The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary in English by Nani Palkhivala

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The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary in English by Nathalie Trouveroy

About the Author Nani Palkhivala

Author Name Nani Palkhivala
Born 16 January 1920, Mumbai
Died 11 December 2002, Mumbai
Education University of Mumbai, St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Government Law College, Mumbai
Awards Padma Vibhushan
Siblings Amy Ranina, Behram A Palkhivala
Nani Palkhivala - the ailing planet: the green movements role summary in english
Nani Palkhivala

The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Theme

This newspaper article is a sad commentary on the gradual deterioration of Earth’s environment. Our planet is no longer a pleasant place to live in. Fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands need to be preserved and protected. The article suggests that we should try to limit the rise in population and stop the perpetuation of poverty. The Green Movement, started in 1972, is the only hope for the survival of this planet as well as that of the human race.

The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Summary in English

The Green Movement
The Green Movement, which started in 1972, is one of the most important movements that captivated the imagination of the entire human race. At that time, the world’s first nationwide Green party was founded in New Zealand.

The movement has been a great success since then. A revolutionary change has come in the perception of human beings, bringing in a holistic and ecological view of the world. There has been a shift from the understanding developed by Copernicus.

Copernicus stated in the sixteenth century that the earth and the other planets revolved round the sun. For the first time, there is a growing worldwide realisation that the earth itself is a living organism. It has its own metabolic needs and fundamental processes which need to be respected and preserved. The earth’s vital signs reveal a patient in declining health. Humans have realised their ethical obligations to protect and preserve the needs of the planet.

The Concept of Sustainable Development
The concept of sustainable development was popularised in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development. It defined the idea as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It means that we should pursue development for our present needs but we should be careful about the needs of the future generations as well.

Man and the Other Living Species
Man has been considered as the most dangerous being on the planet. In the zoo at Lusaka, Zambia, there is a cage where the notice reads, ‘The world’s most dangerous animal’.

Inside the cage, there is no animal but a mirror in which we see our reflection. With continuous and sustained efforts of a number of agencies in different countries, human beings are realising that they should not dominate Earth but respect it as a partner.

Man is thus learning to live in harmony with the other living species on the planet. Man’s existence is shifting from the system of domination to that of partnership.

There are about 1.4 million living species on Earth that have been listed. Biologists think that there are about three million to a hundred million other living species that are still unknown.

Earth’s Principal Biological Systems
The Brandt Commission was one of the first international commissions which dealt with the question of ecology and environment. An Indian, Mr LK Jha, was a member of this commission. The First Brandt Report raised the question that whether we want to leave behind a scorched and a sick environment for our coming generations?

Mr Lester R Brown, in his book, ‘The Global Economic Prospect’, points out Earth’s four major biological systems, that are fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands. These four are the foundation of the global economic system. Besides providing us food, they provide nearly all the raw materials for industries except minerals and petroleum derived synthetics. The demand of human beings on these systems is increasing to such an unsustainable extent that the productivity of these systems is being hampered.

The excessive demand has resulted in deterioration and depletion of resources leading to the breakdown of fisheries, disappearance of forests, deterioration of croplands and turning of grasslands into barren lands. In a protein conscious and protein-hungry world, over-fishing is common. In poor countries, local forests are destroyed to obtain fuel for cooking.

Mankind Destroys Forests
The ancient inheritance of tropical forests is now eroding at the rate of 40 to 50 million acres per year. The growing use of dung for combustion deprives the soil of an important natural fertiliser.

The World Bank estimates that a five-fold increase in the rate of forest planting is needed to cope with the expected fuelwood demand in the year 2000.

James Speth, the President of the World Resources Institute, revealed the very alarming statistic that we are losing the forests at an acre-and-a-half a second.

Article 48A of the Indian Constitution states that it is the duty of the states to make efforts to improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Unfortunately, laws are neither respected nor enforced in India. Over the last four decades ‘India’s forests have reached disastrous exhaustion’. India is losing its forests at the rate of 3.7 million acres a year. Large areas, officially designated as forest land, are virtually treeless.

The Menace of Overpopulation
The growth of world population is one of the strongest factors distorting the future of human society. Mankind reached the first billion mark in more than a million years of its existence. That was the world population in the year 1800. By the year 1900, a second billion was added. The twentieth century has added another 3.7 billion. Every four days, the world population increases by one million.

Fertility falls as income rises, education spreads and health improves. Development is the best method to limit the population. However, development may not be possible if population goes on increasing at this rate. The population of India was estimated to be 920 million in 1994.

The population of India is more than the entire population of Africa and South America together. More children do not mean more workers; it merely means more people without work.

The only solution to this is voluntary family planning. Population and poverty are directly proportional to each other. Thus, control of the population should be our topmost priority.

Era of Responsibility
Slowly but steadily, people are understanding the concept that the entire world should be treated as an integrated whole rather than a collection of separate parts.

For sustainable development of the world, everyone has to play one’s role, even the industries.

Margaret Thatcher and Lester Brown suggested that Earth is not our property. It passes on from one generation to another with the hope that each generation will take care of it so as to pass it on to the next with its resources intact.

The chapter concludes with the beautiful lines of Mr. Lester R Brown, “We have not inherited this Earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children.”

The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Chapter Highlights

  • In 1972, the Green Movement started with the first nationwide Green party being established in New Zealand.
  • For the first time in human history, there was a realisation that the planet is a living organism in declining health due to the impact of human activities on its natural resources. The World Commission on Environment and Development popularised the concept of sustainable development in 1987.
  • Man has realised the wisdom of shifting from a system based on domination to one based on partnership. Biologists think that we may never discover many unknown species if we do not conserve their habitats.
  • Mr LK Jha in the Brandt Commission Report raised the question whether we wanted to leave behind a scorched, sick environment for our coming generations,
  • Lester R Brown’s book, The Global Economic Prospect’ identifies the principal biological systems of the earth as fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands. They provide food supply and raw material for our survival. According to the World
  • Bank, we need to increase the rate of forest planting by five times to cope with the expected fuelwood demand.
  • Though Article 48A of the Constitution of India provides that the state shall try to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country, this has not been implemented properly. Growing population is one of the strongest factors changing the future of human society.
  • As incomes rise and education spreads, the rate of population increase will decrease. This will improve health as well. Thus, development is the best way to check population.
  • The author claims that industry must join the cause and work towards becoming eco-friendly just as Du Pont under the leadership of Edgar S Woolard.
  • Margaret Thatcher also expressed her concern saying that no generation has a freehold on this earth. We live a life like tenants who have a full repairing rental contract.
  • Mr Lester R Brown says that we have not inherited this Earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children.

The Ailing Planet: The Green Movements Role Word Meanings

Word – Meaning
recall – remember
movement – mass campaign
gripped – controlled
irrevocably – permanently
mechanistic – related to machines
holistic – complete and comprehensive
ecological – concerned with the relation of living creatures to the environment of a place
consciousness – awareness
organism – living being
metabolic – related to a chemical process in living things that changes food into energy and materials for growth
ethical – connected with beliefs and principles about what is right and wrong
stewards – caretakers
trustees – trusted people
legacy – consequences
catalogued – classified; listed
species – varieties of animals and plants
languish – remain
in ignominious darkness – unknown
scorched – burnt
impoverished – deprived
ailing – sick
synthetics – chemical compounds
unsustainable – not possible to replace
impaired – harmed
barren – infertile
decimated – largely reduced
procure – obtain
tropical – hot and humid
evolution – development
face extinction – have no living members
precede – come before
patrimony – inheritance
eroding – gradually disappearing
catastrophic – disastrous
depletion – reduction
designated – named
contraceptive – way to control population
beget – give birth to
coercion – use of force
concern – major anxiety
demise – death
dissociated – separated
transformation – change
felicitous – appropriate
freehold – permanent occupancy
tenancy – temporary
lease – temporary stay
forefathers – ancestors

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