Perils of Run-away Economic Growth
Development, Yes — Harming Environment, No
Human activities have dramatically altered the Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere during the past few hundred years. The pace of decline of wild life numbers in the last forty years has been disturbingly high. As the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Zoological Society of London reveal in their recent findings, the numbers have fallen by nearly half in this short period. What is more alarming is the steep fall in numbers in case of certain species like turtle populations which has gone down by a staggering 80%.
What are its implications? The developing world seems to be more vulnerable to the ill effects of wild life destruction. Habitat degradation, pollution, and ravenous extraction of natural resources in the emerging economies are at the root of this malaise. Biodiversity is a key component of wholesome living of humans on earth. Now, this vital asset is imperiled.
Impacts of climate change pose an ominous challenge to the flora and fauna in these developing countries. Tragically, some of the developing countries are very rich in plant and animal species, and so deserve continued monitoring by the conservationists. But, these are the same countries where new species continue to be discovered with surprising regularity. At the same time, these countries witness extinction of species proceeding apace. The biological hotspots must attract special attention of the conservationists. Ensuring availability of fresh water, clean air and stable climate patterns are essential to arrest and later reverse the slide to doom.
It is regrettable to observe that governments around the world have been found wanting with regard to their implementation of treaties and conventions on protection of wild animals and habitats. One of the many measures they can take is to increase the wild life protected area from the present 13% to 17% by 2020. This stipulation, known as the Aichi target, was incorporated in the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Commercial extraction of marine resources such as fish has reached unsustainable levels despite the many attempts to curb it. Certain species like the Blue Fin Tuna are critically low in the world’s oceans. Even after a total ban on catching such apecies, it will take years for them to regenerate and reach a healthy level in respect of their numbers.
With fishing technology getting progressively more sophisticated and world prices of certain types of marine fish soaring, it has become quite a daunting task to counter clandestine fishing and infringement of the national quota on fishing.
Increasing farm productivity and bringing more waste land under cultivation will boost world harvest levels. This, in turn, will ease the pressure on the seas for food.
Proactive conservation strategies, when implemented with zeal, mind undo the 40 per cent decline of key wild animal populations. For India, where a billion plus mouths are to be fed, the challenge is real. A fast growing economy has resulted in encroachment on land meant for wild life. This has directly contributed to the dwindling of wild life numbers.
India must shun the temptation to sacrifice the rest of the forest and wetland assets on the altar of industrial growth. Safeguarding the ecosystem that provide water and food has to be the national priority. Restoration of habitats must be one among the top national agenda for growth. Limiting pollution through strict enforcement of environmental and forest laws should likewise be a top national priority.