TODAY -

Antithesis: Environment conservation and over-exploitation
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: June 07, 2024 -



With the spotlight on this year’s theme ‘Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience’, the World Environment Day was observed across the planet including Manipur on Wednesday.

It was in 1972 that the UN General Assembly declared June 5 as the World Environment Day but the first observation took place in 1973 under the slogan ‘Only One Earth’.

According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, up to 40 per cent of the planet’s land is degraded, directly affecting half of the world’s population and threatening roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion).

The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent since 2000 – without urgent action, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.

This is indeed an alarming scenario and countries across the world need to take decisive actions, both individually and collectively.

It is a hard fact that mankind’s concerns for environmental protection have grown multiple times in the past decades.

However, despite the much enhanced knowledge and concerns for environment and its preservation, all the human efforts are still not effective enough to preserve a sustainable environment as revealed by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s report.

One primary reason for the continuous degeneration of natural environment is mankind’s economic concerns and prioritisation of economic agenda over environmental concerns by almost all the countries.

In spite of the ever rising temperature, the imminent threats of melting Arctic glaciers and subsequent rise of sea levels, none of the international environmental summits held so far could not come up with any effective mechanism to counter environmental degradation.

Very often, environmental concerns faded into oblivion during economic hard times, and it is a reflection of the fact that majority of the public and most of the leadership still believe that protecting the environment represents spending money rather than saving it. In other words, it represents consumption rather than investment.

Economic activity, both production and consumption, relates to the environment in two fundamental ways — we draw resources (both renewable and non-renewable) from the environment to produce goods and services, and we emit wastes into the environment in the process of both production and consumption.

Too often we think and act as if we were not part of nature.

Rather than thinking of ourselves as nested in nature and dependent upon it, we think of ourselves as sitting on top of it, managing it.

We think there are the human world and the natural world, and we forget that we are ourselves, with all our technology, part of nature.

So what is the reality?

As we look at our interest in the world, we think in sequence — individual, family, community, region, nation and world.

A starving population will strip every twig and blade of grass to survive.

In another word, addressing environmental concerns must go hand in hand with poverty eradication measures.

As reflected earlier in this same column, Manipur, though a very tiny State, is also contributing its share to the global climate change and one activity which constitutes the lion’s share of the State’s contribution to global climate change is over-exploitation of forest resources.

Ignorance, economic compulsion and in some part greed are behind unrestrained exploitation of forest resources.

Our people must have clear idea about the roles of forest in environmental protection viz; retention of underground water, absorption of harmful carbon emission, balancing seasonal rainfall, prevention of landslides et al.

But we doubt how many of our people have a clear idea about total economic value of our forests.

The carbon absorptive capacity of our forests has its economic value.

We need to upgrade and expand our understanding of forest resources.

We must stop seeing forest resources only as firewood and tree trunks for obtaining timber. They are indeed priceless.

Perhaps, forests and trees are the most effective bulwark against desertification, and by corollary floods and droughts.



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