The environment consists of all things living or nonliving that influence human life. It plays a vital role in the functioning of our daily lives and livelihoods. The environment/nature and its wonderful species existed even before human habitat. Every species, be it on land or water, existed peacefully. Three-quarters of Earth’s freshwater comes from forested watersheds, and the loss of trees can worsen water quality. Over half the global population relies on forested watersheds for their drinking water as well as water used for agriculture and industry.
The turmoil began after the dawn of human civilization and industrialization. Humans began to use the environment as a means to an end without giving much thought to the consequences of the abuse or respect that it should give to the facilitator of life on Earth.
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Causes of Environmental Destruction
- Natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc can also lead to the destruction of the environment.
- Forest fires by natural causes such as lightning are responsible for clearing large areas of land and the natural environment.
- Invasion of the forest ecosystem by some parasites or other animal species can destroy the biodiversity of various areas of land and the environment.
High human interferences
High Anthropological interference (Human Activities) and livestock on natural resources like land, water, and forest.
Why is the Environment Important to Human Life?
- The environment provides us with resources for production which include renewable and non-renewable resources.
- The environment includes sun, land, water, air, soil and forest without which human life would not exist. It sustains life by providing genetic diversity and biodiversity.
- Production and consumption of activities generate waste mainly in the manner of garbage that the environment helps get rid of or is still a problem owing to non-biodegradable matter.
- Humans enjoy the beauty of mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts, and many other breathtaking natural elements only because of the existence of the environment (aesthetic purposes).
Effects of Destruction of Environment on Humans
Millions of people worldwide are supported by forests globally, that is to say, many people depend on forest hunting, medicine, wild food plants, housing materials, fuelwood, timber, and other materials for their local businesses such as rubber and palm oil. But as these trees are harvested by majorly big businesses, this disrupts the livelihood of small-scale agricultural business owners making disruption of local people’s means of livelihood one of the serious effects of environmental destruction to humans needing urgent attention.
The causes of environmental damage and destruction are many. Some of the most important causes include – Agriculture, Logging, Soil Erosion; Urbanization, Hydrological Effects; Flooding; Biodiversity; Global Warming and Climate Change; Silting of rivers and dams, natural disasters like floods, cyclones, earthquakes, Desertification; Melting of Icebergs; Disruption of Local People’s Means of Livelihood; Low Life Quality; Loss of Habitat; Low Agricultural Produce; Health effects; Economic impact, etc.
Why Do We Need to Protect the Environment?
- Our environment is what houses and helps our ecosystem grow. Without protecting our environment animals, crops, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and we all are in danger.
- If there is no Environment then we humans would have no place to live nor any other means to survive.
- If our environment is not protected then there would not exist forests which include trees that provide us with the basic means to survive such as oxygen to breathe, timber, wood, oils, and many other products.
- Every day we see a rise in the earth’s temperature. This is because we abuse the environment instead of protecting it. We, Humans, have created a major amount of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, which has a major effect on climate change.
- The Environment also benefits the Economy. A healthy Environment promotes more nature-based tourism and many ecosystem services.
- Cases of Asthma, Bronchitis, and a gamut of other communicable and non-communicable diseases would decrease if we protect our Environment and provide one another with a healthy environment to breathe in.
Key Suggestions for Environmental Preservation
In order to successfully preserve the environment, several key suggestions are crucial. Firstly, implementing a human rights policy that grants land rights, including forest land rights and community forest rights, to indigenous lands is essential. This not only upholds human rights but also serves as a significant environmental measure.
Additionally, placing emphasis on in-situ conservation and sustainable management of indigenous seeds, native tree species, and other flora and fauna is vital for conservation efforts. Recognizing, authenticating, and validating community-owned and managed biodiversity conservation systems play a crucial role in preserving ecosystems. It is equally important to establish benefit-sharing mechanisms that reward local communities for their conservation efforts and ensure the continued provision of valuable ecosystem services.
Governments hold a pivotal role in environmental preservation, and as such, they should prioritize the establishment of effective regulatory systems and practices. By enforcing robust regulations, governments can protect and preserve the environment from destructive actions and unsustainable practices.
Furthermore, the establishment of grievance redressal mechanisms and enforcement systems, such as the Office of an Ombudsman, is crucial for addressing issues related to rights on nature and natural resources. Governments should allocate sufficient financial resources to support these mechanisms, ensuring that grievances are addressed and resolved in a timely and fair manner.
To foster a culture of environmental responsibility and awareness, it is vital to integrate environmental education into school and college curricula. By enhancing environmental literacy among students, future generations will be equipped with the knowledge and understanding necessary to make informed decisions and take sustainable actions.
The media also plays a significant role in this endeavor, as it has the power to create mass awareness and engage various stakeholders. Collaborating with school children, local self-governance bodies, political leaders, NGOs, private sector actors, and public sector actors, the media can effectively spread awareness and encourage active participation in environmental preservation efforts.
Individual Role in Environmental Preservation
- Embracing the 3 R’s: Adopting the principles of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
- Reduce: Minimize paper consumption and explore alternative options.
- Reuse: Avoid single-use products to prevent material wastage.
- Recycle: Ensure diligent recycling of paper and wood products.
- Spreading awareness about the significance of trees and the detrimental impact of environmental damage.
- Contributing to reforestation efforts by planting more trees to offset deforestation and benefit humanity.
Government’s Role in Environmental Preservation
- Supporting Community Initiatives: Promoting local community and organizations, with special attention to women and youth, in their efforts towards environmental preservation.
- Launching Sustainable Campaigns: Initiating campaigns focused on environmental protection and reforestation to restore degraded lands.
- Investing in Innovative Technologies: Adoption of new and advanced technologies, such as hydroponics in agriculture, to promote sustainable practices.
- Encouraging Eco-friendly Agriculture: Assisting farmers in implementing eco-friendly agricultural practices to minimize environmental impact.
- Enforcing Regulations: Implementing stringent rules and regulations to combat illegal mining and other destructive activities that deplete natural resources.
- Sustainable Infrastructure Development: Ensuring careful planning and implementation of infrastructure projects, such as roads and industries to minimize forest area loss.
- Forest Conservation Investments: Investing in environmental and forest initiatives, including the planting of native trees, to enhance natural forest ecosystems.
- Expanding Protected Areas: Increasing the range and coverage of forests under government protection to safeguard biodiversity and natural habitats.
- Prohibiting Harmful Agricultural Practices: Enforcing regulations to ban inefficient agricultural practices like slash-and-burn farming, which involves burning large forest areas.
- Promoting Sustainable Alternatives: Encouraging the use of sustainable alternatives to wood, such as bamboo, and promoting renewable energy sources like solar and LPG, to reduce the demand for wood fuel and timber.
World Environment Day – 5th June
World Environment Day was founded on June 5, 1974.
Every three seconds, the world loses enough forests that could cover a football pitch and over the last decade, we have ruined half of our wetlands. Therefore World Environment Day was formed with the main aim to revive billions of hectares from forests to farmlands and mountains to oceans.
Themes of World Environment Day
Every year world environment day is hosted in different cities and has a different theme such as:
- In 2016 the theme was “GO FOR WILD”. The aim was to reduce and prevent the illegal wildlife trade which was hosted in Paris.
- In 2017 the theme was “CONNECTING PEOPLE TO NATURE”, intending to make people realize how important nature is and what all it provides us with. This was hosted in Canada.
- In 2018 the theme was “BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION”. The main aim was for people to reduce the use of plastic and replace it with reusable items as plastic harms the climate when burnt or disposed of. This particular Agenda was hosted in India.
- In 2019 the theme was “BEAT AIR POLLUTION”. This topic was chosen as air pollution kills almost 7 million people annually. This was hosted in China.
- In 2020 the theme was “TIME FOR NATURE”, intending to protect wildlife and prevent us from killing animals. This was hosted in Columbia.
- In 2021 the theme was “ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION” to improve our Ecosystem. This theme is being held in Pakistan.
- In 2022 the was “ONLY ONE EARTH” with the focus on Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature. World Environment Day 2022 is hosted by Sweden.
- In 2023 the theme for World Environment Day was “BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION” focussing on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution. The world is being inundated by plastic. It was hosted in Côte d’Ivoire.
In 2013, a World Environment Day Anthem was made by the Union Ministers Of India:
Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl The most beautiful planet in the universe All the continents and all the oceans United we stand as flora and fauna United we stand as species of one earth Different cultures, beliefs, and ways We are humans, the earth is our home All the people and the nations of the world All for one and one for all United we unfurl the blue marble flag
Ideally, we should not require an Environment Day to appreciate, protect, save, and remember the utility of the environment. It should be a thought embedded in our minds and we should be grateful for its existence. Every action may cause harm to the environment and hence we should be mindful of all our actions and decisions.
Environmental exploitation for human needs including deforestation provides the raw material for various industries. The overexploitation of these resources leads to a reduction in the long-term productivity of the economy. Hence, a sustainable approach to the use of these natural resources and their ecosystem services will be really beneficial for the economy of a nation.
Also read: Learnings from Environmental Disasters