Ishopanishad states, "Ten tyakten bhunjita, Ma gradh kasya svidhanam", Whatever moves in this world is enveloped by Isha, God. Enjoy it with a sense of sacrifice; do not covet any person’s wealth. This is the beautiful Indian philosophy, being integral to the nature and being thankful to what we have, without harming others is ingrained in our genes.
On this day of world environment day, let us try to revisit this phrase and analyse how close we are to it today. Are we sustainable?
In a study at Yale University about the World's best country for a green living, Sweden was ranked first for the year 2021. In the list, India ranked at number thirty-eight and Germany at eight. So, what is it that Sweden and Germany have done, which India once practiced but has forgotten now? On the comforting prospect Germany has moved one rank up from that of 2020.
There is a balance which we need to achieve by caring for environment, being health conscious and being innovative, to be able to restore our ecosystem.
Caring for environment could start from as simple a step taken by Saalumarada Thimmakka. Planting trees, composting, vermiculture, water conservation, rain water harvesting etc are already some of the measures which has made tremendous progress towards undoing the harm, but there is still something more which needs to be done. According to Our World In Data research, countries like Germany, Guyana, Kuwait and Netherlands produce the largest amount of plastic waste per capita, but it is only countries like China, Indonesia and India which are unfortunately causing almost 80 to 90% of the harm to rivers and oceans by not being able to manage the plastic waste, which either litters around, sits on unattended landfills and eventually ends up in water bodies.
Though at this instance one could point out that most Indian households believe in reusing not only fabric, old furniture or books, but also plastic. Plastic bags from groceries are usually stored separately to be used later to throw the weekly wastes, even the old plastic mugs find their way into the garden holding a beautiful plant. However, these steps still fall short for the amount of consumption by world’s second largest population and more needs to be done in this regard. Though Germany is one of the largest producers of plastic waste, it has almost 0% mismanaged plastic waste. Models of waste management needs to be learnt from the learned and implemented.
Secondly, being health conscious plays an equally important role in balancing the environment. Report of Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, published by Ceres, highlighted that meat industry was one of the biggest polluters of watersheds globally. Greenpeace states it to be the single biggest cause of deforestation globally. Sweden and other Nordic countries have chosen their way towards more plant-based diet, approximately 30% of young population has already opted for the same.
India, ranked at world no 5 in the highest producers of meat. It used to produce 2.2 million tonnes meat in 1970, which has increased to whopping 8.14 million tonnes in 2019, Germany, ranked at number 6, producing 7.9 million tonnes, which is alarming to the ecosystem. More measures need to be taken to promote agro based industries and vegetarianism. Meat consumption should not be a taboo, but definitely a control and self-discipline needs to be brought about restricting its massive production and export.
Thirdly, innovation needs to be supported wherever technology wants to give us solutions. Germany ranks at number one by producing 12.74 % of its electricity through renewable sources, one of the reasons for the same is massive investments made by the government as part of efforts to meet EU renewable energy and climate action goals. There cannot be comparison drawn between the funds which developing & developed countries would be putting in energy sector, as each country has its own priorities, however, reducing the burden on the fossil fuels is a global responsibility. Recently IIT Madras Researchers, based at Tamilnadu in India, developed alternatives to Li-ion and lead-acid batteries for industrial use, which can be integrated in solar and wind energy. If it works, it will be a crucial step towards 40% of electric generation from non fossil fuels, thereby saving the natural resources and achieving a less toxic environment.
Finally, it is we the people around whom these points revolve and we should be the change we want to see. Legislative, Judiciary and Executive run in a vicious circle and one inspects the other. We have great laws in place, but unless there is willingness to implement the rules or a strict punishment when contrary to the rule is done, the laws would serve no purpose. We need to create awareness, learn the Rights as a citizen and Rights of our environment. Had it not been for social activist lawyer like M. C. Mehta and a valiant Supreme Court, which surpassed the English Law of strict liability and developed the concept of absolute liability in the Oleum Gas leak case, we wouldn't have had absolute responsibility towards the industries dealing with hazardous materials, and tragedies like that of Bhopal Gas leak would have continued to give us nightmares.
Mata bhoomi putro aham pruthvyaha, which means earth is our mother and we are her children. On this world environment day, let us collectively strive towards protecting it.
 https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/most-sustainable-countries  https://bookofachievers.com/articles/saalumarada-thimmakka-the-mother-to-more-than-8000-trees  https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution#which-countries-produce-the-most-plastic-waste  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/meat-industry-worst-among-food-based-industries-in-terms-of-water-management-67659  https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/why-meat-is-bad-for-the-environment/  https://euobserver.com/nordic/142318  https://knoema.com/atlas/topics/Agriculture/Live-Stock-Production-Production-Quantity/Total-production-of-meat?baseRegion=IN  https://www.smart-energy.com/renewable-energy/top-ten-countries-with-the-highest-proportion-of-renewable-energy/  https://respark.iitm.ac.in/iit-m-develops-alternatives-to-conventional-li-ion-batteries/  https://blog.ipleaders.in/oleum-gas-leak-case-case-study/
Author: Vineeta Misale Desai
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