“God made the land; God made the man. He stopped making the
land, but He is still making the man.”
– Trevor Osborne, ex- Minister
It took human population ten thousand years – until about AD1800 – to reach one billion, but a short period of about 180 years to reach ca. 7 billion (c.f. Prof. Tim Flannery). Ninety percent of the population growth has taken place in the less developed and the developing countries. The planet is stressed with overpopulation and resource consumption which are beyond its carrying capacity.
Solving the pollution, and resource dilemma, according to many experts, would ask for a substantial and immediate decrease in the growth of population.
While pre-Industrial CO2 was 281ppm, we have already arrived at 390ppm and are still increasing – though 350ppm CO2 was the level on which civilization had developed and to which life on earth is adapted, according to James Edward Hansen , head of the NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, USA. While industrial and eastern bloc nations cut down CO2 emission at least by 5.2 percent below 1990 level, in the US and the developing countries these rose by 12 percent and 30 percent respectively. And since eighty per cent of global warming is due to the burning of fossil fuels (c.f. James Lovelock), it is high time to halt the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In 1995, fourteen international disputes took place over water –after mount Kenya’s glaciers (17057 feet high) in Africa shrank by 40 percent since 1963, in addition to the Alps of Europe which shrank to half their size, and so did the Quelccaya (kell-kII-yah) Ice Cap, Cordillera de Vilcanota, the largest single glacier (18602 feet high) in Peruvian Andes Mountains that supplied water to Peru and adjoining countries (c.f. Karen Arms). In Bern (Sweden), the glaciers broke into pieces between 1990 and 2002 producing small lakes here and there (Wilfried Haeberli). And environmentalists have also observed the rate of dissipation of Arctic ice to be exceptionally high. Needless to say that the melting of glaciers in Kenya in 60s was an eye opener for the mankind much before any treaty could be signed.
The volume of CO2 around the planet is now quite huge and alarming. But for the plants, planktons and algae, on earth and in the ocean, that absorb bulk of CO2, oxygen would have decreased drastically to cause mankind suffocation given the limited depth of “breathing layer” in the “aerial ocean”. Barring the old coniferous forests of Siberia, Canada and the tropical rain forests, it is the new, vigorously growing saplings, trees, and foliage that absorb high amounts of CO2 and release oxygen for the mankind.
Pakistan, though not a big polluter is a significant victim of pollution and climate change. It speaks for the peoples’ love for trees, flowers, and greenways in the US, that in 1992 polls, 22 percent voted for the political candidates who had done service to environment.
However, environmental experts in Pakistan have called upon the country’s industrial sector to introduce clean development mechanism to meet the challenges of improved energy efficiency and the climate change. A primary producer-industry nexus on the pattern of Green Plan of the Netherlands could be in the fitness of things given the stringent regulatory restrictions imposed by the WTO on the developing countries.
That is, it is now that we are facing a crisis which calls for an immediate attention to the problem and to devise a green plan that worked out in the Netherlands and is worth emulating.
Four basic principles characterize the Netherlands Green Plan – the first makes the companies responsible for the products from production to consumption to disposal. This ensures the production of goods that could be recycled.
The second most important principle is energy efficiency mechanism for competitive and cheaper goods. Reuse of heat is thus called for if suitable techniques are developed and used in local industries during times when it is cold.
Development of sustainable technologies is another strategy of the Green Plan proposed by the Dutch Government. To cut down heavy spending on imported technologies in countries like Pakistan what is needed is intoduce green culture to reduce gaseous emissions. By introducing profuse cultivation of plants and trees one could produce a marked effect as an artificial means of cooling and thus save on energy spending.
In addition to industrialisation, power production engines that produce CO2 and carbon-intensive lifestyles in rich countries have impacted poor countries subjecting them to increasing poverty and inequality. Therefore, tackling climate change is considered to be an issue of justice.
If man could harness the energy of falling waters (dams) thousands of years ago, why should we be remiss in the use of great potential of this resource and in building major dams like Kalabagh Dam and small dams throughout the country to overcome the shortage of water and energy that is hitting the people hard.
The Kyoto protocol that envisaged at the outset a limit to gaseous emissions and a cut by the developed countries of the world is now a victim of attitudes in view of the emissions by the newly expanding economies of Asia, southern America, China and Brazil that face the dilemma of over population. As pointed out by Robert McNamara, a president of the World Bank some time ago. “Short of (a) nuclear war itself, the population growth is the gravest issue the world faces……”.If we do not act the problem will be solved by famine, riot, insurrection, and war.”
The writer is ex-director NIAB, Faisalabad, former HEC professor, UAF, ex-professor of Environmental Sciences, GCUF, and former member of the New York Academy of Sciences, USA.