The four vital functions performed by the environment are:
I. It supplies natural resources: the resources can be both renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources can be defined as those which do not get depleted on usage. Trees, sunlight etc are examples of renewable sources of energy. Non-renewable resources are those get depleted on consumption. For example fossil fuels.
II. Environment assimilates wastes.
III. It helps in the sustenance of life by providing bio and genetic diversity.
IV. It produces sceneries and landscapes which serve aesthetic purposes.
The environment can perform all its functions as long as nothing alters its balance and things are within its carrying capacity. This means that the waste generated should be within the assimilation capacity of the environment and the rate of regeneration of resource should be more than the rate of extraction of the resource. If such a thing does not happen, then the environment cannot sustain life. This results in environment crisis.
The two main reason are the very factors which have aided the economic growth:
The population explosion which is considered as human capital has put pressure on the environment for its day today consumption.
Industrialization has resulted in demand for environmental resources.
The environmental issues faced by India are:
1. Land degradation
2. Loss of biodiversity
3. Air pollution especially caused by vehicular traffic in the urban sector
4. Management of fresh water
5. Solid waste management
Some of the causes of land degeneration are:
Loss of vegetation as a result of deforestation
High rate of extraction of fodder and fuel
Encroachment into forest areas
Overgrazing and forest fires
Not adopting soil conservation methods
Improper crop rotation
Using chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers indiscriminately
Improper management and planning of irrigation systems
Excessive extraction of ground water which is not matched by the recharging capacities of the environment
Open access to the resources
Poverty of the people of the agricultural sector
Development that meets the need of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs is called sustainable development.
Herman Daley feels that in order to attain sustainable development the following steps have to be taken:
Limiting the human population to a limit within the carrying capacity of the environment. If the population grows beyond the carrying capacity, there will be a deviation from the sustainable overall growth.
Technological progress should not be input consuming but should be input efficient.
The rate of extraction of renewable resources should be within the rate of regeneration of the environment.
In case of the non renewable energy sources, the rate of depletion should be lesser than the rate of creation.
The inefficiencies caused by pollution should be addressed and rectified.
The strategies which can be adopted to attain sustainable development are: Use of non conventional energy sources like wind and solar energy.
Use of LPG and gobar gas in rural areas.
Use of CNG for vehicles in urban areas.
Use our traditional medicine instead of allopathy.
Use of biocomposting to enrich the soil.
Use of neem tree and other plant based pesticides and allowing natural pest killers like snakes and lizards to live in the farms.
Bio composting is composting using naturally available resources without affecting the environment. Composts are generally made up of organic wastes. Infact cattle are specifically maintained for this purpose. Cow dung is an important fertilizer and soil conditioner. Earthworm can turn organic waste into compost faster than the normal method. This method is used and is also benefiting the civic authorities who are able to dispose of waste faster.
Mini-hydel plants use the power of streams (which are perennial and available in our mountains) to move the turbines and generate electricity for local consumption. Such plants have a lesser negative impact on the environment and since they meet the local demand for power supply, we can do away with large scale power generation through hydroelectric plants.