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The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary in English by Nani Palkhivala
The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role by Nani Palkhivala About the Author
|Author Name||Nani Palkhivala|
|Born||16 January 1920, Mumbai|
|Died||11 December 2002, Mumbai|
|Education||University of Mumbai, St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Government Law College, Mumbai|
|Siblings||Amy Ranina, Behram A Palkhivala|
The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary in English
The article, “The Ailing Planet: The Green Movement’s Role”, was written by Nani Palkhivala and published in The Indian Express on 24 November 1994. The issues that he raised regarding the declining health of the earth continue to have relevance.
The Green Movement, which started nearly twenty-five years ago, is one of the single most important movements that captivated the imagination of the entire human race. In 1972 the world’s first nationwide Green party was founded in New Zealand. Since then, the movement has moved ahead. Today, we have shifted from a superficial view to a view that takes into account all aspects including those related to the environment and ecology of the world.
This shift in human awareness was revolutionary since Copernicus, who stated in the sixteenth century that the earth and the other planets revolved round the sun. For the first time there is a growing worldwide realisation that ‘ the earth itself is a living organism. It has its own metabolic needs and fundamental processes, which need to be respected and preserved.
The earth, like a patient, had begun to show symptoms of failing health. It was then that we started realising our responsibilities to the planet. We are the caretakers of this inheritance, the earth which we need to preserve for our future generations.
The World Commission on Environment and Development popularised the concept of using natural resources while maintaining an ecological balance, without causing harm to the environment in 1987. The Commission defined the idea as growth that fulfils the needs of the present without harming the reserve of future generations to meet their needs. This implied that we ought to progress without depleting the natural resources that the future generations would need.
In the zoo at Lusaka, Zambia, there is a cage with a notice “The world’s most dangerous animal”. Inside the cage is a mirror where you see yourself. Various organisations in different countries helped in creating the awareness in human beings that they should not exploit the planet mindlessly. Human beings have realised the wisdom of shifting from a system based on domination to one based on partnership.
There are about 1.4 million living species that have been listed on the earth. Biologists think that there are about . three to a hundred million other living species that are still unknown.
Mr L.K. Jha in the Brandt Commission Report raised the question whether we wanted to leave behind a scorched, a sick environment for our coming generations. Mr Lester R. Brown in his book, The Global Economic Prospect, pointed out that the earth’smain biological systems are fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands. These form the basis of the global economic system. They supply our food and provide almost all the raw materials for industry except minerals and petroleum-derived synthetics. In large areas of the world, these systems are reaching a level where their efficiency is being damaged.
Over-fishing is common, and forests are being destroyed for firewood for cooking. As a result, firewood has become so expensive in some places that it is more expensive than food. According to Dr Myres, the tropical forests which are powerhouses of evolution, as they house innumerable species, are facing extinction.
It has been well said that forests precede mankind; deserts follow. Human beings destroy forestland turning it into deserts. The world’s tropical forests are now being destroyed at the rate of forty to fifty million acres a year. As a result, people use dung for burning and this takes away from the soil an important natural fertiliser.
According to the World Bank we need to increase the rate of forest planting by five times to cope with the expected fuel wood demand.
James Speth, the President of the World Resources Institute, stated that we are losing an acre-and- a-half of forests every second. Article 48 A of the Constitution of India provides that the State shall try to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country but unfortunately laws are never respected or enforced in India. Despite laws against “casteism, untouchabillity and bonded labour”, even after several years of the functioning of the Constitution, these social evils thrive. Recently, Parliament’s Estimates Committee highlighted the disastrous exhaustion of India’s forests over the last four decades. It stated that India is losing its forests at the rate of 3.7 million acres a year. The actual loss of forests is likely to be about eight times more than this.
A three-year study by the United Nations using satellites and aerial photography studied the environment in eighty-eight countries. It reported that that the environment was ‘critical’ in many of these countries.
Growing population is one of the strongest factors changing the future of human society. In 1800, the population was merely one billion. Another billion was added to it by 1900. By the twentieth century the population increased by another 3.7 billion. The present world population is estimated at 5.7 billion. Every four days the world population increases by one million.
As incomes rise and education spreads, the rate of population will decrease. This will improve health as well. Thus development is the best way to check population. But development may not be possible if the increase in numbers continues.
The rich get richer, and the poor produce children, which is the cause of their poverty. Having more children does not mean more people to work. On the contrary, it adds to unemployed persons.
People should be encouraged to go for voluntary family planning. At present, the population of India is estimated to be 920 million—more than the entire populations of Africa and South America put together. If this is not checked, the poor will die of starvation.
The situation now is alarming; it is not only about the survival of the people but of the planet. The environmental problem may not kill us, but it is our authorisation for a safe and healthy future. This is the “Era of Responsibility” that we need to fulfil for our coming generations. We need to understand the natural balance of the world rather than a separate collection of parts. Industry has a most important role to play in this age. Chairman of Du Pont, Mr Edgar S. Woolard, the company’s Chief Environmental Officer, said that as leading manufacturers, it’was required of them that they excel in environmental performance. The world would be a better place if all businessmen thought like him.
Margaret Thatcher, too, expressed her concern saying that no generation has a freehold on this earth. We live a life like tenants who have a full repairing rental contact. According to Mr Lester Brown, we have not inherited this earth from our predecessors but we are using the property of our future generations.
The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary Questions and Answers
What awareness according to Nani Palkhivala is growing worldwide? Why?
The movement, which has gripped the imagination of the entire human race, is the worldwide consciousness that the earth itself is a living organism of which we are parts. It has its own metabolic needs and vital processes that need attention because the earth’s vital signs reveal its declining health.
What is propagated by the concept of sustainable expansion?
The World Commission on Environment and Development popularized the concept of sustainable development in 1987. It stressed the idea of development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, i.e., without stripping the natural world of resources future generations would need.
What is the global concern raised by Mr Lester R. Brown that threatens the very existence of man?
Mr Lester R. Brown has noted the earth’s principal biological systems as fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands — the foundation of the global economic system. They provide us with our food and virtually all the raw materials for industries. However, human claims are exhausting these resources leading to the collapse and disappearance of fisheries and grasslands.
What are the reasons that are leading to depletion of our natural resources?
In a protein-conscious and protein-hungry world, over-fishing is common. In poor countries, local forests are being destroyed in order to procure firewood for cooking. As a consequence, in some places, firewood has ‘ become so expensive that fuel costs more than the food.
What steps has the Indian government taken to ensure the protection of the environment? What is the impact?
The Indian government through Article 48A of the Constitution of India provides that the State shall try to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. But the law has not had the due impact as laws are neither valued nor enforced in India.
The population in the world is growing at an alarming rate. Comment.
The growing world population is deforming the future of human society. Human population reached its first billion around the year 1800. By the year 1900, a second billion was added, and another 3.7 billion in the twentieth century. Presently, the world population is estimated at 5.7 billion. Every day the world population increases by one million.
Why is the growing population detrimental to the world’s progress?
Development will not be possible if the present increase in numbers continues. The rich get richer and the poor produce more children, hampering their economic growth. More children do not mean more workers, merely more people without work. Excessive population perpetuates poverty. People would die of hunger unless population growth is controlled.
Why is our age the ‘Era of Responsibility’?
A growing anxiety about the survival of our planet has surfaced for the first time in human history. The emerging new world vision—a holistic view of the source of our survival—has steered in the Era of Responsibility; an ecological view of the world as a complete whole and not a disconnected collection of parts.