Indiscriminate and mindless overconsumption of natural resources has resulted in some dire consequences like ‘climate change’ that includes global warming, melting of glaciers and erratic weather conditions the world over. Climate change is by far the most potent and pernicious of all the undesirable outcomes of industrialization. Almost all mass sources of energy such as coal, petroleum, coke, furnace oil, kerosene, paraffin etc. that are currently in use, emit carbon dioxide upon burning, which is a Green-House-Gas (GHG). The molecules of GHGs trap atmospheric heat produced when earth’s surface gets heated up due to sunshine as well as that released during burning of fossil fuels. It is true that major GHGs, like carbon dioxide and methane, occur naturally too and play an important role in keeping earth’s climate warm thus helping to sustain life, without which it would be much colder. Well the natural volume of these gases present in the atmosphere serves as a warm blanket. However, human activities like deforestation, rampant mining and indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) for energy and transportation needs emit GHGs leading to their build up in the atmosphere that causes overall warming of the planet. This leads to a general rise in temperature called as Global Warming. In the last century there has been a rise of 0.74 degree centigrade and since 1979 it has risen by 0.4 degree centigrade. With increasing population and ever increasing demand for energy, the pace at which the temperature is rising has hastened. This rise in temperature might not seem substantial to you but it is actually too much when you understand how sensitive the nature and the natural phenomena are.
The real problem lies in the fact that most of us are unable to link these pernicious climatic changes with indiscriminate and mindless overconsumption of resources. We seem to suffer from myopic view or tunnel vision and this is the reason why we are unable to see the link clearly and continue indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources day after day and simultaneously decry pernicious outcomes. While it should not be difficult for the erudite to establish the relationship between our activities and the environmental degradation but making it thoroughly clear to the rest of the populations is just as crucial. There is a fine connection between some observable effects like erratic rainfall & global warming on one hand and deforestation, mining and burning of fossil fuels on the other. Mindless wastage of electrical energy is another factor that has contributed in part to the overuse of natural resources.What is the society’s role? When it comes to doing our part and making our individual contribution to a bigger cause, we don’t seem to realize the power of one, our own self. We seem to think that one lone crusader cannot make any difference. This is a defeatist thought that inhibits us from making any progress, whatever little though. In this situation, how can we ever think that anything will change if we never put up an attempt to make a new beginning? Consequently, there is no visible change in our environment and we continue to deplore and make noise about the pathetic situation we are in. Don’t we know that unprecedented fallouts require drastic actions? We might be in the last leg of our fight against environmental calamity, who knows the inflection point may just be around the corner. We also find various government authorities and departments working in silos and at loggerheads with each other. Consequently they do not achieve much and the situation remains as bleak as ever. Though, in the last few weeks we have witnessed some resolute and concerted action on part of the EPCA enforcing curbs and bans on farm fires in the forthcoming harvest season. Only time will tell how effective those efforts have been at controlling atmospheric pollution. Well on part of the general public, there are a number of steps each one of us can take and still make a huge impact on the quality of environment we live in.
[ Also Read: Pollution – awareness is the first step towards curbing it ]
First of all, we need to understand the enormity of the problem we are dealing with because if we do not realize what we are up against, finding durable solution could be a faraway dream. The problem is one of attempting to change those very things around us that make our children and family really sick. Does it sound urgent and imperative? Therefore, in the interest of their health and wellness we should make serious efforts at changing our environment for better. You cannot take refuge or shun these attempts quoting flimsy reasons anymore. The time to act is up and about as we seem to have run out of options and delaying tactics. I have listed some of these little steps that each of us can implement.
Would you agree if I asked you to leave your beloved car and use public transport for two days in a week? No doubt, it will be very uncomfortable in the start but soon you will get used to the new mode and schedule. This step will definitely reduce your dependence on your car as well as make you more active in daily life. I can vouch for the favorable outcomes as I have done so myself and am sharing my own experiences here. If you use the metro train, you will not only save time and money but will also get a lot of time to pursue your lost hobbies like reading, watching movies, serials, self-help videos etc. You can even catch up with your friends during travel time. You will no longer be the same old irascible self. There will be an everlasting smile on your face as you no longer get stuck in massive traffic jams and reach office on time every time without fail.
Would you save electricity by switching off unnecessary appliances at your home and office? You can use 5 star rated electrical appliances that are efficient and save energy and money too. A single 5 star rated air conditioner saves at least 200 commercial units of electrical energy a month over an unrated one. You must discard the yellow filament bulbs and replace them with new generation LED bulbs as these use just a fraction of electrical energy in comparison. The government on its part has replaced all the sodium and mercury bulbs used in street lights with LED bulbs and saved many GWs (gigawatts) of precious electrical energy. The day the per capita energy consumption will register a reducing trend over a few years, it will be a sure sign of victory of our collective efforts.The most important of all that we can ever do to mitigate the problem is to move towards a low-consumption society. A society that leaves minimum footprints in its aftermath, produces no waste or garbage, sticks to the principle of Reuse-Reduce-Recycle, uses no throwaway items like single-use-plastic, is a self sustaining one. Since every household will use minimum resources like articles, items, gadgets, appliances and other manmade stuff, therefore the natural resources will be exploited to the least. This will lead to minimum mining of minerals and metals thus saving the environment from degradation. It is the greed of some of the members of society that erects a barrier prohibiting a glorious tomorrow to take shape. Even after Supreme Court’s order prohibiting mining in the Aravalli range and other places in the country, illegal mining is still shamelessly continuing making a mockery of our efforts.
Knowing that a smart city is truly a way forward, let’s get smart in our actions and choices we make.