Let us begin by asking ourselves two questions:
Question no. 1: How are the global indicators of human well-being changing?
Question no. 2: How are the global indicators of the well-being of natural systems changing?
The answer to first question is encouraging as below:
1.Life expectancy has risen.
2.Infant mortality has fallen.
3.The proportion of the world’s population with access to clean drinking water has increased.
4.Total global forest cover rose by 0.85% from 1950 to 1994(FAO).
5.The real price of oil,coal , gas and metals is declining over time.
It is obvious that human well-being is improving over time.
Now let us look for the answer to the second question:
1.Biodiversity is declining.
2.Levels of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are increasing.
3.Yields from ocean fisheries are declining.
4.Top soil is eroding.
5.Quantities of proven energy reserves are falling.
6.The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling Vortex of waste and debris in the
.This area is twice the size of the
Continental US and is believed to hold
almost 100 million tonnes of garbage.
6.Average temperatures will increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of 21st century if greenhouse gas emission continue to rise at the current pace.
We must accept a few hard facts:
1.Pollutants in environment do kill people.
2.Nuclear wastes are highly dangerous.
3.Climate change , global warming , unexpected droughts and floods are taking place.
4.Ozone depletion has caused damages.
This shows that we need to do something urgently to conserve our natural systems so that we can prevent global warming and climate change , and protect nature and biodiversity.Why do we need the involvement of youth in environment ,ecology and forestry?
It is obvious that youth have energy and new ideas.So, every area of life and community needs the involvement of youth.But there is a special logic why youth have to be involved with environment concerns.It is because politicians in democratic political systems have short term perspective.They rarely look much further than the next elections.Businesses and markets also focus on short term profits.Environmental issues require a long-term thinking and action .Youth is a constituency for the long term .Hence youth have to take up leadership in environmental issues.They have to live longer and face these challenges of pollution and climate change.They have a greater stake in long-term sustainability.
In addition , youth of the present have stronger awareness of the issues involved that older people , thanks to the efforts of environmentalists and conservationists in the last 30 years or so.
Thirdly , as activists age , there is always a need for renewal from the grass-roots.Youth have also to fulfil the role of activists.
Fourthly , youth are also needed for the creation of alternative movement forms and foci .
Youth must realize that battles may be lost but the war has to be won .Each generation has the capacity to invent new political forms.
What youth can and must do for environment?
1.Raise the awareness about environmental issues:IN the
1.Only 7% of respondents said that they know a lot about global warming while 4% had either never heard of it or said “I don’t know.”
2.56% said it is caused by human activities while 31% said it is caused mostly by natural changes in environment.
This example indicates how little awareness about Climate change exists in
India .The awareness is not much different in other areas of environment
and ecology.This shows the enormity of our challenge.
What it means to raise AWARENESS?
It means that Environmental commitment should not only be widespread but also deep.At present , it is neither broad nor deep .It is important that the awareness should be deep and firm .For example , a well educated person may know about global warming but when it comes to real life :
1.He may have a lifestyle , with high consumption of goods and things.
2.He may use large car instead of small car .
3.He may travel by airplane , though he may not have lack of time.
4.He may live in spacious house.
5.He may not care to recycle household waste because he can afford to buy new things.
Such a person has very shallow level of awareness.You has to get past this hypocrisy and shallowness.If the entire world lived like the average American , we’d need 5 planets to provide enough resources.We need to create an awareness about the need to change attitudes , behaviour and policies .
2.Youth need skills to recognise and withstand the pressures of advertising .:
As a consumer , they should buy eco-intelligently . Modern consumerist political economy aims to sell you things you may not need .It makes our society acquisitive and .Youth have to acquire skills to see through the games of advertisers , and resist temptations and pressures. They should buy only what they really need , and keep to minimalism .It helps the cause of environment.
3.We need to spread environmental education to increase the level of environmental awareness of youth .This should be accompanied with environmental political education directed at governments, international organisations and corporations.We should aim to produce “ecological citizens and not just green consumers”.This raises the issue of Schooling versus Social learning .NGO’s can integrate education with their activism .Following things are needed:
1.Organize campaigns , create publications , websites.Be environmental educators.
2.Organize practical workshops.
3.Prepare personal projects.These could relate to preserving water and electricity, minimising the use of plastic bags , using car-pooling , public transport and bicycles, planting trees.Involve community.
This in turn requires youth to educate themselves , and share their knowledge and inspiration .Only then , youth can become environmental leaders and change agents.
4.Create an informal networks of activists.Share information .Groups need not have formal organizations.In fact , assets of formal organizations can be seiged by government through court action .
5.Protests, demonstrations and boycott.
6.Organise events geared to attract media publicity.
7.Use internet and social media networks.Make internet and ICT resources accessible.
Young journalists:Media can be a powerful tool for environmental education .There is a role of media in social learning .Environmental journalism is fast developing into a profession .Media needs to focus more on issues though it focuses more on events.In 1984,in Bhopal , numerous deaths took place due to release of Methyl Isocyanate from a pesticide plant ,owned by Union carbide.Media mainly focussed on the event but not on political –economic structures and processes that allowed such a plant to exist and that too near residences of poor people.There are no doubt challenges to environmental journalism .The first challenge for Indian media is to get past the idea that environmentalism is yet another post-colonial imposition from the developed world.Media also needs to focus on youth.
In Uttar Pradesh , good work has been done in the area of tree plantation in last few years.But existing forest cover in Terai faces larges cale illicit felling and poaching .In controlling air , water pollution , in disposal of municipal and other kind of wastages, a lot needs to be done .This needs involvement of youth in a much bigger way .The goal is already there .Our to adopt this goal , resolve in their mind , use their passion and inspiration on a long-term horizon .I have ahope that our youth will respond to this challenge .And our senior citizens will lend thenm their full support