Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Youth and Environment

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 Pacific Ocean .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 USA ,85%  of people under 30  identify themselves as environmentalists.The figure is much lower for India.                   In a study conducted in 2011   by Yale Project called  Climate change in Indian mind , following was the level of awareness;
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