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The increasing frequency of climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and natural calamities had suddenly created awareness about environmental issues. Humanity had adversely affected Earth along with other species which had created a tussle between Homo sapiens and the rest of the species on the Earth.


Nature and humans are interdependently intertwined and their interaction affects each other over time. The failure to recognize this relationship and increasing disharmonious relationship between them had contributed to the occurrence of extreme natural events. It is quite evident that around 200,000 years ago, the emergence of Homo sapiens had changed everything. Humans at each stage of development had consumed more energy despite concerning about other species. The over exploitation of natural resources to satisfy humanity’s hunger had disturbed many ecosystem and even the biogeochemical cycles. It is a very high time when humanity should rely upon the existence of other species and importance of living in harmony with nature.

Consequences of anthropogenic activities on our planet:

In April 2022, UN warns to stop global warming and ensure a live able future by reducing carbon footprint (carbon emission by an individual). Scientists, environmental activists and a lot more are concerned about more severe consequences and less time to stop them. Some of the serious threats noticed in last decades are:

  1. Growing urgency around climate change concerns: Climate change is perhaps the biggest contemporary challenges the world is facing today. The nature of the problem demands a huge collective initiative and the roadmap to combat climate change had been laid down by the Paris agreement through adopting clean technologies. The agreement suggests limiting down global warming below 2℃ or 1.5℃ but new reports have risen out doubts whether most countries are doing enough to combat these impacts. NASA and National Oceanic and atmospheric Administration scientists reported- last 5 years were the warmest in recorded history. The research has increased the urgency to combat climate change to protect the survival of animal species, the oceans, the food supply, public health among other things.

  2. Ocean pollution and plastics: Many countries around the world had adopted policies to reduce plastic pollution that often is disposed off in oceans. Oceania, an international advocacy group focused on ocean conservation, estimates every year 17.6 billion Pounds of plastic enter the oceans from land based sources. The most infamous example of plastic pollution in Ocean is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where a huge area of North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California is accumulated by plastic debris due to ocean currents.

  3. Reinclination towards fossil fuels: Despite a global push to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions (gas responsible for global warming) the world is once again leaning on fossil fuels for energy production. The Russia- Ukraine war has also brought energy poverty on the doorstep of rich nations. The war had made Energy Crisis more acute as Russia is a major producer of oil and gas. While it is important to note that oil and gas prices were already rising before Russia- Ukraine war due to strong economic recovery post pandemic and the lack of investment during this period in new infrastructure. Energy has been weaponised, now coming time will tell whether the world will stay on course in spite of this war or the war will accelerate climate change.

  4. Drinking water safety and the Flint crisis: Humanity’s hunger had adversely affected humanity too. The ‘Flint water crisis’ was one of the most high profile environmental issues. Thousands of residents were unknowingly exposed to lead and bacteria through improperly treated water that eroded aging pipes, after Michigan officials changed the main water source for the city of Flint in 2014. Government failures to protect residents in Flint have led to the feeling of everlasting dissatisfaction among residents till today. Many cases around the world had been reported till now where water is contaminated by lead, arsenic, mercury and many other harmful substances.

  5. Oil spill problems in deep water Horizon: Oil spills are responsible for very vast destruction of marine ecosystem. Recovery from oil spill is not an easy task as the effects of a small oil spill takes 15 years to completely disappear while for a larger is this may take a longer time. The biggest and worst oil spill recognized was in America which begins on April 20, 2010 with an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil ring in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and continues to harm Marine ecosystem for several years.

  6. Sixth mass extension: Evolution and extinction were intimately linked to each other but the coming sixth mass extinction is such a rapid change in biodiversity. The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science- Policy platform on biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) assessment released in 2019, reported that the current rate and scale of extinction is unprecedented and is being caused majorly by humans. It says about 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction and 1 million animal and plant species will face extinction. The “Living Planet Report 2020” of World Wild Fund points out 5 major reasons behind the biodiversity loss across the planet. They are- changes in land and sea use (Habitat loss and degradation), over exploitation of species, invasive species and disease, pollution and climate change.

  7. Besides these global warming, acid rain, air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, urban sprawl, ozone layer depletion etc. are prevailing environmental issues on our planet.

These issues contemplates that Anthropocene is a strange phase in the geological scale where
the dominant species fundamentally alters the ecosystem and its biggest preoccupation now would be to look for ways to fix it as well.

The emergence of Sustainability and the need to adopt it:

The concerns over sustainability of human activities grew in the latter part of the 20th century and questions were raised- up to what time the planet had the finite capacity to support human civilization, is there a limit to how much resource the planet can provide, how quickly it can replenish it and how much human impact it can absorb before it starts to fail? Rachel Carson authored book ‘Silent Spring’ (1962) described the cause and effect of human out growth from Industrial revolution. This led to the emergence of many environmental movements, National and International Governmental Agencies, Non- governmental organizations. The idea of sustainable development was formalized by the UN with their Sustainable Development Goals. The Brundtland Commission initially defined sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations and was later extended to include the ideas of economic sustainability and social equity.

Generally two routes to sustainability are discussed. The first idea addressed the method of reduction in the form of de-growth or green growth. Here individuals had to limit the use of resources so that other needy people can use them. But this perspective seems difficult as asking people to sacrifice, change habits and reduce consumption of resources is quiet hard. Also as per Global perspective it is completely unfair to ask individuals in low income countries and lower middle income countries to share the burden of problem created by high income countries. Thus, it demands a collective initiative of government of all countries to deliver SDGs equitably. The second route suggests that Technology advancement can bring solutions for sustainability, for example- limitless renewable energy, Geoengineering to fix green house gas problem, zero resource consumption through recycling and reuse etc. Expectedly by combining these two routes effectively we can achieve sustainability. In addition to this, introduction of - new Global agreements, environmental rules, environmental ethics in the business sector, and recognizing ourselves as one of the species among millions residing on planet Earth can bring a positive change on global level.


“We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers; we have borrowed it from our children.” - Lester Brown

Though it’s a difficult task to sustainably manage natural resources as while addressing environmental issues we need to keep an open mind regarding interest of various stakeholders and had to accept the fact that people will act according to their own interest and priority. Hence, we have to make people realize that selfish goals will led to misery for large number of people and the total destruction of our environment in future. We should understand that protecting nature and living in harmony with it is not only our moral duty but also a necessity to protect our own existence on this planet.

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