compliance with regulatory procedures and standards.
5. The Act provides provision for penalties. For each failure or contravention the punishment included a prison term up to five years or fine up to ` 1 lakh, or both.
6. The Act imposed an additional fine of up to ` 5000 for every day of continuing violation.
7. If a failure or contravention occurs for more than one year, the offender may be punished with imprisonment which may be extended to seven years.
8. Section 19 provides that any person, in addition to authorized government officials may file a complaint with a court alleging an offence under the Act.
9. This ‘Citizens’ Suit’ provision requires that the person has to give notice of not less than 60 days of the alleged offence of pollution to the Central government. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the Ministry of Environment and Forests under ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Rules of 1989 also define five competent authorities as mentioned below.
Presently there are six committees and they are listed below.
1. Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RDAC): It’s advisory nature in nature. It recommends safety regulations for India in recombinant research, use and applications.
2. Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM): It is established under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and technology.
3. Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) 4. State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC’s) 5. District Level Committees (DLCs): This committee deals with the use of genetically modified organisms/hazardous microorganisms and its applications in environment.
6. Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC): It is established under the institution engaged in GMO research to oversee such research and to interface with the RCGM in regulating it.
India’s National Action Plan On Climate Change (Napcc)
In this chapter, we discussed about the phenomenon of climate change, sustainable development goals among other things. NAPCC is also a plan that is sensitive to climate change. Following are the main principles of NAPCC.
1. The use of new technologies for inclusive and sustainable development.
2. Its implementation includes local governments, public private partnerships and civil society action.
3. The main focus is on promoting understanding of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency and natural resource conservation.
4. Linked with national growth.
5. Devising efficient and cost effective strategies for demand side management.
6. Welcoming international cooperation approach for research, development and technology transfers which are specifically under UNFCCC.
Keeping all these in view, there is a need for directional shift in development pathway. There are eight national missions which form the core of the National Action Plan.
National Solar Mission
The National Solar Mission has adopted 3-phase approach to promote ecologically sustainable growth while meeting India’s energy security challenge. The period from 2017–22 is termed as its Phase 3. The main objectives are to establish India as a global leader in solar energy with quicker disposition of policies. India wants to create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 100,000 MW of solar power by 2022. To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly, solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.
Its specific aspects have been discussed under solar power also in this chapter.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)
NMEEE has been envisaged to foster innovative and sustainable business models to the energy efficiency sector. The Electricity Act, 2001 provides for legal mandate for Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) for Union government and some other agencies in State governments.
BEE makes a market based mechanism to encourage savings in such areas.
NMEEE also seeks to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating conducive regulatory and policy regime.
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH)
NMSH seeks to promote sustainability of habitats through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, urban planning, improved management of solid and liquid waste, modal shift towards public transport and conservation through appropriate changes in legal and regulatory framework, we can specifically talk about ‘Energy Conservation Building Code’.
It also seeks to improve resilience of infrastructure, community based disaster management and measures for improving advance warning systems for extreme weather events.
National Water Mission (NWM)
This intends to ensure integrated water resource management for conservation of water, minimization of wastage and equitable distribution both across and within states. There is a need to develop a framework for optimum water use through increase in water use efficiency by 20% through regulatory mechanisms with differential entitlements and pricing by taking the National Water Policy (NWP) into consideration. It is required that considerable share of water needs of urban areas is met through recycling of waste water. There is a need to meet the mitigating water requirements of coastal cities through the adoption of new and appropriate technologies, such as low-temperature desalination technologies allowing the use of ocean water. There is a need to revisit NWP to ensure basin-level management strategies to deal with variability in rainfall and river flows due to climate change. The optimization of efficiency of existing irrigation systems is also required.
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE)
The main objective is to develop a sustainable national capacity to continuously assess the health status of the Himalayan ecosystem and it is important for its perennial rivers and mountain ecosystems also. It also assists the states in their implementation of actions selected for sustainable development. Here, the community based approach is required.
National Mission for a Green India
There is a need to increase the forest/tree cover on 5 million hectares (ha) of forest/non-forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 million ha of non-forest/forest lands (a total of 10 million ha). The improved ecosystem services provides for biodiversity, hydrological services and carbon sequestration from the 10 million ha of forest/ non-forest lands as mentioned above. There can be enhanced annual CO2 sequestration by 50 to 60 million tons in the year 2020. Then there is a scope for increased forest-based livelihood income of about 3 million households living in and around the forests.
National Mission on Seabuckthorn
Sea buckthorn plant is popularly known as leh berries, it is also known as ‘Wonder plant’ and ‘Ladakh gold’. It has the following properties.
1. It has numerous medicinal and nutritional properties, and it also helps in soil conservation and nitrogen fixation.
2. It is hardy, drought-resistant and tolerant to extreme temperatures from –43.C to +40.C.
3. The plant has an extensive root system which can fix atmospheric nitrogen making it ideal for controlling soil erosion and preventing desertification. The MoEF and DRDO have launched a major national initiative for sea buckthorn cultivation in the high-altitude, cold desert ecosystems. The initiative is one of many conservation measures for fragile highaltitude ecosystems. This initiative is a part of Sub-Mission on Cold Desert Ecosystems under the Green India Mission, which is a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
There are many adaptation and mitigation linked issues as listed below.
• Improved crop seeds, livestock and fish culture • Water efficiency • Pest management • Improved farm practices • Nutrient management • Agricultural insurance • Credit support • Markets • Access to information • Livelihood diversification If we look at World Trade Organisation, there are many agriculture based issues and the other issues have been sorted out to a great deal.
The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC)
There is a need for formation of knowledge networks among the existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development relating to climate science. There is a need to establish some global technology watch groups with institutional capacities to carry out research on risk minimized technology selection for developmental choices. There is a need to develop national capacity for modelling the regional impact of climate change on different ecological zones within the country for different seasons and living standards. The establishment of research networks and encouraging research in the areas of climate change impacts on important socio-economic sectors, like agriculture, health, natural ecosystems, biodiversity, coastal zones, etc., are required.
National Bio-Energy Mission
The Union government is in the process of preparing a national bioenergy mission to boost power generation from biomass, a renewable energy source abundantly available in India. This national mission will aim at improving energy efficiency in traditional biomass consuming industries that seek to develop a bio-energy city project and provide logistics support to biomass processing units.
It also proposes a GIS-based National Biomass Resource Atlas to map potential biomass regions in the country. According to the estimates, biomass from agro and agro-industrial residue can potentially generate 25,000 MW of power in India.
Indian Network On Climate Change Assessment
It was launched by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in an effort to promote domestic research on climate change. The reports are prepared by the INCCA forms a part of India’s National Communication (Nat Com) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
National Communication (NATCOM)
In pursuance of the implementation of the provisions of UNFCCC, India’s NATCOM has been initiated in 2002 funded by the Global Environment Facility.
The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987 is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozonedepleting substances (ODS). The stratospheric ozone layer filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with an increased prevalence of skin cancer and cataracts, reduced agricultural productivity and disruption of marine ecosystems. This protocol has taken strong domestic action to phase out the production and consumption of ODS such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. The Montreal Protocol has proven to be innovative and successful, and is the first treaty to achieve universal ratification by all countries in the world. Leveraging worldwide participation, the Montreal Protocol has sent clear signals to the global market and placed the ozone layer, which was in peril on a path to repair.
Since its adoption, the Montreal Protocol has been modified for a number of times and its control provisions were strengthened in London (1990), Copenhagen (1992), Vienna (1995), Montreal (1997) and Beijing (1999).
On 15 October 2016, Parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted the Kigali amendment to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) worldwide. HFCs are widely used alternatives to ozone depleting substances, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), already controlled under the Protocol. This amendment creates market certainty and opens international markets to new technology that is better for the environment, without compromising performance.
We discussed climate change, global warming and the phenomena of green house gases in this chapter. As it is a global issue, affecting many nations, UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) started a conference Earth Summit that was held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the year 1992. The main objective was to reconcile worldwide economic development with protection of the environment. This Rio Summit was the largest gathering of world leaders, with 117 heads of state and representatives of 178 nations partaking in it. There were many treaties and other documents signed at the conference.
1. The Convention on Biological Diversity is a binding treaty requiring nations to take inventories of their plants and wild animals and protect their endangered species.
2. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or Global Warming Convention is a binding treaty that requires nations to reduce their emission of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases thought to be responsible for global warming; though the treaty had not set any binding targets for emission reductions. Such targets were eventually established in an amendment to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol (1997), which was superceded by the Paris Agreement on climate change (2015).
3. The Declaration on Environment and Development or Rio Declaration, laid down 27 broad, nonbinding principles for environmentally sound development. Agenda 21 outlined the global strategies for cleaning up the environment and encouraging environmentally sound development.
4. The Statement of Principles on Forests, aimed at preserving the world’s rapidly vanishing tropical rainforests, which is a non-binding statement recommending that nations monitor and assess the impact of development on their forest resources and take steps to limit the damage done to them. The Earth Summit was hampered by disputes between the wealthy industrialized nations of the North such as Western Europe and North America and the poorer developing countries of the South such as Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia.
In general, the countries of the South were reluctant to hamper their economic growth with the environmental restrictions urged upon them by the North unless they received increased Northern financial aid, which they claimed would help make environmentally sound growth possible. Every year a meeting is help in the form of Conference of Parties (COP).
In the context of UNFCCC, benchmarking is the setting up of emission reduction commitment as measured against a particular base year. The only quantified target set in the original UNFCCC (Article 4) was for the developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions to 1990 levels as against the original 2000.
Conferences of the Parties
Since UNFCCC entered into force, parties have been meeting annually in Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to assess the progress in dealing with climatic changes. The meeting is held every year from last week of November to the first week of December. In the month of June, a lower level meeting of civil servants is held to assess the progress and to prepare the ground for next meeting. Kyoto Protocol has been a major achievement so far.
Summary of Main COPs
Main COPs Place of meeting Key developments
COP 1 Berlin, Germany (1995) First Meeting – Commitment for Subsidiary Body for Scientific
and Technological Advice
COP 3 (1997) Kyoto, Japan Kyoto Protocol Annexe I parties commit to binding reduction
COP 8 New Delhi, India (2002) Call for transfer of technologies to developing nations to
minimize the impact of climate change on developing nations.
COP 11 Montreal, Canada (2005) Montreal Action Plan is an agreement to ‘extend the life of the
Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012
COP 13 Bali, Indonesia (2007) Discussion about post 2012 scenario
COP 15 Copenhagen, Denmark (2009) Voluntary mitigation pledges
COP 16 Cancun, Mexico (2010) Establishing a Green Climate Fund
COP 18 Doha, Qatar (2012) The Kyoto Protocol has been extended till 2020.
COP 19 and 20 Warsaw (Poland) and Lima (Peru) Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)
COP 21 Paris Discussed separately
Emissions by Countries
Country Percentage share in global annual emissions CO2 emissions per capita (tonnes/person)
World 100% 4.9
China 28.6% 7.1
United States 15.1% 16.4
European Union 10.9% 7.4
India 5.7% 1.6
Russia 5.1% 12.4
Japan 3.8% 10.4
Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
Convention on Biological Diversity
The convention on biological diversity was inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate. Keeping in view the earth’s biological resources, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988. Additionally, some further changes were made on 22 May 1992 with the ‘Nairobi Conference’ for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
During the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ when the Convention was opened in United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, it had received 168 signatures. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for ‘sustainable development’ meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations. The convention establishes three main goals, such as the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. The first session of the Conference of the Parties was scheduled for 28 November to 9 December 1994 in the Bahamas. The biological diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms.
So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified, mostly small creatures such as insects. Scientists reckon that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from three to 100 million.
Biodiversity also includes genetic differences within each species, for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock. Chromosomes, genes and DNA, the building blocks of life determines the uniqueness of each individual and each species. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing are supplementary agreements to the convention. UN decade on biodiversity contributes to implementation of strategic plan is being implemented for 2011-2020.
1. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on
Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
2. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets Task Force (ABTTF) was established to provide a platform for agencies and organizations to coordinate their activities in support of implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and it’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets at global and national levels during the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.
Zero Extinction, Birdlife, Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO), Global Environment Facility (GEF), The Nature Conservancy, Ramsar Convention, International Union for Conservation of Nature, UN Environment are the different agencies working with Aichi Biodiversity Targets Task Force. The UN Biodiversity Conference is now held once in two years. The 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference was held at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The subsequent conference will be held at Beijing in 2020.
CO2 is recognized as the key GHG that contributes to climatic changes and for which the developed countries are principally responsible for the high levels of GHG emission currently in the atmosphere, due to more than 150 years of industrial activity. Kyoto Protocol places a heavier burden on the developed nations under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16th February 2005. The targets cover emission of six main GHGs, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The following terms are worth mentioning in this context.
1. Carbon footprints: Using coal, natural gas or oil for electricity, heat or transportation, releases CO2
into the atmosphere. Their daily CO2 emissions make up the carbon footprint of any business unit.
2. Carbon credit: One carbon credit is equal to one tonne of CO2 or its equivalent gases. For example, any business unit avoiding one tonne of CO emission will be issued a certificate of one carbon credit that can be traded in national or international market. Thus, any firm helping in avoiding CO2 can actually make money. The Kyoto mechanisms are as follows:
1. Emissions trading (known as the carbon market).
2. Clean development mechanism (CDM) 3. Joint implementation (JI)
International Solar Alliance
We have already discussed about renewable sources of energy. The main examples are solar energy, wind energy, hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy and biomass.
India is generating around 18.5% of India’s total energy production from renewable energy sources, our energy needs are still based on non-renewable resources. Our dependence on international energy sources and our own geographic location asks for dependence on solar energy so that we can make our journey from developing nation to developed nation sustainable and cost effective.
Keeping it in our view, our PM Shri Narendra Modi and the former President of France Mr. Francois Hollande, jointly laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on 25 January 2016. The first summit of the International Solar Coalition (ISA) on 11 March 2018 in New Delhi was organized.
International Solar Alliance or ISA consists of 121 countries. The ISA consists many of those countries which are located between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. These countries are located at the shortest distance from the sun that is why solar energy is available in these quantities throughout the year. The ISA has set a target of 1 TW of solar energy by 2030.
French Development Agency will allocate €300 million to developing solar energy over the next five years in order to finance the initial projects. The following are the main objectives of International Solar Alliance.
1. The purpose of the International Solar Alliance is to bring such countries (which are located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn) on a platform that supports clean energy, sustainable environment, clean public transport and clean climate.
2. This alliance wants to overcome the obstacles in the way of promoting solar energy.
3. ISA will promote the development and use of solar energy in order to provide energy security to present and future generations. ISA’s goal is to generate 1 trillion Watt (1000 gigawatt) of solar power by 2030.
4. The establishment of the ISA will motivate other countries of the world to increase the production and consumption of solar energy for sustainable development.
India’s Contribution in International Solar Alliance
It has its secretariat in India. ISA will increase the stature of India at the international level. Our stated objective ‘India; aims to produce 100 gigawatt solar energy (which will be one-tenth of ISA’s target) by 2022.’ India will produce 175 GW of electricity from renewable sources.
• Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) announced contribution of US $ 1 million
each to the ISA corpus fund.
• If this organization succeeds in achieving its goals, then it will not only be the source of clean fuel for the current generation, but will also meet the needs of future generations.
The Participation of Countries in ISA
The ISA is open to 121 prospective member countries, where most of them are located between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn as this is the region worldwide with a surplus of bright sunlight for most of the year. ISA has become one of the largest organizations in the world and 61 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement within 2 years from its commencement.
During earlier deals for climate change, there were targets set by UNFCCC that conference of parties were not able to adhere. So a new mechanism was set in place to deal with such situation.
In 2015, Paris Agreement was signed as an international agreement with an aim to reduce global greenhouse gases and thus, it deals with the climate change. There are 29 articles in agreement. The main aim of Paris Agreement is to keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. There have to be efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In French, the Paris Agreement is known as L’accord de Paris.
It talks about limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100. It also mentions the need to review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge. The rich nations should help poorer nations by providing ‘climate finance’ to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy. The Paris Agreement has a ‘bottom up’ structure. The agreement is binding in some elements like reporting requirements, while leaving other aspects of the deal, such as the setting of emissions targets for any individual country as non-binding.
Paris Agreement comes under the broad umbrella of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC is a convention held in 1992 to combat climate change. Kyoto Protocol (1997) was another major international commitment under UNFCCC.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)
The Paris Agreement requires all parties to put forward their best efforts ‘voluntarily’ through ‘Intended nationally determined contributions’ and also to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)
• India has also pledged to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
• India will anchor a global solar alliance, INSPA (International Agency for Solar Policy and Application) of all countries located in between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Frameworks under Paris Agreement
1. Technology framework 2. Capacity building framework 3. Transparency framework Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2020. Paris Agreement deals with what should be done in the decade after 2020 and beyond this time frame. The text of the agreement includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. That figure will be a ‘floor’ that is expected to increase with time.
On 5 October 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved.
Biodiversity is the number of living organisms (both plants and animals) present in an ecosystem. Any loss in species in the food chain means breaking a link in the chain, which in turn affects all those who benefit from the chain. The diversity can be divided as follows.
1. Genetic diversity: Variation of genes in species that is a single population.
2. Species diversity: It is the most basic way to keep an account of biodiversity as it includes all forms of life from single cell organisms, such as amoeba and virus to multicellular organisms, such as plants and animals.
3. Ecosystem diversity: It differentiates between different habitats, ecological processes and ecosystems in which the species exist. This can be a forest ecosystem marine ecosystem, desert ecosystem and so on.
Endemic species are likely to develop on biologically isolated areas such as islands. Due to their geographical isolation, endemics can easily become endangered or extinct if their habitat changes not only due to human actions but also due to the introduction of new organisms. The opposite of endemic species is cosmopolitan species.
India is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity. Due to many factors such as deforestation, urbanization, industrialization and climate changes (including global warming), many species have lost their habitat and even become extinct.
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has categorized wild flora and fauna into eight categories (known as the Red List). This includes (i) extinct, (ii) extinct in wild, (iii) critically endangered, (iv) endangered, (v) vulnerable, (vi) lower-risk, (vii) data-deficient and (viii) not evaluated.
Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 defines endangered species in a formal manner. So far 38 species of birds, 18 of amphibians and reptiles, and 81 of mammals have been labelled as endangered. There are 47 critically endangered species in India.
Biological Hotspots in India
A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographical region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. India is a country rich in biological diversity. It is home to 7.31% species of fauna and 10.78% species of flora. Among the 34 hotspots of the world, two are located in India and then extending to the neighbouring countries These are Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats (and Sri Lanka).
Eastern Himalayas is home to 163 globally threatened species including Asian elephants, one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), wild water buffalos and panthers and tigers. Earlier, Eastern Himalayas was clubbed with Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. The Agasthyamalai Hills in Western Ghats is home to the highest level of plant biodiversity.
Conservation of Biodiversity
The process of conservation can be divided into two types.
1. In situ conservation: When conservation is attempted at the natural habitat of the species by creating national parks, sanctuaries, and biosphere reserves, it is called in situ conservation.
2. Ex situ conservation: This is done in case of complete degradation of natural habitat. The endangered species is kept under total human supervision, such as in zoos, botanical gardens and seed banks. Manas National Park has been declared a world heritage site. The other world heritage sites (natural) in India are Kaziranga National Park (Assam), Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam), Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Sundarbans National Park (West Bengal), and Nanda Devi National Park (Uttar Pradesh). These world heritage sites are recognized by UNESCO. There are 27 tiger reserves in India under Project Tiger. Other prominent reserves are Bandipur (Karnataka), Corbett (Uttaranchal), Kanha (Madhya Pradesh), Ranthambore Sariska (Rajasthan) and Sundarbans (West Bengal).
Biosphere reserves protect larger areas of natural habitat in comparison to national parks or animal sanctuaries.
Biosphere reserves are the areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promote the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) was launched in 1971. There are over 500 biosphere reserves across the globe in more than 100 countries. National parks, wild life sanctuaries, conservation reserves and community reserves are the four types of protected areas under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Biosphere reserves are considered akin to national parks and it is usually larger than national parks. The primary criteria for the selection of biosphere reserves are effective protection and minimally disturbed core area. The secondary criteria include (i) having rare and endangered species (ii) diversity of soil and microclimatic conditions, and (iii) preservation of tribal/rural life. As on 1st April 2016, the total number of biosphere reserves in India was 18. Ten of these are a part of UNESCO’s MAB Programme list.
Biosphere reserves are large areas of biodiversity where flora and fauna are protected. These regions of environmental protection roughly correspond to IUCN Category V Protected areas. The Indian government has established 18 Biosphere Reserves of India, which protect larger areas of natural habitat (than a National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary).
(Continued) Threatened species (T)
These species are likely to become extinct if immediate steps are not taken to ensure that they have proper food, proper habitat, protection from predators and exotic species so that they are able to realize their biotic potential.
A record of threatened species of plants and animals is maintained by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Morges, Switzerland. It is called Red Data Book.
For conservation purpose, the following four criteria have been used for this categorization.
1. Distribution: Present, past, continuous or discontinuous distribution, area and degree of decline, if available.
2. Population: Decline in population in course of time.
3. Natural habitat: Abundance and quality.
4. Importance: Potential value and biology of the species, IUCN has identified four categories of threatened species.
Endangered species (E)
These are threatened species or taxa which are in danger of extinction if the current causal factors continue to operate.
Examples: Lion-tailed macaque – Macaca silenus
Asiatic wild ass – Asinus hemionus Khur
Vulnerable species (V)
Vulnerable species or taxa have sufficient population at present, but at the same time, they deplete fast (hence, depleted species) so that they are likely to enter the category of endangered species if the factors bringing about depletion are allowed to continue.
Examples: Golden langur – Presbytis geei
Leopard cat – Felis bengalensis
Rare species (R)
The populations of species or taxa are small, either localized or thinly scattered.
Example: Hawaiian monk seal – Monachus schauinslandi
Slow loris – Nycticebus coucangg
Concept of Threatened Species
Biosphere Reserves of India often include one or more national parks or sanctuaries, along with buffer zones that are open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions and their ways of life.
List of Biosphere Reserves of India
S. No. Year Name State Type Key fauna
1 2008 Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat Desert Indian wild ass
2 1989 Gulf of Mannar Tamil Nadu Coasts Dugong or sea cow 3 1989 Sundarbans West Bengal Gangetic Delta Royal Bengal tiger
4 2009 Cold Desert Himachal Pradesh Western Himalayas Snow leopard
5 1988 Nanda Devi Uttarakhand Western Himalayas NA 6 1986 Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka Western Ghats Nilgiri tahr, Lion-tailed macaque S. No. Year Name State Type Key fauna
7 1998 Dihang-Dibang Arunachal Pradesh Eastern Himalaya NA
8 1999 Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve Madhya Pradesh Semi-arid Giant squirrel, flying squirrel
9 2010 Seshachalam Hills Andhra Pradesh Eastern Ghats NA
10 1994 Simlipal Odisha Deccan Peninsula Gaur, Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild elephant 11 2005 Achanakmar- Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Maikal Hills NA
12 1989 Manas Assam East Himalayas Golden langur, red
13 2000 Khangchendzonga Sikkim East Himalayas Snow leopard, red panda
14 2001 Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve Kerala, Tamil Nadu Western Ghats Nilgiri tahr, elephants 15 1989 Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve Andaman and Nicobar Islands Islands Saltwater crocodile 16 1988 Nokrek Meghalaya East Himalayas Red panda
17 1997 Dibru-Saikhowa Assam East Himalayas Golden langur
18 2011 Panna Madhya Pradesh Ken river Tiger, chital, chinkara,
sambhar and sloth bear
*Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve has been added in World Network of Biosphere
Reserves (UNESCO’s MAB) in March 2016.
Biosphere Reserves of India in World Network of
Ten of the 18 biosphere reserves of India are a part of the world network of biosphere reserves based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list. They are given in ‘bold’ in the above list.
Main difference between Biosphere Reserves, National Park, and Wild Life Sactuaries
Biosphere reserves are the biggest entity among the three. The level of restriction in the increasing order is biosphere reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The Indian government has established 18 biosphere reserves of India, roughly corresponding to IUCN Category V Protected Areas. India has over 441 animal sanctuaries, referred to as wildlife sanctuaries (IUCN Category IV Protected Area). The national parks of India are IUCN Category II Protected Areas. As of July 2015, there were 105 national parks in India.
1. The Factories Act, 1948: This Act aims at providing information on hazardous processes taking place inside the factory to its workers, local residents and government officials.
2. The Insecticides Act, 1968: It aims to regulate import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and the use of insecticides to prevent risk to human and animal life.
3. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974: This act defines what water pollution is and determines its penalties.
Important Legislations and Terms Relating to Environment, Pollution, Forests and Wildlife
(Continued) 4. The Air (Prosecution and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981: This act controls and regulates emissions from automobiles and industrial plants.
5. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980: It mainly prohibits the State governments from declaring any reserve forest as non-reserve without approval of the central authority.
6. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: It aims to provide necessary protection against serious threat to wildlife (both animals and birds) by the expansion and advancement of agriculture, industry and urbanization. The Indian Board of Wildlife was set up in 1952. Various projects have been launched for the protection of endangered species, such as lions (1972), tigers (1973), crocodiles (1974) and brown antlered deer (1981). India became a party to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1976. India also started a national component of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme in 1971.
7. The Environment Protection Act, 1986: It lays down the standards for emission and discharge of pollutants, restricting areas for certain industries and laying down the safeguards for prevention of industrial accidents.
8. Mashelkar Committee Recommendations: The Auto Fuel Policy suggested by the expert committee headed by Dr. R. A. Mashelkar includes recommendations on auto fuel’s quality, vehicular emission norms and its related issues for the country as a whole. It also recommended the introduction of low-sulphur diesel, unleaded petrol and low-benzene gasoline in a phased manner along with the promotion of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG). The policy is modelled on the pattern of Euro norms of European Union. Emission norms were introduced such as Bharat I, II, III and IV for different vehicles with different schedules for its implementation across India. Bharat III norms were introduced for all new passenger cars across India and Bharat IV norms were introduced in 12 major cities. With effect from February 2000, lead has been phased out of automobile fuel. The Union Ministry of Transport is going to implement Bharat Stage V and Bharat Stage VI emissions standards to 2019 and 2021, respectively. They mainly aim at reducing sulphur levels in the air.
9. National Green Tribunal (NGT): The tribunal was established on 18 October 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multidisciplinary issues.
10. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA): It is a widely recognized study to assess the environmental impact of development projects. It is basically the cost-benefit analysis in context of the environment.
Environmental risk assessment (ERA) is a fact-finding stage where EIA indicates the potential hazards.
In India, the Department of Environment and National Council of Environmental Planning (NCEP) have adopted a preliminary procedure to prepare EIA.
11. Precautionary principle: The precautionary principle is a moral and political principle, which aims to prevent any action that can cause damage to the public or society at large. For example, the Supreme Court of India ordered the shifting of industries outside Delhi a few years back. In the Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a precautionary approach was codified for the first time at a global level, to protect the environment in the form of Principle 15 of Agenda 21. It emphasizes that every state should apply the principle according to its capabilities and lack of full scientific knowledge should not be used as a reason for not taking action. This is necessary to check the possibility of any irreversible damage to the environment. There are two popular terms associated with precautionary principle.
(a) Polluter Pays Principle (PPP): This idea first originated in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development where pollution control costs are to be financed by the polluter alone.
(b) Beneficiary Pays Principle (BPP): It suggests that funding for environmental improvement should be obtained from its beneficiaries. This method of financing would generate larger revenue for the government as the rich are willing and capable of paying more for environmental enrichment. Imposing carbon tax is an example.
12. ISO 14000: After the success of ISO 9000 Quality Management System, which focuses on continual improvement of the processes and quality of goods and services, International Standards Organisation (ISO) introduced ISO 14000 series of Environmental Management System in 1996. It specifically deals with environmental aspects of processes in products and services.
(Continued) (Continued) 13. Emissions trading: It is an administrative approach to deal with the issue of pollution control by providing financial incentives for achieving reduction in carbon emission. An organization earns one carbon credit if it is able to avoid emission of one ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent. The carbon credits thus earned can be sold to other companies for whom it is mandatory to cut carbon emissions. It is also termed as cap and trade.
14. Carbon trading: The idea of carbon trading is a part of Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997 and came into force in 2002.
Few Important International Conventions on Environment and Biodiversity
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 1973: The objective is to control international commercial trade in endangered species or products derived from them.
Carbon space refers to the amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere by 2100 so that the rise in global temperature can be capped at 2 degree Celsius. It is set at 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq).
Basel Convention, 1989: The main aim is to minimize transboundary movement of hazardous wastes.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 1992: The main aims are to stabilize emission of greenhouse gases and to check reasons for global warming and climate change.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 1992: The main aims are conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits.
Nagoya Protocol: It is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Stockholm Convention: It was adopted in 2001 and enforced in 2004. It deals with reducing and eliminating the production and use of persistent organic pollutants.
Ramsar Convention: It was signed in Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and enforced in 1975. It deals with conservation and use of wetlands.
A Snap Shot of Main Environmental Movements in India
Chipko Movement: It was started in 1973 in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. It entailed embracing the trees upon seeing an axe coming near the tree to cut it. Its main leader was Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna.
Appiko Movement: It was started in 1983 in the villages of Western Ghats in Uttar Kannada region of Karnataka. The main purpose was to prevent commercial felling of trees. It became a symbol for people’s power for their rights of natural resources with regard to the state.
Tehri Dam Movement: This movement was spearheaded by Baba Amte against the submergence of land by construction of dams,population displacement among other environmental concerns. It started in 1970s and continued until a decade ago.
Save Silent Valley Movement: It was started in Palakkad district of Kerala in 1973 to save the Silent Valley Reserve Forest from being flooded by a hydroelectric project. The valley was declared as Silent Valley National Park in 1985.
Narmada Bachao Andolan: It was launched to protect the population from the adverse effects of Narmada Valley Project, i.e., two mega projects, such as Sardar Sarovar Project and Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh. This interstate project involving Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat has been constructed on Narmada River. Its main leader is Medha Patkar. The main issues involved are related to displacement of population and submerging of forest land.
Taj Trapezium Zone: Sulphur dioxide gas released by Mathura Oil Refinery and other industries (combined with oxygen and moisture to form sulphuric acid) caused extensive damage to Taj marbles. It corroded the marble and formed fungus also referred as ‘marble cancer’. A lawyer Mahesh Chander Mehta filed a case before Supreme Court in 1984. The court ruled in 1996 to relocate and shift certain industries.
Important Days Linked With Environment
Important Days Related to Environment
Dates Important days Dates Important days
January 30 World Leprosy Day June 27 International Diabetes Day
February 2 World Wetlands Day July 11 World Population Day
February 25 World Sustainable Energy Day July 28 World Nature Conservation Day
March 20 World Sparrow’s Day July 29 World Tiger Day
March 21 World Forestry Day August 6 Hiroshima Day
March 22 World Water Day October 3 World Nature Day
April 22 World Earth Day October 4 World Animal Day
April 25 World Malaria Day December 2 World Pollution Prevention Day
May 31 World No Tobacco Day December 14 World Energy Day
June 5 World Environment Day December 29 International Biodiversity Day
June 8 World Oceans Day
Key Institutions for Environment in India
Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai World Wide Fund for Nature-India, New Delhi Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi CPR Environmental Education Centre, Chennai Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad The Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Kolkata Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur