Green Solutions To Solve Environmental Stress

 

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Our world is facing a shortage of food, water and energy. Day in and day out we are in search of non-renewables which can cater to the huge global population needs. We need to run our business as well as meet the increasing demand. But that again leaves us with the odd question, if we are in the process of doing business as usual and wait till the world resources comes to an end? The time has come when we need to roughly estimate as to how much time we have till we end up using these non-renewables.

Environmental stress creates ecological deficits and leads the world towards finding alternatives and it becomes clear that these also generates fiscal deficits. Agriculture, Water, Energy, Food are the key to GDP of a country and less rainfall means loss in all these sectors. Hence Ecological and Economic deficits are shaping our present as well as our future. The threat to our future generations are not war, but shortage of water, food and energy.

Global warming has led to many new facts and let’s analyse these with a few examples. During the summer of 2010, record high temperatures hit many parts of Moscow and it is the same with increasing temperature in many countries including United Kingdom. As per meteorological office in the United Kingdom, June, 2018 was a warm and dry month for most and for some it was record-breaking, with many seeing their warmest and driest June on record. Throughout June high pressure dominated the UK weather, bringing more than our normal share of fine sunny days with high temperatures and very little rainfall. Provisional statistics show it is one of UK’s top five warmest Junes (in records dating back to 1910) for both maximum daytime and mean (24-hour average) temperatures. When looking at the mean temperatures it has been the warmest June on record for Northern Ireland and Wales and 4th warmest for Scotland and England.

In many countries there is a concept of carbon tax which is a fee imposed on burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). More to the point, a carbon tax is the core policy for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of fossil fuels whose combustion is destabilizing and destroying our climate. However, it is not the only way to reduce global warming and other related environmental disturbances. There are other ways also to reduce carbon foot print at the personal level by planting small plants in your surroundings, switching off to less electricity and using solar powered lamps for lighting at night, keeping some organic plantation for foods, taking more public transport instead of one’s own vehicles etc. This and many more can be done at the personal level but what about those initiatives which can be done in an Industrial level? Personally, I feel that Industries need to first switch on to solar power for inner lighting. If we can somehow, reduce the intake of electricity in our life by use of solar and wind energy, then one can do wonders. If we can just start with this one system of consumption of electric energy through this method, we can set examples.

Electricity and fresh water are the areas, Industries may focus, in order to reduce environmental stress. Global electricity demand witnessed a 3.1 per cent jump in 2017 with major contribution coming from China and India. The two nations together accounted for 70 per cent of the rise as per a report from International Energy Agency. As per Energy World, with a third of the world’s population currently residing in India and China, the two countries accounted for a total of 540 Terra Watt Hour (TWh) of electricity demand growth in 2017, out of the global increase of 780 TWh. This global rise in electricity was significantly higher than the overall increase in the energy demand.

However, the disturbing part is that there is not much decline of investment in the non-renewables and hence expansion of electricity through renewables to meet our increasing energy demand is not coming up.

As per the World Energy Investment 2018 report, it is stated that for the third consecutive year, global energy investment declined, to USD 1.8 trillion (United States dollars) in 2017  – a  fall  of  2 %  in  real  terms. The good news is that clean energy supply investment has grown fastest in the power sector. The share of clean  power  sources  (renewables  and  nuclear)  in  generation  investment  was  over  70%  in  2017,  up  from  less  than  50%  a  decade  ago,  though  this  stems  partly  from  lower  coal-fired power  investment. As more and more industries join hands for greater spending on electricity networks and battery storage, it is also contributing to increase interest and investment in the Solar and wind Energies. Investments in these sectors need to rise for green electric to meet the increasing demand.

Working hand in hand with ecology and environment is one of the great way to a clean and green world as well as meet the higher energy demand caused by increasing human population. If only we have more forests, fresh streams, great crops and green electricity, the future centuries will be far better to live.

Mainak Majumdar

(The writer has 14 years of experience in working with Industries and is winner of two gold medals in Master of Environmental Sciences, Bangalore University, 2005. Views Expressed above are personal)

References:

  1. World Energy Investment 2018 – International Energy Agency
  2. World on the Edge – How To Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse – Lester Brown
  3. The Guardian Newspaper , International Edition
  4. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2018/june-end-of-month-stats
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GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE – AN ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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Across the world, there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of Global Climate Change. Towns are experiencing warmer weather, hotter summers and delayed winters. Even, we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead. This in addition to the increase of population day by day and with no specific control on the increasing population explosion, there is a fierce struggle for land and space. There is also an increase in the intake of food and water. So, all these factors lead to an increase in demand graph and supply chart seems to go down. This is a worrying fact for a city or town, which needs to survive this trouble times. Today, what Nature has given us for free is bought at a cost by humans due to depleting resources. 15 years back most of the people never thought of buying mineral water. They do now as fresh clean water is reducing these days with lots of added problems. Now agitations and war like scenario occurs only to get clean drinking water. Days are not far when we need to buy oxygen cylinders to breathe!

What seems now is feasible to implement policies which are already made giving importance to disaster management plans with innovations. Hence, we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population may increase by another 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment. Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people approximately (Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.

Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. Hence depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbors, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today. “But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.” World Water Vision Report

This leads to issues with environmental sustainability and thus is a reason to environmental catastrophe. Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.

Hence the vision of the policy makers needs to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that intervention addresses these issue and policies made accordingly.

Coming back to the fresh water crisis and with this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.

When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays and often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build.

Some solutions to these environmental problems are:

  1. i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
  2. ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.

Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.

With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.

In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is eliminated.

Hence a variety of methods need to be taken to tackle climate change and its consequences and those initiatives should:

  1. a) Help to reduce global warming and Green House Gas Effect
  2. b) Help to reduce energy and carbon-dioxide emissions
  3. d) Help to enhance bio-diversity of an area
  4. a) Encourage Rain Water Harvesting
  5. b) Managing storm water by slowing the runoff rate

These and many more planning & policies may help us to look deep into these environmental issues and find effective solutions to the problems through corporate social responsibility and working hand in hand with various agencies.

(Above are my personal opinion)

Mainak Majumdar

Writer is winner of Two Gold Medals in Master of Environmental Sciences from Bangalore University and is currently working in this area of Disaster Management and Environment for over 13 years

BIG DATA ON NEED TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT

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‘Mother Earth’ was created may be around 4.54 billions years ago and today, we humans are in the process of creating its annihilation news.  Change in the global climate is a proven fact and  we are not heading in the right direction. Environment may not affect us directly now, but natural catastrophes do. Continuous cutting down of forests and dumping of pollutants in water bodies is a major cause for rising temperatures and call for an environmental disaster.
For all these billion years, this environment has provided us, food to eat, clothes to warp, clean water to drink and air to breathe. Humans have only taken its resources and have not sufficiently given back. Today I wonder, if our future generations will ever see clear sky, breathe pollution free air and drink clean water. I will not be surprised; if our future generations could only see forests in there digital tablets and may not observe the same in real life. The coming years do have a great scope for technological advancement and vast job opportunities in areas, which uses more resources from the environment only to exhaust and call our own doomsday.
Though chances are rare, have you felt the fresh air when you wake up early morning, have you ever watched those birds fly in that clear sky, have you ever seen the clear stream flowing in its own rhythm, have you ever seen those birds chirping from the forests these days? Imagine if all this vanishes one day and we have to go to a shop and ask for oxygen cylinders as we buy mineral water!
Go to any university and you may see that there are lesser students taking environmental studies as a course curriculum, as most think that it might not provide much monetary value as a career like other job courses. Most of us are not so much eager to know about our surroundings and hence we understand issues about environment less and provide more importance to technologies which ultimately destroys human’s very existence. Long back when I enrolled a course in Masters in Environmental Sciences from Bangalore University, many asked about the future in monetary terms. To them I replied that ENVIRONMENT is in itself the future for human’s existence and that it’s more about the passion to make our world green than about earning money. Today, there are openings in various Government, academic and non-Government organizations on environment.
Saving our environment can only be a reality, if we maintain a balance. Environmental Studies helped us to understand that we need to keep a balance and that we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment.
Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people (Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions.
Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbour’s, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today.
With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.
We have the power to change our Earth in our own ways, if only we join hands. Let’s plant trees and let’s close all our water outlets when not in use. The Earth is our Home and let’s save it. Let’s Dream for a more Safer and Greener World for us as well as for our future generations.

The Above are my Personal Views:
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
(The writer is winner of two Gold Medals in Masters in Environmental Science and for last twelve years has been associated with assignments on Developmental Initiatives, Disaster Management and Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in National Level)

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ARTICLE

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a ‘term’ quite frequently used these days and more and more corporate are coming forward to take this challenge. Let it be the Media sector, the Insurance Sector, the Retail sector, the Petrochemical Sector, the Chemical Sector, Food & Beverages, IT Industry, Healthcare Industry, Telecommunications Industry, Automotive, Construction Industry, Crafts, Energy, Banking and Insurances every corporate are trying to find ways of spending money for social responsibility.

As intensive researches are carried on in the best universities of the world, the first initiatives on CSR are generally taken by oil and chemical industries. There is a rise to prominence of CSR in particular companies, we also observe the emergence of something like the CSR ‘movement’ with a aim to find ways to serve humanity as well as finding business opportunities in the growing popularity of the subject.

The reasons are simple; the earth has seen so many natural disasters along with changes in environmental phenomenon due to rapid growth of industrialization. The money received from environment is now being thought to be utilized for the construction of the same. It’s like the saying which states that whatever energy we spent in our entire life for wealth at the cost of our health is later spend for our own wellbeing. These days even customers and clients look at their brands for something new done for society.

Pressures from Media, NGO’s, International Organizations, Government are making corporate to take up tasks which give fast results and are fast visible, which are dangerous because it do not serve any purpose for the community and neither for the organization.

While the world is still researching into CSR, there is a need to understand its long term goals, its long term indications, before any investment decisions are taken. If we take a closer look at the recent rise of CSR, some might well argue that this ‘new’ management idea is all about a recycled fashion; something which again sees ‘business in new way’. It’s actually more than that, it’s about ensuring more humane working conditions for its employees, building good healthcare systems, creating new educational opportunities for the have-nots, making development in areas where people fight for basic amenities and lots more. It’s absolutely not about standing in front of a hungry man providing him/her food with your industry’s photograph. That doesn’t help.

Some of the questions which arise are:

a) Are we investing something which will serve the community in long term?

b) Are we investing keeping in mind the long term objectives of the organizations?

c) Are we really doing something apart from writing reports on corporate social responsibility?

d) Are the amount allotted for CSR meeting the needs of the needy and targeted people?

e) Are the money used for the organizational goal increasing your brand value in real terms?

While all these questions looms around, we need to introspect on our policies and plans with new innovations. Marketing is a secondary thing and brand value increases when those thoughts are put into action and things starts moving on ground. There are industries who had served many in different fields and those industry leaders still flashes in our minds as souls who came into this world to bring a change. Their company values are not counted by their financial strength in billions but by their work which had touched a billion hearts. There are many positive events happening in the world on CSR as Industry associations are coming forward to coordinate and create synergies among individual business approaches to CSR.

Let’s be that messiah for change and lets that thought of change percolates through our minds and together move towards a safer world for our future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Assistant Director in Industry Association/Body

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND NEED FOR PLANNING PROCESS

Disaster Management is a combination of environmental, developmental and social issues coupled with administrative directives, operational skills of an organization and its capacities to implement those to lessen the adverse effects of an emergency. The other important constituent of risk management is precise information flow which in itself is a form of disaster response in its own right.

May it be a Mexican Earthquake or an 8.7 earth shattering phenomenon at the city of Banda Aceh or the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island or Chile or Haiti Earthquake, which leads to eradication of hundreds of lives.
Seismic activities occur everywhere and coupled with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought & landslides, they compose a complete chronicle of human destruction. The challenges seem to be more and but it also provides saving options. The risks faced due to any environmental disaster are not only due to losses in lives, environment, health status, livelihoods and assets but also for the services that could occur in a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.
Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.
The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions addresses these issue which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Environmental Catastrophes.
It is this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” helps to establish the fact that human beings are a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence there is a need to take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It is we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.
The other most important factor is proper flow of information. Responding to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Aid Agencies distributed remarkable amounts of relief aid. But despite this, some needy groups were missed. In some cases, aid went to men and the specific needs of women were not met. In others, aid went to dominant social groups, sidelining tribal people and outcastes. Information about them was lacking.
The obvious questions are: Does the people in a disaster stricken area get enough information? Do they receive the caution before a natural disaster? Do the people of a country have the power to involve themselves in management of environmental disasters?
In a disaster area, there are different types of information: It includes everything from facts to deep understanding & may include lies and deception. It should be kept in mind that gathering data is a one-way process. If one has to acquire knowledge and wisdom, we need to involve and exchange ideas and analyze those in the light of experience, through discussion and interviews or multiple channels of communication.
If the disaster victim can recognize an aid agency’s capacity and viewpoints, they can give better advice as how to help them. It is the dialogue than the data that matters.
If we analyze the intensity of a cyclone & its destruction, the deaths and damages caused, it would indicate very diverse co-relationship between the economic leader of the countries and the actual loss of the communities. One of the deadliest cyclones- the cyclone Bhola of 1970 in East Pakistan was classified as Category III (maximum wind speed 205 km) and it killed three hundred thousand people while the economic loss was estimated at US$ 86.4 million.
If we go back to 2004’s hurricane season at Cuba, the country proved again how effective it is in protecting human life from the worst disaster. It was Hurricane Charley which swept into Cuba on 13th August 2004 where 70,000 houses were severely destroyed and four people died. When hurricane Ivan came to the coastline of Cuba, with greater force, over 2 million people were evacuated but none of them lost their lives.
So, how does Cuba do wonders and save lives from the clutches of such horrible hurricanes?
They overpower natural catastrophes as they take Disaster Management in a broader sense addressing issues and policies related to environmental sustainability, social sustainability, information flow and channelization of those in masses and also focus on needs for good quality education in environmental disaster management.
In Cuba, evacuation orders are mandatory – an important distinction from other neighboring countries. Public transport is provided to get people to shelters. Local branches of Federation of Cuban Women help and persuade reluctant people to accept evacuation, so it is rare that the police or army has to step in.
There is a need to ensure that disaster mitigation efforts are not just top to down and is rather based on direct information from the communities.
Risk Mapping is about consideration of direct link from the environmental factors, logical responses and changing pattern of tensions and relationships. Social division and inequality effect risks and its management. Hence there is a need to develop a methodology for analyzing conflict, which should be based on drawing up ‘maps’ of causes and can be superimposed on a similar map of responses.
The next factor is Environmental Sustainability. When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays for rehabilitation or is now too often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.
One solution to these problems are:
i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.
Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.
With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.
In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is obliterated.
The next obvious aspects are creation of Sustainable Livelihoods. The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.
It is here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their requirements in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tend to remain poorer. It is where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the globe where their presence is felt.
Hence the ways forward are:
a) Recognize that Environmental Sustainability is a must for containing a Disaster
b) Recognize that Social Sustainability along with development is necessary for good Risk Reduction
c) Recognize information as a form of disaster response in its own right
d) Support better access to information and communications along with technology for vulnerable communities
e) Build a partnership for sharing information with communities, local governments, media, telephone companies and Industries.
f) Women and men of all ages from disaster affected areas and wider local populations, including vulnerable groups should receive information about the assistance programme and are given the opportunity to comment to the assistance agency during all stages.
Its then we could save many number of human lives with minimum causalities.

Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY – A NECESSITY FOR EFFECTIVE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It’s a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors.  The links need to be found for analyzing a better Emergency Management. All crisis does not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes does not mean that it’s in negative. A Change may not necessary lead to the fulfillment of ones goal. The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper thinking as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and is a call for Emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors.

Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as Cyclone, Flood, Earthquake, Drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions should aim to address these issues which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Disasters. It’s this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. Environmental Degradation, which in itself is often poverty related may aggravate such hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories.  One is the renewable and the other is the non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” is helping to establish the fact in the minds of the general public that Human Beings is a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence Human Beings should take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It’s we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.

These types of willingness may arise from three fallacies in thought. First each of these tampering is regarded as a separate project because it is carried out by disconnected projects by a separate bureau or profession, and as expertly executed because its proponents are trained, each in his own narrow field. The public does not know or understand that the bureaus may cancel one another and that expertness can cancel understanding. Second there is a notion that any materials built by constructed mechanism are better than the Natural ones. Third, we perceive organic behavior only in those organizations which we have built.

Its thus we human turn wise to tolerate a hasty type of tinkering and make radical amendment to our biotic constitution for our short term benefits. This can lead to a revolt of Ecology and can be rightly termed as ‘Ecological Backlashes’ or ‘Ecological boomerangs’. Thus it is right to define ecological backlash as an unforeseen detrimental consequences of an environmental modification which cancels out the projected gain or as is too often the case, actually creates more problems than it solves.


When it happens, it is a double tragedy since not only is the amount spent in remaking the landscape lost to bad investment but additional sums must then be spent to correct all the new problems created. Hence it is not possible for any independent agency to intervene in a strategic fashion without understanding the dynamics of change, to which there are many inter-related contributory factors, the most important are:

I} Environmental Degradation:

A)     Long Term processes producing patterns of vulnerability, such as environmental degradation.

When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases however, everyone suffers when land is improperly used because everyone eventually pay for rehabilitation or is now too often the case, everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result.  If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely develop. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.

One such factor which is of concern is: the soil conservation profession has tended to “sit on its laurels” and is failing to move with the times. For example, too much effort is now being devoted to creating more farmland by channelizing streams, draining marshes, swamps and so on, at great public expense when nothing is being done to save existing farmland from destruction by ill planned urban development. In general, soil conservation needs to go beyond its present rather exclusive farm range or forestry orientation to the consideration of the urban-rural landscape complex where the most pressing problems now exist.

One solution to these problems may be:

i)                    Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.

ii)                   By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas and waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.

Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.

With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices. Although as little as one third of an acre can produce enough calories to sustain one person, the kind of quality diet we want – one that includes a lot of meat, fruit and leafy vegetables – requires about 1.5 acres per person (Odum).

In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources must become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exits between the rural and urban populations is obliterated. Somehow, environmental sciences and natural disaster management must be merged.

B)      Contingent or proximate event producing reductions in resources or entitlements, such as a Natural Disaster viz drought

Here comes the concept of biotic communities. A biotic community is any assemblage of populations living in a prescribed area or physical habitat. It is an extent that it is has characteristics additional to its individual and population components and functions as a unit through coupled metabolic transformations. It is the living part of the eco-system as indicated in a statement.

Biotic Communities is and should remain a broad term which may be used to designate natural assemblages of various stages from the biota of a log to that of a vast forest or ocean.  Major communities are those which are of sufficient size and completeness of organization that they are relatively independent.

The community concept is important in the practice of ecology because it is seen that as the communities grows so is the growth of an organism. Thus often the best way to “control” a particular organism whether we wish to encourage or discourage it, is to modify the community, rather than to make a direct “attack” on the organism.  Let’s take an example; it is often observed that mosquitoes can often be controlled more efficiently and cheaply by modifying the entire aquatic community (it can be done by fluctuating the water level, for example) than by attempting to poison the organism. Lets take the example of “weeds” thrive under continual disturbance of the soil and the best way to control weeds along a road side, for example is to stop scarping and plowing up road shoulders and way sides and encourage the development of a stable vegetation in which the weeds can not compete.  Hence, human welfare similarly depends on the nature of the communities and ecosystems upon which HE/SHE superimposes his/her culture.

All these add to trauma of the residents, when there is a sudden Natural Disaster like Cyclones, Hurricanes, Earthquakes etc. Environmental Mitigation measures are the need of the hour.

II} Sustainable Livelihoods:

The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.

Its here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their needs in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tends to remain poorer. It’s where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the World where there presence is left.

Even if there are many allegations to the fact that CSR is for branding and bring a good image to the members of the public as well as to the stakeholders, but there are always positive things attached to it. CSR contributes for the betterment of atleast few marginalized sections of the Society. Well, in practical the number far exceeds our imagination. For example Mittal Steel at Kazakhstan owned and operated a Steel Plant and to make the place better Mittal Steel also renewed the tramways, the power plants, the hotels and the Stadiums and developed Social activities such as children’s camps. This was a need for the ordinary people for good infrastructure, good education. A dream of theirs filled by one Corporate through their CSR. That’s development. It’s all about helping the targeted communities and also doing Business. A win and win situation for both the community as well as the Corporate.

One practical approach as done by some American Corporate is to allow the Industry take a leadership role to the social problems and find the ways to a sustainable livelihood in even the remote parts of the Country. It would bring funds to run these social projects effectively. It’s like Industry houses searching ways to align self interest with the larger good of the society.  When business backs philanthropic initiatives with real corporate muscle and expertise, things can drastically improve at the remote areas of a country, since in addition to cash they are providing nonprofits with managerial advice, technological and communications support, and teams of employee volunteers and they are not just funding those initiatives not only for philanthropy budgets but also from business units such as marketing and human resources. In the process, corporate houses may like to form strategic alliances with non-profits and emerging as important partners in movements for social change while advancing their business goals. These are not short term goals but needs a planning for long term management of the issues, which are addressed above.

Hence the results may not show its flavor in the present as we still believe in our notion of giving relief to the persons who are in urgent needs, but surely would give dividends in the future. There are still millions, who don’t have nutritious food. They don’t have proper house to live in. The amazing innovations that we are proud of i.e. Computers, Good Food, Technologies etc generally passes by. They remain in the same place with no growth. Yet, when we talk about development and social reforms we talk of elevating the lives of those who are not so much fortunate.

This is the reason; we need successful interventions so that they contribute to long term impacts on poverty and well being. It’s when there is Social and Environmental Sustainability; we would move a step ahead in successful applications of Disaster Management Planning and Policies and in turn would move towards a Safer India for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks a lot for reading.
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Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant