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Question

How do the following factors contribute to the environmental crisis in India? What problem do they pose for the government?

(i) Rising population

(ii) Air pollution

(iii) Water contamination

(iv) Affluent consumption standards

(v) Illiteracy

(vi) Industrialisation

(vii) Urbanisation

(viii) Reduction of forest coverage

(ix) Poaching

(x) Global warming


Solution

(i) Rising Population - With population explosion, the growing needs of the expanding population have to be met and due to this, the demand for resources for both production and consumption has gone beyond the rate of regeneration of the resources. The pressure on the absorptive capacity of the environment has increased leading to environmental crisis.

(ii) Air Pollution - Air pollution is widespread in urban areas of India where vehicles are the major contributors and in a few other areas which have a high concentration of industries and thermal power plants. Smoke emissions are of particular concern since these are having the maximum impact on the general population. The carbon emissions into air are causing global warming and respiratory diseases are increasing among the population.

(iii) Water Contamination - Water bodies (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater) are contaminated when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds. Water contamination affects plants and organisms living in these bodies of water. The effect is damaging not only to individual species and populations, but also to the natural biological communities.

(iv) Affluent Consumption Standards - The recent influence of the West and a rise in purchasing power of the middle class has led to affluent consumption standards and unnecessary luxuries and a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption has evolved. This has resulted into pressure on resources like petroleum, electricity, etc, needed to fulfil the demand for such a lifestyle. Equipment such as air conditioners are contributing to global warming due to the carbon emissions from them.

(v) Illiteracy - It is a social problem leading to the lack of awareness about the environment and the harmful effects of various practices or products on the environment. An illiterate person does not understand the importance of conservation of natural resources and is not aware of the practices which may save the environment from degrading.

(vi) Industrialisation - With rapid industrialisation for meeting the growing needs of the population, the resources being used as inputs in the industrialisation process are depleting at a fast pace. Many of these resources are exhaustible and cannot be replenished easily.

(vii) Urbanisation - Rural population has started migrating to urban areas in search of jobs and even in rural areas urban lifestyle is being copied by the younger generation. This has led to rise in power consumption, vehicle traffic, etc. This in turn has resulted into faster-depletion of resources and air pollution.

(viii) Reduction of Forest Coverage - Deforestation due to growing population needs for housing and industrialisation has led to a reduction in forest cover. Trees in the forest help in binding soil and holding water level. Rainfall is also affected due to reduction in forest cover along with lesser absorption of carbon dioxide which has resulted in global warming. 

(ix) Poaching - Poaching is the illegal killing of wild plants or animals. Generally wild species which are endangered are poached leading to the danger of them becoming extinct. Thus, poaching is harmful for the biodiversity of the planet.

(x) Global Warming - Global warming is a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases. It is caused by increases in emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and due to deforestation. 

In the long-term global warming can cause melting of polar ice with a resulting rise in sea level and coastal flooding; disruption of drinking water supplies dependent on snow melts; extinction of species as ecological niches disappear; more frequent tropical storms; and an increased incidence of tropical diseases. 
 

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