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Human Relationship to the Environment: Taking Individual Responsibility By Deven Björn Murti

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Presentation on theme: "Human Relationship to the Environment: Taking Individual Responsibility By Deven Björn Murti"— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Relationship to the Environment: Taking Individual Responsibility By Deven Björn Murti dbmurti@comcast.net

2 Introduction Deven Björn Murti Fifth visit to India over thirty year span Developed interest in environment in high school; took bachelors minor in Env. & Resource Studies; master’s degree in Env. & Community Have interned at several organizations Interest in India from spiritual, cultural, wanted to learn about real India Mahatma Gandhi is a central inspiration.

3 Format Initial presentation to introduce ideas (10 minutes?) Questions to speaker and to audience –What projects are you involved in? –How are you helping to save the Indian environment? –What are your questions to me? Group discussion of environmental ideas and concerns.

4 What is environment? We have physical bodies. Our bodies interact with external world. We eat, breathe, drink, sense (hear, smell, feel, see, touch) Environment is totality of external experience of nature. Our physical well-being is directly related to the quality of our environment. –Air, water,

5 Nature’s Role Nature is the primary system that supports life on Earth through certain conditions: –Water, land, air, temperature, sunlight, etc. Life on Earth has developed a balance through ecosystems for last 10,000 years. –Cycles of nature, e.g., humans breathe in O 2, emit CO 2, plants breathe in CO 2, emit O 2 –Plants absorb sunlight> cows eat grass> cows emit dung> soil absorb nutrients> plants absorb sunlight. –survival of the fittest

6 Biosphere Biosphere, total living Earth system All of the ecosystems on the planet along with their interactions. The sphere of all air, water, and land in which all life is found.

7 Humans are part of biosphere Humans are part and parcel of biosphere. Humans are dependent on narrow set of biospheric conditions Uncontrolled and careless human actions are breaking down Earth’s ecological balance.

8 Industrialization Advantages: –Efficiency comes through mass production. –Creates jobs, markets, and wealth –Increases buying power, consumerism –Less dependence/greater self sufficiency –Finished (value added) products, rather than raw materials, are exported to keep money in India.

9 Industrialization (cont’d) Disadvantages –Dislocation of workers away from villages to large cities so relationships become more disconnected. –Growing cities must share scarce natural resources. Pollution from modern transportation Greater use of fossil fuels and energy consumption - global warming Improper release of industrial waste pollutes water. –Water table is being lowered throughout India –e.g. Narmada Dam project’s human & environmental costs

10 Why does society allow environmental degradation? Consumers are unwilling to pay for clean technologies, which results in no profit incentive for producers. –Polarization between poor and wealthy so don’t feel part of same society. –Lack of information and education. –People are complacent because they don’t feel empowered.

11 East & West Development –India and China are emerging as global economic powers- but for the present appear to be less concerned with environmental decline. Corruption - lack of enforcement (funds & whistleblowers) –India need not make the same mistakes as America and Europe made during their development. Prevention is less costly than cleaning up the mess afterwards The “greening of America” – gathering momentum –New watchword in West is sustainable development.

12 What is sustainable development? One comprehensive definition of sustainability is found in Paul Hawkin’s book, The Ecology of Commerce: “The economic state where the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations. It can also be expressed in the simple terms of an economic golden rule for the restorative economy: leave the world better than you found it, take no more than you need, try not to harm the environment, make amends if you do.”

13 Why is there interest in sustainable development? People are increasingly aware of and concerned about environment because: –Personal health & survival concerns make people less willing to live in polluted environments. –Environment is a global issue. Pollution has no boundaries. Deforestation of the Amazon, global warming, hole in ozone layer should be of interest to India too. –People are exposed to environmental issues in the global media and increasingly identify with the problems.

14 Who’s interested in sustainable development? Environmental Activists Scientists & researchers Consumers conscious of the environment Corporations see the growing interest as a market opportunity. Health professionals Insurance companies - global warming

15 Precautionary Approach to Environmental Concerns In the past, humans have been reactive to feedback received from disgruntled consumers, environmental legislation, or from environmental crises. In the future we need to be proactive, using precaution. –Precautionary Approach - “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” (United Nations Rio Declaration, 1992)

16 Dilemma - How to foster development and give attention to the environment? United Nations - Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005 – 2014. –Improving the quality of education and reorienting its goals to recognize the importance of sustainable development must be one of UNESCO’s and the world’s highest priorities.

17 How can individuals take responsibility for helping the environment? Each person acting responsibly can make a big difference. This idea has been tried successfully by Gandhiji in India. Become involved. Learn more. Redeeming the human relationship to the environment is the great challenge of our generation. Invest in idealism: Connect what one learns with what one does. –Importance of making use of individual contacts. My personal story about using my inspiration to start a club, Students for Environmental Action Coalition www.seac.org in my high school. www.seac.org

18 Group Brainstorm and Discussion What projects are you involved in? How are you helping to save the Indian environment? What are your questions to me?


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