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Sep 12

Downsizing: Where economy and ecology meet the good life

Environmental crisis is one of the major problems which the whole world is facing today. Progress of mankind depends upon scarce or limited natural resources. It’s important for human civilization to grow economically, but not at the cost of natural resources. It is a debatable topic.

There are numerous examples around the world which show the dilemma between economic growth and a need to conserve our ecosystem. One particular example is the drilling project proposed by a German company RWG in the North Sea. The Wattenmeer is an area of great biological diversity, a regional stop over for millions of migratory birds and a potential spot for being a UNESCO world heritage site. Environmentalists have conducted huge protests over this project which could destroy a biological treasure. There have been similar protests against the Nord Stream pipeline project being proposed to be constructed between Russia and Western Europe, which could affect the ecology of the Baltic Sea. The governments and economists have argued that the oil is a vital part of the economy in the world today, and it cannot be compromised. So where do we draw the line between economy and ecology, which unfortunately tend to be on opposite sides.

There’s an overwhelming belief that the two cannot be tackled together and that there’s a need to give a sort of priority to ecological matters. However, experts feel that such thinking is a big mistake. The economy and environment are related to each other. In fact economy can be assumed to be a subsidiary of environment as environment has all the resources upon which the economy depends. Thus the two are inseparable.

Economic development without conserving the ecology can have serious implications. There’s a possibility of conflict for natural resources. Water conflict is one such example where the construction of dams has created serious argument between the upstream and downstream countries. Clean and safe drinking water is a big concern in the developing countries. Rapid industrialization and urbanization with inadequate drainage and sewerage can affect the availability of drinking water in rivers and groundwater. The people affected are often the poor and the marginalized sections of the society. Thus, treating earth as a huge storehouse with unlimited potential for human consumption can have serious consequences for us.

The governments and private companies require incentives to act on issues relating to environmental concerns. The more immediate issues regarding profit for private companies and economic and political issues for the government tend to dominate the agenda. Thus an effective action in the direction of ecological conservation is less likely to be taken by them. There lies the role of small scale actions and generations of awareness in the community.

The concept of carbon credits has been introduced in order to tackle the problem of emission of greenhouse gases. In this system each nation is stipulated with a definite amount of gases which it can emit. If it exceeds the limit it has to pay charges for its excessive emissions. The money raised is then used to help the lower emission countries.

Thus we need a mandate to develop a Charter of Rights in relation to the environment in the United Nations. It is in our interest as human beings to preserve the environment not only for economic growth but also for the survival of our future generations.

Amanda Kidd is a blogger whose favorite portals to write on are lifestyle and finance. She recently read an article about the world’s most expensive cars.

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