Let Us Focus On Environment Risks

Environment risks are really not being given the priority they should get. The emphasis is on covering the financial risks of the country, corporate, society and individual. I do not really understand the reason for it. Is it that, as a society we are simply financially focused or it is because a natural disaster and subsequent loss is unpredictable? In recent times there is ample coverage of environment and climate change risks; however the attitude is still lax. Although, as seen in the recent case of Pakistan floods, the losses caused by a natural disaster are far higher.

The floods in Pakistan are considered the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. The human death toll is estimated at 3000. WHO is concerned and states that health of the citizens is at risk with widespread diarrhea, malaria and cholera. 200,000 cattle have died and another ten million are at risk. According to estimates nearly 20% (1.38 million hectares) of farmland of the country has been washed away, and 2 million houses, and 7000 schools are damaged. The total financial loss is estimated to be $43 billion.

In the last few years we have had a number of natural disasters- earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami, tornados, and floods, in different parts of the world. The reason of the increased number of natural disasters is stated to be climate change. The environment risks are intellectually understood by all along with the magnitude of loss to life and property. But as Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.” I think we as a society are not doing much because we do not feel the pain of one million till our life gets washed away suddenly.

I came across the video in which 13 year old Severn Suzuku, from Environment Children’s Organization of Canada, had addressed the UN Earth Summit in 1992. In this she had asked the Boomers and Gen X- “when you were children did you have to worry about environment?” I would say- “No”, as a child I never thought that the natural environment- clean air, rivers and lakes, forests and wildlife, etc. will not be available for the next generation to see and enjoy. Though the speech was made in 1992, it is still applicable in 2010, as the situation has deteriorated. According to me, the Boomers and Gen X have not been responsible environmentally.

The only hope is that finally the Indian government is recognizing it. President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, while addressing the AIMA conference said – “Even as India reaches new milestones in its economic growth that ensures sustainable development, we need to address challenges such as climate change, carbon emissions and our depleting natural resources. There should be focus on the use of alternative energy sources that produce fewer emissions. Also, investing in alternative natural sources of energy such as wind, water and sun, is a huge opportunity waiting to be harnessed.”

India is the largest democracy in the world and it has to take center stage to improve the environment. In our individual, social and organization level, let us actively engage in mitigating the environment risks. In this case each drop in the ocean will count.

I have seen in Bangalore, citizens are working voluntarily in various projects to save the environment. Some of them relate to cleaning parks, tree plantation, setting up sewage treatment plants and saving wildlife. This clearly indicates that in individual and social capacity we can do a lot. The participation needs to increase and we need to be more disciplined about it.

Write to me here on how you think we can protect the environment. Please share your ideas and let us build some momentum for it.