Environment and society are interdependent. Different social structures like industrial, agricultural, political, cultural, religious, aesthetic, etc., have evolved and developed during various stages of development of human civilization, and these are primarily based on natural environment. The existence and quality of environment depends on the responses of these social structures. Several issues other than quality of environment like environment degradation and pollution, ecological imbalance, depletion of resources, disruption of ecosystems, etc., have been raised during last three decades, but the solution to any of these problems depend upon the entire society and society’s response towards the ‘environment improvement programmes’. For example, mass felling of trees to meet the need of timber for ever-increasing population leads to accelerated rate of soil erosion causing siltation of river beds and consequently recurring floods. Solution to this problem depends upon the willingness of the society to consume the natural environment. The society has awakened towards the environment problems, but there is a need to translate this into practice and efforts are to be made so that this tempo is sustained for a long time. Against this backdrop, the book Environment Studies assumes significance.
In fact, environmental degradation has been a major concern for past few decades, because of economic growth and development across the world has caused major impacts on the earth’s ecosystems and natural resources to an extent that can limit the well-being of future generations. The highlights the ignorance of people about retaining the ecological balance, distancing from Indian traditions, which used to emphasise the need for conservation and sustainable use of resources are also the reasons for degradation of environment. The continuing large scale of urbanisation, population explosion, industrialisation, commercialisation and agriculture has caused such vast impact on our environment that the very existence of man has come under a threat. Sustainable development under these circumstances has become the prime necessity of today.
The magnitude of demand, the book underscores, made by man in pursuit of satisfying both his basic needs and greed is increasing. The living conditions, though have surely improved today, to a great deal due to industrialisation and urbanisation, but only at the cost of environmental degradation. The resources are not only getting depleted, but are also getting polluted and wastes are being generated. In this context, sustainable development assumes a great significance, which can be defined as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.
According to the book, all the above factors are responsible for progressive decline in the quality and magnitude of natural resources including clean air, water, healthy soil, forests, bio-diversity. This has also caused other environmental problems such as desertification, hunger, malnutrition, acid rain, ozone depletion, global warming, etc. In view of the above, efforts are being made at international and national levels towards the right to healthy environment. These efforts have created awareness on environmental issues in NGOs, environmentalists, intellectuals, etc.
The book, which comprises 23 chapters in seven parts, underlines India has recently started realising the importance of environment and of environment education. Hence, this book is useful for the students of all the streams as well as professional in the field.
By Ashok Kumar