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Environmental Concerns

A crucial part of India’s identity comes from its environmental resources. Ecologically, India is fascinating because it forms the junction of three major biogeographical zones and thus features a wide range of natural ecosystems, from the Himalayas to the deserts to the jungles. India is known for its rich biodiversity of birds, butterflies, and mega-fauna. It is home to many of the world’s most iconic mammals and endangered animals, such as tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, and more.

Modern India is characterized by population growth, industrial growth, and rapid urbanization, and these factors mean both small-scales and large-scale environmental concerns. The issues can be broken down into five categories: the impacts of climate change, forest degradation, land degradation, rapid unplanned urbanization, and pollution.

India is the fourth-largest CO2 emitter in the world, by virtue of its massive population. Yet by individual, Indians have a significantly lighter ecological footprint. Each Indian accounts for only 1/10th the amount of each American’s carbon footprint. This is largely due to a lifestyle and culture of making more with less, for example the prevalence of vegetarianism. However, India will be profoundly impacted by climate change. Huge numbers of climate refugees will be migrating into and around India due to the rising sea levels and retreating glaciers, as many Indians live on coastal plains. The monsoon cycle, and all of Indian agriculture which relies on the climate, is also affected by global warming.

Deforestation threatens biodiversity and ecological balance in India, particularly for the endangered species across the country. Forest degradation is the larger issue in India, as native forests are being replaced by plantations for the fuel and timber wood industries.

General land degradation, particularly from mining, also threatens biodiversity. Additionally, the fertility of Indian soils is in decline thanks to unregulated and extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as genetically modified crops. Yet GMO productivity and efficiency could be the solution to feeding such a massive population. Rajasthan is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides and pollution, and mining.

These challenges to traditional rural agricultural lifestyles by changing climates and land degradation are a major cause of the current trend of urbanization. Mammoth cities are accumulating rapidly, and lacking infrastructure for these populations, resources are stretched thin in cities. Disease and pollution are relatively uncontrollable.

Pollution in India is a pressing concern. All major Indian rivers have both severe sewage issues and industrial toxic waste issues. Problems of groundwater contamination and depletion also lead to many human and ecological dysfunctions. Although significant legislation has been passed to combat pollution, the enforcement is weak and/or the efforts are lacking funds and manpower.

The best solutions to India’s environmental concerns appear in the policies that are addressing other civil concerns, such as poverty, transportation, electricity, and resource use, with environmental benefits. There have been efforts to bring solar or wind power to rural villages, for example.

A crucial part of India’s identity comes from its environmental resources. Ecologically, India is fascinating because it forms the junction of three major biogeographical zones and thus features a wide range of natural ecosystems, from the Himalayas to the deserts to the jungles. India is known for its rich biodiversity of birds, butterflies, and mega-fauna. It is home to many of the world’s most iconic mammals and endangered animals, such as tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, and more.

Modern India is characterized by population growth, industrial growth, and rapid urbanization, and these factors mean both small-scales and large-scale environmental concerns. The issues can be broken down into five categories: the impacts of climate change, forest degradation, land degradation, rapid unplanned urbanization, and pollution.

India is the fourth-largest CO2 emitter in the world, by virtue of its massive population. Yet by individual, Indians have a significantly lighter ecological footprint. Each Indian accounts for only 1/10th the amount of each American’s carbon footprint. This is largely due to a lifestyle and culture of making more with less, for example the prevalence of vegetarianism. However, India will be profoundly impacted by climate change. Huge numbers of climate refugees will be migrating into and around India due to the rising sea levels and retreating glaciers, as many Indians live on coastal plains. The monsoon cycle, and all of Indian agriculture which relies on the climate, is also affected by global warming.

Deforestation threatens biodiversity and ecological balance in India, particularly for the endangered species across the country. Forest degradation is the larger issue in India, as native forests are being replaced by plantations for the fuel and timber wood industries.

General land degradation, particularly from mining, also threatens biodiversity. Additionally, the fertility of Indian soils is in decline thanks to unregulated and extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as genetically modified crops. Yet GMO productivity and efficiency could be the solution to feeding such a massive population. Rajasthan is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides and pollution, and mining.

These challenges to traditional rural agricultural lifestyles by changing climates and land degradation are a major cause of the current trend of urbanization. Mammoth cities are accumulating rapidly, and lacking infrastructure for these populations, resources are stretched thin in cities. Disease and pollution are relatively uncontrollable.

Pollution in India is a pressing concern. All major Indian rivers have both severe sewage issues and industrial toxic waste issues. Problems of groundwater contamination and depletion also lead to many human and ecological dysfunctions. Although significant legislation has been passed to combat pollution, the enforcement is weak and/or the efforts are lacking funds and manpower.

The best solutions to India’s environmental concerns appear in the policies that are addressing other civil concerns, such as poverty, transportation, electricity, and resource use, with environmental benefits. There have been efforts to bring solar or wind power to rural villages, for example.

A crucial part of India’s identity comes from its environmental resources. Ecologically, India is fascinating because it forms the junction of three major biogeographical zones and thus features a wide range of natural ecosystems, from the Himalayas to the deserts to the jungles. India is known for its rich biodiversity of birds, butterflies, and mega-fauna. It is home to many of the world’s most iconic mammals and endangered animals, such as tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, and more.

Modern India is characterized by population growth, industrial growth, and rapid urbanization, and these factors mean both small-scales and large-scale environmental concerns. The issues can be broken down into five categories: the impacts of climate change, forest degradation, land degradation, rapid unplanned urbanization, and pollution.

India is the fourth-largest CO2 emitter in the world, by virtue of its massive population. Yet by individual, Indians have a significantly lighter ecological footprint. Each Indian accounts for only 1/10th the amount of each American’s carbon footprint. This is largely due to a lifestyle and culture of making more with less, for example the prevalence of vegetarianism. However, India will be profoundly impacted by climate change. Huge numbers of climate refugees will be migrating into and around India due to the rising sea levels and retreating glaciers, as many Indians live on coastal plains. The monsoon cycle, and all of Indian agriculture which relies on the climate, is also affected by global warming.

Deforestation threatens biodiversity and ecological balance in India, particularly for the endangered species across the country. Forest degradation is the larger issue in India, as native forests are being replaced by plantations for the fuel and timber wood industries.

General land degradation, particularly from mining, also threatens biodiversity. Additionally, the fertility of Indian soils is in decline thanks to unregulated and extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as genetically modified crops. Yet GMO productivity and efficiency could be the solution to feeding such a massive population. Rajasthan is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides and pollution, and mining.

These challenges to traditional rural agricultural lifestyles by changing climates and land degradation are a major cause of the current trend of urbanization. Mammoth cities are accumulating rapidly, and lacking infrastructure for these populations, resources are stretched thin in cities. Disease and pollution are relatively uncontrollable.

Pollution in India is a pressing concern. All major Indian rivers have both severe sewage issues and industrial toxic waste issues. Problems of groundwater contamination and depletion also lead to many human and ecological dysfunctions. Although significant legislation has been passed to combat pollution, the enforcement is weak and/or the efforts are lacking funds and manpower.

The best solutions to India’s environmental concerns appear in the policies that are addressing other civil concerns, such as poverty, transportation, electricity, and resource use, with environmental benefits. There have been efforts to bring solar or wind power to rural villages, for example. The role of women in their communities will also be key in enacting changes and continuities. Indian women have been some of the most powerful environmental activists.