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The importance of the soils lies in their present in a soil are nitrogen, potassium, magnesium,
fertility which in turn depends upon the elements boron, sulphur, phosphorus, calcium, iron and copper.
present in the soils. From the point of view of the quali- Each one of these elements has its own special
tative analysis of soil, it may be said to consist of or- importance. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth and
ganic and inorganic elements. The organic matter in reproduction. It is provided to the soil by nitrogen-
the soil, which differentiates it from regolith and which fixing bacteria. Phosphorus tends to increase plant
comes from animal and vegetable decay, is called hu- growth and crop yield. It is the element that helps in
mus. The presence of humus in a soil leads to several ripening the seeds. Potassium gives starch to the plants.
characteristics. It strengthens the stalks and improves the equality of
1. It leads to the growth of micro-organisms, so seeds. Magnesium and calcium are essential for plant
important for the development of plants. health and tend to help the growth of leaves. Iron and
2. It makes available to the plants certain impor- sulphur also contribute their share to plant growth and
tant foods. development. Most of these elements are obtained form
3. Due to humus, soils have greater capacity for the mineral components of the original rocks.
holding water. The formation of a soil can be understood from
4. It conserves moisture in the soil and prevents the chart given below.
5. It makes the soil particles more adhesive so
that the whole becomes waxy and gelatinous.
The inorganic elements of a soil consist of cer-
tain mineral salts that are obtained from the bedrock
itself by physical action. The most important minerals


Chemical Forces Physical forces

/ | \
Plant action Chemical Animal action Wind Heat Water Glacier
and decay action and decay and cold
/ | | | | | |
Humus, Acids, bases, Humus, Scouring Expansion Grinding Grinding
organic solution, organic mixing and and
matter, oxidation matter contraction mixing

While the chemical action produces the elements so essential for plant growth, it is the mechanical action
or the impact of physical forces that gives structure and texture to the soil. As a matter of fact, soil may be said to
be of many types according to its origin, texture and structure.
According to origin, soils are residual and transported. Residual soils are those that were formed in the
place of their origin. Such soils exist on slopes and regions lying between the courses of two streams. The chief
characteristic of residual soils is that finer material is at the top but as one proceeds in depth, coarser material is
encountered. The size of the rock material goes on increasing as one moves downward. Their mineral content is
the same as that of the rock below. Besides, residual soils are subject to leaching and removal of top layer. When
this happens, it loses its fertility. Ordinarily, leaching is common in the residual soils of humid regions while

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removal of top layer takes place in arid zones. of rocks without changes in the rocks composition. In
The transported soils: a cold climate, with temperature that fluctuates above
Are those that have been carried away by the and below freezing, water in cracks repeatedly freezes
special agent from the place of origin and eposited at and expands, forcing rocks apart, then thaws and con-
some distant place. These soils are especially fertile, tracts or flows away. Crystallizing salts in cracks may
and their characteristics differ according to the action have the same wedging effect. In extreme climates like
of the particular agent that has transported them. The those of deserts, where the contrast between day and
rock material may be transported by wind, water and night temperatures is very large, the daily thermal ex-
moving ice. According transported soils are known as pansion and nightly contraction of rocks might cause
loess, alluvium and till, respectively. The chief charac- enough stress to break the rock up, although there is
teristic of the transported soils is that they differ from some doubt that the stresses thus created are really
the rock which underlies them. Such different soils, al- sufficient to break up unreturned rock. Whatever the
luvium or that deposited by the water is most fertile, cause, the principal effect of mechanical weathering is
especially because its elements are being replenished the breakup of large chunks of rock into smaller ones.
every year during floods. In the process, the total exposed surface area of the
particles is increased.
Chemical weathering
Chemical weathering involves the breakdown of
minerals by chemical reaction with water, with other
chemicals dissolved in water, or with gases in the air.
Minerals differ in the kinds of chemical reactions they
undergo. Calcite (calcium carbonate) tends to dissolve
completely, leaving no other minerals behind in its place.
Calcite dissolves rather slowly in plain water but more
rapidly in acidic water. Many natural waters are slightly
acidic; acid rainfall or acid runoff from coal strip mines
is more so and causes more rapid dissolution. This is,
in fact, becoming a serious problem where limestone
and its metamorphic equivalent-marble-are widely used
for outdoor sculptures and building stone. Calcite dis-
solution is gradually destroying delicate sculptural fea-
tures and eating away at the very fabric of many build-
ings in urban areas where acid rain is common.
Silicates tend to be somewhat less susceptible to
chemical weathering and leave other minerals behind
when they are attacked. Feldspars principally weather
into clay minerals. Ferromagnesian silicates leave be-
hind insoluble iron oxides and hydroxides and some
clays, with other chemical component being dissolved
away. Those residual iron compounds are responsible
Soil Formation for the reddish or yellowish colors of many soils. In
Soil is defined in different ways for different pur- most climates, quartz is extremely resistant to chemical
poses. Engineering geologists define soil very broadly weathering, dissolving only slightly.
to include all unconsolidated material overlying bed- The susceptibility of many silicates to chemical
rock. Soil scientists term soil to those materials capable weathering can be inferred from the conditions under
of supporting plant growth and distinguish it from in- which the silicates formed. Given several silicates that
fertile regolith. Conventionally, the term soil implies little
have crystallized from the same magma, those that
transportation away from the site at which the soil formed at the highest temperatures tend to be the least
formed. While the term sediment indicates matter that stable, or most easily weathered at the low tempera-
has been transported and re-deposited by wind, water, tures of soil formation at the earths surface, and vice
or ice. versa. A rocks tendency to weather chemically is de-
Soil is produced by weathering, a term that en- termined by its mineral composition. For example, a gab-
compasses a variety of chemical, physical, and biologi- bro (the coarsely crystalline equivalent of basalt)
cal processes acting to break down rocks. It may be formed at high temperatures and rich in ferromagnesian
formed directly from bedrock, or from further breakdown minerals, generally weathers more readily than a gran-
of transport sediment, such as glacial till. The relative ite rich in quartz and low-temperature feldspars.
importance of the different kinds of weathering pro- Climate plays a major role in the intensity of
cesses is largely determined by climate. Climate, topog- chemical weathering. Most of the relevant chemical re-
raphy, the compositions of the materials from which actions involve water. All else being equal, then, the
the soil is formed and time govern a soils final compo- more water, the more chemical weathering. Also, most
sition. chemical reactions proceed more rapidly at high tem-
Mechanical weathering
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is the physical breakup9311958009 [2]
peratures than at low ones. Therefore, warm climates are more conducive to chemical weathering than cold ones.
The rates of chemical and mechanical weathering are interrelated. Chemical weathering may speed up the mechani-
cal breakup of rock together by dissolving the minerals that are holding the rock together by cementing the
mineral grains as in some sedimentary rocks. Increased mechanical weathering may, in turn, accelerate chemical
weathering through the increase in exposed surface area, because it is only at grain surfaces that minerals, air, and
water interact. The higher the ratio of surface area to volume-that is, the smaller the particles-the more rapid the
chemical weathering.
Biological weathering
Biological weathering effects can be either mechanical or chemical. Among the mechanical effects is the
action of tree roots in working into cracks to split rocks apart. Chemically, many organisms produce compounds
that may react with and dissolve or break down minerals. Plants, animals, and micro-organisms develop more
abundantly and in greater variety in warm, wet climates. Mechanical weathering is generally the dominant process
only in areas where climatic conditions have limited the impact of chemical weathering and biological effects-that
is, in cold or dry areas.
The following chart will make the whole thing very clear.

Formed in place Transported


By water By ice By wind

(Glacial) (aeolian)

River Ocean Lake

(alluvium) (marine) (lacustrine)

Texture of the soils

The texture of the soils depends upon the size and arrangement of soil particles. In some soils, the particles
are bigger and in some smaller. Similarly, in certain soils the arrangement of soil particles is more adhesive than in
others. On the arrangement of soil particles depends the pore spaces in a soil and this determines the thorough-
ness of a soil. The larger the size of the soil particles, greater would be the pore space and easier would be the
percolation of water through them. Sand is a characteristic example, which soaks water very quickly. But in sand
or soil of larger particles the water is as readily evaporated as well. On the other hand, soils with finer particles
and with a closer texture retain moisture in them. Clay is a significant case in point.

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On the basis of the texture, soils may be classified as gravel, sand, silt and clay. A mixture of sand and clay
is called loam and accordingly as sand is more or clay is more in proportion, it may be called sandy loam or clayey

Sand Silt Clay Loam

1. Sand grains are 1. Quartz 1. Plate shaped
rounded or irreg- grains grains.
ular in shape. and 2. Sticky and Sandy Silty Clay
2. Loose, doesnt varied in highly plas loam loam loam
hold water well, shape -tic when
has large pore spaces wet; hard and
between the grains, cloddy when
water drains off rapid dry. Compact
-ly and movement of and fine grain-
air through the soil ed; Absorp-
is free. tive, adhesive.
Water and air
cannot move
through it.

Structure of the soils

It refers to the pattern in which the soil particles are arranged. But not all soils have structure.

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There are many well-known soils as sands, laterites and podsols, which have no structure whatsoever. Then
there are certain soils that have excellent structure. It is commonly seen that soils which lack structure, soils
having well defined structure are good in tilling. The structure of different soils is different. In some, the soil
particles are is granular or nutty. Each type of structure has its own special features, but the structure of the soils
in general plays a very important role both in making the soil fertile and then in replenishing its fertility.

Thin flat layers Aggregates of parti- Block like struc- small rounded
pile one upon cles are shaped like ture is found in aggregates are
the other hori- pillars-placed ver- subsoils of humid loosely combined
zontally. tically side by side regions-aggrega- (in soils rich
(arid and semi-arid tes are cube like in organic
regions). and rounded, materials).
lying closed
In sands, the soil is formed of single grains and lacks structure. In clay the units are massive and have no
distinct structure.
The soil is a dynamic layer in the sense that many complex physical and chemical activities are going on
simultaneously within it.
Soil, is a natural surface layer containing living matter and supporting or capable of supporting plants.
Substance of the soil includes both inorganic (mineral) matter and organic matter, the latter comprises both living
and dead. Living matter in the soil consists not only of plant roots, but of many kinds of organisms, including
micro-organisms. The upper limit of the soil is air or shallow water. Horizontal limits of the soil may be deep water
or barren areas of rock or ice. Soil usually show soil horizons, which are distinctive horizontal layers set apart from
other soil zones or layers by differences in physical and chemical composition, organic content, structure, or a
combination of those properties. Soil horizons are developed by the interactions, through time, climate, living
organisms, and the configuration of the land surface (relief).
Our definition of soil excludes surfacial materials that do not support the growth of plants.
Modern soil science makes use of the concept of the polypedon, which is the smallest distinctive division
of the soil of a given area. A unique single set of properties applies to the polypedon, and this set differs from that
applying to adjacent polypedons. The polypedon is conceived in terms of space geometry as being composed of
pedons. A pedon is a soil column extending down from the surface to reach a lower limit in some form of regolith
or bedrock. Soil scientists often visualize a pedon as a 6-sided (hexagonal) column. The soil profile is the display
of horizons on one face of the pedon. Obviously, the same soil profile is displayed on all 6 faces of the pedon. In
practice, a soil scientist digs a deep pit, exposing a soil profile on the side of the pit.
Most horizons are visibly set apart on the basis of color or texture. Mineral soil horizons are designated by
a set of capital letters and numeral subscripts, starting with A at the top. An organic horizon, designated by the
letter O, lies on the A horizon.
The soil solum consists of the A, E, and B horizons of the soil profile; these are the dynamic and distinctive
layers of the soil. The Chorizon, by contrast, is the parent material. The soil solum occupies the zone in which
living plant roots exert control on the soil horizons; the C horizon lies below that level of root activity.
Color is the most obvious property of a soil. Black color usually indicates the presence of
abundant organic matter (humus); red color usually indicates the presence of sesquioxide of iron
(hematite). The soil color may in some areas be inherited from the parent matter; but more generally, it is a property
generated by the soil-forming processes.
Three measurable variables determine color. One is the hue, or dominant color of the pure spectrum, depend-
ing on wavelength. A second variable is value, the degree of darkness or lightness of the color. The third is
chroma, the purity or strength of the spectral color. By using standard color books, the observer can express soil
color as a letter-numeral code, telling hue, value, and chroma.
Soil consistence refers to the quality of stickiness of wet soil and to the plasticity of moist soil, as well as the
degree of coherence or hardness of the soil when it holds small amounts of moisture or is in the dry state.
Stickiness of a wet soil is evaluated by pressing a quantity of soil between thumb and finger, then separating the
digits and observing the extent to which soil adheres to the skin. Plasticity is evaluated by rolling a small amount
of wet soil into a rod shape. If plasticity is high, the soil can be rolled into a thin wire. Coherence is measured when
a soil is dry and is expressed by various levels of hardness, ranging from loose (non coherent) to extremely hard.
Soil Horizons
Soil horizons range greatly in thickness and distinctness. Soil horizons are of two classes: organic horizons
and mineral horizons.
Organic horizons, designated by the capital letter O, overlie the mineral horizons and are formed of accumu-
lations of organic matter derived from plants and animals. Typically, the uppermost organic horizon, designated as
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Oi, consists of vegetative matter in original forms recognizable with the unaided eye. Beneath the Oi horizon lies
the Oa horizon, which consists of altered remains of parts of plants and animals not recognizable with the naked
eye. Material of the Oa horizon is referred to as humus; it consists largely of plant tissues partly oxidized by
consumer organisms. The process by which the Oa horizon is produced has been called humification.
Mineral horizons consist predominantly of inorganic mineral matter, of which two basic groups are recog-
nized: (1) skeletal minerals and (2) clay minerals and related weathering products. The skeletal minerals, mostly
in the form of particles of sand and silt grades, comprise the bulk of most soils. Skeletal materials may consist of
individual grains of a single mineralquartz, for exampleor grains that are aggregates of several minerals.
They form the mineral soil fraction, most important in soil-forming processes, in the development of horizons,
and in determining the natural fertility of soils. The clay minerals have special physical and chemical properties
because of their colloidal size and because of the plate like shape of the individual clay particles.
Mineral horizons are designated by the letters A, E, and B, with various subdivisions designated by adding
subscript lowercase letters. Our emphasis in this description of the properties of the A, E, and B horizons is on
soils of most climates formed under forest cover. Our description would not apply closely to soils of semiarid and
arid climates. Mineral horizons have less than 20 percent organic matter when no clay is present, less than 30
percent organic matter when the mineral fraction consists of 50 percent or more clay.

The A horizon is usually rich in finely divided organic matter and is therefore usually darker than the E
horizon below. The E horizon is characterized by loss of clay minerals and of oxides of iron and aluminum. A
concentration of quartz grains of sand or coarse silt grade usually remains, and the horizon is often pale.
The B horizon typically shows a gain of mineral matter, which may come from the A and E
horizons above. High concentrations of clay minerals, oxides of iron and aluminum, and organic
matter (humus) are often found in the B horizon. Thus, the B horizon is typically less friable than the A horizons;
it may be dense and tough and cementation may also occur.
The C horizon, beneath the B horizon, is a mineral layer of regolith or sediment (but not bedrock), little
affected by biologic activity. The C horizon is not part of the soil solum and is described simply as the layer of
parent material. The C horizon is, however, affected by physical and chemical processes. An example is the
accumulation of calcium carbonate in dry climates, which causes cementation in some soils. In these
environments,the C horizon may also show accumulations of silica or soluble salts. Bedrock underlying the C

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horizon (or the B horizon when the C horizon is missing) is designated the R horizon.

Soil Colloids
Clay mineral particles of colloidal dimensions are chemically active in the soil because of their great surface
area. The crystalline structure of the clay minerals is such that the atoms are arranged in systematic repeating
geometric patterns, called crystal lattices. For the clay minerals, the lattice structure takes the form of flat, parallel
lattice layers of extreme thinness. For this reason the clay minerals are referred to as layer silicates.
The chemical bonds that hold together the atoms within each lattice layer are strong, whereas the bonds
between layers are weak. Because of this structure, water molecules and various free ions can penetrate between
the layers of the clay mineral, leading to its chemical alteration and to its physical disruption.
Soil Acidity and Alkalinity
The various soil cations capable of being readily exchanged on colloidal particles belong to two general
classes. One class, important plant nutrients, consists of the base cations (or simply, bases). The base cations
most important in soils are the following:
Calcium Ca++
Magnesium Mg++
Potassium K+
Sodium Na+
When base cations comprise the large majority of cations held by soil colloids, the soil is in a condition
described as alkaline.
The other class consists of acid-generating cations. Three acid-generating cations are important in soils.
One is the aluminum ion, Al+++; it is associated with extreme acidity. The second is the hydroxyl aluminum ion,
Al (OH)++, associated with a moderate degree of acidity. The third is the hydrogen ion, H+, forming about 10
percent of the acid-generating ions in acid soils. These ions must be exchangeable, that is, free to change places
with other ions on the surface of colloids.
A soil is described as acidic when the total numbers of readily exchangeable acid-generating cations
comprise from 5 to 60 percent of the total cation exchange capacity; the larger the percentage, the greater the
degree of acidity.
The range of alkalinity or acidity of a soil is measured in terms of a number known as the pH of the soil
solution. (The pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions; it is the logarithm to the base 10 of the
reciprocal of the weight in grams of hydrogen ions per liter of water. Consequently, smaller the pH number, greater
the hydrogen ion concentration). A pH of 7.0 is neutral in this scale; values above 10 represent a strongly alkaline
soil solution.
For agricultural soils, this quality is very important because certain crops require near-neutral values of pH
and cannot thrive on acidic soils. Plants differ considerably in their preference for soil acidity or alkalinity, and

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this is an important factor in the distribution of plant types.
Soil-Temperature Regimes
Temperature acts as a control over biologic activity and influences the intensity of chemical processes
affecting the clay minerals. Below the freezing point, O0C (320F), there is no biologic activity; chemical processes
affecting minerals are inactive. Between O0C and 50C (32 and 410F), root growth of most plants and germination
of most sees is impossible. The germination of seeds of many low-latitude plants requires a soil temperature of
240C (750F) or higher.
Biologic Processes in Soil Formation
The total role of biologic processes in soil formation includes the presence and activities of living plants
and animals as well as their nonliving organic products. Living plants contribute to soil formation in two basic
ways. First is the production of organic matterboth above the soil as stems and leaves and within the soil as
roots. This primary production provides the raw material of organic matter in the O horizon and in lower horizons.
The decomposer organisms process this raw material, reducing it to humus and ultimately to its initial compo-
nentscarbon dioxide and water. Second is the recycling of nutrients from the soil to plant structures above the
ground and their return to the soil in dead plant tissues. Nutrient recycling is a mechanism by which nutrients are
prevented from escaping through the leaching action of surplus soil water moving downward through the soil.
Animals living in the soil, or entering and leaving the soil by means of excavated passageways, span a wide
range in species and individual dimensions.
Earthworms continually rework the soil not only by burrowing, but also by passing the soil through their
intestinal tracts. They ingest large amounts of decaying leaf matter, carrying it down from the surface and
incorporating it into the mineral soil horizons. The granular structure of the darkened A horizon derives its quality
from this activity. Many forms of insect larvae perform a similar function. Small tubular soil openings are also
formed by many species of burrowing insects. Large openings are made by larger animalsmoles, gophers,
rabbits, badgers, prairie dogs, and many other species. The growth of roots followed by decay, leaves tubular
openings in the soil.
Human activity is also a potent agent in influencing the physical and chemical nature of the soil. Large areas
of agricultural soils have been tilled and fertilized for centuries. Both structure and composition of these agricul-
tural soils have undergone profound changes and can now be recognized as distinct soil classes of importance
equal to natural soils.
Pedogenic Processes
Basic forming processes or pedogenic process - Pedogenic processes can be classified into four groups:
(1) addition of material to the soil body; (2) losses from the soil body; (3) translocation of materials within the soil
body; (4) transformation of material within the soil body.
Additions of materials to the soil body are covered by the general term soil enrichment. Inorganic enrich-
ment can come as sediment added to the soil surface by overland flow (colluviums) or overbank stream flooding
(alluvium), and by wind (loess or volcanic ash). Another form of enrichment is from the organic litter of plants
growing in the soil. This material accumulates in the O horizon and produces finely divided humus that is carried
down into the mineral horizons.
Losses of material from the soil body include removal of surface material by soil erosion and by leaching,
the downward washing out and removal by surplus soil water percolating through the soil.
Translocation of materials within the soil takes places in a number of quite different ways, each with a
different cause and often uniquely related to a particular soil-water regime. Two simultaneous processes of
downward translocation are eluviation and illuviation, typical of the udic soil-water regime.
Eluviation consists of the downward transport of fine particles, particularly the colloids (both
mineral and organic), carrying them out of an uppermost, or A, mineral soil horizon. Eluviation leaves behind
coarse skeletal mineral grains, forming the E horizon. In cool moist climates, the E horizon contains largely quartz
in sand or coarse silt grade sizes.
Silication is a term applied to this increase in proportion of silica because it remains behind while other
materials are removed.
Illuviation is the accumulation of materials in a lower horizon, brought down from a higher horizon. Typi-
cally, illuviation forms the B horizon. The materials that accumulate may be clay particles, organic particles
(humus), or sesquioxides of iron and aluminum.
The effects of both eluviation and illuviation can be seen most vividly in exposures of sandy soils in the
cool, moist climate of New England and southeastern Canada.
The translocation of calcium carbonate is another important process. Removal of calcium carbonate, or
decalcification, takes place as carbonic acid reacts with carbonate mineral matter. The soluble products are
carried down into a lower horizon. Their accumulation constitutes calcification; it may take place in the B horizon
or in the C horizon below the soil solum. Precipitation of soluble salts and the reverse process of removal of salts
are salinization and desalinization, respectively.

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Transformations within the soil body affect both inorganic and organic materials. Decomposition of pri-
mary to secondary minerals is one such transformation. By synthesis, new minerals and organic compounds can
be formed from the products of decomposition. Decomposition also affects organic materials. Humification, the
process of transformation of plant tissues into humus, may be followed by total disappearance of the
organic matter as water and carbon dioxide by respiration.
Horizonation, the degree of development of soil horizons, is the result of complex combinations of the
pedogenic processes already listed. Horizons vary from place to place under the complex interaction of the
various soil-forming factorsparent material, temperature and soil-water regimes, biologic activity, and time.

Soil Classifications
The founder of modern theories of soil origin and classification was V.V. Dokuchaiev, a Russian geologist.
His studies between 1882 and 1900 led him to the concept that soil is an independent body whose character is
determined primarily by climate and vegetation. A Russian follower of Dokuchaiev, K.D. Glinka, expanded the
concepts of horizons in the soil profile.
During the 1920s and 1930s, C.F. Marbut, chief the Soil Survey Division of the U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture (USDA) became acquainted with Russian pedological views, adapted them to conditions in the United
States, and created a comprehensive system of soil classification. Built on his work, but also departing from it,
was the 1938 USDA system, used with a number of modifications for the next 25 years.
After progressing through a succession of stages over a period of several years, the new scheme was ready
for presentation by American pedologists to the Seventh International Congress of Soil Science in 1960; known
at the time as the Seventh Approximation (because it was the seventh in the series of revisions), in 1960.
Comprehensive Soil Classification System (CSCS) - The system defines its classes strictly in terms of the
morphology and composition of the soils, that is, in terms of the soil characteristics themselves.
The CSCS recognizes and gives equal importance to classes of soils deriving their characteristics from
human activities, such as long-continued cultivation and applications of lime and fertilizers and the accumulation
of agricultural wastes. Recognition of such modified soils is desirable and realistic in a classification system.
The classification system of the CSCS is known as the Soil Taxonomy; it is based on a hierarchy of six
categories, or levels, of classification.
Orders 10
Suborders 47
Great groups 185
Subgroups 1000 (approx.)
Families 5000 (approx.)
Series 10,000 (approx.)
Numbers given for the lowest three categories refer only to soils of the United States.
The Soil Orders
Each order has its unique criteria, so selected that the criteria for a given order exclude members of all other
orders. Criteria may include (1) gross composition, whether organic or mineral or both (e.g., percent clay or
percent organic matter); or (2) presence or absence of certain diagnostic horizons; or (3) degree of weathering of
the soil minerals, expressed as cation-exchange capacity (CEC) or as percent base saturation (PBS).

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Soils with poorly developed horizons or no horizons and capable of further mineral alteration:
Entisols Soils lacking horizons.
Inceptisols Soils having weakly developed horizons and containing weatherable minerals.
Soils with a large proportion of organic matter-
Histosols Soils with a thick upper layer of organic matter.
Soils with well-developed horizons or with fully weathered minerals, resulting from long-continued ad-
justment to prevailing soil-temperature and soil-water regimes:
Oxisols Very old, highly weathered soils of low latitudes, with an oxic horizon and low CEC.
Ultisols Soils of mesic and warmer soil-temperature regimes, with an argillic horizon and low base status (PBS <
Vertisols Soils of subtropical and tropical zones with high clay content, developing deep, wide cracks when dry
and showing evidence of movement between aggregates.
Alfisols Soils of humid and subhumid climates, with high base status (PBS > 35%) and an argillic horizon (B
Spodosols Soils with a spodic horizon (B horizon), an albic horizon (E horizon) with low CEC, and lacking carbonate
Mollisols Soils chiefly of mid latitudes, with a mollic epipedon and very high base status, associated with sub
humid and semiarid soil-water regimes.
Aridisols Soils of dry climates, with or without argillic horizons, and with accumulations of carbonates or soluble

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1. Oxisols: These soils (tropical soils) covering 9.2% worlds land area are characterized by remarkable
moisture and temperature intensity and uniform day length which greatly affect soils. These are very old and
highly weathered soils. These soils are highly acidic with a high concentration of iron and aluminium and a limited
A-horizon. Although easily worked, low humus content and poor cation-exchange capacity of these soils limit
Early slash and burn shifting cultivation practices were adapted to these soil conditions and formed a
unique style of crop-rotation. Later on, plantation system was introduced here, putting enormous pressure on the
remaining tracts of forest that proved disastrous. The disturbed oxisols suffered a heavy soil loss besides an
increased rate of extinction of plant and animal species.
2. Aridisols: These are the most extensive soils covering 19.2% of the worlds land area. These sandy soils,
usually of pale light color, are formed in arid and semi-arid regions. Low humus content (due to sparse vegeta-
tion), high mineral salts, and lack of water usually make them unsuitable for agriculture. Salinization complicates
farming in aridisols. Careful introduction of irrigation and fertilizers increases the agricultural potential of aridisols.
In the Nile and Indus river valleys the aridisols are intensively farmed.
3. Mollisols: Mollisols (or grassland soils) cover more than 9% land area of the world. These are soft, dark soils,
usually formed under temperate grasslands in semi-arid climates. High humus content and workable texture make
them ideal for agriculture.
Soils of the Steppes and prairies belong to this soil group. Agriculture ranges from large-scale commercial
grain farming to grazing along the drier portions of the soil order. With fertilization, high crop yields are common
in these soils known as the Chernozems in the Steppes.
The process of calcification (involving the illuviated accumulation of calcium carbonate or magnesium
carbonate in the B and C-horizons) in these soils causes the formation of Caliche or Kankar deposits. Such
deposits are widely found in central and western Australia, Kalahari Desert, and high plains of the west-central
United States.
USDA 7th Approximation Soil Classification (1960)
Order Approximate equivalents in Thorp & Smith (1949)
1. Entisolos Azonal soils, Some Low Humic Gley soils
2. Vertisols Grumusols
3. Inceptisols Ando, Sol Brun Acide, Brown, Forest, Low Humic
Gley,, Humic Gley soils
4. Aridisols Desert, Reddish Desert, Sierusem Solonchak, Brown
soils, associated Solanetz
5. Mollisols Chestnut, Chernozem, Prairie, Rendzinas. Brown Forest, associated Solonetz,
Humic Gley Soils.
6. Spodosols Podsols, Brown Podsolic soils, Ground Water Podsols
7. Alfisols Grey Brown Podsolic Grey wooded soils, Non-Calcic
Brown soils, Degraded Chernozem, associated
Planosols, Half-Bog soils

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8. Ultisols Red Yellow Podsolic soils, Reddish Brown Lateritic
soils, associated Planosols and Half-Bog soils
9. Oxisols Laterite soils, Latosols
10. Histosols Bog soils
4. Alfisols: Alfisols are widely occurring soils covering about 15% of the worlds land area. These are
moderately weathered forest soils extending in five sub-orders from near the equator to high latitudes. Most
alfisols have a greyish brown to reddish ochric color. Alfisols are moderately acidic soils, formed under forests
and mixed trees and grasses in humid, mild climates. Moderate fertility and good moisture supply make them
favorable for agriculture, particularly grains, hay, and dairy products in humid continental/hot summer climates.
In most winter/dry summer climates of the Mediterranean region, these productive soils are intensively farmed for
fruits, nuts and special crops like grapes, citrus, almonds, figs etc.
5. Ultisols: Ultisols are highly weathered forest soils with five sub-orders. An alfisol might degenerate into
an ultisol due to increased weathering under moist conditions. These soils extend over 8.5% of the worlds land
area. Their reddish brown color is due to residual iron and aluminum oxides in the A-horizon. Heavy leaching of
nutrients results in low fertility. Fertility is further reduced by certain cultural practices and soil damaging crops
such as cotton and tobacco, which deplete nitrogen and expose soil to erosion. However, these soils respond well
if subjected to good management like crop rotation that restores fixed nitrogen and cultivation practices that
prevent sheet wash and soil erosion.
6. Spodosols: The spodosols (northern coniferous forest soils) and their four sub-orders occur generally to
the north and east of the alfisols. These soils cover about 5.4% worlds land area. These soils are found in cold
and forested moist regimes in the northern hemisphere only. These soils form from sandy parent materials, shaded
under evergreen coniferous forests. These soils lack humus and clay in the A-horizon. Theses are acidic soils.
Their ash gray colour is characteristic of a formation process called podzolization.
Cultivation of these soils requires an addition of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash and crop rotation. An
addition of limestone to these soils can significantly increase the yields of crops like corn, wheat, oats, and hay.
7. Entisols: The entisols (recent, undeveloped soils) cover 12.5% land area of the world. These soils lack
vertical development of horizons. The five suborders of this soil group are based on differences in parent mate-
rials and climatic conditions. However, entisols are not climate dependent, for they occur in many climates
The entisols are generally poor agricultural soils, although those formed from river silt deposits are quite
fertile. Their fertility is adversely affected by too little or too much of water, poor structure, and insufficient
accumulation of weathered nutrients. Steep slopes, alluvium-filled flood plains, poorly drained tundra, tidal mud-
flats, dune sands, and ergs (sandy) deserts and glacial out-wash plains are characteristic regions of entisols.
8. Inceptisols: Inceptisols (Weakly developed soils) and their six sub-orders are inherently infertile. These
soils cover nearly 16% of the worlds land area. These soils include a wide variety of different soils, exhibiting a
lack of maturity and an evidence of weathering. Inceptisols are associated with moist soil regimes. These soils
include the soils of the Arctic tundra, glacially derived till and out-wash materials, and alluvium of the flood-
plains. Their productivity varies from excellent to poor.
9. Andisols: Andisols (volcanic parent materials) with seven sub-orders occur in areas of volcanic activity.
Until 1990, these soils were included in the categories of Inceptisols and Entisols. In these soils weathering and
mineral transformations are very important. Andisols possess a high water holding capacity and develop a
moderate fertility, but lack in phosphorus. The fertile fields of Hawaii produce cane sugar and pine apple. Andisols
are limited in their distribution, nut highly useful, locally.
10. Vertisols: Vertisols (expendable clay soils) are heavy clay soils, located in regions of highly variable
soil moisture balanced through the season. These soils occur in sub-humid to semi-arid
moisture conditions and under moderate to high temperature patterns. They frequently form under
savanna and grassland vegetation in tropical and sub-tropical climate.
Vertisol clays are black when wet and range to brown and dark gray. These deep clays swell when moistened
and shrink when dried. Repeated swelling and shrinking causes vertical cracks in these soils. Vertisols are high in
bases and nutrients and are good for farming. The soils of Deccan region of India are exceptionally good for
cotton cultivation. Elsewhere, they are planted with grain sorghums corn etc.
11. Histosols: Histosols (organic soils) with four sub-orders are formed from accumulation of thick organic
matter. These soils were formed in the former lakes in the mid-latitudes. Bog and marsh are a few examples.
Histosols also form in poorly drained depressions and produce ideal condition for peat formation.

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General Classification of Soils
The most comprehensive basis for the classification of soils is the specific climate and vegetation under
which the soil has grown and developed. Accordingly, the soils of the world can be broadly classified into two
broad classes:-
Or these soils which have grown in humid areas under rich vegetation cover. These contain a greater
proportion of aluminium and iron. But these lack in such important plant food as potassium, calcium and phos-
Or these soils which have grown under arid conditions. These retain all the elements which go to make plant
foods. These soils are found in regions having less than 25 inches of rainfall per annum. Generally lighter in
colour, they do not suffer from leaching and are alkaline.
These broad classes of soil contain further sub-divisions or sub-varieties on the basis of the type of
vegetation cover, temperature conditions and the amount of precipitation. Their sub-varieties will be clear from
the chart given below:

Pedalfurs Pedocol

Laterite Tropical Red earth Gray brown Paririe Podsols Tundra

soil red soil soil soil soil

Black soil or Chestnut soil Gray soil Brown

Chernozems soil

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 13 ]

In the equatorial regions, due to heavy rainfall throughout the year, the soils are the most weathered and
leached. They are known as the Laterites. These consist of silicates aluminium oxides and iron oxide. Being low in
humus content, their colour is yellow and reddish. These are extremely porous. Because of these characteristics
the soils are the poorest from the point of view of agriculture.
Tropical red soils
Are characteristically found in tropical grasslands and as such are richer in humus. Being less subject to
leaching and decomposition, these are better from the agricultural point of view.
Red soils
Are rich in iron content but contain only small amount of humus. They are poor in alkaline
elements and lime. These are commonly found on humid uplands and contain a coniferous forest cover over it.
Grey brown soils
Are characteristic of deciduous forest regions of the humid continental climates. Due to distinct summers
and winters, these are less subject to leaching and are richer in humus content. The
content of lime and potash is also greater. Because of these reasons, these soils are highly productive.
Prairie soils
As the name suggests, they are found in the temperate grasslands of America, east of the Rocky Mountains.
The regions of most extensive occurrence are in America, but areas of this soil also occur in Argentina, Manchuria
and portions of Africa. These prairie soils are black in colour but do not contain much lime. These are poorer in
alkalis also. Their black colour is due to the high percentage of humus which they contain.
These soils have developed under a grass cover. These tall grasses are responsible for their high humus
content and their black colour. But they suffer from leaching to a certain extent. Still, their fertility is very high and
they are the greatest grain-producing regions of the world.
Podsol soils
Are characteristic of coniferous forest regions and are the poorest. These do not posses any humus and
being covered with decayed organic matter, these become highly acidic. Being structure less, these soils cannot
be made productive even by extensive use of fertilizers. These are also hard to till.
These soils also occur along margins of North-Western Europe, coastal regions of the north-west of North
America and New Zealand. Wherever forests have been removed, extensive grazing is done.
Tundra soils
Are those found in the extreme north regions of the Northern Hemisphere, where for eight to ten months in
a year the land remains snow-bound. Even in the short summer months, the snow only melts to a depth of two to
three feet. Because of these reasons, the Tundra soils are not only poor but marshy so that in can only support
mosses, lichens and such like shrubs.
Black Earth or Chernozems
Are soils of dark brown colour and are found in semi-arid regions. Their black colour is not due to humus but
to the high percentage of lime that they contain. The other characteristic is their capacity to retain moisture so
that they are very suitable for agriculture in dry areas. In certain regions these have been formed by the decay and
disintegrations of volcanic lava flow. Being very good in structure, they are ideal for seed growth and formation
of roots. This is also known as black cotton soil.
Chestnut soils
Are of the colour of chestnut. Their colour is only deep brown, not as dark as the prairie soils or the black
soils. Their fertility is due to the absence of leaching although these soils are poor in organic matter and in
nitrogen. Wherever irrigation in available, these are utilized for crop farming. Other-wise they are mainly used for
fodder crops. These regions have dry farming.
Grey soils
Are found in the hot and temperate deserts of the world. These soils are deficient in humus, organic matter
and also in nitrogen. These are also subject to wind erosion. But situated in regions of meager rainfall, they do not
suffer from leaching and most of the inorganic elements that were present in parent rocks are also found in them.
Brown soils
Of the Mediterranean regions are very much similar to the chestnut soils. The content of inorganic elements
is quite high but they lack in nitrogen. Their chief defect is that these are found in patches in the transition zone
between the hot desert soils on one side and the chestnut soils on the other.

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EROSION is a comprehensive natural process of AND SOIL CHARACTER These factors operate together
detachment and removal of loosened rock materials and and are expressed as UNIVERSAL SOIL LOSS EQUA-
soils by exo-genetic processes such as running water, TION as given below-
ground water, sea waves, wind, glacier etc. Erosion caused E = f (C, T, R, V, S)
by natural processes without being interfered by human Where E = Soil erosion
activities is also called as GEOLOGICAL EROSION. F = function of
Slow removal of soil is a part of the natural geologi- C = Climate
cal process of denudation and is both inevitable and uni- T = Topography
versal. ACCELERATED EROSION refers to the increased R = Rock type
rate of erosion caused by various land use change ef- V = Vegetation
fected by man. Thus SOIL EROSION normally means ac- S = Soil character (physical and chemical
celerated erosion which is also called as MAN-INDUCED properties)
EROSION soil erosion is an extreme form of soil degrada- THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION
tion in which natural geo-morphological processes are (FAO) has listed (1965) the factors of soil erosion in
accelerated so that soil is removed at rates ten and some- slightly different manner. According to FAO the following
times several thousand times faster than is the case under are the important factors which influence soil erosion-
the condition of natural vegetation, and much faster than (i) Physiographic factors length, steepness and
rates at which new soil forms. curvature of slope
Accelerated soil erosion or man induced soil ero- (ii) Climatic factors- quantity, intensity, energy and
sion is mostly operative in the humid climatic regions where distribution of rainfall and temperature changes
extensive forest clearance grassland removal (steppes and (iii) Soil characteristics- detachability and trans-port-
prairies) and extensive overgrazing and trampling by live- ability, aggregation and surface sealing, depth,
stock have been practiced by man at an alarming rate. water-holding capacity
Soil erosion involves mainly two processes viz. (i) (iv) Cover or Vegetation-cultivated, fallow, forests
loosening and detachment of soil particles from the soil These factors of soil erosion have been used to
mass and (ii) removal and transport of the detached soil build a model of soil erosion which is known as UNIVER-
particles down slope human activities have largely modi- SAL SOIL LOSS EQUATION as given below-
fied and changed the land use patterns but some distinc- E = f (R,K,L,S,C,P, )
tions. Where E = average annual soil/sediment loss
L.D. Meyer and W.H. Wischmeier stated that de- F = function of
tachability of soil particles from soil mass is a crucial fac- R = rainfall factor (quantity, intensity, energy and
tor for soil erosion. The detachability largely depends on distribution of rainfall)
grain-size or the size and the cohesiveness of the par- K = soil erodibility factor (chemical and physical
ticles. The detachment of particles having the grain size characteristics of soils as referred to above)
of above 0.2mm requires more force provided by the ve- L = length-of-slope factor
locity of moving water. The required critical velocity to S = Steepness-of-slope factor
detach soil particles increases with increase in the grain C = Cropping and management factor
size above 0.20mm. P = conservation practice factor
Morisawa (1968) has identified two major indepen- Soil erosion may be divided into three main types:
dent factors which control the rate and type of soil ero- wind erosion, sheet erosion and gully erosion. While the
sion occurring on hill slope i.e. CLIMATE AND GEOL- chief causes of each type vary in detail, the fundamental
OGY. reason for soil erosion is the removal of the natural veg-
Erosion is a function of soil erosion processes and etation which formerly bound the soil and held it in place.
the ERODIBILITY of the soils. Defined as the potential The ploughing of grasslands or the clearing of forest may
ability of processes (such as raindrop, running water in start a train of events, the effects of which become pro-
the form of runoff and overland flow and sliding or flow- gressively more serious.
ing earth masses) to cause erosion of soils in certain set Wind erosion: The eroding and transporting power
of environmental conditions. The erosivity of processes of the wind involves the actual removal of dry, unconsoli-
depends, besides other environmental factors, on the na- dated material. Farmers at the beginning of this century
ture of disposition of rainwater on the ground surface or ploughed up large areas of the grasslands of the Mid-
in the soil profiles. western states of America, tempted by the accumulated
SOIL ERODIBILITY refers to the resistance of the fertility of these virgin soils and by a number of years
soil to erosion or its vulnerability to erosion. Soil erodibil- which subsequently proved to be wetter than average.
ity is dependent upon soil characteristics such as its physi- Later a series of drier years caused some of these marginal
cal and chemical characteristics. lands to be abandoned, but now devoid of their protec-
The FACTORS, which affect soil erosion, include tive mat of grass vegetation. The wind was able to sweep
CLIMATE, TOPOGRAPHY, ROCK TYPE, VEGETATION the finer soil particles away, and the region became noto-

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 15 ]

rious as the Dust Bowl. Many prosperous farms were the yield. This method is successful in soil con-
ruined by the removal of their top-soil; others outside the servation and moisture conservation in arid re-
Dust Bowl have been partially buried by material blown gions.
by the wind. (iii) Terrace farming involves cutting the slope into
Sheet, rill and gully erosion: These types of soil a series of terrace benches. This method reduces
erosion are caused mainly by the action of water. Sheet the gradient of natural slopes for cultivation.
erosion is a general removal of the surface soil over large Standard terraces must have sufficient channel
area, as it slips gradually down the slopes. Rill and gully capacity to take care of the maximum run-off and
erosion are more localized, when a sudden rainstorm, pro- side slopes on the terrace ridge and channel to
ducing a concentrated run-off, rips gashes into the land. accommodate the equipment used in farming.
The cause in each case is the removal of vegetation. These (iv) Sub-soiling is the practice of breaking up hard
types of erosion are shown drastically in the Mississippi impervious subsoil so that it can absorb more
Basin. moisture. This is done by means of tractors and
These forms of soil erosion are widespread in the at a time when the subsoil is dry and brittle.
worldin the Mediterranean lands of Spain, Italy and (v) Trash cultivation means churning the soil rather
Greece, in the monsoon lands of India and Ceylon, in Java than turning it upside down so that the crop resi-
and Sumatra, in the savanna lands of Africa. Shifting cul- dues and other organic matter scattered on the
tivation, row-cropping instead of cover-cropping, over- ground are taken through the soil.
grazing especially by goats, deforestation, burning, wide- (vi) Water spreading and protection of water dis-
spread clearing for over-ambitious schemes of plantation posal outlets by means of dikes, dams, meadow
agricultureall these enable rampant erosion to proceed. strips and diversion ditches.
Even in Britain sheet erosion takes place where a field has Salinity and water-logging could be another seri-
been ploughed up and down the slope, and occasional ous problem. A glaring example of ill management of land
downpours falling upon newly ploughed soil produce in Pakistan is given by Lord Ritchie-Calder in a recent
gullies. issue of Foreign Affairs. In the Indus Valley of Pakistan,
Thus the fertility of the soil depends upon origin, one of the largest irrigated areas of the world, an acre of
elements present in it, its texture and structure. All these land is being lost every 5 minutes through water-logging
factors go to make a soil tillable and useful for agriculture. and salinity. Twenty-three million acres of land are being
There are various ways in which erosion by water artificially watered by canals in the alluvial plains of the
can be avoided. The simplest principle is by retarding the Indus and its tributaries. But the canals are not lined, and
flow and speed of water. This may be done by planting because of the inadequate gradient, the land retains 40
logs or grasses on the slopes or by cutting the slopes into per cent of the water. The low-lying are became water-
terraces so that the water cannot descend with force. In logged and in some areas the water brought salts to the
order to avoid the damage done by water erosion, a reori- surface layers, damaging crops. It is now estimated that
entation of agricultural practices has taken place. In culti- 20 years and 15 billion rupees would be needed to repair
vation of slope areas, now-a-days, strip pruning and con- the damage. That is more than it cost to create the canals.
tour farming are practiced. Land in certain areas is becoming saline from chemi-
The most important among such methods are: cal wastes carried in a dissolved form by rivers.
(i) Contour farming, strip cropping and inter-crop- The depletion of soil occasioned by careless and
ping. These methods are practiced in highland injudicious methods of cultivation is of two types. By
agriculture and check run off and soil erosion. constantly growing the same crop, a particular element or
Contour farming is farming around the hillsides elements are completely exhausted so that the
instead of up and down the hills. It consists of arrangements of mineral salts becomes disproportionate,
ploughing furrows around the hill or across the and the soils become absolutely poor, because of the re-
slopes. The furrows check and catch the water, moval of certain plant foods. Therefore, if the fertility of
which soaks into the ground and does not col- the soil is to be maintained, these plant foods must be
lect and run rapidly downhill to carry soil away. replenished or returned to the soil. This is
Strip cropping includes planting strips of grass, done partly by nature through rock decay and micro-or-
clover or similar plants between strips of clean ganisms. This means that the land must be left
cultivated row crops. Inter-cropping consists of fallow for some period of time so that in this period of rest
row crop planted with a low growing crop and nature may be able to replenish the exhausted stock of
the low crop grows vigorously after the taller mineral and organic elements in the soil. This is, however,
one has been harvested. not feasible in view of the growing pressure of population
(ii) Pebble mulch. Where rainfall is near the mini- on land. But there are several other ways open to man
mum for crop production, farms spread pebbles through which the soil fertility can be kept intact.
mixed with sand on the fields in a few centime- The following are the most important ones:
ters thick layer. This helps to absorb rainwater, (1) By crop rotation the soil depleted is rebuilt with
check soil erosion, reduce evaporation, check ac- the help of certain legumes, clovers, peas, and
cumulation of alkali in the surface soil, decreases beans. These are grown as soil crops so that the
wide fluctuation of soil temperature and increases nitrogen content is fixed and humus is main-

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tained. This also means greater profits and bet- Fertilizers and soil: Fertilizers are used very widely
ter yield from a limited area. It ensures control to help boost food production. These fertilizers do in-
over weeds and plant diseases. It helps to build crease immediate crop yields but they gradually impover-
up soil fertility and reduce soil erosion. ish the soil.
(2) By manuring, decayed vegetable and The inorganic nitrogen fertilizers threaten to
animal matter is returned to the soil through fish disrupt the natural nitrogen cycle. Millions of bacteria
meal, bones, compost or night soil. Human waste, take nitrogen from the air and convert it into useful soil
commonly known as night soil, is the most im- materials. But when these nitrogen fixing bacteria are ex-
portant manure. Composted with social and waste posed to inorganic nitrogen fertilizer, they stop their func-
organic matter, it is allowed to ferment in pits and tion and sometimes even perish. Eventually the quality of
then spread on the soil. Besides oil cake is also the said deteriorates and the crop yield declines.
used to manure the soil. This includes cotton- Fertilizers impoverish the organic matter content of
seed cake, bean cake, rapeseed cake, sesame cake. the soil and alter its physical character (especially its po-
The wind and weeds taken from the bottom of rosity to oxygen). The soils ability to support crops is
rivers and canals, ditches and ponds are also reduced. It needs a greater amount of inorganic nitrogen
used as manures. fertilizer. Moreover, it takes a longer time to restore the
(3) By green manuring vegetation is ploughed un- natural efficiency of this impoverished soil. It also be-
der and the humus supplied to the soil. For this comes more difficult for the crop to take up the fertilizer in
purpose such crops are selected as easily break this poor quality soil. The unused fertilizer now drains out
under the plough and get mixed in the soil. into rivers and lakes where it joins with the nitrates im-
(4) By giving lime to the soil through limestone and posed on water by sewage effluents. This leads to
marl. overgrowths of green plants resulting in organic pollu-
(5) Through commercial fertilizers such as phos- tion. The lakes get choked and die.
phates, nitrates and ammonium sulphates.

Like vegetation, animal life depends upon climatic Thus, while physical features and climate determines
conditions. There are several categories of animals found the form of vegetation, all the three determine the animal
in the world(1) the migratory insects and birds, (2) the life and on it depends the life and occupation of man on
herbivorous animals, and (3) the carnivorous animals liv- this earth, his adjustment to the environment.
ing on the second. Besides, the animal life may be re- Zoo-geography deals with the geographic distribu-
garded as marine or aquatic, consisting of those living in tion of animals. The world is divided into a number of zoo-
water, land and air. But the most comprehensive division geographic or faunal regions. According to Wallace (1876)
and classification consists of the following zoo-geographic regions of the world may be
(a) The animals of hot lands. observed:
(b) The animals of temperate lands. I. Palaearctic region
(c) The animals of Arctic lands. This largest region includes whole of Europe, north-
Hotlands possess a large variety of animals. While ern China, Japan, Soviet Russia, northern part of Africa
in the dense equatorial forest only birds, monkeys, poi- and Persia etc. It is subdivided into European, Mediterra-
sonous insects and serpents are found, the more open nean, Siberian and Manchurian sub regions. Fauna is rep-
monsoon forests abound in a variety of carnivorous ani- resented by 135 families of terrestrial vertebrates (33 mam-
mals as lion, tiger and leopard. The mals, 68 of birds, 24 of reptiles, 10 of amphibians and fishes).
elephant, rhinoceros and the hippopotamus are also quite II. Ethiopian region
many in numbers. Camel is the chief animal in the desert This includes whole of Africa and Arabia, Mada-
regions. The rivers and streams are full of crocodiles and gascar and Mauritius. The fauna is much varied, repre-
alligators. sented by about 161 families of terrestrial vertebrates; of
Temperate lands contain few reptiles and insects. which 30 are endemic to this region which include such
Whatever varieties are found, they are small and less poi- mammals as aye-aye, golden moles, mole rates, jumping
sonous. Such domestic animals as ox, sheep, goat, horse hares, African flying squirrels, giraffes etc. This region is
and donkey find their home here. A large variety of fowls divided into east African, west African, south African and
are also native to these lands. Geese, turkeys and pheas- Malagasy sub regions.
ants are quite important. The carnivorous animals are fewer III. Oriental region
in number, the bear, wolf and fox being the chief varieties. This region includes all the tropical parts of Asia,
Arctic lands abound in fur-bearing animals on the like India, Sri Lanka, south China, Malaysia, and
land and whales, seals and walruses in the sea. The chief Malayan islands located to the western side of Wallaces
fur-bearing-animals are the polar bear, the fox, the sable line, i.e. Java, Sumatra, Philippines, Borneo, Bali etc. Cli-
and the musk ox. The reindeer is a pet of the people there matic conditions of this region are much varied, being
who bring it into numerous domestic uses. desert in the north of Indian sub-region,

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tropical in southern portion of Indian and Sri Lanka, and Indian or sloth-bear and shield-tails are characteristics of
temperate in Bhutan, and Yangtse-kiang. Major part of this region.
the region is occupied by luxuriant forest 2. Ceylonese sub region : It comprises the island of
vegetation. The terrestrial vertebrates are represented by Sri Lanka, whose physical characteristics are more or less
about 153 families of which 10 are peculiar to the region, similar to those of southern mountains of India. Charac-
which include four mammals, one bird and five reptiles. teristic fauna includes shield-tails, loris, spiny rat, leaf in-
sect, kalmia, mimetic butterflies.
Faunal characteristics: This region includes some 3. Indo-Chinese sub region : It includes China, south
interesting genera which are as follows: of Palaearctic boundary, Burma, Thailand, and islands of
(a) Fishes : Freshwater fishes are more common, Andamans, Formosa, and Hainan. This region is compara-
represented by about 13 families, including, notopterids, tively richer and varied than the Indian and Ceylonese subre-
silurids, anabantids, cyprinoids, nandidac etc. gions. There are about 138 families of animals, of which
(b) Amphibians : Amphibians are represented by peculiar ones are ailurus, budocras, hapalomys, moles,
nine families of which interesting ones are caecilians, gibbons, flying lemurs, tapir and rhinoceros, salamanders
rhacophoids, (tree frogs), true frogs and some salamanders. and disc-tongued frogs.
(c) Reptiles : Reptiles are represented by 35 families 4. Indo-Malayan sub region : It includes the Ma-
of which important ones are true vipers, pit vipers, sea layan Peninsula and islands of Malayan Archipelago, i.e.,
snakes, turtles, freshwater snakes, tree snakes, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Nicobar etc. The fauna is repre-
Pythonidae, crocodiles, gavialis, water lizards, geckos, sented by 132 families, of which important ones are oran-
some iguanas, etc. gutan proboscis monkey, Malayan badger, tree shrews,
(d) Aves : Aves are represented by 71 families, of gibbons, broadbills etc.
which important ones are babblers, sunbirds, king crows, IV. Australian region
passers, woodpeckers, barbets, cuckoos, kingfishers, pi- This includes the whole of Australian, New Zealand,
geons, doves, fowls, peacocks, etc. New Guinea, and adjoining islands, particularly those of
(e) Mammals : These are represented by 35 families, Pacific Ocean. The oriental and Australian regions are
in which interesting ones are hedgehogs, shrews, flying separated from each other by an imaginary line, Wallaces
lemurs, old world monkeys, cats, bear, dogs, elephants, line, that is supposed to run between the island of Bali
rhinoceros, rodents, orangutans etc. The gibbons, tarsiers and and Lombok. In various parts, the climate is of temperate
tree shrews are peculiar to this region. as well as tropical type. The fauna is represented by 134
Oriental region is divided into the following four families of terrestrial vertebrates, of which 30 are specific
sub regions : to the region including 8 families or mammals, 17 of birds,
1. Indian sub region : It includes whole of India 3 of reptiles, and 2 of amphibians. Among the mammals, all
from the Himalayan slopes to Cape Comorin. The fauna is belong to monotremata and marsupialia, placental ones
characterized by 123 families of terrestrial vertebrates. being altogether absent. Marsupialia includes kangaroos
Elachistodontidae with a single species of colubrine snake and related forms. Characteristic genera are kangaroos,
is peculiar. Mammalian forms as four-horned antelope, wombats bandicoots, phalangers, marsupial mole and

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 18 ]

dasyures. Among birds, peculiar ones are kiwis, emus, amphibians. This region is divided into Californian, Rocky
cassowaries, birds of paradise, and tooth-billed pigeons. mountain, Alleghany and Canadian sub regions.
Reptilian genera include such forms as sphenodon, or An ecosystem is a self-regulating association of liv-
tuatara and scale-footed lizards, fly-river turtles and elapid ing plants and animals and their nonliving physical envi-
snakes. This region is divided into Austro-Malayan, Aus- ronment. In an ecosystem a change in one component
tralian, Polynesian, and New Zealand sub region. causes changes in others, as systems adjust to new oper-
V. Neotropical region ating conditions.
It comprises southern Mexico, Central and South Earth itself is the largest ecosystem within the natu-
America, West Indies, and Galapagos islands. It is a tropi- ral boundary of the atmosphere. Natural ecosystems are
cal region with luxuriant forests. The fauna is represented open systems for both energy and matter, with almost all
by 155 families of terrestrial vertebrates, of which 39 are ecosystem boundaries functioning as transition zones
peculiar to the region. These include 10 mammals, 23 birds, rather than as sharp demarcations. Smaller ecosystems
2 reptiles and 4 amphibians. This region is divided into for example Forests, seas, mountain tops, deserts, beaches,
Chilian, Brazilian, Mexican, and Artillian sub regions. islands, lakes, pondsmake up the larger whole.
VI. Neoarctic region Biogeography, essentially a spatial ecology, is the
It comprises Greenland and North America up to the study of the distribution of plants and animals, the di-
centre of Mexico. In the west, there are many large lakes verse spatial patterns they create, and the physical and
and island seas. The terrestrial vertebrates are about 120, biological processes, past and present, that produce this
or which 26 are mammals, 59 birds, 21 reptiles, and am- distribution across Earth. To better understand an eco-
phibians. Of these, 5 are peculiar, such as Haplodontidae, system, bio-geographers must look across the ages and
and prong-buck among mammals the wren-tits among reassemble Earths tectonic plates to recreate previous
birds. Anillidae among reptiles and the Siredidae among environmental relationships.

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 19 ]

An ecosystem is a complex of many variables, all caves or on the ocean floor depend upon chemical reac-
functioning independently yet in concert, with compli- tions. Ecosystems are divided onto subsystems, with the
cated flows of energy and matter. biotic portion composed of producers, consumers, and
An ecosystem is composed of both biotic and abi- decomposers. The abiotic flows in an ecosystem include
otic components. Nearly all depend upon an input of so- gaseous and sedimentary nutrient cycles.
lar energy; the few limited ecosystems that exist in dark

closely related species are separated at some distance from
A convenient biotic subdivision within an ecosys-
one another. In other words, each species operates to re-
tem is a community, which is formed by relationships
duce competition.
among populations of living animals and plants in an area.
Some species have symbiotic relationships, an ar-
An ecosystem is the interaction of many communities with
rangement that mutually benefits and sustains each or-
the abiotic physical components of its environment. For
ganism. For example, lichen (pronounced liken) is made
example, in a forest ecosystem, a specific community may
up of algae and fungi. The algae are the producer and
exist on the forest floor, whereas, another community func-
food source, and the fungus provides structure and sup-
tions in the canopy of leaves high above. Similarly, within
port. Their mutually beneficial relationship (mutualism)
a lake ecosystem, the plants and animals that flourish in
allows the two to occupy a niche in which neither could
the bottom sediments form one community, whereas those
survive alone. Lichen developed from an earlier parasitic
near the surface form another. A community is identified
relationship in which the fungi broke into algae cells di-
in several waysby its physical appearance, the number
rectly. Today the two organisms have evolved into a sup-
of species and the abundance of each, the complex pat-
portive harmony and symbiotic relationship.
terns of their interdependence, and the trophic (feeding)
By contrast, parasitic relationships eventually may
structure of the community.
kill the host, thus destroying the parasites own niche and
Within a community, two concepts are important:
habitat. An example is mistletoe (Phoradendron), which
habitat and niche. Habitat is the specific physical
lives on and may kill various kinds of trees. Some scien-
location of an organism, the type of environment in which
tists are questioning whether our human society and the
it resides or is biologically suited to live. In terms of physi-
physical systems of
cal and natural factors, most species have
Earth constitute a global-scale symbiotic relationship (sus-
specific habitat parameters with definite limits and a spe-
tainable) or a parasitic one (non-sustainable).
cific regimen of sustaining nutrients.
Plants are the critical biotic link between life and
Niche refers to the function, or occupation, of a life
solar energy. Ultimately the fate of the biosphere rests on
form within a given community. It is the way an organism
the success of plants and their ability to capture sunlight.
obtains and sustains the physical, chemical, and biologi- Photosynthesis and Respiration: Photosynthesis
cal factors it needs to survive. Similar unites carbon dioxide and oxygen (derived from water in
habitats produce comparable niches. In a stable the plant) under the influence of certain wavelengths of
community, no niche is left unfilled. The principle of com- visible light. The process releases oxygen and produces
petitive exclusion states that no two species can occupy energy-rich organic material. The name is descriptive,
the same niche successfully in a stable community. Thus, photo-refers to sunlight, and synthesis describes the bring-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 20 ]
stored in such organic substances.
Plants not only store energy; they must consume
some of this energy by converting carbohydrates through
respiration to derive energy for their other operations.
Thus, respiration is essentially a reverse of the photo-
synthetic process:
x(CH2O)+ O2 CO2 + H2O + energy
(Carbo- (Oxygen) (Carbon (Water) (Heat)
hydrate) dioxide)
In respiration, plants oxidize stored energy,
releasing carbon dioxide, water, and energy as heat. The
overall growth of a plant depends on a surplus of carbo-
hydrates beyond what is lost through plant
The compensation point is the break-even point
between the production and consumption of organic ma-
terial. Each leaf operates above the compensation point,
with unproductive leaves being eliminated by the plant.
The difference between photosynthetic
production and respiration loss is called net photosyn-
thesis. The amount varies, depending on controlling en-
vironmental factors such as light, water, temperature, soil
fertility, and the plants site, elevation, and competition
from other plants and animals.
Plant productivity increases as light availability in-
creasesup to a point. When the light level is too high,
light saturation occurs and most plants actually reduce
their output in response. Some plants adapt better to shade,
whereas others flourish in full sunlight. Crops such as
rice, wheat, and sugar cane do well with high light inten-
Net Primary Productivity- The net photosynthesis
for an entire community is its net primary productivity.
ing together of materials to form compounds and pro- This is the amount of useful chemical energy (biomass)
duce reactions within plant leaves. that the community generates for the ecosystem. Biom-
Only about one-quarter of the light energy ass is the net dry weight of organic material; it is biomass
arriving at the surface of a leaf is useful to the light-sen- that feeds the food chain.
sitive chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs only the orange Net primary productivity is mapped in terms of fixed
red and violet-blue wavelengths for photochemical op- carbon per square meter per year. On land, net primary
erations, and reflects predominantly green hues (and production tends to be highest in the tropics at sea level
some yellow). This is why trees and other vegetation look and decreases toward higher latitudes. But precipitation
green. Understandably, competition for light is a domi- also affects productivity, as evidenced on the map by the
nant factor in the formation of plant communities. This correlations of abundant precipitation with high produc-
competition is expressed in their height, orientation, and tivity and reduced precipitation with low productivity, the
structure. latter observable in subtropical deserts. Even though
Photosynthesis essentially follows this deserts are high in solar radiation, other controlling fac-
equation: tors are important, namely water availability and soil con-
CO2 + H2O + light = x (CH2O) + O2 ditions.
(Carbon- (Water) energy (Carbo- (Oxygen)
dioxide ) hydrate)
From the equation, you can see that photosynthe-
sis removes carbon (in the form of CO2) from Earths at-
mosphere. The quantity is prodigious:
approximately 91 billion metric tons (100 billion tons) per
year. Carbohydrates, the organic result of the
photosynthetic process, are combinations of carbon, hy-
drogen, and oxygen. They can form simple sugars, such
as glucose (C6H12O6). Glucose, in turn, is used by plants
to build starches, which are more complex carbohydrates
and the principal food storage substance in plants. Pri-
mary productivity refers to the rate at which energy is

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 21 ]

In the oceans, productivity is limited by differing Net primary productivity is estimated at 170 billion
nutrient levels. Regions with nutrient-rich upwelling cur- metric tons of dry organic matter per year. Net productiv-
rents generally are the most productive. Tropical ocean ity is generally regarded as the most important aspect of
and areas of subtropical high pressure are quite low in any type of community, and the distribution of productiv-
productivity. ity over Earths surface is an important subject of bioge-
In temperate and high latitudes, the rate at which ography.
carbon dioxide is fixed by vegetation varies seasonally, Abiotic Ecosystem Components
increasing in spring and summer as plants Critical in each ecosystem are the flow of energy
flourish with increasing solar input and, in some and the cycling of matter in the form of nutrients and wa-
areas, more available (non frozen) water, and decreasing ter. Nonliving abiotic components set the stage for eco-
in late fall and winter. Rates in the tropics are system operations.
high throughout the year, and turnover in the photosyn- Light, Temperature, Water, and Climate- The pat-
thesis-respiration cycle is faster, exceeding by many times tern of solar energy receipt is crucial on both
the rates experienced in a desert environment terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Solar energy enters an
or in the far northern limits of the tundra. A lush acre of ecosystem by way of photosynthesis, with heat
sugar cane in the tropics might fix 18 metric tons (20 tons) dissipated from the system at many points. Of the total
of carbon in a year, whereas desert plants energy intercepted at Earths surface and available for
in an equivalent area might achieve only 1% of this work, only about 1.0% is actually fixed by photosynthe-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 22 ]
operate. Oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen each have gas-
eous cycles, parts of which are in the atmosphere. Other
elements have sedimentary cycles which principally in-
volve the mineral and solid phases (major ones include
phosphorus, calcium, and sulfur). Some elements com-
bine gaseous and sedimentary cycles. These processes
are called biogeochemical cycles, because they involve
chemical reactions in both life and Earth systems. The
chemical elements themselves recycle over and over again
in life processes.

sis as chemical energy (energy stored as carbohydrates

in plants).
The duration of Sun exposure is the photoperiod.
Along the equator, days are almost always 12 hours in
length; however, with distance from the
equator, seasonal effects become pronounced. Plants have
adapted their flowering and seed germination to seasonal
changes in insolation. Some plant seeds
germinate only when day length reaches a certain
number of hours. A plant that responds in the opposite
manner is the poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which
requires at least two months of 14-hour nights to start Oxygen and carbon cycles we consider together
flowering. because they are so closely intertwined through
Other components also are important to photosynthesis and respiration. The atmosphere is the
ecosystem processes. Air and soil temperatures principal reserve of available oxygen. Large reserves of
determine the rates at which chemical reactions oxygen than in the atmosphere exist in Earths crust, but
proceed. Significant temperature factors are seasonal varia- they are unavailable, being tied up in combination with
tion, duration and pattern of minimum and maximum val- other elements. Unoxidized reserves of fossil fuels and
ues, and the average. sediments also contain oxygen.
Operations of the hydrologic cycle and water avail- The greatest pool of carbon is in the ocean- about
ability depend on precipitation/evaporation rates and their 39,000 billion tons, or about 93% of the total. All of this
seasonal distribution. Water quality is importantits min- carbon is bound chemically in carbon dioxide, calcium car-
eral content, salinity, and levels of bonate, and other compounds the ocean absorbs carbon
pollution and toxicity. Also, daily weather patterns over dioxide through the functioning (photosynthesis) of small
time create regional climates, which in turn affect the pat- phytoplankton organisms. The atmosphere, which serves
tern of vegetation and ultimately influence soil as the integrating link in the cycle, contains only about
development. All of these factors work together to estab- 700 billion tons of carbon at any moment far less than
lish the parameters for ecosystems that may fossil fuels and oil shales (12,000 billion tons) or living
develop in a given location. and dead organic matter (2275 billion tons). Carbon diox-
Gaseous and Sedimentary Cycles- The most abun- ide in the atmosphere is produced by the respiration of
dant natural elements in living matter are hydrogen (H), plants and animals, volcanic activity, and fossil fuel com-
oxygen (O), and carbon (C). Together, these elements make bustion by industry and transportation. In organic matter,
up more than 99% of Earths biomass; in fact, all life (or- carbon is stored in carbohydrate molecules; in fossil fuels
ganic molecules) contains hydrogen and carbon. In addi- it exists in hydrocarbon molecules. Carbon also is stored
tion, nitrogen (N), calcium (Ca), potassium (K), magne- in certain carbonate minerals, such as limestone.
sium (Mg) sulfur (S), and phosphorus (P) are important The carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere by
nutrients, elements necessary for the growth and devel- human activity constitutes a vast geochemical experiment.
opment of a living organism. Since 1970, we have added to the atmospheric pool and
Several important cycles of chemical elements
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 23 ]
amount of carbon equivalent to more than 25% of the gen compounds in air pollution are a component in acid
total amount added since 1880. Annual emissions by so- deposition, further altering the nitrogen cycle in soils and
ciety have now reached 6 billion tons and represent our waterways.
greatest single atmospheric waste product. Furthermore, Limiting Factors- The term limiting factor identi-
about 50% of the carbon dioxide emitted since the begin- fies the one physical or chemical abiotic component that
ning of the industrial revolution and not absorbed by most inhibits biotic operations, through its lack or excess.
oceans and organisms is still in the atmosphere, enhanc- A few examples include low temperatures at high eleva-
ing Earths natural green house effect. tion, the lack of water in a desert, the excess water in a bog,
The nitrogen cycle involves the major constituent the amount of iron in ocean surface environments, the
of the atmosphere, 78.084% of each breath we take. Nitro- phosphorus content of soils in the eastern United Stats,
gen also is important in the makeup of organic molecules, or the general lack of active chlorophyll above 6100m
especially proteins, and therefore is essential to living (20,000ft). In most ecosystems, precipitation is the limiting
process. However, this vast atmospheric reservoir is in- factor, although variation in temperatures and soil charac-
accessible directly to most organisms. The key link to life teristics certainly affect vegetation patterns.
is provided by nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which live princi- Each organism possesses a range of tolerance
pally in the soil and are associated with the roots of cer- for each variable in its environment.
tain plantsfor example, the legumes such as clover, al- Biotic Ecosystem Operations
falfa, soybeans, peas, beans, and peanuts. Bacteria colo- The abiotic components of energy, atmosphere, wa-
nies reside in nodules on the legume roots and chemi- ter, weather, climate, and minerals support the biotic com-
cally combine the nitrogen from the air in the form of ponents of each ecosystem and their constituent soils,
nitrates (NO3) and ammonia (NH3). Plants use these fixed vegetation, and life forms.
forms of nitrogen to produce their own organic matter. Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers-
Anyone or anything feeding on the plants thus ingests Organisms that are capable of using carbon dioxide as their
the nitrogen. Finally, the nitrogen in the organic wastes sole source of carbon are called autotrophs or producers.
of these consuming organisms is freed by denitrifying They chemically fix carbon through photosynthesis. Or-
bacteria, which recycle it back to the atmosphere. ganisms that depend on autotrophs for their carbon are
called heterotrophs, or consumers. Autotrophs are the
essential producers in an ecosystemcapturing light and
generating heat energy and converting it to chemical en-
ergy, incorporating carbon, forming new plant tissue and
biomass, and freeing oxygen, all as a part of photosynthe-
From these producers, when manufacture their own
food, energy flows through the system along a circuit called
the food chain, reaching consumers and eventually de-
composers. Ecosystems generally are structured in a food
web, a complex network of interconnected food chains. In
a food web, consumers participate in several different food
chains. Organisms that share the same basic foods are
said to be at the same trophic (feeding, nutrition) level.
Primary consumer feed on producers. Because pro-
ducers are always plants, the primary consumer is called a
herbivore, or plant eater. A carnivore is a secondary con-
sumer and primarily eats meat. A tertiary consumer eats
secondary consumers. A consumer that feeds on both pro-
ducers (plants) and consumers (meat) is called an omni-
vorea role occupied by humans, among others.
To improve agricultural yields, inorganic fertilizers Decomposers are the final links in the chain; they
are used. These fertilizers are chemically produced are the microorganismsbacteria, fungi, insects, worms,
through artificial nitrogen fixation at factories. The an- and othersthat digest and recycle the organic debris
nual production of inorganic fertilizers far exceeds the and waste in the environment Waste products, dead plants
ability of natural denitrification systemspresent manu- and animals, and other organic remains are their principal
facturing or inorganic fertilizers is now doubling every 8 food source. Material is released by the decomposers and
years. The surplus of usable nitrogen accumulates in enters the food chainand the cycle continues.
Earths ecosystems. Some is present as excess nutrients, STABILITYAND SUCCESSION
washed from soil into waterways and eventually the A rough equilibrium is achieved in an ecosystem
ocean. This excess nitrogen load begins a water pollu- by the constant interplay of increasing growth toward the
tion process that involves an unwanted growth of algae potential in a community and decreasing growth caused
and phytoplankton, increased biological oxygen demand, by resisting factors that force limits in a community. Both
loss of dissolved oxygen reserves, and eventual disrup- biotic and abiotic factors affect growth. Far from being
tion of the aquatic ecosystem. In addition, excess nitro- static, Earths ecosystems are dynamic and ever-chang-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 24 ]
ing. Over time, communities of plants and animals have optimum for the conditions, known as the climatic
adapted to such variation, evolved, and in turn shaped climax community, establishes itself. When this is
their environments. attained, there is no further alteration in the broad aspect
Ecosystem Stability of the vegetation, and a situations of equilibrium is at-
In a given ecosystem, a community moves tained. This term climatic climax community is now pre-
toward maximum biomass and relative stability because ferred to natural vegetation.
this has optimum survival value for the community. How-
ever, the tendency for birth and death rates to
balance. And the composition of species to remain stable,
inertial stability, does not necessarily foster the ability
to recover from change, resilience. Examples of stable
communities include a redwood forest, a pine forest at a
high elevation, and a tropical rain forest near the equator.
Yet, cleared tracts recover slowly (if ever) and therefore
have poor resilience.
Another aspect related to stability is diversity. The
more diverse the species population (both in
number of species and quantity of members in each spe-
cies), the more risks are spread over the entire
community, because several food sources exist at each
trophic level. In other words, greater diversity in an eco-
system results in greater stability. An artificially produced
monoculture community, such as a field of wheat, is sin-
gularly vulnerable to failure or attack. Humans simplify One of the most striking examples of
communities by eliminating diversity and in this way we successional change is that of the small islands
place more ecosystems at risk of unwanted change and produced after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883; the origi-
perhaps failure. In some regions, a simple return to mul- nal vegetation was destroyed and the new islands con-
tiple crops brings more stability to the ecosystem.
sisted of sterile volcanic rocks. By 1886 eight
species of plants had established themselves, and
Plant communities
A group of plants growing in some particular, area, within fifty years the islands were covered with
under certain physical conditions which dense secondary forest, in which large trees are
satisfy them, is known as a plant community, which can now slowly becoming dominant. The tendency
be of different grades. The largest is sometimes called a seems to be the ultimate re-establishment of rain-
plant formation, as for example, the Temperate Deciduous forest, which will be the climatic climax community.
Forest, in which the distinctive plant-form is the decidu- Ecologists have sought to analyze the vegetation
ous tree. With in this major community is a grouping cover on a scientific, basis in terms of develop-
known as a plant association; an oak forest is a particular mental succession or sequences, known generally
association within the formation of the Temperate De- as seres. The whole series of communities which
ciduous Forest. A plant society is a local community with leads from a virgin land surface to a climatic
special conditions and species. An ecologist distinguishes
climax community is termed a presere. Each stage
smaller, more detailed and more local communities in the
in this succession is a seral community, itself only
course of his work.
With any community is a variety of individual plants, temporary and affording conditions successively more fa-
but the strongest and most vigorous is known as the vorable for colonization by more demanding
dominant. In an oak-wood the dominant is the rock tree, communities.
but other plants are found, such as hazel, wood anemo- One other type of community involves the
nes, primroses and mosses. In complex communities sev- interruption of climax vegetation by prolonged direct or
eral strata occur, known as layer; there may be a canopy- indirect human interference. Many English uplands, for-
layer made up of the crowns of the dominant trees, a shrub- merly wooded, have been turned into grassland as the
layer of bushes or weaker trees, a field-or-herb-layer of result of the initial clearing of the trees, followed by con-
small plants, and a ground-layer of mosses and li- tinuous grazing which has precluded the
chens. regeneration of the woodland. This is a plagiosere,
Plant succession
leading to an ultimate community in equilibrium
Much vegetation, particularly which is semi-
known as plagiclimax.
natural, reveals a gradual sequence of changes or phases
over a period of time, even if the climate remains
unaltered. An area of land, bare of vegetation after a vol-
canic eruption, a wide-spread fire, submergence by water
or mans destructive activities, will experience a gradual
succession of vegetation changes until the
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 25 ]
The living mantle of vegetation which covers most rainfall tends to produce forest, light rainfall causes grass-
of the land surface of the world has been called the inter- land, and meager or deficient rainfall result in scrub and
mediate link between physical geography on the one hand desert. Temperature, however, plays a large part in deter-
and economic and human geography on the other. The mining the actual constituents of the
various plant associations owe their flora; there is the Boreal Forest of lands near the
nature to the interaction of different climatic elements- Arctic Circle, the Cool Temperate Forest, the Warm Tem-
heat, light, moisture and wind-with other factors, perate Forest and the Tropical Rain-forest-all
principally surface relief and the soil-cover. These forests, but differing considerably in their nature and ap-
conditions impart a special character and a distinctive ap- pearance largely because of the varied temperature con-
pearance to a particular association of plants; it is pos- ditions.
sible to distinguish areas of the world which the broadly Temperature
similar plant associations, called vegetation regions. Low temperatures tend to result in slower plant
THE FACTORS CONTROLLING VEGETATION growth and smaller size, while higher temperatures pro-
These factors can be divided into three groups-cli- duce more luxuriant growth. With an increase in either
matic (the several climatic elements), edaphic (mainly soil latitude or altitude, assuming that the available moisture
conditions) and physiographic (relief, remains constant, there is a corresponding decrease in
aspect and drainage). However, these various factors are the size of luxuriance and rate of growth of the vegetation.
closely interrelated and interdependent. Of special importance are critical temperatures at
Two other groups are the biotic factors, the particular times of the years and actual extremes of heat
effect of organisms, and those due to human activities, and cold. Freezing point is one of the most crucial tem-
the grazing of domestic animals, burnings, the human ac- peratures, since so many plants are vulnerable to frost.
tivities, the grazing of domestic animals, burning, the fell- Another is the figure of 6 C, since for most plants it seems
ing of forest and drainage schemes. that active growth cannot take place at temperature much
Climatic factors below this point.
The two main elements on which plant growth de- Various classifications of plants have been made on
pends are rainfall and temperature. the basis of their temperature requirements; one such is
Rainfall determines the vegetation type; abundant as follows :

(i) Megatherms (e.g. palm) coldest month above 18 C

(ii) Mesotherms (e.g. olive) coldest month between 6C and 18C warmest month over 6 C
(iii) Mircotherms (e.g. oak) coldest month above 6 C warmest month between 10C & 22 C
(iv) Hekistotherms warmest month less than 10 C
(E.g. reindeer moss)

Rainfall Light : Another climatic factor of importance to plant

Moisture is vital to every plant, since it is by growth is the amount of available light, both its strength
water absorbed through its roots that it receives in solu- and its diurnal and seasonal duration. Chlorophyll, the
tion the foods it needs. green pigment in plants, absorbs energy from sunlight,
Plants may be classified Hydrophytes, which are and as a result carbohydrates are formed from carbon di-
purely aquatic plants, both floating and submerged. Hy- oxide and water by a very complex and not fully under-
grophytes include those plants which live in an environ- stood process, and plant growth is sustained. Where light
ment with a plentiful water-supply, such as many species is weak, therefore, growth is lank and pale, as in the dim
of the Tropical Rainforest. Mesophytes have available green light under the canopy of a Tropical Rain-forest.
moderate water-supply, and most trees fall into this cat- Many species in tropical forests actually move
egory. Xerophytes are adapted in various ways to dry their leaves during the course of the day, turning the edges
conditions, seasonal or perennial; their modifications in- toward the direct rays to minimize their effects (heliotro-
clude long roots penetrating deeply in search of ground- pism).
water, small leaves protected against transpiration with The short days and weak light of winter in cool tem-
thick skins or with the surfaces coated with wax or fine perate latitudes is probably one factor which induces a
hairs, hard thorny buds and shoots, thick rough bark as in deciduous habit in some trees, providing that the summer
the case of the cork oak, tuberous roots, and even water- is sufficiently long to enable them to complete the cycle
storage devices such as have the baobab tree and the of leaf development, growth and fall in one season. Wind
multifarious cacti. : The major influence of wind upon plants is that it re-
Many other plants possess various characteris- moves the vapor transpired from the stomata; a strong
tics to enable them to survive a period of seasonal adver- wind means rapid transpiration. If a wind is warm and dry,
sity; these are known as tropophytes. Thus leaf-shed- this effect is very marked; the sirocco may cause trees
ding enables a plant to survive a period of seasonal ad- and shrubs in southern Italy to transpire so rapidly that
versity, due to either cold or drought.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 26 ]
buds are killed and blackened, as if by a sudden frost. ity; the bogs have a permanently damp surface while the
The pole ward limit of shrubs, on the borders of the heaths are dry. Should the bog dry out, naturally or artifi-
coniferous forest and the tundra, is probably determined cially, heath will result.
more by wind than by temperature. Edaphic factors are those concerned with the char-
Physiographic and edaphic factors: The relief of acteristics of the soil-cover, since in this are rooted the
the land, its steepness or levelness, whether there are majority of plants, and the plant-cover itself contributes
valleys and mountains or uniform low-lying plains, affects to the processes which produce the mature soil. There is
the vegetation-cover. On mountain ranges there is a great no need to stress the influence of the soil-factor; compare
diversity in the vegetation-cover owing to rapid change the thin skeletal soils on steep mountains, the acid-peat
in climate, soil, aspect and drainage, but generally the soils of the moorlands, the sandy soils of the heaths and
result of altitude is to produce Zones or girdles of veg- the coastal areas, the clay and alluvial soils of the low-
etation, the details of which vary according to the cli- lands. The ecologist is concerned with much more de-
matic base-level of the mountainswhich itself largely tailed edaphic difference; he studies an assemblage of
depends upon latitude. species, and in an ecological survey of a grassland, for
The effectiveness of the natural drainage is shown example, he finds considerable botanical differences due
in the Tropics, where mangrove forest occurs under con- to slight variations in acidity and alkalinity, water content
ditions of brackish tidal water logging, swamp-forest un- and mineral content.
der conditions of fresh-water flooding, and true rain-for- However, vegetation in some way summarizes the
est where drainage is adequate. The high bogs on the various physical features, and vegetation regions have been
moors of northern Germany are closely related botanically called climatico-botanical frames. The broad relationship
to the heaths which surround them, for both have the between climatic type, zonal soil group and vegetation
same poverty of mineral nutrients and the same high acid- region is shown in the following table :

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 27 ]

Climate Soil Vegetation
Arctic tundra Tundra
{cooler podzols Coniferous Forest
Cool Temperate Heathland
{warmer brown-earths Temperate Deciduous
Cool Temperate {chernozem Temperate Grassland
(Continental) {prairie soils
{arid chestnut-colored Arid Grassland
Cool Temperate soils
{very arid saline soils Salt desert plants
Mediterranean Warm various Warm Temperate Ever-
Temperate (much terra rossa) green Woodlands
Hot Desert {semi-desert {red desert soils Desert Scrub
{true desert {sandy, saline soils Plantless Deserts
{red-earths Savanna Grassland
Tropical (summer rain) {lateritic soils
{lateritic soils Monsoon Forest
Tropical (monsoon) {regur
Equatorial lateritic and Tropical Rain-forest
Associated forms Swamp Forest
Mangrove Swamp
Mountain (zoning Skeletal Zoning according to
altitude, culminating
in high moorland,
mountain grassland,
scrub, alpine flora,
plantless ice-cap and

Principal terrestrial vegetation types into up in the canopy, some 30-50m high, that most photosyn-
which the world is divided have come to be known as thesis occurs.
biomes. Many trees in the canopy are covered by epiphytes
If individual ecosystems are the species of ecol- plants. Nutrient cycling within the canopy is probably
ogy, then biomes are the phyla or divisions. No two tax- important and many trees produce aerial roots which ab-
onomists seem to agree on a system of classification, so it sorb nutrients just as roots in soil do. Much of the animal
is hardly surprising that a definitive list of biomes cannot life too is confined for most of the time to the canopy.
be produced. Fruits are found throughout the year and specialized fruit-
Biomes provide a convenient shorthand for describ- eaters have evolved among the insects, the birds and the
ing the worlds flora and fauna. Traditionally biomes have primates.
been defined mainly in terms of their vegetation. Other animals concentrate on leaves. All species of
Whittaker (1975) provides a comprehensive list of sloth (Choloepus and Bradypus), for instance, have ex-
the worlds biomes and we will follow his approach. tremely large multi-compartmented stomachs which hold
Tropical rainforest cellulose-digesting bacteria. A full stomach may account
They are found in South and Central America, West
for 30% of the body weight of a sloth, and meals may be
and Equatorial Africa. South-east Asia, Indonesia and
digested there for more than a month before passing into
North-east Australia continual combination of warmth and
moisture allows continuous plant growth to occur. the relatively short intestine (Dickman, 1985). Some of the
It has been said that if all the soil invertebrates found adaptations shown by sloths to this indigestible diet are
in a cubic metre of tropical rainforest soil are collected, remark able. Their body temperature is low, about 30-340C,
there will probably be at least one species there which has and variable, falling at night, during wet weather and when
never been named or described by scientists. Certainly the animals are inactive. This helps conserve energy. Cam-
there is no doubt that tropical rainforests contain the great- ouflage, provided by two species of cyanobacteria which
est diversity of life of any of the worlds biomes. live in their fur and turn it green, helps reduce predation.
Undisturbed tropical rainforest is not impenetrable. Sloths are the most abundant large mammals in tropical
This is because so little light is able to get through to the South American forest.
forest floor that relatively few plants can grow there. It is
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 28 ]

Elfinwoods resemble tropical rainforests in minia- (Whittaker, 1975). Tropical broad-leaved woodland occurs
ture. They get their name from elves. The mythical little in northern South America, the West Indies, southern Af-
people recorded in many European fairy stories. rica and Burma.
Elfinwoods occur high up on tropical mountains in Af- Thornwood
rica, South America and New Guinea. Here it is cold, but Thornwoods occur in the same part of the world as
the climate is non seasonal. The cold leads the trees to be tropical broad-leaved woodlands and in other parts of Asia
small and stunted, with contorted branches and a low and in Madagascar. The climate, though, is more arid. The
canopy of broad evergreen leaves (Whittaker, 1975). The name of the biome comes from the presence of spiny spe-
branches are covered with curtains of cies of trees in the genus Acacia and in other genera of
lichens, mosses and filmy ferns (Walter, 1979). These epi- the pea family.
phytes occur because the relative humidity is Temperate rainforest
typically very high and elfinwoods are sometimes Temperate rainforests occur along the Pacific Coast
called cloud forests. of North America and in New Zealand, Australia and Chile.
Tropical seasonal forest There climate is cool and maritime, lacking great variation
Tropical seasonal forests occur in humid tropical in temperature and with abundant summer rain and much
climates with a clear dry season during which trees may cloudiness and fog. In common with tropical rainforest,
lose their leaves. They are found in India, South-east Asia, they have rain throughout the year, though at some times
West and East Africa, South and Central America, the West of the year the rain is condensed fog. This fog comes
Indies and Northern Australia (Whittaker, 1975). It is their from moisture brought in by winds from the sea.
seasonality that probably accounts for their being less The trees in temperate rainforest are the tallest in
diverse the rainforests. Tropical seasonal forests are of- the world. In Australia, the dominant tree of these
ten found where monsoons occur as these provide sea- forests is the mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans)
sonal rain. which can grow to over 90m in height (Bergamini, 1965). In
Tropical broad-leaved woodland North America, the dominant tree is the
Tropical broad-leaved woodlands contain small redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) which may reach 100m.
trees and replace tropical seasonal forests when the cli- The New Zealand forests include trees in the genus
mate gets drier and the soils poorer. The canopy is typi- Podocarpus.
cally only 310m high and consists of trees or shrubs Temperate deciduous forest
with twisted branches and thick, fire-adapted bark Temperate deciduous forests grow in continental
climates with summer rainfall and severe winters. They are
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 29 ]
dominated by broad-leaved deciduous trees and are found semi-desert. An example of temperate woodland is pygmy
in Europe. In Asia and the Americas Oak woodlands oc- conifer woodland in the western United Stated. Here, open
cur in temperate climates in the northern hemisphere. They woodland dominated by pine and junipers is found with
experience a high degree of seasonality from cold, sub- shrubs and grass beneath.
zero winters with frost and snow, to warm mild summers Temperate shrubland
which are often wet, but which may include drought for Around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the
several weeks at a time. Trees are the dominant life form annual rainfall is between about 300 and 800mm, and dur-
and the most abundant species are the oaks. ing the summer there is usually no rain for about four
The vegetation structure of oak woodland takes the months. In these months the means temperature is 20-
form of canopy of tall trees, about 12-20m high, with a 250C. In the coldest months the mean temperature is about
lower layer or understorey of bushes and a herb ground 100C and frosts are only sporadic (Friday & Ingram, 1985;
flora. Associated with this is a diversity of woodland birds Walter, 1979). Very similar climates occur in southern Cali-
and small mammals and a variety of insects. The commu- fornia, parts of Chile, the Cape of Good Hope in southern
nity has a fairly high diversity. Africa and South-western Australia.
Temperate evergreen forest The shrubs are between 1 and 5m high, and have
Temperate evergreen forests occur in variety of cli- small thick drought-resistant leaves. Mediterranean
mates. Those in California, the Mediterranean and South- maquis and Californian chaparral are among the best
ern Australia are dominated by trees with tough, ever- known examples of this biome. Heathland is also
green and broad, but relatively small, leaves. North of included in this classification, although it can only just be
California in Western USA, conifers predominate, includ- classified as shrubland. All of these types of shrubland
ing Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and sitka spruce are greatly affected by fire. These fires burn off the above-
(Picea sitchensis). In New Zealand, various trees are ground stems. Re-growth then occurs from root systems
found including southern beech (Nothofagus), which is that survive the fire and from
also found in the temperate evergreen forests of Chile. buried seeds.
The New Zealand forests include some remarkable However, if fires occur too often, those species
birds. Perhaps the most unusual is the flightless kiwi (Ap- which rely on regeneration from seed, rather than on re-
teryx). New Zealand has no native mammalian ground growth from roots, are eliminated and the composition of
predators and so many of the indigenous birds have lost the vegetation changes. If fires occur much less often
the ability to fly. Although kiwis have poor eyesight and than once every 12 years, fire-intolerant species such as
cannot fly, their sense of smell is excellent and they use Prunus ilicifolia and Rhamnus crocea invade.
this to hunt out worms on which they feed. Also in New Heathland occurs in Ireland, Scotland, England,
Zealand is the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), a very rare Denmark and parts of northern Germany and southern
bird that is almost unable to fly. It was long feared extinct, Sweden (Friday & Ingram, 1985). The vegetation is domi-
but a few are known to survive, feeding on leaves, young nated by low shrubs in the heather family (Ericaceae).
shoots, berries and moss. A third unusual bird of these These heaths generally occur on very poor and shallow
New Zealand forests is the kea (Nestor notabilis). This is sandy podzols. The origins of heathland have been widely
one of the few New Zealand species to have benefited debated. One theory is that they are derived from forest
from introduced species. Previously vegetarian, the kea by razing and burning. Another theory is that they have
has learned to attack sheep and is now the worlds only never been forest; rather, they represent a sub-climax
carnivorous parrot. community.
Across much of Europe, a form of temperate ever- Throughout much of Europe, heathland is being
green forest is found on mountains where the growing destroyed for conifer plantations, agricultural reclamation
season is too short for deciduous trees. The trees include and housing developments.
silver fir (Abies abies), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Boreal forest
several species of pine (Pinus). The forest has the struc- Boreal forest is also known as taiga. It extends from
ture of the mountain form of the boreal forest Mammals north-eastern Europe across Russia to the Pacific Ocean,
include the herbivorous red squirrel and chamois and the and right across North America from Alaska to New-
carnivorous pine martin and lynx Among the birds are the foundland. To the north it merges into tundra; to the south
nutcracker and crested tit. it grades into deciduous forest or grassland.
Temperate woodland Permafrost is widespread, so that the deeper layers
Temperate woodland occurs when the climate is too of the soil remain frozen all year round, and for much of
dry for true forest. It is dominated by small tress, but these the year snow lies on the ground.
often provide only an incomplete and open canopy, so The vegetation of the boreal forest is dominated by
that the appearance may be of grassland with occasional coniferous trees. With the exception of the larches these
scattered trees. Temperate woodland therefore lies on a are evergreen. The important genera are pines spruces
continuum between forest and shrubland, grassland and firs and larches. Some broad-leaved species also occur,

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 30 ]

notably poplars and birches. The ground flora includes There are not very many species of birds on the
some exquisite and delicate flowering plants such as twin steppe, probably because of the uniformity of the vegeta-
flower, one-flowered wintergreen and creeping ladys tion structure. Even some of the eagles are forced to nest
tresses. on the ground, given the absence of trees or cliffs. Nor is
With its harsh winters, the taiga poses severe prob- the steppe ideal for amphibians or reptiles. The few am-
lems for the animals founds in it. Some of the birds and phibians found are burrowers. While the short growing
mammals migrate, some remain active during the long dark season gives little time for eggs to hatch and develop to
winter and some of the mammals hibernate. Most of the adulthood.
invertebrates survive as resting stages, typically eggs or Alpine shrubland
pupae. Alpine shrublands are sometimes found above the
Many of the animals in the taiga have evolved spe- treeline on mountains. They occur in South America, Af-
cific adaptations to the conifers. The conifers produce rica, the Himalayas and New Zealand. On mountains in
large numbers of seeds. The crossbills, are particularly Africa, a characteristic vegetation is found in these cir-
interesting because their mandibles, which cross at the cumstances dominated by large sparsely branched rosette
tips, enable them to get at the seeds before the cones plants which may be 5-8m in height. The genera
open. dendrosenecio and Lobelia are most prominent.
Savannah Alpine grassland
Savannahs are tropical grasslands, often with scat- The climate high up a mountain might be thought
tered trees. They are most extensive in Africa, but are also similar to the climate near the poles. However, day length
found in Australia, South America and southern Asia. remains constant up a mountain, while it changes as you
Savannah is subject to fire. Fires may result from light- approach the poles. Further, mountains often receive more
ning or be started by humans. Savannah trees have thick rain and snow than regions near the poles. The thin atmo-
bark which insulates the living cambium from the heat of sphere lets through more ultraviolet
the fire. radiation, and diurnal changes in temperature may be ex-
The savannah or grassland of East Africa is famed treme. The soils may be very thin and large amounts of
for its abundance of wildlife. Enormous numbers of large loose rock are often present. Theses differences
herbivores and carnivores still roam East Africa. More is combine to ensure that mountain vegetation differs
known about the natural behavior of the animals and their significantly from the vegetation of the tundra.
ecology in the Serengeti of northern Tanzania and south- Small alpine plants are often much loved by
ern Kenya than about any other region in the world. gardeners. They tend to grow slowly and have
The Serengeti still has vast herds of wild beast. beautiful delicate brightly colored flowers. Well known
These move around, following the same path that the rain genera include Pulsatilla, Hepatica, Saxifraga, Primula,
does as they seek the best grass on which to feed. These Androsace, Gentiana, Campanula, Fritillaria and Cro-
herbivores support large numbers of mammalian carnivores cus
including spotted hyena, lion, leopard, cheetah, African The alpine marmot throughout the Alps of
wild dog. central Europe and is well adapted to life in the moun-
Temperate grassland tains. Marmots hibernate at least half the year. During
Temperate grasslands are found across large areas hibernation, their heartbeats slow down and their body
of eastern Europe and Asia (steppe), central North America temperature falls to between 4 and 80C. This helps the
(prairie) and Argentina (pampas). The climate is moder- marmots to conserve energy. During the few months of
ately dry (between 200 and 750mm of rain each year) and the year when they are active they seem to spend much of
continental, so the summers are hot and the winters cold. their time standing on their hind legs checking whether
The flora of these temperate grasslands is dominated by there are any predators in the vicinity.
perennial grasses. Associated with the grasses are broad- Tundra
leaved perennials. The smaller broad-leaved plants flower Huge areas of northern Asia and northern Canada
early in the growing season, before the grasses reach their are covered with low treeless vegetation known as tun-
maximum height; the larger broad-leaved plants flower dra. The growing season is too short, the winters too cold
towards the end of the growing season, after the grasses and dry, and the soil too unstable to support trees. Pri-
have begun to die down. mary production is low, as might be expected. The soils
The soils are chernozems and nowadays most of are poor and the annual freezing and thawing gradually
the steppe has been devoted to the production of wheat. turns the soil over and sorts the soil particles out by size.
Once the huge areas of wild grassland supported great On flat ground the result is often a characteristic polygo-
herds of Przewalskis horse. Przewalskis horse is now nal pattern which results from the larger stones being
possibly extinct in the wild. It is a possible ancestor of the forced to the surface.
domestic horse which was first domesticated on the steppe The growing season is so short that few plants in
about 6000 years ago. the tundra are annuals. Sedges, lichens and dwarf

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 31 ]

willows are found. When the short growing season does seeding within the space of just 20-30 days. Other plants
arrive, plant growth and flowering may be spectacular with survive as perennials. Geophytes effectively avoid peri-
enormous areas bathed in colour. Tremendous numbers ods of drought by surviving as underground bulbs or
of insects suddenly appear and for a few weeks produc- corms. Above-ground parts are produced only after heavy
tivity is high before winter sets in again for most of the rain. Succulents, though, such as the cacti of America and
year. the euphorbia of Africa, have adaptations which enable
Warm semi-desert scrub them to survive above ground throughout the year. Suc-
Warm semi-desert scrubs occur throughout the culents typically have thick cuticles, a very low surface
world in dry warm-temperate and subtropical climates. The area to volume ratio and sunken stomata which only open
vegetation is characterized by scattered bushes, while the at night so as to minimize transpiration losses.
fauna is often rich in small mammals, birds, lizards and Animals in deserts face a formidable array of prob-
snakes. lems. Water is obviously scarce, but so is food. It may be
Cool semi-desert very hot during the day, but cold at night. Sand makes
Cool semi-deserts are found in parts of North locomotion difficult and there may be occasional blinding
America, central Asia and Iran, Australia, Patagonia and sandstorms. A wide variety of mechanisms have evolved
the Andes. The vegetation often contains scrub and is to deal with these problems.
found in places too dry for grassland. Camels can tolerate a 30% loss of their total
Arctic-alpine semi-desert water content. Most mammals die if 14% of their
Arctic-alpine semi-deserts are found in arid water is lost. Even when severely dehydrated,
regions either in the arctic or on mountains above the camels continue to eat at almost their normal rate.
tree-line. The vegetation usually consists of low In most other mammals, food is refused once the
cushion plants. animal becomes dehydrated. Recovery from dehydration
Desert is spectacular. Camels can drink 20% of their body weight
Deserts are throughout the world, mostly in the sub- in ten minutes! When a camel becomes short of water, its
tropical zone between 15 and 400 north and south of the temperature fluctuates more than is
equator. Among the great deserts of the world are the otherwise the case. The thick fur of camel insulates its
Namib and Kalahari deserts in the south of body from the sun.
Africa, the Sahara in the north, the Arabian desert, the Arctic-alpine desert
Gobi to the north of the Himalayas and, perhaps the driest Greenland, Antarctica and mountains well
of them all, the coastal Atacama desert of above the tree line support almost no plant life. The envi-
Peru and Chile, ronment is dominated by rock, ice and snow.
Deserts usually receive less than 50mm of rain a Arctic-alpine desert is the home for just a few wonderfully
year. Not only that, but the rain is unpredictable. For most adapted animals. The Arctic is home to the polar bear
desert organisms, the key to survival is being able to make (Thalarcos maritimus), while in Antarctica the emperor
use of the occasional heavy rainfalls. There are two ex- penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) breeds in
treme strategies open to plants. One is to survive as an midwinter when it is appallingly cold and there is
ephemeral. Some of these ephemerals can complete their darkness 24 hours a day.
entire life cycle in a few weeks. They can take advantage
of sudden rains by germinating, growing, flowering and

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 32 ]

Man acts as the dominant force in many of the Earths in South Dakota where much of the area is underlain by
physical and biological systems. Man has become capable almost impervious clay formation. But badlands can be
of altering his physical environment to suit himself. Al- artificially produced where accelerated erosion proceeds
though the object of these alterations was to improve his unchecked e.g. Southern Appalachians in the United
living conditions, in some cases they have created major States.
long-term problems, and in still others they have been The alteration of infiltration and run off on slopes
catastrophic, both for the natural environment and him- by modifying the vegetation inevitably has profound ef-
self. fect on adjacent rivers in at least two respects: by increas-
Many apparently natural systems are in fact control ing both the discharge and also the sediment supply. There
systems in which man acts as a regulator either consciously seems little doubt that many of the floods in mid-latitude
or inadvertently. At best, except for large-scale weather rivers would not occur if the vegetation in the drainage
phenomena, natural systems are mostly modified systems. basin were in its natural state.
Modification of Landforms Another way in which discharge levels may be af-
Mining and quarrying, deforestation, the introduc- fected in similar fashion is through urbanization; the
tion of exotic plants and animals, the use of agricultural ground surface is rendered impervious by buildings, paths
machinery, the building and use of tracks and roads, and and roads, and precipitation is channeled directly to riv-
the overgrazing of pasture, have all, singly and in combi- ers through drains and sewers. Damage to river banks,
nation, profoundly altered landforms and caused acceler- properties and farmland cultivation has greatly increased
ated erosion and deposition to occur. the sediment load of rivers of south-east, Asia, Europe
Direct Alteration of Landforms and North America. The effect of this increase is of con-
By excavating and pilling up earth, reclaiming land siderable importance in the construction of dams and ca-
from the sea and causing subsidence through mining; nals; in severe cases, large amounts of sediment supply
these activities have greatly increased since the Indus- may also cause valley aggradation, destroying produc-
trial Revolution. Land scarification is sometimes used as a tive land capacity.
general term for disturbances created by the extraction of min- Wind Deflation
eral resources; open-pit mines, quarries, sand and gravel Dustbowl in the Great Plains region of America in
pits are among the forms of scarification. Strip-mining is the 1930 is a well-known example of man-induced land
one of the most devastating examples of landform alteration erosion. The area was former grassland underlain by rich
of this kind. The effects of subsidence are common in most of brown and chestnut soils, but both overgrazing and
the older coal-mining areas of Britain. Switchback roads, ploughing contributed to the catastrophe which caused
perched canals, fractured buildings and flooded depres- the widespread abandonment of farms.
sions or flashes are all visible manifestation of recent In the marginal areas around todays hot deserts,
changes in the surface form of the ground. such as the Thar desert of Pakistan and India, and the
Heaps form mining and quarrying. Many of these Egyptian desert, a great deal of deflation is initiated by
features are geomorphologically unstable, allowing vari- grazing animals. In Britain, coastal dunes are highly sus-
ous forms of mass movement to generate. In 1966 at ceptible to deflation when interfered with by man. Con-
Aberfan in Wales, a major disaster occurred on a spring- stant trampling or vehicular traffic quickly destroys the
saturated coal waste heap which moved as an earthflow. protective grass vegetation, initiating blowouts or land-
Indirect Effects: Slopes and Rivers ward migration of the dunes.
Most important of all mans effects on landforms Coastal Erosion and Deposition
are those connected with his interference with the natural Man has had some effect on coastal erosion and
vegetation. There is a close relationship between the deposition at the shoreline by building various structures
amount of vegetation cover and erosion rates on hillslopes, and by removing beach material for ballast or construc-
and hence with the amount of sediment in streams. A stable tion. Urbanization of many coastal areas in Britain has
vegetation cover acts as an effective regulator of natural often paid little attention to local erosion factors, and one
erosion, protecting the ground from direct raindrop im- can find many examples where even a few yards of ero-
pact, absorbing some of the run-off, and making the slope sion by the sea may spell disaster for a heavily built-up
more cohesive. With the removal of the vegetation, the area. Hence various engineering structures such as
surface loses its plant litter, causing a loss of soil struc- groynes, breakwaters and seawalls have had to be built to
ture, cohesion and porosity. Overgrazing has similar ef- check marine erosion. However, these are not only ex-
fects, and the introduction of animal pests such as the tremely expensive to build and maintain, but often defeat
rabbit into Australia has also had a detrimental effect on the object of the exercise, since by checking erosion in
slope stability. one place they may lead to its increase elsewhere. Pre-
Multiple shoe-string rills and gullies on hillsides are venting the longshore movement of the shingle, may starve
often a typical manifestation of mans indirect effect on the shore on the downdrift side of the groyne of its sup-
slopes. Semi-arid regions are susceptible to tropical down ply of beach material, leading to a narrowing of the beach
pours. High rates of hillslope erosion by overland flow and an increase in direct wave attack on the cliff behind.
are a natural state in some localities, creating badlands as
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 33 ]
Modification of the Atmosphere have far-reaching effects on tropospheric processesfor
Global heat balance has changed over the last few example, on the rain-making mechanismbut perhaps little
decades. It is certainly evident that pollution has marked effect on processes in the stratosphere.
local effects on the atmosphere. Atmospheric changes Changes in Atmospheric Gas Levels
induced by man may be grouped into three categories: Carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) are the most
the introduction of solids and gases not normally found critical from an environmental viewpoint, for both are in-
in the atmosphere; changes in the proportions of the natu- extricably involved in the biochemical cycles between at-
ral component gases of the atmosphere; and alterations mosphere and the surface of the Earth. Although nitrogen
of the Earths surface in such a way as to affect the atmo- comprises four fifths of the atmosphere, its inert chemical
sphere. A fourth type of impact is the planned weather nature relegates it to a minor role in this respect. Oxygen
modification. and carbon dioxide are naturally added to the atmosphere
Pollutants in the Atmosphere by outgassing from the Earths interior. The work of plants
Pollutants include particulate matter, both solid, and has been essential in removing carbon dioxide from the
liquid particles, and gaseous substances such as sulphur atmosphere and storing it as coal and other fossil organic
dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2, NO3), carbon substances.
monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon compounds. Large-scale combustion of hydrocarbon fuels re-
Isolated industrial activities frequently create a foot- quires a large quantity of oxygen to be withdrawn from
print of atmospheric pollution in areas of countryside the atmosphere and converted into carbon dioxide and
downwind from the industrial site. Mining and quarrying water vapor. Thus, lowering the oxygen content of the
activities also send large amounts of mineral dust into the atmosphere to levels which might have a detrimental ef-
air. Even man-induced forest and grass fires as well as fect on animal life.
bonfires, can greatly add to particulate pollutants at cer- Changes in water vapor levels brought about by
tain times of year. man through combustion and alteration to the vegetation
Atmospheric pollutants are conducted upward from cover could in theory markedly affect global radiation and
the emission sources by rising air currents as part of the heat balances emission of water vapor and various other
normal convective processes. Larger particles settle un- substances by jet aircraft. These emissions occur in the
der gravity and return to the ground as fallout. Smaller stratosphere, where the water vapor content is normally
suspended particles are brought to the Earth by precipita- very small. The condensation trails (contrails) of aircraft
tion as washout. can often be observed to spread laterally and develop
Pollutants are also eliminated from the air over their into cirrus clouds. These clouds are highly reflective and
source areas by winds which disperse the particles into can have an effect on the Earths albedo.
large volumes of clean air in the downwind direction. The Alterations to the Earths Surface
passage of a cold front accompanied by strong winds is Meteorological processes close to the ground are
usually very effective in sweeping away pollutants from extremely sensitive to the character of the Earths surface
an urban area, but during stagnant anticyclonic condi- and mans alteration of this through deforestation, agri-
tions concentrations may rise to high values, sometimes cultural practice and urbanization has had several impor-
producing smog. tant effects. Closely built urban areas develop their own
The primary pollutants undergo a number of chemi- heat island on calm nights in summer. Equally impressive
cal reactions, generating a secondary group of pollutants. are the changes in the heat budget brought about when
(SO2) combines with oxygen and suspended water drop- an irrigated area is created in an arid region. The albedo of
lets to produce sulphuric acid. This acid is harmful to a light-colored desert area is about 25-30 per cent; there is
organic tissues and is also very corrosive. Photochemical very little water for evaporation so that all the incoming
reactions are brought about by the action of sunlight: for radiation is available for the direct heating of the air. With
example, sunlight acting on nitrogen oxides and organic irrigation, the albedo drops to 10-15 per cent, and the in-
compounds produces ozone (O3). Another toxic chemical coming energy is used up almost entirely in evaporating
produced by photochemical action is ethylene. water. Thus direct heating of the air above the irrigated
Many pollutants are irritant to the eyes and danger- area is very slight, and day-time temperatures become mark-
ous to the respiratory system. Ozone in urban smog has a edly lower than in the surrounding desert.
severe effect on plant tissues; atmospheric sulphuric acid Trees and hedges effectively break the wind, caus-
has wiped out Echen growth in many urban areas of Brit- ing a simultaneous diminution in evaporation and in the
ain. Lead and other toxic metal particles are a particular carbon dioxide exchange close to the ground. Garden walls
cause of concern for human health. Limestone structures or thick tree belts may so effectively still the air immedi-
suffer greatly in certain British cities. ately to leeward as to cause frost pockets on cold nights.
Mans contribution to atmospheric particles may

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 34 ]

Simplified ecosystems disrupt nutrient cycling, in- tain ions are not retained, and among them is nitrate, an
troduce alien species and eliminates others and cause pol- important constituent of most fertilizers. Nitrate is being
lution. added to the soil from fertilizers and nitrogen-fixing plants
Simplification at a much faster rate than it can be broken down by deni-
This comes about because mans prime concern is trifying agents in the soil. Being soluble, it is rapidly
to direct energy and material cycling in the system to- leached out into rivers and lakes. Here, the increased ni-
wards himself, so that he can easily crop them. Species trogen input permits the accelerated growth of plants, al-
other than the ones he wants to crop are regarded as weeds gae and other phytoplankton: this chemical enrichment
or pests, and the attempts to eliminate them. Hence, re- resulting in increased productivity is called eutrophica-
duction in species diversity, often to a single species popu- tion. Unfortunately, in extreme form the outcome is ulti-
lation, is a notable characteristic of mans impact on eco- mately harmful since the plants and organisms die and
systems. Food webs are also made much simpler in this decompose at such a rapid rate that oxygen levels fall
process. until aquatic life becomes impossible. A severe example of
Primitive shifting agriculture in tropical rainforests eutrophication has occurred in recent years in Lake Erie,
represent only a temporary simplification and cropping of North America, where deep layers of decaying organic
the natural system as grazing economies exhibit a much matter have covered large stretches of the shoreline. Simi-
greater degree of ecosystem simplification. Selective graz- lar problems of eutrophication arise with the phosphates
ing by the domesticated species leads to the eradication contained in detergents, fertilizes, and normal sewage ef-
of the most palatable plant species, allowing tougher fluent.
grasses or xerophytic plants to predominate, thus simpli- Effect on Individual Species
fying and downgrading the pasture. Modern arable farm- The extinction or reduction in numbers of plant and
ing represents perhaps the most extreme form of simplifi- animal populations is a well-known consequence of mans
cation, producing a highly artificial type of ecosystem. impact on the environment. Often the species become
A single species population offers great opportu- endangered not so much by hunting or conscious elimi-
nity for the development and spread of disease, pests and nation, but by the disruption and fragmentation of habi-
parasites. The potential for survival in ecosystems is much tats. Large predators require an extensive area of special-
enhanced in multi-species population; the greater the spe- ized habitat in which to breed and hunt. The accidental or
cies diversity in any assemblage, the better the chance purposeful introduction of alien species into ecosystems
will be of balance interrelationship between organisms. has caused disruptions. Some animals and plants, because
Man-created monocultures are thus ecologically unstable; of their greater genetic adaptability and high reproduc-
loss of soil fertility quickly sets in, with all the dangers of tive rates have often made places for themselves at the
soil erosion. Intensively managed monocultures can be expense of native species.
very high-yielding, but only at the expense in the long run Under natural conditions, ecosystems have been in
of drawing on energy supplies from non-renewable a state of ecological equilibrium. With the increasing im-
sources, the fossil fuels. pact of man, their essential characteristics are altered, so
Eutrophication that now signs of severe imbalance or a declining effi-
Ecosystems cannot operate without efficient nutri- ciency are beginning to be observed in
ent cycling. A major consequence of mans simplification many of them. This is shown, for example, by the progres-
of ecosystems is that he inevitably destroys major nutri- sive devastation of formerly good fertile
ent reservoirs, notably the natural vegetation and the soil agricultural or grazing land through over-intensive
system. use; in the reduction of species when secondary forest
When chemical fertilizers are applied to the land, replaces primary forest; in a general loss of
many of the elements contained in them are retained by biological productivity; and in an increasing amount of
the soil, adding to the clay-humus complex. However, cer- pollution.

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 35 ]

Environment in general refers to the surroundings the initial stages.
but in geographical perspective environment includes To most of the people environmental degradation
abiotic or physical and biotic components of the life sup- and pollution are synonym, as both are concerned with
porting layer- the BIOSPHERE. the lowering of the quality of the environment. But a dis-
Natural environmental system has inbuilt self regu- tinction between these two aspects of the lowering and
lating mechanism known as HOMEOSTATIC MECHA- deterioration of the quality of the environment may be
NISM through which any change in he natural ecosys- drawn on the basis of causative factors and scale of dete-
tem/environmental system is counterbalanced by re- rioration of environmental quality in terms of magnitude/
sponses of the system to the change and ultimately eco- intensity and covered area. Broadly, environmental pollu-
system stability or environmental equilibrium is restored. Any tion means lowering of the quality of environment at local
change in the environment brought by the natural pro- scale caused exclusively by human activities whereas
cesses is suitably compensated by changes in other com- environmental degradation means lowering of environ-
ponents of the environment. Thus, there is reciprocal re- mental quality at local,
lationship between various components of the environ- regional and global scales by both NATURAL
ment. The physical processes create suitable habitats for PROCESSES and HUMAN ACTIVITIES.
biological communities on the one hand; biological com-
munities (mostly man) modify the environment on the other 1. EXTREME EVENTS AND HAZARDS
hand. (A) Terrestrial Natural Hazards
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION refers to the (B) Atmospheric Natural Hazards
deterioration in its physical component brought in by the (a) Atmospheric disturbances such as tropical cy-
biological processes mainly by human activities to such clones (e.g. typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes etc.), (b) at-
an extent that it cannot be set right by the self regulatory mospheric lightning, (c) forest fires.
mechanism or homeostatic mechanism of the environment. (C) Cumulative Atmospheric Hazards
Environmental degradation simply means overall (a) Floods, (b) droughts.
lowering of environmental qualities because of adverse 2. MAN INDUCED HAZARDS
changes brought in by human activities in the basic struc- (A) Physical Man-induced Hazards
ture of the components of the environment to such an Large-scale landslides, deliberate forest fires etc.
extent that these adverse changes adversely affect all bio- (B) Chemical and Nuclear Hazards
logical communities in general and human society in par- a. Release of toxic elements
ticular. Environmental degradation leaves direct impact b. outburst of lethal gases from
on the ecology and thus is caused ecological imbalance c. nuclear explosions etc.
because of marked reduction in the ecosystem and eco- (C) Biological Hazards Induced by Man
logical diversity. In fact, ecological imbalance is the indi- Increase or decrease of population of species in a
cator of environmental degradation because it becomes given habitat.
difficult to perceive environmental degradation directly in

Forests are main component of the biotic compo- sian steppes, American prairies, South American pam-
nents of the natural environmental system and the stabil- pas, South African Velds and New Zealandean Downs
ity of the environment and ecosystem/ecological balance have been extensively converted into agricultural farms
largely depend on the status of the forests of the region and these areas have now become major granaries of the
concerned. world.
According to the report of the Forest Survey of In- (ii) SHIFTING OR JHUMING CULTIVATION is ma-
dia, the total forested cover is only 20-24 per cent of the jor cause of forest loss in the hilly and mountainous areas
total geographical area of India but this claim has been of south and south east Asia.
refuted by several sources based on satellite imageries (iii) TRANSFORMATION OF FORESTS INTO PAS-
and only 13 per cent of the total geographical area of the TURES
country has been reported under different categories of Especially in Mediterranean and temperate areas,
forest covers. If we believe the report of the Forest Sur- mainly in North America, South America and Africa.
vey of India as stated above, 7,00,000 km2 or 70 million (iv) OVERGAZING of forests of moderate cover by
hectares of land should be afforested so as to put 33 per- animals mainly in the tropical and subtropical and arid
cent of the total geographical area of the country under and semi-arid areas has resulted into large-scale degrada-
forest cover as per requirement of the ecological prin- tion of natural vegetation if not the complete destruction
ciple. of forests.
(i) CONVERSION OF FOREST LAND INTO AGRI- The Savanna grasslands have been completely de-
CULTURAL LAND -Rich and extensive grasslands of Rus- stroyed partly by conversion of grasslands into agricul-

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 36 ]

tural farms by man partly by overgrazing. Through deflation and desertification, desert
(v) FOREST FIRES whether natural or manmade are spreads. The destruction and alteration of habitats due to
effective destroyers of forest covers. deforestation causes ecological imbalance in the region
(vi) LUMBERING for domestic and commercial pur- concerned.
poses is the real cause of large-scale destruction of forest CONSERVATION MEASURES
covers. The protection and conservation of forest resources
(vii) MULTI-PURPOSE RIVER PROJECTS require are not only desirable but are also necessary for the eco-
larger areas to be submerged for the storage of huge vol- nomic development of a nation and maintenance of envi-
ume of water in the reservoirs constructed behind the ronmental and ecological balance from local through re-
dams. Thus, submergence of forested gional to global levels.
riverine areas completely destroys the natural forests. Integrated Conservation Research (ICR), an ecologi-
(viii) BIOLOGICAL FACTORS also help in cal group of U.S.A., has launched massive programmes of
destroying the natural vegetations. Application of chemi- forest conservation in collaboration with UNESCOs MAN
cal fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides in the AND BIOSPHERE (MAB) programme.
agricultural fields nearer to the forests has driven out mi- The first and foremost task to conserve forests is to
cro-organisms such as insects and termites towards the protect the existing forests from merciless and reckless
adjoining forests where these cause serious damages to cutting of trees by greedy economic man. This task may
the plants. be achieved through government legislation and by arous-
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION ing public interest in the importance of the forest resources.
Deforestation gives birth to several problems en- The National Forest Policy of India has also laid
compassing environmental degradation through acceler- down certain basic principles for proper management and
ated rate of soil erosion, increase in the sediment load of conservation of the forest resources of the country such
the rivers, siltation of reservoirs and river beds, increase as (i) classification of forests according to functional as-
in the frequency and dimension of floods and droughts, pects into protected forests, reserved forests, village for-
changes in the pattern of distribution of precipitation, in- ests etc. (ii) expansion in the forest cover by planting
tensification of greenhouse effects, increase in the de- trees in order to ameliorate the
structive force of the atmospheric storms etc; economic physical and climatic conditions for the welfare of the
loss through damages of agricultural crops due to in- people, (iii) provision for ensuring progressive increasing
creased incidence of floods and droughts, decrease in supplies of fodder for animals and timber for
agricultural production because of loss of fertile top soils, agricultural implements and firewood to local inhabitants
decrease in the supply of raw materials to the industries nearer to the forests, (iv) opposition to reckless extension
and building materials (timber) to the urban and rural ar- of agricultural land at the cost of forest land, (v) extension
eas, marked decrease in fodder to animals etc. and social of forested area by massive plan of tree plantation on a
problems in the form of economic poverty, crimes and in- large-scale at war-footing so as to bring 33 percent of the
creased legal litigation. countrys geographical area under forest etc.
As already stated forests are natural umbrella for Important measure of effective conservation
ground surface from erosion caused by falling raindrops of natural forest is to adapt scientific and judicious method
and control radiation balance of the earth and the atmo- of cutting of trees by following selective
sphere by consuming increased amount of carbon dioxide approach. Only mature and desired trees should be cut
released from ever increasing human volcanoes (chim- and unwanted trees of low economic value should be
neys of the factories) and thus prevent the earth from avoided.
becoming to hot. To cover more and more wasteland and already de-
Intercepted rainfall reaches the ground surface forested land with forests through vigorous planning of
slowly in the form of AERIAL STREAMLETS through afforestation. Forests should not be replaced by commer-
the leaves branches and stems of trees. cially important fruit orchards. For example, cultivation of
Accelerated rate of soil erosion through rainsplash, apples in many parts of the Himalayas in general and
rainwash and sheetwash, rill and gully erosion consequent Himachal Pradesh (India) in particular has done great dam-
upon deforestation, increases sediment load of the rivers. age to the original stands of natural forests. Apple culti-
Deforestation also results in the increase of the con- vation causes deforestation in two ways viz. (i) Apple
centration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because cultivation requires clearance of land from vegetal cover
forests consume carbon dioxide during the process of and (ii) Huge quantity of wood is required for packing of
photosynthesis for the deforestation atmosphere. apples every years.
Increased rate of soil erosion caused due to defor- The Integrated Conservation Research, an U.S. eco-
estation result in colossal loss of fertile top soils and ag- logical research group, has suggested elaborate
ricultural land which ultimately causes marked reduction programmes for the betterment of forests. These
in agricultural production. programmes include (i) agroforestry, (ii) ethnobotany and
(iii) natural history-oriented tourism.

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 37 ]

Man causes environmental instability and hence public health problems. Pollutants can be conveniently
environmental degradation by (i) destroying completely classified into two main groups:
or partly, natural vegetation or original species or by re- * Gaseous pollutants
placing them by other vegetation or animal species, (ii) by * Particulate pollutants
introducing exotic plants or animals to any area where Gaseous Pollutants
such biotic communities were not present previously, (iii) These pollutants include substances that are gas-
by altering or modifying one or more components of natu- eous in nature at normal temperature and pressure. Va-
ral environment (land use changes, for example), (iv) by pors of the compounds whose boiling point is below 2000C
introducing foreign substances through the use of chemi- care also included in this category. The most important
cal fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, (v) by increasing gaseous pollutants are carbon monoxide, oxides of sul-
or decreasing the original proportion of atmospheric gases, phur, hydrogen sulphide, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitro-
(vi) by manipulating environmental processes (such as gen, ozone and other oxidants. Some primary pollutants
cloud seeding for inducing precipitation, cloud dispersal, are:
prevention of hailstorms etc.) Carbon monoxide
J. Poelmans- Kirschen (1974) has recognized the Carbon monoxide is released into the atmosphere
following reasons for environmental degradation and re- mainly from the automobile exhaust. Next to carbon diox-
sultant environmental degradation and resultant environ- ide, carbon monoxide is the most abundant pollutant to
mental crisis show wide diurnal variations in the urban atmosphere.
(i) Accelerated growth of production potential Concentrations of carbon monoxide vary depending upon
within the last 25years. the density of motor traffic.
(ii) Accelerated rate of scientific and technological Sulphur dioxide
discovery and development. Sulphur dioxide is one of the principal contaminants
(iii) Exponential increase in world population. of air. It has its origin is the combustion of sulphur-bear-
Environmental degradation and environmental cri- ing fossil fuels. It is also present in appreciable quantities
sis may be ascribed to (i) the exponential growth in human in air where coal is used as a fuel, e.g. electric power plants.
populations, (ii) accelerated pace of scientific and tech- Sulphur dioxide is also released from smelter where sul-
nological development. (iii) ambitious developmental phur-bearing ore is roasted, e.g. copper, lead and zinc
projects aimed at fast economic development, (iv) fast smelting industries. Oil refineries, sulphuric acid manu-
expanding industries, sprawling urban growth and agri- facturing industries, fertilizer industries, and paper and
cultural development, (v) philosophical and religious out- pulp industries emit significant amounts of sulphur diox-
look of the society, (vi) cruel behavior of man with the ide. Smelting operations cause heavy damage to agricul-
natural environment, (vii) ignorance and lack of environ- tural and forest areas. Since sulphur dioxide is readily ab-
mental perception and lack of public awareness towards sorbed by water surfaces, soil and vegetation; deteriora-
environmental problems, (viii) poverty, (ix) affluence and tion and corrosion affect metals, papers, paints, leather,
richness, (x) unscientific and illogical exploitation and uti- textiles, cement and other building materials.
lization of natural resources etc. Hydrogen sulphide and organic sulphide
The teleological/religious approach religious faith Generally, sulphides cause odour nuisances when
of man being superior to nature and teleological school present even in very low concentrations. However, they
emanated from the teachings of Judo-Christian religious are not released in appreciable quantities by industrial
tradition preached that man is superior to all creatures operations since the effluents are treated before exposure
and every thing is created for his use and enjoyment. to the atmosphere. Natural gas refining, manufacture of
THE ECONOMIC DETERMINISTIC VIEWPOINT coke, and paper, distillation of tar and petroleum, manu-
The basic thesis of the growth (affluence) school is facture of viscose rayon and some other chemical pro-
that because economic growth is required for political, cesses produce hydrogen sulphide and mercaptons. The
social and economic stability, the quality of environment effluents from the above processes are burnt or absorbed
normally assumes lower priority in formulating planning in purifiers, hence serious problems do not occur. How-
proposals and in long-term planning because the deterio- ever, hydrogen sulphide is reported to have killed many
ration of the environment is generally protracted and so- municipal workers engaged in sewage work.
cially less oblique than a deterioration in the economy Hydrogen fluoride
(C.C. Park, 1980). Hydrogen fluoride and other volatile fluorides are
AIR POLLUTION considered serious pollutants even when present in con-
Air is a mixture of gases and moisture with some centrations of 0.001 ppm by volume. Fluorides are liber-
inert materials. Air pollutants are the materials that exist ated mainly from aluminium-smelting industries. Manu-
in such concentrations as to cause unwanted effects. On facture of phosphate fertilizers, ceramics and certain
ground, air pollution may be described as the imbalance foundry operations contribute to fluorides.
in the quality of air which causes ill effects. When the rate Hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride are
of pollution exceeds or when the self-purifying capacity toxic for certain plants in concentrations lower than 0.1
decreases, accumulation of pollutants causes serious parts per billion. This accumulates in leaves of plants and
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 38 ]
causes animal fluorosis. Leaves and flowers of many plants and liquid particles. They vary in size, ranging from 0.01
are extremely susceptible to fluorides. Hence, this is a micron to 20 microns. Particles having a diameter of 20
major problem for agricultural units located in the vicinity microns are relatively large. Particles with the least diam-
of aluminium processing industries. Moreover, fluorides eter are present in aerosols. The particulate pollutants
have the capacity to etch glass and can therefore cause may be classified according to their nature and size, as
considerable material destruction. follows:
Oxides of nitrogen Dust
The primary source of oxides of nitrogen is automo- Dust is formed by solid particles with their size rang-
bile exhaust. This is produced as by-product in some chemi- ing from 1 micron to 100 microns. However, dust particles
cal industries, such as in the manufacture of nitric acid, with a size of 0.1 micron are also present in the atmo-
sulphuric acid by chamber process, and manufacture of sphere. Dust particles are: (i) entrained by process gases
nylon intermediates. It is reported that the products of directly from the materials being handled or processed,
combustion of natural gas contain upto 50 ppm of nitro- e.g. coal; (ii) the offspring obtained directly from the par-
gen. A report by E.L. Hall indicates that internal combus- ent material when it undergoes a mechanical operation,
tion engines and industrial furnaces may release upto 500 e.g. sawdust from wood works; and (iii) entrained materi-
ppm of oxides of nitrogen. The oxides of nitrogen are the als used in mechanical operations, e.g. sand from sand
second most abundant atmospheric pollutants and are blasting.
extremely dangerous to human health. Fume
Aldehydes and organic acids The size of these particles is less than 1 micron.
These are present in lower concentrations in Fumes are formed from particles of metals and metallic
the atmosphere. Incomplete combustion of petroleum fu- oxides by condensation of vapours by sublimation, distil-
els and incomplete oxidation of lubricating oils lation, calcinations, and by other chemical processes and
form aldehydes and organic acids. Combustion of natural chemical reactions.
gas may also lead to formation of these materials. Mist
In contrast to these primary pollutants, there are Condensation of vapour forms a liquid particle
secondary pollutants which are formed in the atmosphere. known as mist which is less than 10 microns in size.
Evidences and experiments indicate that exhaust gases of Spray
automobiles have particular importance in the formation Liquid particle obtained from the parent liquid by
of secondary pollutants. For example, nitrogen oxides pro- the mechanical disintegration processes, such as atomi-
duced in the combustion of petroleum and other fuels zation, is known as spray.
emitted in the atmosphere yield ozone in the presence of Smoke
sunlight. This includes solid and liquid particles of size rang-
The ozone produced reacts with hydrocarbons to ing from 0.05 to 1.0 micron and obtained by incomplete
form a series of compounds, such as aldehydes, ketones, combustion of carbonaceous materials and formed by
organic acids, acyl nitrates and peroxyl compounds. This destructive distillation. Though gaseous pollutants, such
type of photochemical reaction usually occurs in smog. as hydrocarbons, oxides of sulphur and oxides of nitro-
The word smog denotes a mixture of smoke and fog. gen are produced by incomplete combustion, only the
During smog, concentrations of ozone and oxidant mate- solid and liquid particles are termed as smoke.
rials are found to be high. According to the Haagen-Smit Particulate contaminants contain about twenty-two
theory, ultraviolet rays in the sunlight break the nitrogen metallic elements. The most abundant elements are sili-
dioxide molecule to form nitric oxide and atomic oxygen. con, calcium, sodium, aluminium and iron. Considerable
Theses products react with molecular oxygen to form amounts of lead, zinc, copper, magnesium and manganese
ozone. are also present.
Particulate Pollutants
Air-borne particulate materials consist of both solid

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 39 ]

Sources of Pollutants the atmosphere to form other undesirable compounds,
Man-made sources of pollutants can be classified such as sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid droplets attached
into stationary combustion, transportation, industrial pro- to soot particles may pass through the nose and damage
cess and solid waste disposal sources. the lungs.
Stationary combustion processes yield mainly par- Ozone has been a strong irritant as it reaches the
ticulate pollutants, such as fly ash and smoke, and oxides lungs much faster than the oxides of sulphur. Even very
of sulphur and nitrogen. low concentrations of ozone cause pulmonary oedema and
Coal and oil which contain considerable amounts of haemorrhage.
sulphur, release appreciable quantities of sulphur dioxide. Nitric oxide is a non-irritant gas. Nevertheless, pul-
High temperature processes such as thermal fixation of monary irritant and excess concentration may cause pul-
atmospheric nitrogen yield larger quantities of oxides of monary haemorrhage. Organic sulphides are toxic and
nitrogen. Carbon monoxide is also emitted on combus- posses a strong odour that creates odour problems in the
tion. However, complete combustion yields only carbon city.
dioxide and not carbon monoxide. The other contaminants The aldehydes and acids formed cause irritation to
that are produced by combustion include acids and alde- they eye, nose and throat. Among the aldehydes, formal-
hydes. dehyde and acrolein are the most important. Acrolein also
Automobiles which have internal combustion en- causes irritation to the mucus membrane, leading to
gines are the primary transportation sources. Smoke is bronchio-constriction.
produced primarily from the incomplete combustion of Hydrocarbons cause lung cancer. Lead emitted from
carbonaceous materials. Smoke contains gaseous pollut- automobile exhausts is a cumulative poison which is dan-
ants, like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of gerous, particularly to children since it can cause brain
nitrogen. damage.
Industrialization and industrial processes- Cement Lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma are
industries and steel industries are of immense concern some of the chronic diseases caused due to exposure to
because of the difficulty in controlling the emission. Solid polluted air. Lung cancer is caused mainly due to polluted
waste disposal is major source of air pollution in urban air because:
areas. Backyard burning and open burning of solid wastes Carcinogens are found in the polluted air.
results in emission of smoke and gaseous pollutants, such Lung cancer mortality is higher in urban areas
as carbon monoxide, etc. than in rural.
Nuclear materials when released into the air are po- Compounds extracted from contaminated air pro-
tentially more hazardous. Nuclear weapon testing, nuclear duce cancer in bio-assay animals.
reactors, chemical plants, research institutions and hospi- Irritant pollutants affect the protective action of
tals contribute radionuclides like carbon-14, krypton-85, cilia and mucus flow
strontium-90, iodine-131 and caesium-137 which are of Particulate pollutants: Nasal passages prevent
grave concern. coarser particles larger than 5 microns from entering into
Effects of Air Pollution the respiratory system. Particles with a size lesser than 5
The effects of air pollution can be studied under the microns penetrate and enter the lungs rapidly.
following heads: Aerosols of the size of about one micron and less
Effects on human health may reach the alveoli of the lungs. The amount of particu-
Effects on animals late deposition not only depends on the size of particles
Effects on plants but also on there factors, such as the respiratory frequency
Effects on materials and tidal volume. Respiratory frequency denotes breaths
Effects on atmosphere per unit time. Tidal volume is the volume moved in and out
Effects on human health of the lungs with each breath. Higher respiratory frequen-
Air pollution is detrimental to human health. It af- cies lessen the percentage of deposition and lower fre-
fects the respiratory system with both gaseous and par- quencies increase the percentage of deposition.
ticulate pollutants. Soluble aerosols are absorbed into the blood from
Gaseous pollutants: Carbon monoxide is an asphyx- the alveoli. Insoluble aerosols in the aqueous fluids are
iant gas and when absorbed into the lungs, it combines carried to the lymphatic stream to be deposited in pulmo-
with haemoglobin in the blood to form carboxyl haemo- nary lymphatic depot points or in the lymph glands.
globin, thus reducing the haemoglobin available to carry Lead, the most serious pollutant released from auto-
oxygen to the body. mobile exhausts, particularly affects childrens brain. It
Persons suffering from diseases associated with the also interferes with the development and maturation of
decreases of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, such red blood cells.
as anaemia, may be affected quickly. Beryllium in the form of its compounds can cause
Sulphur dioxide is the most serious and widespread berylliosis. It induces pulmonary granulomatous reaction.
air pollutant. Lower levels of sulphur dioxide concentra- Thus beryllium interferes with the diffusion of gases from
tion cause temporary spasm of the smooth muscle of the the lungs to the blood.
bronchioles. Higher concentration induces increased mu- Other particulate pollutants, such as asbestos, silica
cus production. The cilia which protect the respiratory and some forms of carbon are capable of exerting a nox-
system are also affected by sulphur dioxide. It reacts in ious (fibrotic) local action in interstitial areas of the lungs
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 40 ]
and in the lymphatic tissues. oxidants is reported to produce early maturity or senes-
Radioactive pollutants: Tragic industrial calamity cence in plants. A six-hour exposure to PAN (peroxy acyl
at Bhopal in December 1984, when the deadly gas (methyl nitrates) concentrations as low as 0.01ppm causes inju-
isocyanate) from the chemical plant operated by Union ries to species, such as romain lettuce, pinto bean and
Carbide escaped into the atmosphere, three most famous petunia.
episodes occurred in the Meuse valley of Belgium in 1930, Chlorine is about three times as phytotoxic as sul-
in Donora, Pennsylvania in the USA in 1948 and in Lon- phur dioxide. Ammonia has less phytotoxic and causes
don in 1952. injury to tomato when present in amounts above 40ppm.
Effects on animals Hydrogen sulphide is less phytotoxic and causes slight
Chronic poisoning results from ingestion of forage injuries to radish, tomato, cucumber, soybean, etc. Ethyl-
previously contaminated with atmospheric pollutants. ene causes epinasty and inhibition of mutation in tomato
Among the metallic contaminants, arsenic, lead and mo- and sweet pea.
lybdenum are important. Air contaminated with ozone has Effects on materials
irritant qualities and is responsible for pulmonary changes, Air pollutants also cause damage to property and
oedema and haemorrhage in dogs and rabbits. materials. The pollutants most destructive to materials are
Animals are susceptible to fluorosis though air- smoke, grit, dust and oxides of sulphur. Sulphur dioxide is
borne fluorides do not attack animals directly. When for- the most damaging of all gaseous pollutants. It changes
age crops contaminated by fluoride-containing materials with moisture and air to sulphurous and sulphuric acids
are eaten continuously by the animals, symptoms of fluo- which are more corrosive. Moisture, temperature, sunlight
rosis appear. and air movement influence the attack rate of pollutants.
Since fluorine is a protoplasmic poison, it causes Moisture is the most important, without which there can-
hypoplasia of dental enamel and the intake of higher not be minor corrosion even in the most severely polluted
amounts of fluorine results in an abnormal growth of bones. environments.
Diarrhea, weight loss, lowered fertility, and reduced milk Aluminium and aluminium alloys, copper and cop-
production are some of the other effects of fluorides. per alloys, iron and steel are corroded when exposed to
Effects on plants contaminated air. Hydrogen sulphide reacts with lead paint
There are three principal pollutants of prime con- to form lead sulphide, thereby producing a brown to black
cern in agriculture: sulphur dioxide, fluorine compounds discoloration. Building materials are corroded and disfig-
and smog. Sulphur dioxide gas is absorbed through the ured by polluted air in a number of ways in addition to
stomata into the esophyll of the leaves. When the ab- normal weathering. Sooty deposits disfigure buildings by
sorption exceeds a particular level, the cells become inac- adhesion. During high winds, larger particulates result in
tive and are killed, resulting in tissue collapse and drying a slow erosion of surfaces. Since the oxides of sulphur
of leaves. When only a few cells are injured, that portion react with limestone to form calcium sulphate, a slow loss
of the leaf becomes brownish red in colour or the original of substance takes place in rain-washed areas and an un-
green colour becomes leached. This effect is known as sightly blistering occurs in more sheltered areas. Though
chlorosis. Cotton, wheat, barley and apple are some of the damage caused by air pollution to materials is not so
the plants most sensitive to sulphur dioxide. In addition serious, aesthetic considerations make air pollution a nui-
to necrosis (collapse of leaf tissue) and chlorosis, sulphur sance.
dioxide also interferes with the respiration and photosyn- Effects on atmosphere
thesis of plants. The toxicity of sulphur dioxide is attrib- Carbon dioxide absorbs heat strongly and the ra-
uted to its reducing properties. diative cooling effect of the earth gets decreased. The
Acute fluoride lesions on plants are caused by the present amount of carbon dioxide will be doubled in the
aerial contamination of fluorides. The lesions are similar future to result in increase of the earths surface tempera-
to those caused by sulphur dioxide. Particulate and gas- ture by about 1.3oC.
eous fluorides accumulate on forage to such an extent as In contrast to the rise in temperature produced by
to build up concentrations in excess of 30 to 50 ppm on carbon dioxide, dust particles reduce the temperature of
the inside and outside of the leaves. Leaf-fluoride con- the earths surface. The dust particles released into atmo-
centration of 50 to 200 ppm usually results in injury. sphere become the nuclei for water vapour to condense
A particular type of injury to maize consists of a or freeze to form rain. As a result the skies become cloudier.
kind of mottled interveinal chlorosis. The leaves of apple, Moreover, solar radiations are screened directly by dust
apricot, fig, peach, prune and members of the Citracea particles to enter into the atmosphere. Hence, a relative
family are susceptible to injury by air-borne fluorides. decrease in the temperature of the atmosphere results. A
Fluorides seem to interfere with the photosynthesis 10 per cent increase in atmospheric turbidity causes a
and respiration on plants. Exposure to air containing ozone decrease of 0.8 per cent in the total amount of energy
results in lesions on plants. The lesions, usually confined absorbed by the atmospheric system which results in cool-
to the upper surfaces of the leaves, are characterized by ing the climate by about 1oC.
uniformly distributed white or brown flecks and irregu- Prevention and Control
larly distributed blotches. Ozone flecking is observed on Pollution could be prevented without undue cost
grape, citrus and tobacco plants. by careful planning and siting of industries, better design
Smog also causes injury to plants. Smog which con- equipment and better operation of the equipment. There
tains ozone, peroxy acyl nitrates and other photochemical are three major means of controlling pollution:
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 41 ]
* Fuel selection and utilization solid dispersoids from the carrier gas by filtration of the
* Process changes or equipment gas through a porous medium, such as cloth or fibre. Next
* Site selection and zoning to cyclonic separators, filters constitute the most effec-
Fuel selection and utilization: The primary fuels tive means of controlling atmospheric pollutants.
used are coal sand oil. Smoke, grit and sulphur dioxide are The electrostatic precipitator is considered to be
the major pollutants from the combustion of these fuels. the most effective device for preventing emission of dust
Though the combustion of both coal and oil can be con- from fuel gases and is the standard equipment for large
trolled to prevent smoke, control is generally easier with power stations. The basic principle is to pass the disper-
oil than with coal. Moreover, the danger of emitting smoke soid-laden carrier gas between two electrodes to which
is greater with smaller installations that with larger ones an unidirectional high voltage potential is applied. The
when coal is used as fuel. To eliminate these effects, oil radius of curvature of one electrode (discharge electrode)
can be used instead of coal. But, the amount of sulphur is many times smaller than that of the second electrode
dioxide emitted is higher with oil. Hence, substituting coal (collecting electrode). Owing to greater differences in po-
with oil is not sufficient to prevent smoke. Further, the tential and radius of curvature, a corona discharge is es-
quantity of oil needed will then be greater. Therefore, other tablished in the region of the discharge electrode, result-
methods have to be adopted. ing in powerful ionizing field. Consequently the disper-
Modern power stations and industries largely use soids in the carrier gas become charged and migrate to the
coal as fuel. The coal used is varied in composition. The oppositely charged collecting electrode. After deposition,
variable properties include chemical composition, volatile the particles can conveniently be removed by mechanical
content and the caking properties. These properties af- processes.
fect the combustion to a considerable extent. In order to Scrubbers are the least used devices for removing
control smoke production, the coal is pulverized and then particulate matter since they are better suited for removal
used. However, there remains the problem of grit emis- of gases and vapours. Scrubbers may be classified as wet
sion. Irregularities in the fuel bed result in inefficient com- washers, impingement scrubbers, gravity spray towers,
bustion. Combustion efficiency is increased nowadays cyclonic scrubbers, disintegrator scrubbers, and spray
by replacement of hand firing with mechanical stokers. dedusters.
Mechanical firing calls for selectivity in choice of coal. Control of gaseous pollutants: The techniques
When oil is used as fuel, it is essential that the ratio of air employed for removal of gaseous pollutants differ mark-
to fuel is maintained so as to provide only a slight excess edly from that of aerosols. Control equipment can be clas-
of air over that required theoretically for complete com- sified as combustion, absorption and adsorption equip-
bustion, in order to prevent smoke emissions. When coal ment.
tar is used, the same measures used for oil burning should Combustion is applicable to pollutant gases which
be adopted. The main factor that affects the combustion are oxidisable. The pollutants are exposed to a high tem-
of coke is its size. Hence, the size must be considered perature (650oC) in the combustion process. Petro-chemi-
while selecting a suitable coke-burning appliance. cal, fertilizer and paint and varnish industries advanta-
Process changes or equipment: This can be broadly geously use combustion type of control equipment,
divided into two categories: though their cost is high.
Control of aerosol emissions Absorption is a diffusional process in which trans-
Control of gaseous pollutants fer of gas molecules into a liquid phase takes place. An
Control of aerosol emissions: More and more new absorbent should have a greater absorbing capacity with-
equipments have been designed at present to control aero- out build up of considerable back pressures. The absorp-
sol emissions. They can be classified as arresters and tion equipments are classified as spray chambers, packed
scrubbers. towers and bubble cap or sieve plate contractors. The
Arresters can further be classified into three sub- spray chamber consists of an empty chamber in which the
groups; inertial separators, filters, and precipitators. gas is allowed to pass through curtains of liquid spray. In
Inertial separators include all dry-type collectors packed, towers, the absorbent flows downwards through
which render inertia of the dispersoid to effect particulate a bed of packing material, while the gases move upwards
gas separation. Two types of equipments are now in use and an intimate contact between the absorbent and gases
cyclonic separators and trajectory separators. The cyclonic occurs. In bubble-cap containers, gases pass upwards
separator is one of the least expensive and most impor- through a series of plates on which the absorbent exists.
tant type of dispersoid collector. It produces a continu- Adsorption is the only means in controlling air pol-
ous centrifugal force which exerts greater inertial effects lution which occurs due to some gases, vapours and in-
on the dispersoid. Cyclonic separators have been widely flammable compounds which cannot be treated or removed
employed for industrial dust collection. They are used for by other means. Adsorption is a surface phenomenon and
control of gas-borne dispersoids in the industrial pro- it needs the presence of large solid surface areas. Toxic
cesses, like manufacture of cement, mineral processing, and odoriferous compounds can be efficiently removed
paper and pulp industries, feed and grain processing and by adsorption.
wood-working industries. Control of emission from motor vehicles
Filters are employed to collect extremely fine par- The automobile exhausts deposit hydrocarbons,
ticulates which in no way affect the conditions of tem- carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen in air. In the pres-
perature and humidity. Initially it is developed to remove ence of sunlight, photochemical reaction takes place be-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 42 ]
tween certain hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen to form Institution of town-planning practices in which
secondary pollutants. Emissions are reported to occur from due attention is given to planning and zoning of
the crankshaft also. industrial sites for the purpose of reducing air
At present many techniques for control of emission pollution, provided that such action does not
have been developed. These techniques include tune-ups, make the conduct of industry prohibitively costly
catalytic reactors and engine modification. A tune-up is or impossible;
one which has significant effect on emission compounds. Provision of regulations controlling the types of
For example, a high air-fuel ratio will reduce the concen- fuel to be burned in installations where combus-
trations of both carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. The tion emissions are not otherwise controllable.
catalytic reactor oxidizes carbon monoxide to carbon di-
oxide and thereby oxides of nitrogen are converted to ni- WATER POLLUTION
trogen. However, catalytic reactors have some disadvan- Adverse change in the composition or condition of
tages. They oxidize and are easily fouled by lead. Engine water such that it becomes less suitable for the purposes,
modifications have some marked advantages. The modi- for which it would be suitable in its natural state, is re-
fied engines contain two compartments in the cylinder by ferred to as water pollution. The changes include physi-
which a broad flame is produced for efficient burning of cal, chemical and biological changes. Water pollution nowa-
the fuel. However, these changes are not sufficient. days is considered not only in terms of public health but
Reduction of concentrations of sulphur dioxide also in terms of conservation, aesthetics and preserva-
At present, there are no satisfactory methods to tion of natural beauty and resources.
prevent the emission of sulphur dioxide from the burning Sources
of sulphur-bearing fuels. Hence, very high smoke stacks Most industrial effluents are discharged into rivers.
are built to ensure adequate dissipation of the sulphur These contain both organic and inorganic hazardous ma-
dioxide and adequately low concentration at ground lev- terials and non-biodegradable ones too. Industrial efflu-
els. In order to protect human health, power stations are ents, when discharged through the sewage system, poi-
constructed far from towns in some countries. Researches son the biological purification mechanisms of sewage treat-
are conducted throughout the world to develop methods ment and these sewages on subsequent discharge result
by which sulphur dioxide in fuel gases can be absorbed in pollution of rivers.
without any cooling of the gases, so that rise of the plume The next principal contributor is municipal sewage.
is not adversely affected. Since population growth is increasing the quantity of
Control by site selection and zoning waste, water pollution is also increasing in addition to the
Site selection is the process of locating a single in- production of large quantities of sewage. Sewage con-
dustrial plant. Site selection results in production of a tains decomposable organic matter and exerts an oxygen
single source of pollution as compared to numerous emis- demand on the receiving waters. Treatment of sewage
sion sources. Zoning is a control measure based upon the deposits the suspended materials at the bottom, known
knowledge of mechanics of the atmosphere which acts as as sludge, and the liquid waste contains ions of sodium,
the transfer medium. Siting of factories and dwellings and potassium, calcium, ammonium, manganese, chloride, ni-
zoning of areas should take into account the meteorologi- trite, nitrate, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulphate in dis-
cal conditions, particularly the micro meteorological con- solved condition. The common organic materials found in
ditions. However, other factors also come into the picture. sewage are soaps, synthetic detergents, fatty acids, es-
Hence, in selecting a site an industrialist must take into ters and proteinous matters such as amines, amino acids,
account the factors, such as facilities for supply of raw amides and amino sugars. In addition, it also contains
materials, transport, labour and markets for products. numerous micro-organisms, some of which may be patho-
Legal Controls genic in character.
Technical and scientific knowledge alone is not suf- Next is the waste from agricultural practices. Drain-
ficient in controlling air pollution. Cleansing of air is pos- age from silage and manure slurry from intensive hus-
sible only by legal application of technical knowledge. As bandry causes heavy pollution of some water courses.
suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO), ad- Plant nutrients, insecticides and pesticides are also intro-
ministrative control of atmospheric pollution can be most duced into water courses by agricultural practices. Sedi-
effectively developed into appropriate laws at national ment from land erosion containing mostly inorganic mate-
level through the formation of a committee representing rials is also classified as a pollutant.
public health administration, industrial hygiene, fuel us- Underground water pollution occurs by the sub-
age, agriculture, science, industry and town planning. Such stances leached from refuse and spoil heaps, from fertiliz-
a committee recommends the necessary legal instruments ers spread over the land and from silage making. The pol-
suited to its unique country problem. Further, WHO for lution of water may also arise from the disposal of indus-
guidance and that the legislation should be directed to- trial wastes in disused mine-shafts and quarries. It is
wards: deemed that the pollution affecting underground aquifers
Control of sources of pollution by specifying the is more serious than it would be in a surface water course
types of industrial and other processes which due to the impossibility of treating the polluted water.
should operate under supervision by control Since saline waters are drawn into the aquifer, over-pump-
authorities, and the types of emission which ing in coastal areas is considered to cause groundwater
should be kept to minimum; pollution.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 43 ]
Pollution of coastal waters occurs due to the dis- the maximum permissible concentration of ammonia is 2.5
charge of sewage and industrial effluents, sewage and ppm, above which it is lethal to fish.
rubbish from ships, transportation of oil, and exploration Hydrogen sulphide has an obnoxious and strong
and exploitation of the sea-bed and ocean floor. However, smell. Hydrogen sulphide is a local irritant and acts as a
the tendency of self-purification of the sea is high due to respiratory depressant, causing conjunctivitis, bronchial
different factors, such as dilution, temperature, etc; hence, irritation and oedema of the lungs in man.
pollution of the sea is not considered as serious as river Pesticides: Organo-chlorine compounds (chlori-
pollution. nated hydrocarbons) and organo-phosphorus com-
Based on the contaminants, water pollution may be pounds are two important classes of biocides. DDT,
caused by materials or by biological organisms. trichloroethane, BHC (gammexane-hexa or lindane). All
Acids : Mineral acids are produced during the manu- biocides behave similar to DDT and a study of DDT holds
facture of chemicals, fertilizers, batteries, DDT, viscose good for all biocides. DDT is the most widespread man-
processing, electro-plating, brewing, textiles, mining, iron made molecule in the environment.
and copper pickling. Organic acids are discharged in the It is partially soluble in water and evaporates into
manufacture of rayon, fermentation, distilling, dyeing, air, resulting in atmospheric pollution. Winds, rains and
manufacture of leather, chemicals, etc. The main constitu- rivers are the carriers of DDT to all corners of the planet.
ent of acid wastes is sulphuric acid. In addition to this, The DDT from air and water accumulates in animal tissue,
nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and phosphoric acid are also humus, soil or mud in concentrations thousands of times
seen. higher than that found in water through the food-chain.
These acids cause damage to metals or concrete DDT is fatal to fish, crustaceans and shell-fish. Residues
structures, pumps etc. by their corrosive activity. More- of DDT in soil disappear slowly and the period is esti-
over, they produce hydrogen sulphide gas when they mated to be roughly about fifteen years. It is reported that
come in contact with the sludge and mud of rivers. Acidic DDT is continuously recycled in living systems.
pollutants also destroy micro-organisms and thus inhibit Fertilizers and Farm Wastes
self-purification of the stream. Fish and other aquatic ani- Fertilizers are generally retained in the soil by the
mals are adversely affected by a sudden change in pH crops, but some nitrates are liable to be washed out due to
conditions of the river which may be acidic or alkaline. the negligence in applying fertilizers to arable lands, par-
Alkalis: Chemical manufacturing wastes, kier li- ticularly in a wet spring. The nitrates cause undesirable
quors, wool scouring wastes, tannery wastes, cotton mer- effects on rivers and lakes. The quantity of organic mate-
cerizing wastes are the principal contributors of alkalis. rial produced by cattle and pigs is high. Faecal matter is
The alkali wastes raise the pH values upto 12. They be- mainly composed of phosphates. Excess amounts of ni-
have similar to acids in destroying trates in conjunction with phosphates cause many un-
bacterial and other microorganisms. Strong alkalis wanted nuisances, for example, when the amount of phos-
produce asphyxiation by the coagulation of gill phorus (as phosphate) and nitrate as nitrogen exceeds
secretions in fish. one part and thirty parts per hundred million parts of wa-
Coal: Coal is a common substance and is found in ter, eutrophication may occur.
the effluents of coal-washing plants in a finely divided Toxic metals: Mining processes, discharge of in-
form. dustrial effluents containing metallic solutions, dumping
Dyes: The dyes are prepared from coal-tar hydro- of solid wastes which contain metal salts and certain agri-
carbons, such as benzene, naphthalene, anthracene, tolu- cultural practices, such as the use of mercury-based bio-
ene, xylenes, etc. Moreover, they also add to the BOD cides, introduce toxic metals into water course. Battery
(biochemical oxygen demand) of water. The colours im- manufacturing, pain manufacturing, electroplating, vis-
parted to water may be removed by treatment with acti- cose-rayon manufacturing, copper pickling, galvanizing
vated carbon or other chemical agents. and rubber processing industries are some important in-
Fats, soaps, and waxes: Fats are insoluble in water dustries which discharge effluents containing consider-
but soluble in organic solvents, such as ether, chloro- able amounts of heavy metals.
form, etc. Fats and soaps are discharged from wool scour- The metallic contaminants destroy bacteria and
ing, oil and fat refining, soap manufacturing and launder- other organisms which act on water to purify it. In addi-
ing processes. Fats, the higher fatty acids, undergo de- tion, aquatic plants and animals are also killed.
composition to lower fatty acids when subjected to mi- Oils: Replacement of coal by the oil fuel has in-
crobial action. These lower fatty acids produce unpleas- creased the problem of pollution. It has a tendency to
ant, rancid odours. spread over the surface of water; diffusion of oxygen into
Gaseous pollutants: Includes ammonia, free chlo- water is inhibited and reaeration of water is affected. Oil is
rine, hydrogen sulphide, ozone and phospine. Ammonia pushed to the shores by water currents and winds. Thus
is liberated during the manufacture of chemicals, fertiliz- beaches are spoiled and bathing becomes impossible. A
ers, gas and coke. Free chlorine results from the process report from Britain indicates that sea-birds around Britain
of textile bleaching, paper mills and laundries. Hydrogen are badly affected by oil pollution.
sulphide occurs due to the bacterial action and pH alter- The soluble oils are classified as cutting oils and
ations during the discharge of viscose rayon wastes and degreasing oils. Cutting oils are homogenous mixtures
sulphate and sulphite-containing materials. Ammonia of oil emulsified in water with the aid of an emulsifying
seems to be an internal poison to fish. According to Ellis, agent. A little amount of alkali and cresol are also added.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 44 ]
All these soluble oils form milky emulsions in water which produce nuisances at sewage works by causing foam and
are very stable and not easily destroyed. Oils enter drains froth. As these compounds produce foam even in very
and ditches, where sewage works clog up and cause river low concentrations, aeration is not possible.
pollution. Mercury and mercuric compounds: Natural waters
Proteins and Carbohydrates contain only a few parts per billion of mercury. Mercury
Faeces and household wastes in sewage are the enters the biosphere as a waste product from a number of
principal contributors of proteins and carbohydrates to a industrial activities. A major source is the production of
water course. Glucose, sucrose, starch, dextrin, cellulose, chlorine where mercury is used as an electrode in the elec-
glycogen and alginic acid are some of the carbohydrates. trolysis of brine. Paper and pulp mills, oil refining units,
Sugar and glucose factories sweet manufacturing indus- plastic and battery manufacturing industries also contrib-
tries, dairies, breweries, wood processing industries, food ute to mercury pollution.
processing unites and textile mills contribute sugars and Cadmium and cadmium compounds: Cadmium ranks
starches. Proteins, a group of organic nitrogenous com- next to mercury in its toxicity. The principal contributor of
pounds of high molecular weight, are distributed widely cadmium is the electroplating industry. Cadmium tends to
in plant life and animal kingdom. The main components of concentrate in the liver, kidneys, and thyroid of human
proteins are amino acids. beings and animals. Once it enters the body, it is likely to
Egg albumin, gelatine, casein, keratin, glutenin are remain. Consumption of cadmium salts causes cramps,
some examples of proteins. They undergo putrefaction nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
by bacterial action to release primarily sulphur and phos- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): these are used
phorus compounds. The released sulphur compounds on commercially in plasticizers, dielectrics, and lubricants and
further action by bacteria produce sulphuretted gases, are concentrated in the food-chains of marine ecosystems.
such as hydrogen sulphide. PCBs are similar to DDT and can cause similar physiologi-
Plastics and Rubbers cal reactions. They are released into the environment when
Plastics are resins of phenol and formaldehyde. certain plastics are burned, e.g. DDT, PCBs can cause thin-
When plastics are burnt, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) ning of the shells of bird eggs.
escape into the environment. Rubber is discharged from Phenols and phenolic compounds: Phenols are com-
rubber manufacturing and processing industries. Rubber mon constituents of many important trade wastes. These
is a polymerized product obtained from isoprene, a hydro- compounds produce characteristic tastes in water when
carbon. present even in very low concentrations. Concentrated
Dissolved Solids solutions of phenol lead to severe pain, renal irritation,
Chlorides, sulphates, nitrates, bicarbonates and shock and possible death.
phosphates of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons: Many poly-
iron and manganese, and some of the fluorides are soluble nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons are found in water and in
in water. Water-softening plants and drainage from salt other environmental media. They are less soluble in water
works contribute many of these salts to rivers and streams. but their solubility is increased by the presence of anionic
Fluorides and nitrates are toxic to man above a certain detergents. The stability of polynuclear aromatic hydro-
level. Fluoride is present in almost all water supplies. carbons is affected by light and oxygen. The health sig-
Waster discharge adds to the concentration of fluoride. If nificance of trace of carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic
the concentration of fluorides in drinking water is less hydrocarbons in fresh water is not yet known.
than 0.5ppm, dental caries may appear; if the concentra- Aldehydes: The important compounds are acetalde-
tion exceeds about 1.5ppm, mottling of teeth occurs. The hyde, benzaldehyde, formaldehyde, furfural and vanillin
control and action of knee and bone joints are affected which cause odour in water and are toxic to fish. The
due to skeletal fluorosis. growth of algae is inhibited by vanillin.
Nitrates generally occur is trace quantities in sur- Biological Pollutants
face waters. The nitrate content of groundwater is appre- Biological pollutants may conveniently be classi-
ciable and is mostly derived from nitrogenous organic fied into two groups as primary and corollary pollutants.
matter of animal origin. When the water is used for po- Primary pollutants comprise biota that are added to water
table purposes the amount of nitrate should not exceed 20 directly as a result of mans activities, e.g. pathogenic bac-
ppm. A range of concentration between 20 to 40 ppm causes teria or viruses from sewage. Corollary pollutants are the
methaemoglobinaemia in infants. indigenous living materials that interfere with the benefi-
Certain soluble salts of iron and aluminium react cial use of water, e.g. weeds in irrigation ditches. Corollary
with the natural bicarbonate alkalinity to form insoluble pollutants, although not added directly to the water course
hydroxides. by man, are attributable to human endeavor. While pri-
Synthetic Detergents mary pollutants have a short life; corollary pollutants have
Toxicity of synthetic detergents is due to their non- a long life.
biodegradability. The intoxicity is completely attributed Bacteria: Have an extraordinarily broad range of
to the alkyl benzene sulphonate which is the active ingre- biochemical activity. Bacteria perform an important role in
dient. the life processes on earth by concentrating the elements
The most widely used detergents are anionic (about essential to life itself for use by other species and other
95 per cent); the remaining usage is attributed to nonionic forms.
detergents. The active ingredients, not easily degradable, Bacteria are categorized as saprophytic and patho-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 45 ]
genic. Saprophytic bacteria are harmless and beneficial genic bacteria, for example, tannery wastes
while pathogenic bacteria are harmful. Cholera, dysentery, may contain the pathogen anthrax bacilli.
typhoid fever, gastroenteritis are the most common and (However, almost all trade wastes are reported
severe. Diseases, such as leptospirosis, brucellosis, and to be free from pathogens.)
tularemia are less common. Heated effluents discharged into rivers may
Viruses: Seventy-six viruses are pathogenic to man. cause harmful rise in the temperature of the
Among them, enteroviruses, adenoviruses, polioviruses, stream and there is a possibility of the eco-
infections hepatitis viruses, and coxsackie viruses are the system of the water course being altered.
most common and are present in polluted waters and sew- Certain mineral constituents can cause ex-
age. cessive hardness of water, rendering the wa-
The following heads to understand the subject more ter unsuitable for both domestic and indus-
clearly. trial purposes.
Water pollution: municipal Water Pollution: Agriculture
Water pollution: industrial Modern techniques employed in agriculture and use
Water pollution: agricultural of newer chemicals has contributed much to environmen-
Water Pollution : Municipal tal pollution, particularly to water pollution. The effects of
Both big cities and small need a water supply that is pollution by agriculture have been dealt with from time to
adequate quantitatively and qualitatively. Wherever there time in other chapters.
is a water supply, there should be means of disposal of SOILAND LAND POLLUTION
water wastes also. Since many new towns have arisen Soil pollution usually results from the disposal of
and the existing towns have grown, sewer systems and solid and semi-solid wastes in agricultural practices and
sewage treatment plants are necessary. insanitary habits. Fallout from atmospheric pollution also
Water Pollution : Industrial contributes to soil pollution. The problem of land pollu-
Industrial activities generate a wide variety of waste tion differs from water and air pollutions in the respect
products which are generally discharged into water that pollutants remain in place for relatively longer peri-
courses. Some of these wastes are poisonous and the ods.
effects of others are obscure. Although some of the wastes The problem of soil pollution may be studied under
have been known since antiquity, many of them are quite the following heads:
recent. As technology develops, newer types of wastes Industrial and Urban Wastes
are formed. Organic compounds constitute a larger pro- Disposal of industrial solid wastes is a major source
portion of these wastes and are destroyed slowly by bac- of soil pollution discharged from coal and mineral mining,
teria. Unpleasant odours and tastes are produced which metal processing and engineering industries. They con-
are carried along the water course for considerable dis- tain toxic metals such as lead, copper, etc. Urban wastes
tances. comprise booth commercial and domestic wastes includ-
Paper and Pulp mills: ing dried sludge of sewage. In general, all the urban solid
Textile industries: wastes are referred to as refuse. The refuse contains
Food processing units: garbage (food wastes), rubbish materials such as papers,
Chemical industries: glasses, metallic cans, plastics, fibre residues from home
Metal industries: fuels, street sweepings, rubbles and abandoned vehicles.
Petroleum industries: Oil refineries and petrochemi- It has been reported that about 50 per cent of the raw
cal plants produce a mixture of wastes containing hydro- materials ultimately become waste products in industry
carbons, phenolic compounds and numerous organic and and about 15 per cent of it is toxic or deleterious.
inorganic sulphur compounds. They impart objectionable Industrial solid wastes are also tipped on the land
tastes and odours to the receiving waters. and the disposal of all types of solid wastes results in
Harmful Effects of Industrial Effluents increasing soil pollution. As a result, hazardous chemi-
Industrial effluents impart colour and turbid- cals can enter into surface or ground water and poison
ity to the receiving waters. the soil or crops.
They undergo putrefaction to form evil About twenty-five human diseases are associated
odours and objectionable tastes. Moreover, with solid wastes. There is an increase in the number of
the effluent itself may cause unsavory tastes rats and flies due to dumping of wastes, as they are carri-
and odours because of the constituents ers of insects and other bio-organisms responsible for
present in them. plague.
Acids and alkalis present in the effluent make Agricultural Practices
the water corrosive. Fertilizers: fertilizers are retained by the soil and
Heavy metals and other toxic materials may the crop efficiently but there is a possibility for the nitrate to be
kill fish and other aquatic life, animals and washed out due to the careless appliances which may
vegetables. affect the quality of lowland lakes or rivers. When the
The toxic substances may kill bacteria and fertilizers are contaminated with other synthetic organic
the natural purification processes of the chemicals, the soil water gets polluted.
streams are thus inhibited. Pesticide: Among pesticides the most important are
Some of the trade wastes may contain patho- the chlorinated hydrocarbons, e.g. DDT, BHC, endrin, al-

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 46 ]

drin, dieldrin and lindane and organophosphorus com- operation consists of depositing the refuse, compacting
pounds, such as parathion and malathion. The remnants and covering it with soil to a certain height. Actually this
of these pesticides may be absorbed by soil particles is a biological method of treatment. The organic materials
which contaminate root crops grown in soils. Lindane has in the municipal refuse undergo anaerobic decomposition
been reported to taint carrots. to form carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia and some hy-
Soil conditioners, fumigants and other chemical drogen sulphide.
agents: Organic compounds, containing lead, mercury and Since incineration is the final solution for solving
arsenic when applied to land, accumulate in the soil per- the solid waste problem, cost of the operations is high.
manently and introduce these toxic metals into plant prod- Moreover, incineration reduces only about 30 per cent of
ucts. the total volume of the waste; the residue obtained on
Farming: Wastes from cattle-sheds and poultry have incineration has to be disposed. Secondly, incineration
increased. When the wastes are dumped into heaps, they be- creates air pollution problems. Pyrolysis (combustion in
come good breeding grounds for flies, insects and rodents the absence of oxygen) is also an acceptable means of
which are carriers of pathogenic organisms. disposal.
Radioactive Materials Recovery of resource: Recovery of resources, also
Radioactive materials from atmospheric fallout in known as recycling, is the most desirable means of solid
nuclear explosions and from the radioactive wastes waste management in future. Recycling has two advan-
(nuclear testing laboratories and industries) accumulate tages: conservation of existing natural resources, and
in the soil. Wastes from nuclear reactors contain ruthe- sufficient reduction in the volume of refuse to be dis-
nium-106 and rhodium-106, iodine-131, barium-140 and posed. Some of the recyclable matters are paper, glass,
lanthanum-140, and cerium-144 with promethium-144 in metals and organics.
addition to the primary nuclidesstrontium-90 and cae- Organics are subjected to a process known as
sium-137. Both strontium-90 and caesium-137 are also pro- composting. This is a method of aerobic decomposition
duced from nuclear fission. Strontium-90 has a half-life of of solid wastes in contrast to land-fill. The final product
twenty-eight years and that of caesium-137 is thirty years. obtained is termed as compost which is an excellent soil
Rain causes strontium-90 and caesium-137 to be depos- conditioner. However, in developed countries, inorganic
ited on the soil where it is held firmly by electrostatic artificial fertilizers are cheaper and the use of compost is
forces. Heavy rains and soil erosion carry these away much less.
with silt and clay. A recent report indicates that certain To conclude, soil pollution, often termed as the third
plants, such as lichen, can accumulate caesium-137 and a pollution, is definitely a problem equal in magnitude to
concentration of radionuclides in animals occurs when that of air and water pollution. About 90 per cent of the
these plants are fed. All the radionuclides deposited on pollution of soil is caused by solid wastes. Hence, biode-
the soil emit gamma radiations. gradable materials need to be developed in future to avert
Cosmic radiations and explosion of hydrogen weap- soil pollution.
ons induce neutron-proton processes by which nitrogen RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION
produces C-14. Carbon-14 has been given particular im- Man has been exposed to low levels of ionizing ra-
portance since it participates in the carbon metabolism of diations from natural sources throughout his evolution.
plants. It is introduced into plants and thereby to animals. But, it is only after the advent of nuclear weapons that the
Biological Agents exposure levels have increased.
The excreta of humans, animals and birds are the H.P. Jammet defined radioactive pollution of the
major source of soil pollution by biological agents. Di- environment as the increase in natural background
gested sewage sludge which is used as manure also causes radiation emerging from the activities of man involving
soil pollution. the use of naturally occurring or artificially
Control produced radioactive materials. Naturally occurring radia-
To make the disposal of wastes economical, recy- tions are:
cling of materials is necessary. Disposal of waste may be Cosmic radiations from the outer space reaching
studied under three heads; the earths surface;
Collection of wastes Terrestrial radiation from natural radio-isotopes
Disposal of wastes present in the earths crust.
Recovery of resources Cosmic-ray bombardment of the atmosphere con-
Collection of wastes: About 80 per cent of the total tinuously produces a few radioactive materials of short
of solid waste management is spent for collection only. half-life. Among them the important nuclides are carbon-
To save time and money, transfer stations must be con- 14 and hydrogen-3, by the splitting of atoms when they
structed at various points in a city so that more refuse is are struck by high-energy cosmic ray particles. Both these
brought to the nearest station from where it is taken away are oxidized to carbon dioxide and water as they enter into
for ultimate disposal after cramming. Another possible way the biosphere and hydrosphere.
is the use of pneumatic pipes. Though initial cost and The primary sources of natural radiations are the
labour is more, pneumatic pipes are more efficient for the ores of uranium and thorium which contain a wide variety
collection and disposal. of radioactive nuclides. They differ in chemical nature,
Disposal of wastes: Land-fill and incineration are half-life and type and energy of radiations. However, they
some of the best possible ways of disposal. The land-fill are linked genetically into three series, each resulting from
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 47 ]
an element of very long half-life. The three series are: enters the food-chain, resulting in the possibility of even-
uranium-radium series, thorium series and uranium-ac- tual ingestion by humans such as strontium-90 caesium-
tinium series. 137, iodine-131.
Man-made radiations originate from activities of man Due to the force of explosion and accompanying
involving the use of radioactive materials. Radio-nuclides high temperature, the radioactive products are transformed
are used in the production of nuclear fuel and nuclear into gases and ejected high into the atmosphere as fine
weapons, and electricity. They are extensively used as particles, resulting in atmospheric pollution. These par-
tracers in various fields. ticles are subsequently carried out or otherwise settle
Ore Processing down on soil and water due to rains and get dispersed
The primary natural materials used in nuclear pro- over the surface.
cesses are uranium and thorium. Uranium-238 and tho- As radioactivity in the soil is available to plants, it
rium-232 are used as artificial fission materials. The only enters the food-chain, resulting in the possibility of even-
element in which natural fission occurs is uranium-235. tual ingestion by humans.
Mining and refining of these materials are the first steps Radio Tracers
in nuclear technology. Radio tracers are extensively used in medicine, in-
Of all the daughter elements, those of relatively long dustry, agriculture and biology to determine the course of
half-life include thorium-230, radium-226 and lead-210 in chemical and biochemical reactions. Among them, C and
the uranium-radium series, and radium-228 and thorium- I are the most important tracers.
228 in the thorium series. When waste waters containing radio tracers are dis-
The necessary isotopes of uranium and thorium are charged into sewers and rivers, some isotopes, such as
segregated from other radioactive materials by the gas- radioiodine and radio-phosphorus, accumulate in biologi-
eous diffusion method or by some other process. Depend- cal slimes and sludges.
ing upon the process used, the unnecessary radioactive Effects
materials are separated in various chemical forms. The fate of a radioactive contaminant is also depen-
Of all the radioactive nuclides, radium-226 is most dent on ecological conditions. An exchange between ra-
harmful in a water environment due to its longer half-life. dioactive contaminants and biological environment oc-
Operation of Reactors and Nuclear Fuels curs after radioactive pollution of the environment. Bio-
A partial transformation of primary fuel into sec- logical organisms including human beings are subjected
ondary occurs in the fission process with the simulta- to contamination either by consumption or inhalation of
neous appearance of fission products. Fission products radioactive contaminants.
of heavy metals include all the elements from atomic num- Radioactive pollution causes deposition of the con-
ber 30 (zinc) to atomic number 64 (gadolinium). These el- taminants on ground and surface waters. The water con-
ements have excess neutrons as soon as they are formed sumed by plants acts as a medium for radioactivity. Fur-
and rapidly change into more stable elements by radioac- ther, radioactive contamination is passed on to vegeta-
tive decay, emitting beta and gamma radiations. tion and animals through the nourishment from soil and
The heat liberated during fission and activation pro- water. After nourishment, fate of the contaminant solely
cesses are converted into electricity in the thermal pro- depends on the biological cycle that varies from organism
cess, using coolant systems and heat exchangers. Two to organism and on successive exchanges between veg-
types of wastes are found in these processes: fission prod- etable and animal species. It is reported that secondary
ucts, remaining in both the primary and secondary fuels concentrations occur during these exchange.
and extraneous activation products in the coolant. Fis- Man is considered to be the final prey for radioac-
sion is said to release radioactive gases, such as xenon tive contamination and is at the end of all reactions and
and krypton into the atmosphere. interactions. Direct contamination occurs through expo-
Nuclear Weapon Testing sure to radiations by the radioactive particles in air, radio-
The tests including fission and fusion processes active gases, and absorption of contaminants by the res-
employ uranium-235 and plutonium-239 as fission materi- piratory tract. Indirect contamination occurs by consump-
als and hydrogen or lithium as fusion materials. Explosion tion through the food-chain.
a non-moderate chain reaction, in the due course results Radiations can cause cancers, abnormal births and
in the appearance of a very large neutron flux which makes mutations in man. Though these effects are common in
the surrounding matters radioactive. plants and animals, such abnormalities are eliminated by
Radioactive materials primarily resulting in such an evolutionary processes of natural selection, i.e., survival
explosion are fission products, such as strontium-90 cae- of the fittest.
sium-137, iodine-131. The International Commission of Radiological Pro-
Due to the force of explosion and accompanying tection assessed the maximum permissible weekly dose
high temperature, the radioactive products are transformed for a radiation worker as 0.3 rem. The maximum permis-
into gases and ejected high into the atmosphere as fine sible total dose for complete life-time has been fixed as
particles, resulting in atmospheric pollution. These par- 200 rem which corresponds to 0.1 rem per week or 5 rem
ticles are subsequently carried out or otherwise settle per year for continuous exposure. In any case, the total
down on soil and wastes due to rains and get dispersed accumulated radiation shall never exceed 5 rem per year
over the surface. beyond the age of eighteen, nor shall the dose in any
As radioactivity in the soil is available to plants, it thirteen-week period exceed 3 rem.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 48 ]
THERMAL POLLUTION increased in factories, in hospitals, at building sites and in
Thermal pollution does not refer to the impairment the countryside. The power of our industrial machinery
of purity by the addition of foreign matter but denotes the has increased enormously. It is reported that noise inside
impairment of the quality of environmental air or water by factories can become a health hazard, causing deafness.
raising (or lowering, sometimes) its temperature. Industrial noise, particularly from mechanical saws and
The discharge of hot trade effluents from indus- pneumatic drills is unbearable and a nuisance to the pub-
tries, factories and mills and large volumes of warm cool- lic.
ing water from electricity-generating stations may cause The main menace of noise, however, is transport.
a temperature rise of several degrees in a river or canal. The number of road vehicles, particularly diesel engine
About 80 per cent of the total water withdrawn for indus- vehicles has increased enormously. Larger and faster jet
trial operations is used for cooling only. The water drawn aircraft have been built over the years. Air traffic has in-
is discharged substantially unchanged except for an in- creased to such an extent that nobody likes a new airfield
crease in temperature. in his neighborhood. An important aspect of aeroplane
Among the industries that contribute to thermal noise is the sonic boom. It occurs when an aircraft like
loading of surface waters, nuclear power plants and ther- Concorde flies supersonically overhead. The sonic boom
mal power stations are of prime concern. Normally, the causes significant damage to property besides giving a
discharged water from the steam/electric power industry fright to animals. It creates mental anguish too. Noise from
has a higher temperature ranging from 6o to 10oC than the aircraft is causing much more disquiet than road trans-
receiving water. port.
Another contributor to thermal pollution is munici- Noise from road transport, particularly that from
pal sewage. Domestic sewage is usually discharged into heavy diesel vehicles and motor bicycles is most annoy-
rivers, streams or canals with or without treatment. The ing. Most people consider it as one of the adverse factors
sewage normally has a higher temperature than the re- in their environment.
ceiving water. When sewage is discharged into water, not Effects
only does the stream temperature rise to a measurable Impairment of hearing is caused by damage to some
extent but also there are some other effects. The organic part of the auditory system. Chronic damage to the air
matter present in the sewage and other oxidisable matter cells in the inner ear is also caused. Prolonged exposure
utilize the dissolved oxygen present in the surface water to noise of a certain frequency pattern leads to temporary
for oxidation. When the temperature of the receiving wa- or permanent hearing loss.
ter is raised, the dissolved oxygen level decreases. De- Noise has its ill effects also on other bodily func-
mand for oxygen increases and anaerobic conditions set tions, such as the cardiovascular system. According to
up, resulting in the release of foul gases. Aquatic organ- Kryter (1970) noise causes heart output to decrease with
isms which depend on the dissolved oxygen of the sur- greater fluctuation in arterial blood pressure and vaso-
face water die. The same is the case with heated industrial constriction of peripheral blood vessels. Changes in
effluents that contain organic matter. breathing amplitude have also been reported due to im-
Thermal pollution is a potential hazard to fish par- pulsive noise.
ticularly. The temperature changes not only affects fish Optical system is also a prey to noise pollution.
but the aquatic eco-system. Any disruption of the food- Pupillary dilation, impairment of night vision, and decrease
chain, for example, may upset the entire system. in the rate of colour perception are some of the effects.
Life in an aquatic eco-system is greatly influenced Noise also causes irritation and affects sleep and
by the growth of algae. Excess nutrients from wash-out work performance. Moreover, as noise causes headaches
waters from farmlands combined with thermal pollution, and irritability, work which needs a high degree of skill is
causes an excessive algae growth with consequent accel- considerably affected.
eration of eutrophic and other undesirable effects. Prevention and Control
NOISE POLLUTION Noise is that form of pollution which causes great
Noise can be defined as the unwanted sound or concern to the public. Necessary arrangements have to
sound without agreeable musical quality. Sound is caused be made and steps taken to control noise pollution. Some
by the vibration of molecules and is the periodic mechani- preventive measures are discussed in the following pages.
cal disturbance in fluids and solids. Noise radiates from Industrial noise control
vibrating surfaces and vibrating gases. Reduction of noise at source: This may be
Sound travels in pressure waves and the sound achieved by replacement of noise-producing
pressure can be described in two measures: the frequency machines or equipments with quiet alternatives;
of the waves that determines the pitch of the sound, and for example, noise from a fan can be reduced by
the amplitude (or magnitude) which is a measure of the increasing the number of blades or by decreas-
loudness. The frequency of sound is expressed in terms ing the rotational speed without reduction in
of cycles per second; the unit of amplitude is decibel (dB). air flow.
Man-made noise arises primarily from industry and Sound proofing: For example, the noise pro-
transport. The sound level of some music transmitted ducing machinery or equipment may be cov-
through amplifiers is also of considerable importance. ered with insulating material.
Modern civilization creates more and more noise and now Protection devices may be used: For example,
noise has become a major environmental pollutant. It has the employee who is the recipient of noise may
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 49 ]
wear earmuffs. is being done to develop quieter types of diesel engines.
Acoustic zoning in necessary to prevent propa- The second possible way is routing away of highways
gation of noise through air or solids. from populated areas. Noise can also the baffled with bar-
Community noise control riers, such as walls, etc. The fourth way is introduction of
Community noise includes noise from air traffic, road new regulations which includes lowered speed limits and
transport and construction. special designing for non-stop operation.
The British Government has introduced laws regard- Control of other types of noise
ing the level of noise and airlines are being subjected to These noises can be controlled by muffling. Our
international regulations. A Noise Advisory council has home environment also has many noises, like cleaning,
also been set up. In the United States, the Federal Avia- washing operations, toilet flushing, radio, television,
tion Administration has set some limits on aircraft engine games, garbage disposal, etc. which produce noises rang-
noise which forces the designers to produce less noisy ing from 75 dB to 120 dB. These can be reduced by con-
engines. With regard to sonic boom, it is purely a problem trolling the reception by the occupants. Construction
that must eventually be subject to international agree- noise must only be controlled by local ordinances. Town
ment. and country planning help in reduction of the transmis-
Road transport produces the most annoying forms sion of noise.
of noise. The vehicular noises can be classified as ex-
haust noise, engine intake noise, tyre noise and aerody-
namic noise. To reduce pollution by vehicle noise, research

Many of the features of wind erosion and deposi- out of the mountains. In effect, the mountains cast a rain
tion are most readily observed in deserts. A desert is a shadow on the land beyond. Rain shadows cast by the
region with so little vegetation that no significant popula- Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and, to a lesser
tion can be supported on that land. It need not be hot or extent, by the southern Rockies contribute to the dryness
even, technically, dry. Ice sheets are a kind of desert. In of the western United States.
more temperate climates, deserts are characterized by very Because the oceans are the major source of the
little precipitation, but they may be consistently hot, cold, moisture in the air, simple distance from the ocean (in the
or variable in temperature, depending on the season or direction of air movement) can be a factor contributing to
time (exclusive of polar deserts). the formation of a desert. The longer an air mass is in
A variety of factors contribute to the formation of a transit over dry land, the greater chance it has of losing
desert. One is moderately high surface temperatures. Most some of its moisture through precipitation. On the other
vegetation, under such conditions, requires abundant rain- hand, even coastal areas can have deserts under special
fall and/or slow evaporation of what precipitation does circumstances. If the land is hot and the adjacent ocean
fall. The availability of precipitation is governed, in part, cooled by cold currents, the moist air coming off the ocean
by the global air circulation patterns. will be cool and carry less moisture than warmer air over
Warm air holds more moisture than cold. Similarly, an ocean. As that cooler air warms over the land and be-
when the pressure on a mass of air is increased, the air can comes capable of holding still more moisture, it causes
hold more moisture. Air spreading outward from the equa- rapid evaporation from the land rather than precipitation.
tor at high altitudes is chilled and at low pressure, since This phenomenon is observed along portions of the west-
air pressure and temperature decrease with increasing al- ern coasts of Africa and South America.
titude. Thus, the air holds little moisture. When that air Climatic zones shift over time. In addition, topogra-
circulates downward, at about 30 degrees north and south phy changes, global temperatures change, and plate mo-
latitudes, it is warmed as it approaches the surface and tions move landmasses to different latitudes. Amidst these
also subjected to increasing pressure from the deepening changes, new deserts develop in areas that previously
column of air above it. It can then hold considerably more had more extensive vegetative cover. The term desertifi-
water, so when it reaches the earths surface, it causes cation, however, is generally restricted to apply only to
rapid evaporation. Many of the worlds major deserts fall the relatively rapid development of deserts caused by the
in belts close to zones of sinking air at 30 degrees north impact of human activities.
and south of the equator. The exact definition of the lands at risk is difficult.
Topography also plays a role in controlling the dis- Arid and semi-arid lands are commonly defined as those
tribution of precipitation. A high mountain range along with annual rainfall of less than 60 centimeters (24 inches);
the path of principal air currents between the ocean and a though the extent to which vegetation will thrive in low-
desert area may be the cause of the latters dryness. As precipitation areas also depends on such additional fac-
moisture-laden air roam over the ocean moves inland tors as temperature and local evaporation rates. Many of
across the mountains, it is forced to higher altitudes, where the arid lands border true desert regions. Desertification
the temperatures are colder and the air thinner (lower pres- does not involve the advance or expansion of desert re-
sure). Under these conditions, much of the moisture origi- gions as a result of forces originating with the desert.
nally in the air mass is forced out as precipitation, and the Rather, desertification is a patchy conversion of dry-but
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 50 ]
habitable land to uninhabitable desert as a consequence periods that livestock, needing the vegetation not only
of land-use practices (perhaps accelerated by such natu- for food but also for the moisture it contains, put the great-
ral factors as drought). est grazing pressure on the land. The soil may again be
Causes of Desertification stripped bare, with the resultant deterioration and reduced
Vegetation in dry lands is, by nature, limited. At the future growth of vegetation as previously described for
same time, it is a precious resource, which may in various cropland.
cases provide food for people or for livestock, wood for Natural drought cycles thus play a role in desertifi-
shelter or energy, and protection for the soil from erosion. cation. However, in the absence of intensive human land
Desertification typically involves severe distur- use, the degradation of the land during drought is typi-
bance of that vegetation. The environment is not a resil- cally less severe, and the natural systems in the arid lands
ient one to begin with, and its deterioration, once begun, can recover when the drought ends. On a human time
may be irreversible and even self-accelerating. scale, desertificationpermanent conversion of marginal
On land used for farming, native vegetation is rou- dry lands to desertsis generally observed only where hu-
tinely cleared to make way for crops. While the crops thrive, man activities are also significant.
all may be well. If the crops fail, or if the land is left Impact of Desertification
unplanted for a time, several consequences follow. One, Desertification is a cause for concern as it effec-
as in the Dust Bowl, is erosion. A second, linked to the tively reduces the amount of arable (cultivatable) land on
first, is loss of soil fertility. The top most soil layer, richest which the world depends for food. An estimated 600 mil-
in organic matter, is most nutrient-rich and also is the first lion people worldwide now live on the arid lands. All of
lost to erosion. A third result may be loss of soil structural those lands, in some measure, are potentially vulnerable
quality. Under the baking sun typical of many dry lands, to desertification. More than 10 percent of those 600 mil-
and with no plant roots to break it up, the soil may crust lion people live in areas identified as actively undergoing
over, becoming less permeable. This increases surface desertification now. Some projections suggest that, by
runoff, correspondingly decreasing infiltration by what the end of this century, one-third of the words once-ar-
precipitation does fall and thus decreasing reserves of able land will be rendered useless for the culture of food
soil moisture and ground water on which future crops crops as a consequence of desertification and attendant
may depend. All of these changes together make it that soil deterioration. The recent famine in Ethiopia may have
much harder for future crops to succeed, and the prob- been precipitated by a drought, but it will be prolonged
lems, intensify. by desertification brought on by overuse of land
Similar results follow from the raising of numerous incapable of supporting concentrated human or
livestock on the dry lands. In drier periods, vegetation animal populations.
may be reduced or stunted. Yet, it is precisely during those

The term had its origin from the practice in cold lifeless planet. Working along these lines, the Swedish
countries of encasing vegetation in glass chambers to chemist Svante Arrhenius was able to show, in 1896, that
protect them from frost. The transparent glass roof and it was the carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the earths at-
walls of the greenhouse allow the suns rays to pass mosphere which helped the atmosphere retain the long
through and strike the ground. The reflected radiation is wavelength radiation and thus warm up the earth.
of longer wavelength than the incident radiation. A sig- Arrhenius discovered that carbon dioxide, which
nificant portion of the former is absorbed by the glass. As makes up only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, could
long wavelength radiation (infrared radiation) generate trap enough of the escaping heat (wavelengths of 12-16.3
heat, this results, in rise in temperature inside the green- microns) to warm up the surface of the planet. Further-
house. more he realized that the burning of coal, oil and natural
An effect similar to the green house effect is re- gases, was raising the concentrations of carbon dioxide
sponsible for keeping the earths surface warmer than it and he predicted that a doubling of the gas could warm
would otherwise be. The suns rays strike the surface of the planet by more than 100F, a prediction that is consid-
the earth and the long wavelength radiation emitted by ered reasonable by modern-day scientists.
the earth are absorbed by atmospheric gases, thereby con- Greenhouse Gases
tributing to the rise in temperature. The greenhouse gases of greatest concern are car-
Greenhouse effect was recognized by Fourier as early bon dioxide, water vapour, methane, chlorofluorocarbons,
as 1827. Fourier maintained that the atmosphere acts like nitrogen oxides, and tropospheric ozone.
the glass of a greenhouse by letting through the incident Carbon Dioxide: (CO2) In 1958, Charles Keeling and
light rays of the sun and retaining the infra-red rays, which Roger Revalle documented a steady rise in carbon dioxide
are reflected back to the ground. due to human activities from 315 parts per million (ppm)
According to one estimate, in the absence of natu- thirty years ago to 350ppm today. Using these data as
ral concentrations of greenhouse, gases, the average tem- well as evidence from tree rings and ice cores, climatolo-
perature of the earths surface would be -190C instead of gists estimate that the level of carbon dioxide before the
the present value of 150C and the earth would be a frozen dawn of the Industrial Revolution was about 280 ppm.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 51 ]
Humans have already increased the levels of CO2 by 25 per cent and are expected to double the CO2 levels by the year
CO2 emission estimatesa (global) (1950-88)
Year Total Fuels Cement Gas Per
flaring capitab
Gaseous Liquid Solid
1950 1638 97 423 1077 18 23 0.7
1960 2586 235 850 1419 43 39 0.9
1970 4090 515 1838 1571 78 87 1.1
1980 5263 724 2409 1921 120 89 1.1
1982 5093 732 2178 1993 121 70 1.1
1988 5893 919 2392 2385 150 48 1.2

CO2 emission estimatesa (India) (1950-88)

Year Total Fuels Cement Gas Per
flaring capitab
Gaseous Liquid Solid
1950 18.4 16.0 2.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.1
1951 19.2 16.6 2.1 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.1
1955 23.5 19.4 3.5 0.0 0.6 0.0 0.1
1956 24.4 19.9 3.8 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.1
1957 27.3 22.2 4.3 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.1
1960 33.2 26.8 5.3 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.1
1961 35.9 29.0 5.8 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.1
1970 53.3 37.7 13.1 0.3 1.8 0.4 0.1
1971 56.2 38.7 14.1 0.3 2.0 0.4 0.1
1980 95.5 69.7 22.4 0.7 2.4 0.3 0.1
1981 102.7 74.1 24.1 0.8 2.8 0.9 0.1
1988 163.8 117.4 35.3 3.5 5.5 2.0 0.2

Estimated sources and sinks of CO2

Sources/Sinks Range (TgC/year)
Ocean 102700-106500
Land 8700-120000
Fossil fuel 4500-5500
Land use conversion 0-2600
Oceans 106000-108000
Land 100000-140000
Source: A Primer on Energy, Dept. of Energy, USA [Tg=Teragrams=1012g]

The forests contain about 400-500 billion tones of carbon or roughly two-third of the amount present in the
atmosphere which is about 700 billion tones. The northern temperate forests also sequester a good amount of excess
atmospheric CO2 (Sedjo1992). The role of biomass in sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide has been detailed by
Rossillo et al. (1922). The perfect balance of the carbon cycle and the role of ocean as a major shock absorber warrants
detailed study.

Global methane emission estimates

Sources/ sinks Best estimate Range
(106 ta-1) (106 ta-1)
Natural wetlands 15 100-200
Rice paddies 110 25-170
Enteric fermentation (animals) 80 65-100
Gas drilling, venting,
transmission 45 25-50
Biomass burning 40 20-80
Termites 40 10-100
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 52 ]
Landfills 40 20-70
Coal mining 35 19-50
Oceans 10 5-20
Fresh waters 5 0-100
Reaction with OH 500 400-600
Source: Houghton at al. 1990
Methane (CH4): Methane can also effect the tro- and CH4 are known to be produced during bacterial de-
pospheric ozone distribution. A model named IMAGE (In- composition of flooded peat and forest biomass. Hydro-
tegrated Model to Assess Greenhouse Effects) predicts electric reservoirs are also considered an important source
that a 10 per cent cut in CH4 emissions, besides stabiliz- of methane. A 10-20 per cent cut would suffice to stabilize
ing carbon dioxide emission by the year 2025, can lead to concentration at current levels due to methanes relatively
stable CH4 levels in the atmosphere. CH4 is currently in- short atmospheric lifetime, assuming that this life-time re-
creasing at a rate of 1 per cent per year and is responsible mains constant and that the natural emissions do not
for about 20 per cent of current increases in the commit- change.
ment to global warming. Paddy fields, existing predomi- Nitrous oxide (N2O): The concentration of nitrous
nantly in tropical developing countries, yielding about 90 oxide has increased by 5-10 per cent since pre-industrial
per cent of global rice production, contribute vast quanti- times. The exact cause cannot be pinpointed but the use
ties of methane to the global methane flux. These allega- of nitrogenous fertilizers, land-clearing, biomass-burning
tions have been hotly contested by the developing coun- and fossil fuel combustion may all have contributed. Each
tries and this has persistently been a bone of contention additional molecule of N2O has over 200 times as much
in the North-South dialogue on global warming. impact on climate as an additional molecule of CO2. Ni-
Indian scientist Sinha has claimed that the estimates trous oxide also contributes to the stratospheric ozone
of IPCC on methane production in developing countries depletion. N2O is currently increasing at a rate of 0.25 per
are as much as 15 times higher than actual (Down to Earth, cent per year, which represents an imbalance of about 30
1995). per cent between total emissions and total losses. N2O
The emissions from landfills and coal seams also increases are responsible for roughly 6 per cent of the
contribute to the methane levels all over the world. CO2 current increase in the commitment to global warming.

Global N2O emission estimates

Sources/ sinks Range (106ta-1)*
Oceans 1.4-2.6
Soils (tropical forest) 2.2-3.7
Soils (temperate forests) 0.7-1.5
Fossil fuel combustion 0.1-0.3
Biomass burning 0.02-0.2
Fertilizer (including ground water) 0.01-2.2
Removal by soils Unknown
Photolysis in the stratosphere 7-13
Atmospheric increase 3-4.5
Source: Houghton at al. 1990
more than four per cent per year since 1978 represent-
Halocarbons: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are well-
ing about 15 per cent of the current increase in the com-
known as the depleters of stratospheric ozone but they
mitment to global warming. It is estimated that 75 per cent
are also significant as greenhouse chemicals. The most
and 85 per cent cuts respectively, are required in the emis-
common species of CFCs are CFC-12 (CC12F2) and CFC-
sions of CFC-11 and CFC-12 to stabilize the atmospheric
11, (CCI3F). Their atmospheric concentrations in 1986
concentrations to their present levels. However, because
were 392 and 266 parts per trillion by volume. While these
of contributions from several other compounds, in order
concentrations are tiny when compared with that of CO2,
to stabilize the total greenhouse warming potential from
CFCs have as much as 20,000 times more impact on cli-
all halocarbons, a phase out of fully halogenated com-
mate per additional molecule that CO2. Further the atmo-
pounds (those that do not contain hydrogen), freeze on
spheric concentration of CFCs is increasing very rapidly
the use of methy1 chloroform and a limit on the emissions
of partially halogenated substitutes would be required.
Table : Emission of Green House Gases (GHG)
(in million tonnes), 1995
Developed Countries Developing Countires
1 U.S.A. 1,433 1. China 846
2. Russia 414 2. India 250
3. Japan 308 3. South Korea 104
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 53 ]
4. Gemany 241 4. South Africa 95
5. U.K. 151 5. Mexico 94
6. Cananda 115 6. Iran 76
7. Italy 107 7. Brazil 65
8. Poland 95 8. Saudi Arabia 63
9. Ukraine 92 9. Indonesia 62
10. France 91 10. Kazakhastan 48
11. Australia 87 11. Taiwan 48
12. Spain 60 12. Turkey 38
Other gases influencing composition: Increas- to the high concentrations of the gas, other greenhouse
ing emission of carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen ox- gases (GHGs) are a thousand to ten thousand times more
ides (NOx) are also adversely influencing the chemistry effective than CO2 and are consequently dangerous even
of the atmosphere. This change in atmospheric chemistry at their present trace levels of concentration.
alters the distribution of ozone and the oxidizing power of The concept of relative GWPs (Global Warming
the atmosphere, changing the atmospheric lifetime of the Potentials) has been developed to evaluate the relative
greenhouse gases. radiative effect (and, hence, the potential climate effect) of
Many of the greenhouse gases that induce tro- equal emissions of each of the GHGs. The GWPs take into
pospheric warming through the greenhouse effect are account the differing residence time of gases in the atmo-
highly stable and may be retained in the atmosphere for sphere and define the time-integrated warming effect due
decades or even for a century or more. Though the role of to an instantaneous release of a unit mass (1 kg) of a given
CO2 in global warming appears substantial at present due GHG in todays atmosphere, relative to that of CO2.

The 1980s saw the four warmest years recorded in droughts and heat spells have occurred from time to time
the last 110 years. The first seven months of 1988 were in the past. Estimate that a warming of 1oF has already
hot enough to break all record and caused some to de- occurred during the last century.
clare the greenhouse effect was now being felt. Serious
The relative cumulative climate effect (1990) of man-made emission
GWP 1990 Relative contribution
(100yr emissions over 100 years
horizon) (Tg)
Carbon dioxide 1 26000 61%
Methane 21 300 15%
Nitrous oxide 290 6 4%
CFCs varies 0.9 11%
HCFC-22 1500 0.1 0.5%
Others varies 8.5%
GWP = Global Warming Potential

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 54 ]

If greenhouse gases increase and all other factors the ocean surface gradually warmed up to a global aver-
remain the same, the earth will warm up. Computer models age of 1oF (Washington 1992). But the warming was not
to make rough predictions of how much warming will oc- equally distributedsome regions, mainly the continen-
cur and where and when it should become noticeable. A tal interiors, became as much as 7oF warmer. Towards the
major shortcoming of the computer models however has end of the computer runs, however, a seemingly paradoxi-
been that they have focused almost entirely on the cal cooling appeared in Northern Europe where tempera-
atmospheres response to the rising levels of CO2, ne- tures dropped by as much as 11oF during winter months.
glecting the oceans. Although slower to react to change These results are not seen in computer simulations that
than our gaseous atmosphere, the oceans are nonethe- use simple and mixed/ stratified layer ocean models. That
less active components of the globes climatic system and this cooling appears only in the model that incorporates
can influence long-term temperature variations. The the effects of the ocean currents is reason to suspect that
oceans most important effect in this case is their ability to the ocean circulation is lessened by increased CO2 con-
absorb, release and redistribute heat. Thus, the response centration. But figuring out exactly which elements of our
of the oceans to increased greenhouse gases is a critical climate simulation were responsible, would require exam-
unknown in most climate models. ining how ocean currents affect the temperatures on land
In 1975, Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald of in Northern Europe and them, how these currents might
the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administrations have been altered by a generally warming climate.
Geophysical Fluid dynamics lab were the first to create a Even the best among such models still oversimplify
three dimensional climate model to study the greenhouse ocean-circulation, precipitation, moisture-exchange near
effect. The ocean component in their model was a swamp the atmosphere-ocean- land interface, and the role of
a stagnant, wet surface that absorbed and released heat clouds. At any given time for example, clouds cover 60 per
and moisture. The swamp model calculated the oceans cent of the planet not only trapping heat radiating from its
surface temperature by balancing such factors as solar surface, but also reflecting sunlight back into space. So, if
radiation, infra-red radiation to and from the earth, evapo- the oceans heat up and produce more clouds through
ration and heat transfer between sea and air. Other impor- evaporation, the increased cover might act as a natural
tant ocean processes such as currents and salinity, sea- thermostat and keep the planet from heating up. After fac-
sonal changes and stored heat were not factored at all. toring more detailed cloud simulations into its computer
The late 1970s saw the development of models that models, the British Meteorological Office recently showed
treated the upper ocean as though its layers were mixed that current global warming projections could be cut in
together. These models assumed an ocean that was a slab half.
150 ft deep. This approach allowed for heat storage in the Oceans have a major effect upon climate, but scien-
summer, and release to the atmosphere in winter, thus re- tists have only begun to understand how. Investigators
producing seasonal features at least. at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research at-
The basic physics of ocean circulation first explained tributed the North American drought in the summer of
by count Rusuford (Benijanin Thompson) in 1800 is only 1988 primarily to temperature changes in the tropical Pa-
now being incorporated into coupled atmosphere-ocean cific involving a current called EI Nino not to the green-
climate models. The polar to equatorial currents and ocean house effect. As the oceans shuffle global climates into
circulation, where cold, highly saline water sinks and warm new patterns, the warming produced by the greenhouse
fresh water floats on the surface, is a complex way in which effects may be even harder to detect and some areas may
local atmospheric conditions help to determine the tem- actually coll. Some have suggested that if the earth had
perature and salinity of an oceans surface water. Thus, no oceans at all we would have been able to measure the
the rapidly changing atmosphere works to influence the greenhouse warming with certainty by now. Oceans not
formation of deep ocean currents that may take tens of only have the ability to alter climatic patterns, but they
thousands of years to circulate. In 1984, James Hansen can also slow down the warming effects, by absorbing a
(NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, New York de- great deal of heat. Because the Southern Hemisphere con-
veloped an atmosphere-ocean climate model. Even though tains substantially more amount of ocean than the North-
his model did not explicitly calculate ocean currents, it ern Hemisphere, it probably will not warm as rapidly. This
took into account the heat they transfer from the tropics may seem like good news, but eventually the heat stored
to the poles. This model again had limited usefulness, in the oceans will affect our climate, perhaps not in a few
because in reality the heat transfer would vary as the ocean years but decades and centuries from now, given the time
currents adjust to the altered atmospheric conditions. scale of ocean circulation.
Thus, only recently have climatologists attempted IMPACT OFA WARMEDEARTH
to run atmospheric models simultaneously with dynamic Changes in climate: The effects of a warmer atmo-
models of the ocean. These models can simulate tempera- sphere on ocean currents, with the net result of causing
ture and salinity-driven deep ocean currents as well as distinct climatic patterns the globe over have already been
allow for upper layer wind-driven surface currents (such discussed. The strengthening of the Indian monsoons
as those created by Westerlies). One such model was de- due to a warmer regime is also one of the proposed effects
veloped and run at the National center for Atmospheric (Ramanathan 1985); the results of which may manifest as
Research in Boulder, Colorado. Starting of with present a greener country more like a tropical evergreen rain for-
levels of CO2 and at a 1 per cent rate of increase for the est. However, as mentioned earlier, higher temperature,
next 30 years, they found that the lower atmosphere and coupled with increased precipitation will lead to a charac-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 55 ]
teristic shift from C4 to C3 plants (Sukumar 1993). The C3 to global warming is not known. A number of models have
plants (wheat, rice, legumes, oil seeds, cotton) show higher been developed to compute the magnitude of snow-melt
CO2 assimilation, growth and yield in response to higher causing the rise in sea-level. Revelle (1983) derived a sea-
CO2 concentration than the C4 crops (sugarcane, sorghum level rise of about 70 cm for a global warming of 6oK. A full
or maize). scale study done in Denmark went on to prove little, end-
Warning against compelling evidences of a shift in ing with the conclusion that Denmark as such would be
the Earths weather patterns and changes in climate, the only slightly affected by an average increase in global
World Wide Fund for Nature recently released the State temperatures (Fenger et al. 1993).
of the Climate Report (1997), compiling a huge array of A rise in sea level represents a potential threat to
global data which clearly signals that a change is already existing coastal, economic, social and environmental sys-
underway. Stating that climate change was affecting ev- tems. According to a scenario developed by IPCC (Inter
ery region and most nations (The Hindu, 8 Oct. 1997), the Governmental Panel on Climate Change), global warming
report said that 1995 was the hottest year in history and is predicted to cause an increase of global mean sea-level
1997 looks set to be a close second. The five hottest years by 65 cm by the year 2100 (IPCC 1990). The primary effect
have all occurred in the 1990s. Excerpts from the report are of rising sea-level will be increased coastal flooding, ero-
presented below. sion, storm surges and wave activity. These primary ef-
The world is experiencing the biggest thaw since fects will lead to loss of ecosystems such as wetlands,
the last Ice Age. Much of Siberia is three to five degrees loss of coastal vegetation and habitats, salt-water intru-
Celsius warmer than it was earlier this century. Europes sion into groundwater systems, and the loss of cultivable
alpine glaciers have lost half their volume since 1850, gla- land. Such changes would, in turn, translate into socio-
ciers in the Peruvian Andes are retreating, and the US economic effects. This prospect assumes alarming sig-
government predicts there will be no glaciers left in the nificance in the context of the South Asian countries, par-
Glacier National Park in Montana by 2030. In Antarctica, ticularly with respect to island nations like Maldives. Such
some penguin populations have crashed and krill popula- islands which are barely two to four metres above sea
tionsa food-source for many marine animalshave de- level could become extinct if the sea level rises as per the
cline, seemingly killed by warmer waters. forecasts. The entire coastline of South Asian countries,
Much of the tropics have become hotter and drier which is thickly populated, would also face serious dis-
especially in the already arid region stretching from West turbances. Sea level rise is likely to increase the vulner-
Africa to Indonesia. In the 1990s, southern Africa suf- ability of this region to tropical storms, storm surges and
fered crop failures, water shortages and the five driest greater inundation. Some of the mangrove forests of this
years of this century. The Gobi region of Mongolia has region are likely to be completely decimated (Pachauri
been steadily getting less summer rainfall in the last 30 1992).
years. And the drying trend extends into Europe. Rainfall Impact on forests: The Amazonian interior uses 80
is down by 20 per cent in the Mediterranean regions. Spain per cent of incident radiation for evapotranspiration, the
had five years of continuous drought beginning in 1991. rest 20 per cent being used to warm the air. If deforested,
In Greece, the flow of the nations longest river, the the reduction in precipitation will lead to release of latent
Acheloos, declined by 40 per cent in four years. heat. Thus, the regions outside the tropics will receive
The report also claims that the catastrophic fires less heat and become cooler.
that raged in Indonesia (1997) with a crippling effect on Impact on agriculture: The global warming will in-
peoples health was a result of changing climate patterns, evitably change the climate and affect food production,
particularly global warming. particularly in the tropical countries of Africa, South
Changes in sea level: Another effect that is expected America and Asia, where the productivity is already poor
to occur is the rise in the sea-levels, due to the melting of (Parry 1990). Contrary to this, a uniform or general rise in
the polar icecaps. Some people have started to claim its global temperatures may shift the vegetation belts to
action right away; but how much of this can be attributed higher latitudes, especially shifting of the temperate wheat

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 56 ]

zones further north. Poorer soils can reduce productivity. on the time-lag for the change-over. India cannot have ac-
Yet evidence also exists that increased CO2 accelerates cess to the technology to produce the replacement refriger-
growth of trees. Pine trees that have barely survived on ants as it has been patented by Dupont and a few other
the timberline of Californias mountains are growing luxu- multinational corporations.
riantly now (Friedmann 1985). Since rapid plant growth The agreement adopted at the UN climate confer-
can remove CO2 faster from the atmosphere, it can slow ence (Berlin, April 1995) includes a tool to give poorer
the climatic impact of the greenhouse effect. Agricultural countries their best access to rich nations technologies,
scientists generally take a favorable view of the increase which can be transferred to the developing world, with
in CO2. Not only will more CO2 make crops grow faster benefits for both parties and the global environment.
and larger but they will also become more drought resis- The Third Conference of the parties to the United
tant because higher CO2 concentrations also improve the Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was
efficiency with which plants use water. recently held (December 1997) at Kyoto, Japan. As a re-
Impact on ecosystems: Effects on animal life are more sult of the deliberations, the USA, the European Union
or less ambiguous. Sex ratio biases in certain reptiles like and Japan have committed themselves to cuts of seven,
turtles could occur. However, more detailed research needs eight and six per cent of the 1990 levels of six greenhouse
to be put in before any conclusions can be drawn. gases over the next 15 years: hydrofluorocarbons,
POLICIES NEEDED perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, carbon dioxide,
Many countries have levied CO2 taxes. Norway nitrous oxide and methane. It may be noted that prior to
charges 20$/ tonne of C, Sweden charges 150$/ tonne C; the Kyoto convention only the last three gases were iden-
yet if we have to stabilize global CO2 levels, a global aver- tified for emission control. Another aspect of the Kyoto
age of 210$ has to be charged (USEPA 1989). Biomass Protocol is that the right to emissions trading was included
conservation and farming can sequester a good deal of in the final treaty. Perhaps the summits greatest achieve-
CO2 (Rosillo Calle et al. 1992). We also have to stop defor- ment was its eloquent reiteration that global warming is
estation, at least lower the rates of deforestation of tropi- not just a figment of a science-fiction writers imagination,
cal rain forests and grow or afforest at least 30 million ha but a painfully real problem.
in developing nations and 40 million ha in industrial na- On the scientific side, tremendous research with re-
tions. Of course the major conventions, treaties, and pro- markable achievements in alternative energy sources; less
tocols continue side by side. Many of the policies could polluting, more efficient systems, is going on. Nothing
be deleterious to the furthering of development in many much is being done to actually reduce atmospheric CO2
Third World Countries. In fact there is the major danger of levels. Sequestering CO2 in new forest growth can offset
the developed nations making use of the wolf, wolf strat- anthropogenic emissions by fixing carbon in plant tissue.
egy to achieve a new world order of Environmental Impe- Long-term sequestration requires that forests are periodi-
rialism. cally harvested for lumber and wood products that remain
The Montreal protocol signed by 40 countries in in service and do not return CO2 to the atmosphere by
September, 1987, embodies the strategy to eventually combustion. Simple prudence and being more efficient can
phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the year 2000. alter matters to an extent, but the rising trend of CO2 emis-
In the Indian context, the Montreal protocol seeks to phase sions is something about which not much can be done
out production of CFCs in the developing countries by now. Global warming responses should be linked to exist-
the year 2010 (a grace period of 10 years). The cost of ing programmes for energy conservation, soil and water
switching over to CFC substitutes is estimated to be be- conservation, sustainable agriculture and sustainable ur-
tween Rs 35,000 million and Rs 60,000 million depending ban development.

Ozone is found primarily in the stratosphere within hole in the atmosphere of the earth. It implies that there is
the 10-50 km range in altitude. This stretch is referred to as a significant decrease in the concentration of ozone in a
the ozonosphere. particular region of the atmosphere. The best example of
Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen consisting of three such an ozone hole is the ozonosphere over the Antarctic
atoms of oxygen bound together in a non-linear fashion. which has only about 50 percent of the ozone that origi-
The chemical symbol of ozone is O3. The configuration of nally occurred there; hence the name ozone hole.
the ozone molecule and its chemical properties are such How was ozone formed?
that ozone efficiently absorbs ultraviolet light, thus act- Evolutionary geologists have estimated that the
ing like a sun-screen. In doing so, ozone protects oxygen ozone layer as we now have, has been formed very slowly
at lower altitudes from being broken up by the action of over a period of 2500 million years. Several factorsgeo-
ultraviolet light and also keeps most of the ultraviolet ra- logical, hydrological, biological and lithological aspects
diation from reaching the earths surface. Hence, ozone of evolution have contributed to the formation of the
plays a significant role in protecting the environment even ozone layers.
though it constitutes less than one part per million of the Hv + O2 ? O + O
gases in the atmosphere. (energy)
The ozone hole does not literally mean a gaping These free individual oxygen atoms combine with oxygen

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 57 ]

molecules (O2) to form ozone (O3). molecules before encountering reactive nitrogen or hy-
O + O 2 ? O3 drogen compounds that eventually return chlorine to its
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OZONE LAYER reservoirs (Stolarski 1988). Nitrogen oxides: The sources
Ozone absorbs most of the harmful ultraviolet rays of oxides of nitrogen are mainly explosions of thermo-
of the sun, thus preventing them from reaching the earths nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, industrial emissions
surface. The harmful effects of ozone layer depletion on and agricultural fertilizer. Nitric oxide (NO) catalytically
human beings is due to the action of these ultraviolet rays destroys ozone.
on eyes and skin, causing sun-burns, cataract, skin caner, NO + O3 ? NO2 + O2
etc. The UV rays cause direct damage to the genetic mate-
rial or DNA of animal cells. Exposure of mammals to UV NO2 + O ? NO + O2
light has been shown to act on the immune system, thereby
making the body more susceptible to diseases.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is released from soils through
Thus, it is obvious that the ozone layer acting as a
denitrification of nitrates under anaerobic conditions and
sunscreen prevents the harmful UV rays from reaching
nitrification of ammonia under aerobic conditions. This
the earths surface directly, thereby helping in reducing
N2O can gradually reach the middle of the stratosphere,
the risks of mutation and harm to plant and animal life.
where it is photolytically destroyed to yield nitric oxide
This fact underlines the significance of the ozone layer.
which in turn destroys ozone (Sethi 1991). Other
substances:Bromine containing compounds are called
The main factors responsible for ozone depletion
halons and HBFCs, i.e. hydrobromofluorocarbons (both
are generally by-products or emissions from industries.
used in fire extinguishers) and methyl bromide (a widely
The main sources are: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs):
used pesticide). Each bromine atom destroys hundreds of
These molecules are made up of chlorine, fluorine and
times more ozone molecules than does a chlorine atom.
carbon. Some of the common CFCs and their commercial
Carbon tetrachloride (a cheap, highly toxic solvent) and
names are given below (Isaksen 1992).
methyl chloroform or 1,1,1-trichloroethane (used as a clean-
Dichlorodifluoro methane (Freon 12)
ing solvent for clothes and metals, and as a propellant in
Trichlorofluoro methane (Freon 11)
a wide range of consumer products, such as correction
Chlorodifluoro methane (Freon 22)
fluid, dry-cleaning sprays, spray adhesives and other aero-
Dichlorotetrsafluoro ethane (Freon 114)
Trichlorotrifluoro ethane (Freon 113)
Role of polar stratospheric clouds in zone depletion
The properties of CFCs like non-corrosiveness, non-
inflammability, low toxicity and chemical stability are very There are three types of stratospheric clouds. They
are used as refrigerants, propellants in aerosol sprays, are:
foaming agents in plastic manufacturing, fire extinguish- a) Nacreous clouds: These clouds extend from 10
ing agents, solvents for cleaning electronic and metallic to 100 km in length and several kilometers in thickness.
components, for freezing foods etc. They are also called mother-of-pearl clouds due to their
Unlike other chemicals, CFCs cannot be eliminated glow with a sea-shell like iridescence.
from the atmosphere by the usual scavenging processes b) The second type of clouds contain nitric acid
like photodissociation, rain-out and oxidation. In fact, the instead of pure water.
residence time of CFCs in the atmosphere is estimated to c) The third type of clouds have the same chemical
be between 40 and 150 years. During this period, the CFCs composition as nacreous clouds, but form at a slower rate,
move upwards by random diffusion, from the troposphere which results in a larger cloud with no iridescence.
to the stratosphere. The chlorine, released by the breakdown of CFCs
The CFCs enter the atmosphere by gradual evapo- exists initially as pure chlorine or as chlorine monoxide
ration from their source. CFCs can escape into the atmo- but these two forms react further to form compounds that
sphere from a discarded refrigerator. Since the CFCs are are stable.
thermally stable, they can survive in the troposphere. But Cl + CH4 ? HCl + CH3
in the stratosphere, they are exposed to UV radiation. The ClO + NO2 ? ClONO2
molecules of CFCs exposed to UV radiation break up, thus The stable compounds HCI and CIONO2 are reser-
freeing chlorine atoms. A free chlorine atom reacts with an voirs of chlorine, and therefore for chlorine to take part in
ozone molecule (O3), forming an oxygen molecule (O2) reaction of any sort, it has to be freed.
and a molecule of chlorine monoxide (ClO). The molecules Susan Solomon and co-workers from NOAA
of chlorine monoxide further combine with an atom of oxy- Aeoronomy Laboratory and scientists from Harvard Uni-
gen. This reaction results in the formation of an oxygen versity, suggested in 1986, that a correlation existed be-
molecule (O2) and reformation of the free chlorine atom tween the cycle of ozone depletion and the presence of
(Cl). polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) i.e., the ice particles of
Cl +O3 ? ClO+ O2 the clouds provided substrates for chemical reactions
ClO+ O ? Cl+ O2 which freed chlorine from its reservoirs. Usually the reac-
tion between HCI and CIONO2 is very slow but this reac-
Net reaction: O3+ O ? O2 + O2
tion occurs at a faster rate in the presence of a suitable
The depletion of O3 is catalytic, the element that substrate which is provided by the stratospheric clouds
destroys O3 being reformed at the end of the cycle (Toon at the poles.
1991). A single chlorine atom destroys thousands of ozone
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 58 ]
The reaction is chlorine from its inert reservoirs.
HCI + CIONO3 ? Cl2 + HNO3 Susan Soloman and her co-workers at the NOAA
It results in the formation of molecular chlorine and Aeronomy Laboratory and Michael B. Metlroy and his
nitric acid. co-workers at Harvard University attempted to explain the
The molecular chlorine formed in the above reac- probable mechanism involved. In 1986, they suggested
tion can be broken down to atomic chlorine and the ozone an observed correlation between ozone depletion and the
depletion reaction would continue. presence of polar stratospheric clouds, implying that
The PSCs not only activate chlorine, but they also chemical reactions on the ice particles
absorb reactive nitrogen. If nitrogen oxides were present in the clouds freed chlorine from the reservoirs.
they would have combined with chlorine monoxide to form Initially the cloud theory was accepted with hesitation as
a reservoir of chlorine nitrate (CIONO2). clouds in the stratosphere were thought to be
THE OZONE DEPLETION THEORIES uncommon. However, further research work confirmed the
One principal group of theories has suggested that presence of three types of polar stratospheric clouds
atmospheric motions alone cause the ozone hole. The pro- (PSCs): nitric acid trihydrate, slowly cooling water-ice and
ponents of these theories hold that the air circulation pat- rapidly cooling water-ice clouds (nacreous) which can act
terns over the poles may have gradually changed over as key components in the
time so that the upward moving winds might now blow Antarctic ozone depletion. The PSCs can activate
over Antarctica during the spring. These winds, it has chlorine on their surface as well as use up reactive nitro-
been conjectured, would replace ozone-rich stratospheric gen, which would otherwise transfer chlorine
air with ozone-poor air from the troposphere. Scientists to its reservoirs. Slowly cooling water-ice and
form Ames Research Centre and Leroy National Centre nitric acid trihydrate clouds can entirely deplete the strato-
for Atmospheric Research have shown that these hypoth- sphere of nitrogen (Toon and Turco 1991).
eses are incorrect. According to the dynamic models pro- Studies by the UARS (Upper Atmospheric Research Sat-
posed by the advocates of the circulation theories, high ellite) have also confirmed the presence of
concentration of trace gases originating from the ground fluorine in the stratosphere which corroborates the role of
should be present at the altitude of the ozone hole. How- CFCs in ozone depletion. Although the presence
ever, investigations showed only low levels of trace gases. of chlorine in the stratosphere can be attributed to
A second class of theories proposes that chemical volcanic eruptions, salt sprays and the like, apart
reactions deplete ozone. One early hypothesis suggested from the presence of CFCs, the source of fluorine
that reactive nitrogen compounds, normally the most im- in the stratosphere must be solely attributed to the CFCs.
portant agents for destroying ozone in the lower atmo- ENVIRONMENTALEFFECTS OF OZONE DEPLETION
sphere, might exist at elevated concentrations near the AN OVERVIEW
ozone hole. The enhancement was presumed to result from A change in the composition of the stratosphere
the combined effects of increased solar activity and atmo- becomes relevant to society only if it has noticeable ef-
spheric circulation. The theory proposes that the enhanced fects. Hence, the assessment of effects has a major role in
solar activity produces reactive forms of nitrogen over the problem of ozone depletion.
the South Pole at high altitudes. The downward motion of Decreases in the quantity of total-column ozone, as
air carries the reactive nitrogen into the lower stratosphere, now observed in many places, tend to cause increased
where investigations reveal a decrease in the concentra- penetration of solar UV-B Radiation (290-315nm) to the
tion of ozone. earths surface. UV-B radiation is the most energetic com-
Crofton B. Farman found that the reactive forms of ponent of sunlight reaching the earths surface. It has
nitrogen are also low in the ozone hole, hence disproving profound effects on human health, animals, plants, micro-
this theory. organisms, materials and on air quality. Thus, any pertur-
Farman and his colleagues proposed an alternative bation which leads to an increase in UV-B radiation de-
chemical interpretationone that has now gained wide mands careful consideration of the possible conse-
acceptance. Based on the mid-1970s work by Mario J. quences.
Molina, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Changes in ultraviolet radiation
and F. Sherwood Rowland of the University of California The amount of UV radiation filtering through the
at Irvine; the theory suggests that chlorine compounds atmosphere to the earth increases with the thinning of the
might be responsible for the ozone hole. Chlorine prima- ozone layer. Measurements show that maximum UV levels
rily enters the atmosphere as a component of chlorofluo- at the South Pole are reached well before the summer sol-
rocarbon (CFC) produced by different industries. Winds stice.
throughout the troposphere uniformly distribute CFC Global ozone measurements from satellites over 1979-
molecules released from a single point. After decades, the 93 show significant UV-B increases at high and mid-lati-
molecules eventually reach the middle stratosphere. The tudes of both hemispheres, but only small changes in the
UV light then tears them apart. Chlorine reservoirs them- tropics. Such estimates however assume that the cloud
selves do not destroy the ozone layer. In these com- cover and tropospheric pollution have remained constant
pounds, chlorine remains inert and cannot react with the over these years. Under the current CFC phase-out sched-
ozone. Early models concluded that CFCs should not have ules, global UV levels are predicted to peak around the
a major effect on the4 ozone layer. Evidently some mecha- turn of the century in association with peak loading of
nism in the Antarctic stratosphere was freeing more of the chlorine in the stratosphere and the concomitant ozone
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 59 ]
reduction. The recovery to pre-ozone depletion levels is sessed phytoplankton productivity within areas under the
expected to take place gradually over the next 50 years. hole compared to that in areas outside the hole. The re-
Effects on human and animal health sults show a direct reduction in phytoplankton produc-
Potential risks include an increase n the incidence tivity due to ozone-related increases in UV-B. One study
of and morbidity from eye diseases, skin cancer and infec- has indicated a 6-12 per cent reduction in phytoplankton
tious diseases. Quantitative estimates of risk are available productivity in the marginal ice zone.
for some effects (e.g., skin cancer), but others (e.g., infec- Solar UV-B radiation has been found to cause dam-
tious diseases are currently) associated with pollution with age in the early developmental stages of fish, shrimp, crab,
considerable uncertainty. amphibians and other animals. The most severe effects
UV radiation has been shown in experimental sys- are decreased reproductive capacity and impaired larval
tems to damage the cornea and lens of the eye. Chronic development. Even at current levels, solar UV-B radiation
exposure to UV-B (a high, cumulative, lifetime dose) is is a limiting factor, and small increases in UV-B exposure
one of the several factors clearly associated with the risk could result in a significant reduction in the size of the
of cataract of the cortical and posterior sub-capsular forms. population of organisms commonly consumed by humans.
Some components of the immune system are present Effects on bio-geochemical cycles
in the skin, which makes the immune system accessible to In terrestrial ecosystems, increased UV-B could
UV radiation. modify both the production and decomposition of plant
Effects on terrestrial plants matter with concomitant changes in the uptake and re-
Physiological and developmental processes of plants lease of atmospherically important trace gases. Decom-
are affected by UV-B radiation, even by the amount of UV- position processes can be accelerated when UV-B photo-
B in present-day sunlight. Plants also have several mecha- degrades surface litter, and retarded when the dominant
nisms to ameliorate or repair these effects and may accli- effect is on the chemical composition of living tissues,
mate to a certain extent to increased levels of UV-B. Nev- resulting in reduced bio-degradability of buried litter. Pri-
ertheless, plant growth can be directly affected by UV-B mary production can be reduced by enhanced UV-B lev-
radiation. els, but the effect is variable between species and even
Response to UV-B also varies considerably among cultivars of some crops. Likewise, photo-production of
species and also cultivars of the same species. In agricul- CO from plant matter is species-dependent and occurs
ture, this will necessitate using more UV-B tolerant culti- more efficiently from dead than living matter.
vars and breeding new ones. In forests and In aquatic ecosystems, reductions in current levels
grasslands, this is likely to result in changes in the com- of solar UV-B result in enhanced primary production, and
position of species; therefore there are implications for Antarctic experiments under the ozone hole demonstrated
the biodiversity in different ecosystems. Increasing CO2 that primary production is inhibited by enhanced UV-B.
also interact with UV-B. Such reactions are not easily pre- UV radiation can reduce bacterioplankton growth
dicted, but are of obvious importance in both agriculture in the upper ocean layer with potentially important effects
and in non-agricultural ecosystems. on marine bio-geochemical cycles. Solar UV radiation
Effects on aquatic ecosystems stimulates the degradation of aquatic dissolved organic
More than 30 per cent of the worlds animal protein matter (DOM) resulting in loss of UV absorption and for-
for human consumption comes from the sea, and in many mation of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), CO, and or-
countries, particularly the developing countries, this per- ganic substrates that are readily mineralized or taken up
centage is significantly higher. by aquatic micro-organisms. Aquatic nitrogen cycling can
In addition, the oceans play a key role with respect be affected by enhanced UV-B through inhibition of nitri-
to global warming. Marine phytoplanktons are a major fying bacteria and photodecomposition of simple inor-
sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, and they have a de- ganic species such as nitrate. The marine sulphur cycle
cisive role in the development of future trends of CO2 may be affected by UV-B radiation resulting in possible
concentrations in the atmosphere. changes in the sea-to-air emissions of COS and
Phytoplanktons form the foundation of aquatic food dimethylsulphide (DMS), two gases that are degraded to
webs. Marine phytoplanktons are not uniformly distrib- surface aerosols in the stratosphere and troposphere, re-
uted throughout the oceans of the world. The highest spectively.
concentrations are found at high latitudes while, with the Effects on air quality
exception of upwelling, areas on the continental shelves, Reduction in stratospheric ozone and the concomi-
the tropics and subtropics have 10 to 100 times lower con- tant increase in UV-B radiation penetrating to the lower
centrations. In addition to nutrients, temperature, salinity atmosphere result in higher photodissociation rates of key
and light availability; the high levels of exposure to solar trace gases that control the chemical reactivity of the tro-
UV-B radiation that normally occur within the tropics and posphere. This can increase both production and destruc-
subtropics may play a role in phytoplankton distributions. tion of ozone (O3) and related oxidants such as hydrogen
Researchers have measured the increase in, and peroxide (H2O2), which are known to have adverse ef-
penetration of UV-B radiation in Antarctic waters, and have fects on human health, terrestrial plants, and outdoor
provided conclusive evidence of direct ozone-related ef- materials. Changes in the atmospheric concentrations of
fects within natural phytoplankton communities. Making the hydroxyl radical (OH) may change the atmospheric
use of the space and time variability of the UV-B front lifetimes of climatically important gases such as methane
associated with the Antarctic ozone hole, researchers as- (CH4) and the CFC substitutes. Increases in OH concen-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 60 ]
trations cause a nearly proportionate decrease in the winter temperatures drop to their lowest point.
steady-state tropospheric concentrations of CH4 and CFC September: Sunlight returns to the centre of the vor-
substitutes such as the HCFCs and HFCs. tex as the austral spring begins and PSCs disappear be-
Increased tropospheric reactivity could also lead to cause of increasing temperature; CIO-CIO and CIO-BrO
increased production of particulates such as cloud con- catalytic cycles destroy ozone.
densation nuclei, from the oxidation and subsequent October: Lowest levels of ozone are reached.
nucleation of sulphur, of both anthropogenic and natural November: Polar vortex breaks down, ozone-rich air
origin (e.g., carbonyl sulphide and dimethylsuphide). from the mid-latitudes replenishes the Antarctic strato-
While these processes are still not fully understood, they sphere and ozone-poor air spreads over the southern hemi-
exemplify the possibility of complex feedbacks between sphere.
stratospheric ozone reductions, tropospheric chemistry Arctic ozone hole
and climate change. Of late, the ozone hole has been increasingly evi-
Effects on materials dent over the Arctic as well. The Arctic ozone hole which
Synthetic polymer, naturally occurring biopolymers, swept across Britain in March 96 was the deepest ever
as well as some other materials of commercial interest are ad- seen in the northern hemisphere. Scientists claim that it
versely affected by solar UV radiation. The application of had been caused, in part, by a dramatic cooling of the
these materials, particularly plastics, in situations which upper atmosphere in the northern latitudes over the past
demand routine exposure to sunlight is only possible two years.
through the use of light-stabilizers and/or surface treat- OZONE DEPLETION CONTROL STRATEGIES
ment to protect them from sunlight. Any increase in solar The Vienna Convention for the protection of the
UV-B content due to partial ozone depletion will therefore ozone layer was established in 1985, under the United
accelerate the photogradation rates of these materials, Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The conven-
limiting their life outdoors. Shorter UV-B wavelength pro- tion was held for the promotion of exchange of informa-
cesses are mainly responsible for photo-damage ranging tion, research and systematic observations to protect the
from discoloration to loss of mechanical integrity. Strenu- human environment and health.
ous and concerted efforts should be undertaken globally The Montreal Protocol: it was signed by 40 coun-
in a sustained manner for the protection of the ozone layer tries in September 1987. An agreement was reached be-
umbrella which wards off harmful UV-B radiation. tween the manufacturers and consumers on the issue of
THE HOLE PREDOMINANTLYAT THEANTARCTIC? CFCs. The CFCs were classified under two groups, I and
1. The Antarctic stratosphere is much colder. The II. The consumption and production of the CFCs in the
low temperature enables the formation of Polar Strato- groupII category were to be stopped at once.
spheric Clouds (PSCs), below 20 km. In the case of CFCs in group I, it was agreed upon to
2. Ozone absorbs sunlight, causing the character- implement
istic increase in temperature with increase in altitude in a freeze on consumption at 1986 levels by 1990
the stratosphere. If ozone is being depleted, the air is a cut to 80 per cent by 1994
cooler, further adding to the favorable conditions for the a further cut to 50 per cent by 1999
formation of PSCs and stabilization of the vortex. The production could be raised by 10 per cent till 1990
vortex is ring of rapidly circulating air that confines the but production had to be reduced to 90 per cent by 1994
ozone depletion. and to 65 per cent by 1999.
3. The longevity of the Antarctic vortex is another Although reluctant initially, India and China, two
factor, enhancing favorable conditions for the depletion potentially important CFC consumers, have finally signed
of ozone. The vortex remains, in fact, throughout the po- the Montreal Treaty. In the Indian context, the Montreal
lar winter, well into mid-spring whereas the vortex in the Protocol seeks to phase out production of CFCs in devel-
Arctic disintegrates by the time the polar spring (March oping countries by the year 2010. The cost of switching
April) arrives. over to CFC substitutes is estimated to be between Rs
Typical happenings in the winter months leading to 35,000 and Rs 60,000 million, depending on the time taken
the ozone hole over the Antarctic: for the change over.
June: Antarctic winter begins, the vortex develops In June 1990, 93 countries signed a United Nations
and the temperature falls enough for the clouds to form. agreement to stop producing CFCs by the end of the 1990s.
July and August: PSCs denitrify and dehydrate the The main reason for this agreement
stratosphere through precipitation; hydrochloric and chlo- was the establishment of a US $ 240 million buffer fund to
rine nitrate react on cloud surfaces to free chlorine, and help developing countries develop alternatives to CFCs.

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A per the definition of the Resource Conservation HEALTH HAZARDS
and Recovery Act (RCRA) of USA, hazardous waste is a The evaluation of the health effects of hazardous
solid, liquid or gaseous waste, or combination of wastes, wastes depends upon three basic problems:
that because of its quantity, concentration or character- i) availability of toxicologic data on chemicals;
istics may cause or significantly contribute to an increase ii) toxicity of mixtures of chemical wastes and the
in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or in- physical, chemical and biological factors that in-
capacitating reversible illness and pose a substantial fluence toxicity; and
present or potential hazard to human health or the envi- iii) estimation of the level and duration of exposure
ronment when improperly treated, stored transported, to the population.
disposed of or otherwise managed. The toxic effects induced by hazardous wastes can
In short a hazardous waste is one which is poten- be differentiated into two different groups: responses that
tially harmful to the eco-system unless properly managed. result from genetic effects and those associated with tar-
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has get organs.
defined a waste to be hazardous under the legislation if it: In addition to epidemiological methods used in as-
i) exhibits characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, sessing health effects, several basic issues need to be
reactivity and/ or toxicity; reconciled prior to data interpretation. These include la-
ii) is a nonspecific source waste (generic waste from tency period, multiple causative factors, population di-
industrial processes); versity and mobility, and socioeconomic and urbaniza-
iii) is a specific source waste (from specific indus- tion conditions.
iv) is a specific commercial chemical product or in- Appropriate management techniques have to take
termediate; into account the various options based on the nature,
v) is a mixture containing a listed hazardous waste; quantity and location of the waste. The desirable options
or, for managing hazardous wastes are listed below, on prior-
vi) is a substance that is not excluded from regula- ity basis. Figure 4.1 is a schematic representation of the
tion under prioritized options.
Hazardous materials are those which are toxic, per- i) Minimization of the amount generated by modi-
sistent, ignitable, corrosive, bio-accumulative, infectious fying the industrial processes involved.
or pathogenic. ii) Transfer of the waste to another industry that
Examples include wastes from plastic, pesticide, her- can utilize it.
bicide, medicine, paint and petroleum industries. iii) Reprocessing of the waste to recover energy or
TEM iv) Separation of hazardous waste from non-hazard-
A few classic cases in point highlighting the danger ous waste at the source and its subsequent con-
posed by hazardous wastes are enumerated below: centration, which reduces the handling, trans-
Love Canal: An area of about 16 acres in Niagara portation and disposal costs.
Falls was used from 1942 to 1953 as a dump-site for ap- v) Incineration of the waste or its treatment to re-
proximately 22,000 tonnes of chemicals (Health 1983). The duce the degree of hazard, and
area was capped with clay and later houses and a school vi) Disposal of the waste in a secure landfill, one
were built up to the edge of the site. that is located, designed, operated and monitored
In 1978-79 over 200 families were evacuated as po- in a manner that protects life and environment
tential teratogenic, mutagenic and oncogenic chemicals (Wentz 1989). Let us examine the different dis-
were identified from the area leading to increased abor- posal and treatment methods currently in use.
tions and birth defects. Landfills
Delhi: Nearer home a noxious nightmare assailed Landfills for the disposal of hazardous wastes
the residents of Kardampuri colony in East Delhi in the evolved from sanitary landfills.
wee hours of 13 November 1994. Toxic fumes from a heap Land treatment
set aflame by a local junk dealer created the panicky exo- This is a biological method in which, hazardous
dus. The people complained of severe breathing distress, wastes are deposited either on the land or injected just
irritation and pain in the throat, vomiting, and dizziness. beneath it and degraded naturally by aerobic organisms.
Many people, including infants were seriously affected Oxygen levels may be maintained by periodic ploughing.
and a few succumbed to the poisoning. Tests revealed Deep-well injection
that the chemicals responsible were cyanide, cadmium, The use of injection wells for industrial waste dis-
selenium and arsenic. Traces of lead, aluminium and cop- posal began around 1950. In a typical injection well, depths
per were also found. It is widely suspected that the burn- to the disposal zone commonly range between 600 to
ing of metals like cobalt and manganese along with pesti- 1800m but may be shallower or deeper.
cides like organophosphates and carbonates caused the Incineration
noxious fumes. The safest and most effective alternative to land-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 62 ]
based disposal of hazardous wastes is incineration. Many equipment. High incinerator temperatures result in an in-
organic toxic wastes are broken down to harmless CO2 creased emission of heavy metals.
and H2O at high temperatures. Small amounts of HCI, SO2, Incineration at sea: This is attractive because of its
dioxins etc, may be produced depending on the efficiency low cost, roughly half that of incineration on land.
of the incinerator. These can be removed using special

The entire world is facing multifarious problems of environment.
environmental degradation due to technological and in- All the expected impacts are to be stated in the EIA
dustrial development as well as on explosive growth of report. The essential steps in an EIA as given by the NEPA
population which has causes enormous strain on envi- are given below:
ronmental resources. Therefore there is an urgent need 1. Describe the present environment.
for maintaining a balance between the capacity of envi- 2. Describe the project, including purposes and
ronment and the quantum of sustainable utilization. There needs.
is now a growing concern about environmental Impact 3. Describe the effects of the project.
assessment (EIA) all over the world, especially after the 4. Describe the impactsshort term as well as long
U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 in which term.
emphasis has been given that all federal agencies should 5. Suggest and compare alternatives.
prefer an EIA on all major developments before approval 6. Provide a projection of the future of the site with
be given to developers. and without the project.
EIA is the prior assessment of the future impact of 7. Suggest mitigating activities (remedial measures).
the consequences of any decision on the quality of the Methodologies for Environmental Impact Assessment
human environment, on which man largely depends for Individuals as well as scientific research organiza-
his well-being. There is no universal definition of EIA. tion have devised alternative methodologies and proce-
According to Gregory and Walling (1981), EIA refers to dures for formulating environmental impact assessment.
the studies which attempt to produce estimates of future Principles and procedures of Environmental Impact As-
environmental changes attributable to a proposed action, sessment on Problem of Environment by Scientific Com-
and attempt to suggest the likely impact of these changes mittee on Problems of the Environment, Paris (SCOPE), in
(environmental changes to be brought in by human ac- 1975 and Leopold Matrix for Environmental Impact As-
tions) on mans future well-being. sessment by Luna Leopold et al. (1971) deserve special
In simple words, EIA is an approach which seeks mention.
to improve development by a priori assessment. Some of Leopold laid down the following procedures for
the major characteristics of EIA include the following: environmental impact assessment:
1 It is a systematic evaluation of all significant 1. Statement of objectives of the proposed devel-
environmental consequences an action is likely opment plan.
to have upon the environment. 2. Technical possibilities of achieving the objec-
2. It is a structured, systematic, and comprehen- tives.
sive approach. 3. Proposed action and alternatives for achieving
3. It is a process which forces developers to recon- the stated objectives.
sider proposals. 4. Report on the character of the environment be-
4. It is process leading to a statement to guide deci- fore action begins.
sion makers. 5. Principle of alternative engineering proposals
5. It is a process which has the potential to increase submitted as reports, along with analysis of mon-
developers accountability to the public. etary costs and benefits of each engineering al-
6. It should be subject to independent, objective ternative.
review of results. 6. Proposed plan and the report on the present en-
7. It should include clear statement of identified vironment which helps evaluation of the likely
impacts as well as possible alternative develop- environmental impact of the proposal.
ment options. 7. Assessment of environmental impacts of each
A project can produce impacts upon a given envi- alternative plan.
ronment under three circumstances: 8. Environmental Impact Statement, summarizing
1 In the first instance, impacts may arise from the whole analysis and enlisting final recommen-
project location. dations and the relative merits of each alterna-
2. Some impacts may take place during the con- tive.
struction of the project. These impacts can pro- Leopold has also presented a matrix for the assess-
duce temporary or permanent changes in the en- ment of environmental impacts of proposed plan. The
vironment. matrix is known as Leopold Matrix. It involves 100
3. After completion of the project, the manner of projects actions along the horizontal axis and 88 environ-
envisaged uses of it may cause impacts upon mental characteristics and conditions which are liable to

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be affected by project actions listed in the horizontal axis in the vertical axis of the matrix.
Leopold Matrix for Environmental Impact Assessment

Part AEnvironmental Conditions and Part BProject Actions

(Vertically arranged) (Horizontally arranged)
A. Physical and Chemical A. Modification of Regime
1. Earth a. Exotic flora and fauna introduction
a. Mineral resources b. Biological controls
b. Construction materials c. Modification of habitats
c. Soils d. Alteration of ground cover
d. Landform e. Alteration of ground water
e. Force fields and f. Alteration of drainage
background radiation
f. Unique physical features g. River control and flow modification
2. Water h. Canalization
a. Surface i. Irrigation
b. Ocean j. Weather modification
c. Underground k. Burning
d. Quality l. Surface or paving
e. Temperature m. Noise and vibration
f. Recharge B. Land Transformation and
g. Snow, ice and permafrost a Urbanization
3. Atmosphere b. Industrial sites and buildings
a. Quality (gases, particulate) c. Airports
b. Climate d. Highways and bridges
c. Temperature e. Roads and trails
4. Processes f. Cables and lifts
a. Floods g. Transmission lines, pipe lines,
b. Erosion h. Barriers & fencing
c. Deposition (sedimentation, i. Channel, dredging & straightening
precipitation) j. Channel revetments
d. Solution k. Canals
e. Absorption (ion exchange, l. Dams and impoundments
f. Compaction m. Piers, sea walls, marinas, sea
g. Stability (slides, slums) n. Offshore structures
h. Stress-strain (earthquake) o. Offshore structures
i. Air Movements p. Recreational structures
B. Biological Conditions q. Blasting and drilling
1. Flora r. Cut and fill
a. Trees s. Tunnels & underground structures
b. Shrubs C. Resource Extraction
c. Grass a. Blasting and drilling
d. Crops b. Surface excavation
e. Microflora c. Sub surface excavation
f. Aquatic plants d. Well drilling and fluid removal
g. Endangered species e. Dredging
h. Barriers f. Chear cutting and lumbering
i. Corridors g. Commercial fishing & hunting
2. Fauna D. Processing
a. Birds a. Farming
b. Land animals & reptiles b. Ranching and grazing
c. Fish and shellfish c. Feed lots
d. Benthic organisms d. Dairying
e. Insects e. Energy generation
f. Micro-fauna f. Mineral processing
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g. Endangered species g. Metallurgical industry
h. Barriers h. Chemical industry
i. Corridors i. Textile industry
C. Cultural Factors j. Automobiles and aircrafts
1. Land use k. Oil refining
a. Wilderness and open space l. Food
b. Wetlands m. Lumbering
c. Forestry n. Pulp and paper
d. Grazing o. Product storage
e. Agriculture E. Land Alteration
f. Residential a. Erosion control and terracing
g. Commercial b. mine sealing and waste control
h. Industrial c. Strip mining, rehabilitation
i. Mining and Quarrying d. Landscaping
2. Recreation e. Harbor dredging
a. Hunting f. Marsfill and drainage
b. Fishing F. Resource Renewal
c. Boating a. Reforestation
d. Swimming b. Wildlife stocking and management
e. Camping and hiking c. Ground water recharge
f. Picnicking d. Fertilization application
g. Resorts e. Waste recycling
3. Aesthetic and Human G. Changes in Traffic
a. Scenic views vistas a. Railways
b. Wilderness qualities b. Automobiles
c. Open space qualities c. Trucking
d. Landscape design d. Shipping
e. Unique physical features e. Aircraft
f. Parks and reserves f. River/canal navigation
g. Monuments g. Pleasure boating
h. Rare/unique species or h. Trails
i. Historical/archaeological i. Cables and lifts
j. Presence of misfits j. Communication
k. Pipeline
4. Cultural Status H. Waste emplacement/Treatment
a. Cultural patterns a. Ocean dumping
b. Health and safety b. Land fill
c. Employment c. emplacement of tailings, spoil
and over burden
d. Population density d. Underground storage
5. Man-made Facilities e. Junk disposal
and Activities
a. Structures f. Oil well flooding
b. Transportation network g. Deep well emplacement
c. Utility networks h. Cooling water discharge
d. Waste disposal i. Municipal waste discharge& spray
e. Barriers j. Liquid effluent discharge
f. Corridors k. Stabilization and oxidation ponds
6. Ecological Relationships l. Septic tanks
a. Salinization of water m. Stack and exhaust emission
b. Eutrophication n. Spent lubricants
c. Diseaseinsect vectors 1. Chemical Treatment
d. Food chains a. Fertilization
e. Salinization of b. Chemical stabilization of soils
surfacial material
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f. Brush encroachment c. Chemical stabilization of soils
g. Others d. Weed control
Others e. Insect control (Pesticides)
J. Accidents
a. Explosions
b. Spills and leaks
c. Operational failures.
Source : L.B. Leopold, et. Al. (1971) : A Procedure for Evaluating Environmental Impact, U.S. Geological Survey,
Evaluation of Environment Impact of Proposed Action Plan was of the opinion that Tehri dam requires serious are
(based on Leopold Matrix) consideration. In case of failure of Tehri Dam, the flood
Leopold has suggested a ranking system based on waters would reach Rishikesh and Haridwar in about an
1-10 scale to evaluate relative magnitude and relative im- hour and wipe out Devprayag, Rishikesh, and Haridwar
portance of the impacts of proposed action plans. The by more than 70 metre high waves of water. Meerut and
procedure of Environmental Impact Assessment by Buland Shahr will be destroyed by a 10 metre and 7 metre
Leopold suffers from the following lacuna: flood waters. The flood waters would reach Kanpur,
1. If requires an exhaustive paper work. Allahabad and Patna. However, the worst calamity will be
2. The scheme is confusing and difficult to the Narora Atomic Power station. Radiation will hit Delhi,
understand. Agra, Mathura, etc. The radioactivity will get into the food
3. It has bias towards physical-biological chain and the entire Ganga plain will die. The dam, thus,
environment. will be an ecological disaster, and a geo-physical hazard.
The Tehri Dam (Uttarakhand, India) : A Case Study in 2. Environmental Considerations: The Tehri dam
Environmental Impact Assessment project is likely to cause crucial environmental problems
The Their Dam in Tehri District of Uttarakhand is such as siltation of the reservoir, ecological destruction,
one of the most controversial projects in the world. Ever submergence of mountain valley ecosystem, recession of
since its inception it has been under severe attacks from mountain glaciers, etc. Siltation caused by enormous
the environmentalists. amount of debris contributed by soil erosion, and land-
Salient Feature and Objectives of the Project slides in the upper catchment area will reduce the life ex-
The Tehri dam has been constructed on the Ganga pectancy of the dam from 100 years (as envisaged by the
river below the confluence of its two head streamsthe project authorities) to around 60 years (according to the
Bhagirathi and the Bhilangana. The 260.5m high dam is cost-benefit analysis study by Dr. Vijay Paranjape). Con-
the highest rock-fill dam in India. The installed capacity of struction of roads also disturbs the stability of hill side,
power generation is 2400MW. Its reservoir impounds 245 inflicts serious damage to the hydraulic system and re-
million cubic meters of water. The reservoir submerged an moves the protective vegetal cover from the vulnerable
area of 465 sq. kilometers. The project will provide 300 slopes. Landslides and rockfalls recur during rains.
cusecs water to Delhi. It displaced 125,000 people as 172 The submergence of 467 sq. km. of area in the
villages and Tehri town submerged under the Tehri reser- Bhagirathi Valley due to impounding of water in the reser-
voir. The life span of the dam is expected to be 100 years. voir will cause ecological disaster as several species of
Objections to the Project plants and animals have perished due to the destruction
1. Safety Consideration: The Himalayan region is of their natural habitats. The rate of recession of moun-
geologically active and consists of poorly consolidated tain glaciers will also be augmented which will accelerate
highly folded sediments. The risk of geological origin such the process of siltation of the reservoir.
as earthquakes, landslides, rock falls and special dynam- 3. Rehabilitation Considerations: The Tehri dam
ics of river course are difficult to predict. Tehri dam project project was likely to displace at least 125,000 inhabitants
was structurally secure to withstand an earthquake of in- of 112 villages and Tehri town. The project had a provi-
tensity 7 on the Richter scale. The approximate energy sion for rehabilitation of ousters from the dam area, but
released by an earthquake of 7 magnitude is equivalent to not for those families living in the marginal areas of moun-
the explosive power of 90,700 tonnes of TNT, and that of tain slopes or in the enlarged flood plains. No land capa-
8.5 magnitude is 2,86,15,850 Tonnes TNT. Even a layman bility studies were done in the resettlement areas. No com-
can see that a structure designed can hardly withstand prehensive rehabilitation plan was prepared for the fami-
the pressure of earthquake of 8.5 magnitude. Prof. J.N. lies affected by the Koteshwar dam down stream. Mass
Burne of the Nevada University, U.S.A., had remarked displacement of human beings was perhaps the most sen-
the proposed Tehri dam location is one of the most haz- sitive issue of the project, as it involved many socio-eco-
ardous from the point of earthquake. No large rock fall nomic problems. Rehabilitation of ousters in the plains
dam of the Tehri type has ever been tested by the shaking has deprived them of forest produce, fuel wood, drinking
on earthquake in this area could produce. Thus we have and irrigation water, etc. The hill environment has condi-
little basis for the confidence as to how the dam would tioned their life which is bound to be affected. The oust-
perform. For people downstream, the risk factor is also ers will lose their community life, methods of recreation
extreme. and enjoyment, and their cultural heritage.
Another seismologist Prof. Kellis-Borak, Moscow, Conflicts concerning rehabilitation could be avoided
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 66 ]
if the affected population is exposed to both positive and salinization. Stagnant water of reservoirs and water log-
negative impacts before project was executed. The con- ging would spread water-borne diseases. Above all, the
flict between those who enjoy the benefits and those who hydro static pressure of enormous volume of water of the
are kept away from the benefits within the society has reservoir would destabilize the rocks below and would
culminated in a feeling that development interventions cause severe earthquakes.
ignore the values which sustained local people and their Economic Viability: The project authorities claimed
environment for generation. It is perhaps basically this that the construction of dams on the Narmada River shall
feeling that got expressed in the form of peoples move- result in flood control, large scale pisciculture and tour-
ment. The Chipko leader Sundarlal Bahugana was leading ism. However, flash floods are likely to increase as a result
opposition to the Tehri dam since its very inception and of the project. The planning commission has decided the
successfully prevented development and the protest of benefit-cost ratio of the projects as 1:1.5, that is for every
people. rupee spent, there must be a return of Rs. 1.5. However,
Now that the project is complete, the question natu- the actual benefit-cost ratio of the SSP is 1 : 0.24 only.
rally arises what benefits will accrue to the hill people who Rehabilitation Consideration: When completed, the
have made sacrifices for the project? It was said that they dam will flood out more than 237 villages in three states.
will get cheap electricity and water for irrigation. But this The project will displace 90,000 people, more than half of
is not true. The resources of the poor are being trans- the ousters will be scheduled tribes. Even if land could be
ferred to the rich. Previously they enjoyed free irrigation, found form them, their way of life will be completely de-
drinking water, fire wood, and fodder. Now they have to stroyed. The total land required for rehabilitation will be
pay for everything. at least 30,000 hectares. Gujarat government announced
Sardar Sarovar Project (Gujarat) Narmada Award formulated a resettlement policy that
Sardar Sarovar Project is another example of contro- gives every ouster, land or landless, minimum of 2 hect-
versial multi-purpose river project. In fact, it is more con- ares of irrigable land, while Maharashtra and Madhya
troversial than the Tehri dam project, environmentally, Pradesh, where a majority of those affected are located,
economically, socially, and politically. recognize only landed ousters for entitlement. Thus ma-
Chief Features and Objectives jority of the ousters have become environmental refugees
Sardar Sarovar Project is one of the four major who have been forced to migrate to the nearby town or
projects under the Narmada valley project, the worlds city to seek daily wage labour.
biggest river valley project. The Narmada project, a key to The World Bank financed the project and appointed
Indian economic development was the huge task of har- Bradford Morse as Chairperson of an independent re-
nessing the sub-continents gigantic water resources, to view of the SSP, in 1990. The team traveled extensively in
break the centuries-old cycle of droughts and floods that the area affected and submitted the final report in June
stood in the way to modern agriculture. 1992. The Morse report stated, We think the Sardar
The SSP was conceived in 1947, but its foundation Sarovar Projects as they stand are flawed, that resettle-
was laid down in 1961. This resulted into disputes about ment and rehabilitation of all those displaced by the
the sharing of the benefits of the project between the states projects is not possible under the prevailing circumstances
of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It may be and that the environmental impacts of the projects have
pointed out that the Narmada rises in the Amarkantak hills not been properly considered or adequately addressed.
in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat to empty The report further stated, Even if the dam is built, there is
into the Arabian Sea, after covering a distance of 1312 km. no certainty that the benefits will reach the drought prone
and encompassing an area of 98,796sq km. areas of Kutch and Saurashtra. The report recommended
The state of Gujarat has a poor resource base. It has that the government should stop work on the dam, and
low rainfall and saline coastal area. Most of the state is a then complete all the necessary studies including alterna-
water scarcity zone, adversely affected by recurrent tives to the project. The Bank must immediately step back
droughts. Agriculture is precarious on account of vagar- from the project and look at it afresh. Whatever the Bank
ies of erratic rainfall. Besides, there is a shortage of drink- decides to do must be with the full participation of the
ing water. people.
The SSP has an installed power generation capacity The Archaeological Survey of India states that more
of 1450 MW. It will provide irrigation facilities to 1,792,000 than a hundred monuments will be submerged and lost
hectares of land. for ever. In addition, more than 132 pre-historic sites,
Objections to the Project which are literally a gold mine for archaeologists will be
Environmentalists and activists have raised objec- lost. It may be possible to transplant some of the temples
tions against the project on four major grounds and monuments physically but in the cause of pre-his-
environment, safely, economic viability, and rehabilitation. toric sites the loss will be permanent.
Environmental Consideration: The SSP will cause The SSP covers four statesGujarat, Madhya
immense environment degradation and ecological imbal- Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. It involves displace-
ance because of submergence of 42,061 hectares of for- ment of the more than 42000 families. Madhya Pradesh
estland in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It will suffer the largest displacement of people to the future
would lead to massive extinction of native species of wild- of 33,014 families, followed by Gujarat (4700 families) and
life. Besides, the water logging from canal irrigation in the Maharashtra (3500 families), most of whom are in fertile
coastal district of Gujarat would aggravate the problem of tribal belts.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 67 ]
Gujarat has been demanding that the height of the logical, dangerous, anti-people, unjustifiable, reactionary
dam be raised to 138.71 metre without further delay. and hence unacceptable. Arundhati Roy, a passionate
Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, has been demanding campaigner against SSP said the judgment was shocking
that the already displaced people be first rehabilitated. and disgraceful because hundreds of families affected
The Supreme Court in 2000 gave the nod for the by it have not been rehabilitated or given compensation.
Construction of the Controversial SSP immediately upto a Medha Patkar, the indomitable environment activist has
height of 90 metres and thereafter up 138 metres in stages led the campaign against the Narmada dams.
on getting proper sanction from the Environment sub-
group of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The
Narmada Bachao Andolan said that the judgment was il-

Along with the spread of environmental awareness mental education is that individual and social groups
and activism into a broader spectrum of society in the should acquire awareness and knowledge, develop alti-
1960s, came the emergence of environmental education tudes, skills and abilities, and participate in solving real
as a discrete entity. Many scholars attempted to define life environmental problems. The perspective should be
this emerging discipline. William Stapp, (1969), past presi- integrated, inter-disciplinary and holistic in character. The
dent of the North American Association for Environmen- public in rural, tribal, slum and urban areas, women and
tal Education stated : Environmental education is aimed students and teachers in schools, colleges and universi-
at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concern- ties, as well as planners and policy makers, programme
ing the bio-physical environment and its associated prob- implementers, etc. need to be educated about environment.
lems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and There is need for a new approach to education which
motivated to work toward their solution. This definition cuts across various subjects at schools and higher level.
called for appreciably more teaching and learning about Environmental concerns are to be included in all subjects,
the environment and the education of all citizens includ- rather than to introduce a new subject.
ing children and adults. It gave as the goal of education, A number of guiding principles for developing envi-
the development of skills needed to solve environmental ronmental education at all levels-formal as well as non-
problems and the motivation of people to be actively in- formal, were formulated at Tbilisi Conference (1977), men-
volved in environmental problem solving. tioned as under :
Environmental education is one of the most impor- Guiding Principles
tant aspects of environmental management. This mainly 1. To consider the environment in its totality (natu-
concerns itself with the various aspects of environment ral, artificial, technological, social, economic, po-
and ecology. The issue of environmental education has litical, moral, cultural, historical aesthetic).
been discussed at several national and international semi- 2. To consider a continuous life process (from pre-
nars, workshops and conferences after the deliberations school to all higher levels-formal as well as non-
at Fourex in 1971 and in United Nations Conference on formal).
Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972. The outcome 3. To be interdisciplinary in approach.
of Stockholm Conference was the establishment of United 4. To emphasize active participation in prevention
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). An International and solution to environmental problems.
Workshop on Environmental EducationThe Belgrade 5. To examine major environmental issues from lo-
Charter at Belgrade (Yugoslavia), was organized by cal, national, regional and international point of
UNESCO in 1975, followed by another at Tbilisi (USSR) in view.
1977. 6. To focus on current, potential environmental situ-
In a national seminar, organized by the Indian Envi- ations.
ronmental society in collaboration with the International 7. To consider environmental aspects in plans for
Programme on Environmental Management at the Indian growth and development.
National Science Academy, New Delhi, in 1979, emphasis 8. To emphasize the complexity of environmental
was given to incorporate Gandhian though and values as problems and need to develop critical thinking
a part of environmental education. and problem-solving skills.
On the occasion of the First International Confer- 9. To promote the value and necessity of local, na-
ence on Environmental Education held in New Delhi in tional and international cooperation in the pre-
1980, the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi observed vention and solution of environment and differ-
that environmental education is to help arouse social con- ent approaches to teaching and learning about
sciousness and make community aware of the fact that environment.
the good of the individual and that of the community are 10. To utilize diverse learning about environment and
both harmed by ecological disruptions. different approaches to teaching and learning
Most people recognize the urgent need for environ- about environment.
mental education, but only some have clear ideas about 11. To help learners to discover the symptoms and
what needs to be done. The chief objective of environ- the real causes of environmental problem.

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 68 ]

12. To relate environmental sensitivity, knowledge, est Academy, Dehradun are some of the examples.
problem-solving and values clarification at ev- Non-Formal Environmental Education
ery grade level. It is designed for any age group, working in social,
13. To enable learners to have a role in planning their economic, and cultural development of the community.
learning experiences and provide and opportu- They form groups or clubs and arrange exhibition, public
nity for making decisions and accepting their con- lectures, meetings, environmental campaigns, etc. The
sequences. following constitute main content of this education : (i)
Environmental Educational Programmes Adult education, (ii) Rural youth and non-student youth,
Newman (1981) proposed a three-fold classification (iii) Tribals/forest dwellers, (iv) Children activities, (v) Eco-
of environmental education programmes based on differ- development camps, (vi) Non-governmental organization,
ent disciplines. (vii) Public representatives, (viii) Training executives/ad-
1. Environmental studies : This is concerned with ministrators, (ix) Foundation courses, (x) Research and
the environmental disturbance and minimization of their development programmes (xi) Centres of excellence, (xii)
impacts through changes in the society (social sciences). Development of trained manpower, (xiii) Development of
2. Environmental science : It deals with the study educational material and teaching aids, (xiv) World Envi-
of the processes in water, air, soil and organisms which ronment Day (June, 5), (xvi) National Environment Aware-
lead to pollution or environmental damage and to know a ness campaign/National Environment Month.
scientific basis for establishing as standard, which can be Environmental Information
considered acceptably clean, safe and healthy for human Department of Environment setup a plan Programme-
and the natural ecosystem (physical and natural sciences). Environmental Information System (ENVIS) in 1982. It is a
3. Environmental engineering : This is the study decentralized system using distributed network of data
of the technical processes which are used to minimize the bases for collection of environmental information. Its fo-
pollution and the assessment of impact of these on envi- cal point consists of ENVIS centres on diverse areas of
ronment (engineering science). environment, established in specialized and reputed insti-
Environmental Education in India tutions in the country.
In a vast country like India, environmental educa- Environmental Organizations and Agencies
tion has to be essentially location-specific. At the first There are a number of international and national
level, school going children must be made aware of health, organizations agencies and programmes involved in dif-
family planning, nutrition, rural development, slum im- ferent areas of environment, forestry, wildlife, etc. Some
provement, sanitation, hygiene, water and food contami- of the important bodies are mentioned as under:
nation, etc. Non-government organizations have to play International Bodies
significant role. 1. Earth Scan : an agency founded by UNEP in 1976
Formal Environmental Education that commissions original articles on environmental mat-
The chief goals of environmental education must ters.
be : (i) to improve the quality of environment, (ii) to create 2. Convention on International Trade in Endangered
an awareness among the people on environmental prob- Species (CITES).
lems and conservation, and (iii) to create an atmosphere 3. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) : an in-
so that people participate in decision-making and develop dependent Federal Agency of the U.S. Government, es-
the capabilities to evaluate the development programmes. tablished in 1970.
The spectrum of environmental education has three 4. Human Exposure Assessment Location (HEAL) :
major integrating and inter-related components : a part of Health elated Monitoring Programme by who in
(i) Awareness in the individual about the physical, cooperation with UNEP.
social and aesthetic aspects of environment. 5. International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU)
(ii) Real-life situations that link environment to life : a non-governmental organization based in Paris that en-
are location specific. courages the exchange of scientific information and
(iii) Conservation, and sustainable development, programmes.
where spot light would be on utilization and not on exploi- 6. International Union for Conservation of Nature
tation. and Natural Resources (IUCN) : an autonomous body,
Formal environmental education should be imparted founded in 1948, with its Headquarters at Morges (Swit-
at all levels from primary to university. At the post gradu- zerland).
ate level, four major areas are recognized : (i) environmen- 7. International Marine Consultative Organization
tal engineering, (ii) conservation and management, (iii) (IMCO).
environmental health, and (iv) social ecology, including 8. South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme
social planning, cost-benefit, community organization and (SACEP).
services, psychology and counseling, environmental eth- 9. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cul-
ics and related areas of humanities. tural Organization (UNESCO), set up in 1945, with its
There are some institutes, centers, etc. assisted by Headquarters in Paris.
the Department of Environment which provide formal edu- 10. United Nations Environment Programmes
cation/training in environmental areas. The centre for En- (UNEP): U.N. agency set up in 1972.
vironment Education, Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of For- 11. World Commission on Environment and Devel-
est Management, Bhopal, and Indira Gandhi National For- opment (WCED), set up in 1984.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 69 ]
12. Earthwatch Programme : a worldwide More recently, Stoddart (1987) underlined that the
programme, established in 1972, under the terms of the reason for the geographers failure to contribute to the
Declaration on the Human Environment. current debate on environmentalism in a meaningful way
13. Project Earth : developed in collaboration with has arisen from the fact that they have failed to recognize
UNEP to inspire and educate young people world over on what, according to Stoddart, should be the central intent
crucial issues facing the Earths Environment. and indeed self-evident role in the community of knowl-
14. Earthwalks : a series of expeditions designed to edge, that is: the study of Earths diversity, its resources,
focus international attention on environmental issues in mans survival on the planet. Such a role for geography
key geographic areas. calls for a unified disciplineboth physical and human
15. Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) formerly in which our task as profession should be: To identify
launched by UNESCO in 1971. It is the outcome of Inter- geographical problems, issues of man and environment
national Biological Programme (IBP) that has already con- within regions problems not of geomorphology, his-
cluded its activities. tory or economics or sociology, but geographical prob-
Geography and Environmental Education lems: and to use our skills to work to alleviate them, per-
Right from the days of George Perkin Marsh geog- haps to solve them (Stoddart, 1987). For Stoddart, the
raphers have been involved in environmental protection geographers focus on research in topics like the geo-
and the creation of a concerned attitude towards the envi- graphical influences on the cinema, or the distribution of
ronment. The book, Mans Role in Changing the Face of fast food outlets, and such other esoteric topics of little
the Earth presented by the followers of Sauer in his honor, relevance to societal problems of the day are wasteful
was part of this continuing interest. As Mikesell (1974, diversionsunnecessary fiddling with trifles. His mes-
p.2) wrote: developments in geography have been such sage to fellow geographers is loud and clear. Fiddle if
that the several phases of national preoccupation with you must, but at least be aware that Rome is burning all
environmental problems have not produced a general the while. The current position in the discipline is that:
awareness of interests and skills. As part of such a real- While bridges have been built across the human-physical
ization, on the part of the geographical profession in the geography interface, there has been no integration of the
United States, the Commission on College Geography of study of the physical and social processes; for human
the Association of American Geographers (AAG) had set geographers their links with other social scientists are
up a Panel on Environmental Education, and established much stronger than environmental scientists (Johnston,
a Task Force on Environmental Quality which reported 1991)
(Lowenthal, et al- 1973) that geographers were best quali- Through its input in environmental educationcre-
fied to function as leaders in environmental education in ating informed attitudes about the environment, and the
view of: (a) The breadth of their training which imparts ways and means of preserving the balance of nature
them the ability to handle and synthesize material from a geography has the opportunity for contributing in the all-
wide range of sources, (b) the geographers view of cau- important task of preparing the students as responsible
sation as multi-lateral and complex phenomenon, (c) the citizens. It is an area of study through which geography
geographers training in tapping or deriving information can be projected as the integrated discipline focused on
from diverse sources, (d) Geographys focus on the spa- the study of the earth as the world of man; but this would
tial distribution of phenomena on the earth surface, and require considerable effort at updating our physical geog-
(e) The established tradition of environmental study in raphy syllabi with much greater input of science.
the discipline.

The philosophy of appropriate approaches to re- in the United States are the Riparian Doctrine the Doc-
source development, pollution control, and land use has trine of Prior Appropriation. Riparian is derived from
changes, and the focus of environmental laws has shifted the Latin word for bank, as in riverbank, and sums up
in response. the essence of that doctrine: Whoever owns land adja-
Resource Law: Water cent to a body of surface water (lake, stream) has a right to
Given the importance of water as a resource and the use that water, and all those bordering on a given body of
increasing scarcity of high-quality water, it is not surpris- water have an equal right to that water. Provision is also
ing that laws specifying water rights are necessary. What generally made to the effect that the water must be used
is perhaps unexpected is that the basic principles govern- for natural purposes or beneficial uses and returned
ing water rights vary nor only from nation to nation, but to the body of water from which it came in essentially the
also from place to place within a single country. Also, same amount and quality as when it was removed. The
quite different principles may be applied to surface-water Riparian Doctrine, for long the basis for English surface-
rights and groundwater rights, even though surface and water law, likewise became the basis for assigning sur-
subsurface waters are inevitably linked through the hy- face-water rights in the eastern United States.
drologic cycle. Doctrine of Prior Appropriation
Riparian Doctrine In the western United States, where surface water is
The two principal approaches to surface-water rights typically in shorter supply, the prevailing doctrine is that

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 70 ]

of prior appropriation. Under this scheme, whoever is first, However, in practice, where a thick coal bed has been
historically, to use water from a given surface-water source removed over a large area, there may be no nearby source
has top-priority rights to that water. Users who begin to of sufficient fill material to make this possible, so this pro-
draw on the same water source later have subordinate vision may be disputed in specific areas. Similarly, the act
rights, in the order in which they begin to use the water. provides that groundwater recharge capacity be restored,
Ones water rights under this doctrine are established and but particularly if an aquifer has been removed during
maintained by continuing to divert the water for benefi- mining, perfect restoration may not be possible, Still, even
cial use. Future use is to be proportional to the quantity when a complete return to pre-mining conditions is not
used when the rights were established. An advantage of possible, this legislation and other laws patterned after it
this system is that it makes clearer who is entitled to what go a long way toward preserving the long term quality of
in times of shortage. Ideally, it ought also to discourage public lands and preventing them from becoming barren
excessive settlement or development in arid regions; be- wastes.
cause latecomers have no guarantee of surface-water rights Pollution and Its Control
if and when demand exceeds supply. In practice, however, A Clean EnvironmentBy What Right?
it does not appear to have served as such a deterrent. Have we, in fact, any legal right to a clean environ-
Beneficial Use ment? The primary Constitutional justification depends
What constitutes beneficial use of water also var- on an interpretation of the Ninth Amendment: The enu-
ies regionally. Domestic water use is commonly accepted meration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be
as beneficial. So is hydropower generation, which, in any construed to deny or disparage others retained by the
event, does not appreciably consume water. Irrigation that people. The argument made is that the right to a clean,
is critical to agriculture may be regarded as a legitimate healthful environment is one of those individual rights so
beneficial use, but watering ones lawn might not be. basic as not to have required explicit protection under the
Industrial water use is often a low-priority use. In some Constitution.
areas, a hierarchy of beneficial uses has been established. This interpretation generally has not been upheld
A typical sequence, from highest to lowest priority, might by the courts. However, those harmed or threatened by
be: domestic water use, municipal supply, irrigation, wa- pollution have often sought relief through lawsuits alleg-
tering livestock, diversion of water for power generation, ing nuisance or negligence on the part of the polluter.
use for mining or drilling for oil or gas, navigation, and Nuisance and negligence are varieties of torts (literally,
recreation. wrongs) that are violations of individuals personal or
Resource Law: Minerals and Fuels property rights, punishable under civil law, and distinct
Early Federal Legislation from violations of basic public rights. The government
For more than a century, U.S. federal laws have in- has also exercised its authority to promote the general
cluded provisions for the development of mineral and fuel welfare by enacting legislation to restrict the spread of
resources. The fundamental underlying legislation today potentially toxic or harmful substances (pollutants).
is still the 1872 Mining Law. Its intent was to encourage Defining Limits of Pollution
exploitation of mineral resources by granting mineral rights Enforcement of antipollution regulations remains a
and often land title to anyone who located a mineral de- major stumbling block, in part because of the terms of
posit on federal land and invested some time and money antipollution laws themselves. Consider, for example, an
in developing that deposit. objective of zero pollutant discharge by a certain year.
Subsequent laws, particularly the Mineral Leasing At first inspection, zero might seem a well-defined quan-
Act of 1920 and the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired tity. However, from the standpoint of practical science, it
Lands of 1947, began to restrict this giveaway. Certain is not. Water quality must be measured by instruments,
materials, such as oil, gas, coal, potash, and phosphate and each instrument has its own detection limits for each
deposits, were singled out for different treatment. Identi- chemical. No commonly used chemical-analysis tech-
fication of such deposits on federally controlled land niques for air or water can detect manganese down to a
would not carry with it unlimited right of exploitation. In- concentration of 1 ppm, lead down to 500 ppb (0.5 ppm),
stead, the extraction rights would be leased from the gov- and mercury to 150 ppb. Discharges of these elements
ernment for a finite period, and royalties had to be paid, below the instruments detection limit will register as
compensating the public in some measure for the mineral zero when the actual concentrations in the wastewater
or fuel wealth extracted from the public lands. might be hundreds of parts per billion. How close one
Mine Reclamation must actually come to zero discharge, then, depends
Growing dissatisfaction with the condition of many strongly on the sensitivity of the particular analytical tech-
mined land eventually led to the imposition of some re- niques and instruments used.
strictions on mining and post-mining activities in the form An alternative approach would be to specify a (de-
of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of tectable) maximum permissible concentration for pollut-
1977. This act applies only to coal, whether surface-mined ants discharged in wastewater or exhaust gases. But pol-
or deep-mined, and attempts to minimize the long-term lutants vary so widely in toxicity that one may be harm-
impact of coal mining on the land surface. Where farm- less at a concentration that for another is fatal. That im-
land is disturbed by mining, for example, the lands pro- plies a need to specify different permissible maxima for
ductivity should be restored afterward. In principle, the individual chemicals. Given the number and variety of
approximate surface topography should also be restored. chemicals involved, a staggering amount of research
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 71 ]
would be needed to determine scientifically the appropri- The Dam Safety Bill (1972), despite its name, has
ate safe upper limit for each. Without all the necessary nothing directly to do with the engineering adequacy of
data, the Environmental Protection Agency and other dams. It requires dam owners to prepare maps showing
agencies may set standards that later may be found to be the areas that would be flooded in the event of dam fail-
too liberal or unnecessarily conservative. For some natu- ure, and local authorities must prepare evacuation proce-
rally occurring toxic elements, they have occasionally set dures for those areas threatened.
standards stricter than the natural ambient air or water Flood Hazards, Flood Insurance
quality in an area. To meet the discharge standards, then, Flood Insurance Act (1968) and its successorthe
a company might be required to release wastewater cleaner Federal Flood Disaster Protection Act (1973), provide for
than the water it took in! For instance, suppose that EPA federally subsidized flood insurance for property owners
guidelines specify a mercury concentration of 10 ppb or in identified flood-hazard areas, whether in stream flood-
below in wastewater released. In an area with abundant plains or in flood-prone coastal regions. Those most at
mercury ore deposits, streams might naturally contain 100 risk, then, pay for insurance against their possible flood
ppb of mercury dissolved or leached from the ores. A com- losses. The idea is that, in time, the flood insurance will
pany using that water, whether it added any mercury or replace after-the fact disaster assistance in flood-prone
not, could be required to remove some of the natural mer- areas.
cury to comply with the standards. A great deal of addi- The National Environmental Policy Act (1969)
tional information, both about natural air and water qual- The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) es-
ity, and about specific harmful effects of individual chemi- tablished environmental protection as an important na-
cals, is needed before safe and realistic limits can be set tional priority and provided for the creation of the Council
on all pollutant discharges. on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the
Laws Relating to Geologic Hazards President. The environmental impact statement (EIS) is
Laws or zoning ordinances restricting construction the most visible outgrowth of the NEPA.
or establishing standards for construction in areas of The NEPA actually pertains only to federal agen-
known geologic hazards are a more modern development cies and their actions. Whenever a federal agency pro-
than antipollution legislation. Their typical objective is to poses legislation or other major Federal action (which
protect persons from injury or loss through geologic pro- can include anything form policy changes to construc-
cesses, even when the individuals themselves may be tion projects that are wholly or partially supported by
unaware of the existence or magnitude of the risk. While federal funds) that can significantly affect the quality of
such an objective sounds benign and practical enough, the human environment, an EIS must be prepared. Many
such laws may be vigorously opposed. Opposition does states have adopted similar legislation related to projects
not come only from real estate investors who wish to maxi- involving funding or approval by state agencies, so the
mize profits from land development in areas of question- scope of the environmental impact statement process has
able geologic safety. Individual home owners also often been considerably broadened. The preparation of envi-
oppose these laws designed to protect them, perhaps fear- ronmental impact statements should ensure that, before
ing the costs imposed by compliance with the laws. For an agency acts, it considers as fully as possible the po-
example, engineering surveys may be required before con- tential environmental ramifications of its action, in order
struction can begin, or special building codes may have to make the best possible decisions.
to be followed in places vulnerable to earthquakes or The NEPA specifies that an environmental impact
floods. Peoples may also feel that it is their right to live statement should include:
where they like, accepting any natural risks. And some, of 1. A description of the proposed action, its pur-
course, simply do not believe that whatever-it-is could pose, and why it is needed.
possibly happen to them. 2. A discussion of various alternatives (including
Controls on Construction in Areas of Landslide Hazard the proposed action).
Perhaps because the state is subject to so many 3. An indication of the environment to be affected
geologic hazards, California and its municipalities have and the environmental consequences anticipate.
been among the leaders in passage of legislation designed 4. Lists of prepares of the statement and those agen-
to minimize the damage from geologic hazards. One suc- cies, organizations or persons to whom copies of the
cessful effort in this regard has been the imposition of statement are being sent.
much more stringent regulations governing construction Additional supplementary material may also be in-
on potentially unstable, landslide-prone hillside near Los cluded. The statement is expected to rigorously explore
Angeles. Where the geologic hazards are moderate, the and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives (an
risk of damage from the hazards can be minimized by tak- analysis that presumably will ultimately supply appropri-
ing them into account and designing around them. This ate justification for the particular course of action pre-
is a large part of engineering geology. ferred by the agency). Possible environmental conse-
Response to Earthquake Hazards quences might include not only those that are in some
The Seismic Safety Element Bill (1971) requires that sense geologic (for example, altering natural processes
communities take seismic and related hazards (ground like stream flow or runoff, causing air or water pollution,
shaking, tsunamis, and so forth) into account in planning inevitable consumption of energy or other resources), but
and regulating development. This is plainly sensible in a also biological ones (loss of habitat, destruction of or-
high-seismic-risk area. ganisms) and social ones (affecting urban quality, employ-
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 72 ]
ment, historic or cultural resources). Cost-benefit analy- Policy Act is to allow the public to be informed about and
ses of various alternatives may be included if the agency involved in decision making related to the environment.
is taking them into account. To prevent environmental impact statements from becom-
After a draft environmental impact statement is pre- ing prohibitively long and verbose, the NEPA stipulates
pared, a variety of others, ranging from other federal agen- that the length should normally be 150 pages or less, or
cies to the general public, are invited to comment. In fact, up to 300 pages for especially complex projects. However,
comments should be actively solicited from all persons or tiering is allowed, whereby one EIS may be written for
organizations that are particularly likely to be interested each level of decision making of a large or multistage
or affected. The agency preparing the EIS is then expected project. One might then have to read through several state-
to respond to those comments, which might mean modify- ments of 150-300 pages each to comment intelligently on
ing the proposed action or the analysis in the EIS or con- a particular project. Many people do not have the time to
sidering additional alternatives. do that much reading, so they may not become involved
Over the first decade following passage of the NEPA, at all. (For that matter, not all the relevant employees of
an average of more than one thousand environmental im- the federal agencies involved may do their EIS homework
pact statements each year were prepared by federal agen- adequately either, for the same reason).
cies. Lawsuits were filed contesting about 10 percent of A major loophole of the NEPA, in the eyes of many
this number of projects. In many such cases, it was al- environmental groups, is that statements must be prepared
leged that the EIS was inadequate, incomplete, or inaccu- only when the anticipated environmental impact of a pro-
rate. In other cases, the charge was that an EIS ought to posed project is significant, where significance is evalu-
have been prepared but was not (the responsible agency ated by the federal agency involved in proposing or per-
felt that no significant environmental impact was involved). mitting the action in question. For each project for which
Close to half the lawsuits involved citizen or environmen- as EIS is filed, many more have been deemed not to war-
tal groups as plaintiffs. The number of environmental im- rant one. In short, as with other kinds of environmental
pact statements filed annually began to decline in the early laws, the NEPA has some very desirable objectives, but
1980s; it remains to be seen if that trend will continue. practice has often fallen short of the ideal.
The usefulness of environmental impact statements Summary
has been limited by a number of factors. We have already Environmental laws relating to geologic matters in-
noted in the context of antipollution laws the difficulty of clude laws relating to the right to exploit certain resources,
applying cost-benefit analysis to situations where not all laws designed to limit pollution and other kinds of envi-
factors have well-defined costs associated with them. An- ronmental deterioration, and laws intended to force indi-
other potential problem is the impartiality (or lack of it) of viduals and agencies to take geologic hazards into ac-
EIS preparers or proposers. An agency preparing an EIS count in development and construction. They may fall
for a project of its own has already selected a proposed short of their goals for a variety of reasons. Terms may be
course of action, and it might, consciously or otherwise, inadequately defined or scientifically meaningless, mak-
be inclined to present that action in an unduly favorable ing consistent enforcement difficult. Substantial economic
light. Where the proposed action is to be carried out by pressure may force pursuit of a course that may be less
an individual or corporationsuch as a company need- desirable in purely scientific terms, or a rigorous cost-
ing a federal permit to mine on federal landsthe EIS may, benefit analysis may be impossible. There may be indi-
in part, draw on information supplied by the proposer, vidual or institutional resistance or bias to combat, or a
which could again be biased. There are also only general particular law may recognize so many exceptions that the
statutory requirements that the analysis in an EIS be thor- majority of cases ultimately end up unregulated. These
ough, which is no guarantee that all the appropriate kinds and other difficulties, many without straightforward solu-
of specialists will be involved in the preparation of a given tions, will continue to complicate efforts to develop envi-
EIS. ronmental legislation.
A major purpose of the National Environmental

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Indian environmental movement may distinguish A Save the Sivaliks march was undertaken across
between its material, political and ideological expres- 200 km of the Sivalik range in Jammu and Kashmir the
sions. The material context is provided by the wide-rang- following winter, group that pioneered the Chipko move-
ing struggles over natural resources, the origins of these ment, the Dashauli Gram Swarajya Mandal (DGSM). While
conflicts lie in the process of development itself. While one wing of Chipko, identified with Sunderlal Bahuguna,
forests, water and other natural resources are diverted to has preferred to connect Himalayan deforestation with
produce energy and commodities for the rich, the poor are national and global environmental concerns; the DGSM,
made to bear the social and environmental costs of eco- under the leadership of Chandi Prasad Bhatt, has turned
nomic development, whether in the form of the declining from struggle to reconstruction work at the grassroots.
availability of natural resources, a more polluted environ- A second example of successful eco-restoration
ment, orincreasingly physical displacement. work also originated in a process of struggle. In the Sangli
The political expression of Indian environmental- district of Maharashtra, where socialist workers have long
ism has been the organization by social action groups of been active, peasants have been faced with persistent
the victims of environment degradation. Action groups drought. In this context, two village of Khanapur taluk,
have embarked upon three distinct sets of initiatives. First, encouraged by socialist and popular science activists,
through a process of organization and struggle they have decided to build on a cooperative basis, a small dam across
tried, with varying degrees of success, to prevent eco- a river that sporadically contained water. Helped by vol-
logically destructive economic practices. Second, they untary contributions, and under the technical guidance
have promoted the environmental message through the of a Bombay engineer, the villagers finally succeeded in
skillful use of the media, and more innovatively, via infor- building the Bali Raja Memorial Dam by the end of 1988.
mal means such as walking tours and eco-development The water thus stored is used to provide one irrigated
camps. Finally, these groups have also taken up crop to each family of the two villages, and for nursery
programmes of environmental rehabilitation (afforestation, and forestry work.
soil conservation, and so on), restoring degraded village Our final case study originated not in a movement
ecosystems and thereby enhancing the quality of life of but in a remarkable individual, Anna Saheb Hazare of the
the inhabitants. village of Ralegaon Siddhi in the Ahmednagar district of
It has been left to social groups not owing allegiance Maharashtra. Ahmednagar too is drought prone orga-
to any political partywhat the political nized villagers into building a series of storage ponds and
scientist Rajni Kothari (1984) has termed non embankments (nallah, bandhs) along the low hills sur-
party political formations to focus public attention on rounding the village. Very quickly, run of was reduced
the linkages between ecological degradation and rural and aquifers recharged, and the ground-water table rose
poverty. considerably. There is now sufficient water for house-hold
In understanding the spread of environmental con- use and irrigation, and crop yields have increased dra-
sciousness, oral communication has contributed im- matically. Besides this, Hazare has mobilized villagers to
mensely. The popular science group, the KSSP, has per- plant 400,000 saplings. With his village now acknowledged
formed plays and rendered folk songs in all parts of Kerala as a model of eco-restoration through self help, Hazare is
in order to increase popular awareness of deforestation training volunteers to work in other villages. He has si-
and pollution. In the neighboring state of Karnataka, multaneously launched a movement against corruption in
themes of environmental abuse and renewal have figured state forestry and drinking water programmes.
in the traditional dance-drama of the west coast, Rally against destructive development was held in
Yakshagana. An activity which combines discussion and Harsud in September 1989. In a follow-up meeting held in
practical action is the eco-development camp, widely Bhopal in Decemberto coincide with the fifth anniver-
used by action groups to promote afforestation and other sary of the gas tragedy in that citygroups that partici-
forms of environmental restoration. The padayatra has pated in the Harsud rally initiated the formation of the Jan
been enthusiastically revived by environmental activists. Vikas Andolan (Peoples Development Movement; JVA), a
The first environmental padayatra was the trans-Hima- loosely knit national level organization to coordinate lo-
layan march from Kashmir to Kohima, covering 4000 km., cal struggles.
by Sunderlal Bahuguna (one of Bhaves disciples) and a Defining itself as movement against the existing
group of his associates in 1982-3. pattern of development, the JVAs own objectives are four-
The most notable padayatra of this ilk was Save fold: (a) to coordinate collective action against environ-
the Western Ghats March of 1987-8, along the 2500 km mentally destructive policies and practices; (b) to provide
long mountain chain. One of the objectives of the West- national solidarity to these struggles; (c) to mobilize wider
ern Ghats March, in which it largely succeeded, was to public opinion on the need for a new development path;
draw attention to threatened mountain ecosystems other and (d) to work towards and alternative vision, ecologi-
than the Himalaya, whose plight had hitherto dominated cally sustainable and socially just, for Indias future.
the Indian environment debate.

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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS may be defined as ronmental disasters is weighed in terms of the quantum of
those extreme events either natural or man-induced, which damages done to the human society. When the cumula-
exceed the tolerable magnitude within or beyond certain tive effects of environmental hazards, environmental di-
time limits, make adjustment difficult, result in catastrophic sasters and other forms of environmental degradation and
losses of property, income and lives and become the head- pollution become so immense that the tolerance limit of
lines of different news media at world level. the natural environment to assimilate them is surpassed
Hazards are generally taken to be the processes, and the environmental balance is disturbed, the resultant
both natural and anthropogenic, which causes great dam- state of the highly disturbed natural environment is called
age to human beings as well as plants and animals. Disas- ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS.
ters occur rapidly, instantaneously and indiscriminately. According to the report of the United Nations Di-
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS are the processes, whereas saster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO) about 90 percent of
the ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS are the results or re- all the reported natural hazards and disasters occur in the
sponses of environmental hazards. The intensity of envi- developing countries.

LANDSLIDES disaster. They often strike life and property and occupy a
Landslides are simply defined as the mass move- position of major concern.
ment of rock, debris or earth down a slope and have come One of the worst tragedies took place at Malpa,
to include a broad range of motions whereby falling, slid- Uttarkhand (UP) on 11th and 17th August 1998 when nearly
ing and flowing under the influence of gravity dislodges 380 people were killed when massive landslides washed
earth material. They often take place in conjunction with away the entire village. This included 60 pilgrims going to
earthquakes, floods and volcanoes. At times, prolonged Lake Mansarovar in Tibet. Consequently, various land
rainfall causing heavy landslides, block the flow or river reform measures have been initiated as mitigation mea-
for quite some time. The formation of river blocks can sures.
cause havoc to the settlements downstream on its burst- The two regions most vulnerable to landslides are
ing. the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. The Himalayas
In the hilly terrain of India including the Himalayas, mountain belt comprise of tectonically unstable younger
landslides have been a major and widely spread natural geological formations subjected to severe seismic activ-

Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 75 ]

ity. The Western Ghats and Nilgiris are geologically stable In all the vulnerable slopes terracing/ contour
but have uplifted plateau margins influenced by neo- tec- bounding is adopted mainly to prevent soil erosion and to
tonic activity. Compared to Western Ghats region, the enhance percolation during dry season for cultivation of
slides in the Himalayas region are huge and massive and cash crops as well as seasonal crops. Invariably, in all
in most cases the overburden along with the underlying these cases, natural drainage lines on slopes are blocked
lithology is displaced during sliding particularly due to or modified without adequate provision for surface drain-
the seismic factor. age of excess storm water during high intensity rains preva-
Causes of Landslides lent in the area.
Landslides can be caused by poor ground condi- In some areas developmental activities like con-
tions, geomorphic phenomena, and natural physical forces struction of buildings, road cutting, embankments, cut and
and quite often due to heavy spells of rainfall coupled fill structures causes modification of natural slopes, block-
with impeded drainage. ing of surface drainage, loading of critical slopes and with-
Morphological Causes drawal of support, promoting vulnerability of critical
Ground uplift (volcanic, tectonic etc) slopes.
Erosion (wind, water) Mitigatory Measures
Scour In general the chief mitigatory measures to be
Deposition loading in the slope crest. adopted for such areas are
Vegetation removal (by forest fire, drought etc) Drainage correction,
Physical Causes Proper land use measures,
Prolonged precipitation Reforestation for the areas occupied by degraded
Rapid draw- down vegetation and
Earthquake Creation of awareness among local population.
Volcanic eruption The most important triggering mechanism for mass
Thawing movements is the water infiltrating into the overburden
Shrink and swell during heavy rains and consequent increase in pore pres-
Artesian pressure sure within the overburden. When this happens in steep
Man- made Causes slopes, the safety factor of the slope material gets consid-
Excavation (particularly at the toe of slope erably reduced causing it to move down. Hence the natu-
Loading of slope crest ral way of preventing this situation is by reducing infiltra-
Draw -down (of reservoir) tion and allowing excess water to move down without
Deforestation hindrance. As such, the first and foremost mitigation mea-
Irrigation sure is drainage correction. This involves maintenance of
Mining natural drainage channels both micro and macro in vul-
Artificial vibrations nerable slopes.
Water impoundment and leakage from utilities The universal use of contour bounding for all types
An overall evaluation of the pattern and nature of of terrain without consideration of the slope, overburden
landslide occurrences in the Kerala part of Western Ghats thickness and texture or drainage set- up, needs to be
and its corresponding eastern flank falling within Tamil controlled especially in the plateau edge regions. It is time
Nadu reveals the following main features: to think about alternative and innovations, which are suit-
Almost all mass movements occur during monsoons able for the terrain, to be set up. It need not be over-
(SW and NE monsoon) in the western flank of Western emphasized the governmental agencies have a lot to con-
Ghats and during occasional cyclonic events in the east- tribute in this field.
ern flank indicating that main triggering mechanism is the Leaving aside the critical zones where settlements
over- saturation of overburden caused by heavy rains could be avoided altogether and which could be prefer-
There seems to be a relation between intensity of ably used for permanent vegetation, the highly unstable
rainfall and slope failures. zones generally lie in the upper regions, which are occu-
Majority of the catastrophic mass movements is pied by highly degraded vegetation. These areas warrant
confined to the overburden without affecting the under- immediate afforestation measures with suitable plant spe-
lying bedrock. cies. The afforestation programme should be properly
Improper land use practices such as heavy tilling, planned so the little slope modification is done in the pro-
agricultural practices and settlement patterns have con- cess. Bounding of any sort using boulders etc. has to be
tributed to creep and withdrawal of toe support in many avoided. The selection of suitable plant species should
cases be such that can withstand the existing stress conditions
A common factor noticed in most of these vulner- in this terrain.
able slopes deforestation in the recent past, cultivation of
seasonal crops and increase in settlements.

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Man has continually, and at an increasing rate, been by transport revolution and urbanization that degrada-
changing the forms and modes of his interaction with the tion of the environment started which has given rise to
environment. Natural processes and factors that depend the concept sustainable development. The sudden inter-
on the structure and other character of the earth and so- est in sustainable development is, of course, a response
cial processes have been closely interwoven. On the one to warnings that the world is facing an environmental and
hand, population of the earth is growing rapidly; while on therefore, social catastrophe in the near future unless
the other hand, with the technological and scientific revo- mankind radically modifies certain practices and perspec-
lution developmental activities have been accelerated to tives which have created the present crisis. This crisis is
such an extent that in certain areas they have become a characterized, among other things, by the poisoning of
threat to the environment. The utilization of natural re- our rivers, seas and underground water sources; the thin-
sources is growing at an alarming rate, causing great con- ning of the ozone layer; global warming; the rapid extinc-
cern for their conservation. The degradation of the envi- tion of species, massive deforestation and soil improve-
ronment due to industrial and other wastes discharged ment; rapid population growth; and uncontrolled urban-
into the atmosphere and hydrosphere has also caused ization, with its attendant social problems.
great concern and there is a big question markwhat will Roosevelts chief forester and mentor, Gifford
happen next? All these environmental problems associ- Pinchot (1910) has observed that conservation advocates
ated with development have raised several questions re- the use of foresight, prudence, thrift and intelligence in
garding the type and nature of development and this has dealing with public matters, demands the application of
given rise to the concept of sustainable development. common sense to the common problems for common
Concept of Sustainable Development goods. Conservation of resources in other words is the
The term sustainable development was used at the sustainable utilization of the resources, adequate sur-
time of the Cocoyoc Declaration on environment and de- veillance as well as with accountability. The environmen-
velopment in the early 1970s. Since then it has become the tal degradation and associated problems like desertifica-
trademark of international organizations, dedicated to tion, soil erosion, tropical forest depletion, etc., in the Third
achieving environmentally begin or beneficial develop- World are the consequences of present development poli-
ment. The term has served to catalyze debate over the tics. Therefore, there is a need for positive mutual adjust-
relationship between economic change and the natural ment between development and natural environment.
resource base in which it is grounded. Definitions vary, Several strategies, policies and concepts have been
but the most widely adopted one is contained in Our Com- propounded by ecologists and planners to deal with en-
mon Futurethe 1987 report of the proceedings of the vironment-resource management, such as the zero growth
World Commission on Environment and Development: strategy of Daly (1977), organic agriculture for self-sus-
Sustainable development is the development that meets taining societies of Naess and other well known concept,
the needs of the present without compromising the ability viz., use of environment friendly techniques and prod-
of future generations to meet their own needs. This defi- ucts.
nition is far from adequate-it begs the critical question of The publication of US Global 2000 Report 91980 and
what constitutes an acceptable need in the context of other publications like Resourceful Earth (Simon and
present global situationbut it does encapsulate the es- Kohn, 1984), the Global Possible (Repetoo, 1985), Our
sential pointthat we all have to learn to live within our Common Future (World Commission on Environment and
planetary means. Various UN publications, in an effort to Development, 1987) have generated a general debate high-
define strategy for sustainable living and development, lighting the consequences of over exploitation of re-
refer to it as improving the quality of human life while sources and neglect of global common interest. The vari-
living within the carrying capacity of the supporting eco- ous programmes of the UNO, specially the programmes of
system. UNEP, have emphasized the need for sustainable devel-
The concept of sustainability although, has a long opment also referred to as eco-development.
historical background. In ancient Indian writings, nature Basic Aspects of Sustainability
or environment has been considered as the controller of The question of sustainable development has
all human activities, including economic development. emerged due to over exploitation of resources as well as
They have given the status of God to the components of due to mismanagement of technology. The aspects which
environment such as air, water, land, natural vegetation, require monitoring of sustainability include climatic
animals, etc. In spite of the fact that there was no need for change, biodiversity, disposal of hazardous and toxic
their conservation, the concept of their protection has wastes, disposal of pollution generating industries and
been put forward in all the religions of India. In Greek food and ecological security.
writings there is a reference of Ge or Gaia as the God- Swaminathan (1991) has identified nine principles
dess of the Earth-the mother figure of natural replenish- for desired success in promoting ecologically sound agri-
ment. In fact, that was a time when population was limited culture. There are: (i) land, (ii) water, (iii) energy, (iv) nutri-
and there was mutual adjustment between man and envi- ent supply, (v) genetic diversity, (vi) pest management,
ronment. (vii) post harvest system, (viii) systems approach and (ix)
It was only after the industrial revolution, followed location specific research and development.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 77 ]
The deterioration in the ecological base in various alkaline or saline soil;
countries in spatio-temporal terms due to irrational man- iii. improper use of pesticides, fungicides, herbi-
agement of the resource and environmental systems hav- cides, etc., cause soil damage and biological im-
ing damaging repercussions are reflective of unsustain- balance;
able policy frame and planning strategies followed so far. iv. excessive trapping of underground water ac-
Their observable signs can be listed as: counts for steep fall in underground water level;
i. extensive deforestation accounting for loss of v. replacement of high yielding hybrid varieties lead
flora, fauna and some rare species; to spread of diseases capable of wiping out the
ii. drying up of drinking water resources and fall in entire crop as it happened with lrish potato crop
the underground water levels; in 1985 and Bengal rice famines in 1942;
iii. Intensifying rate and frequency of flood and vi. excessive use of non-degradable material like
droughts; plastic creates problems of waste management;
iv. land degradation due to desertification, waste- vii. automobiles and industries have become a ma-
lands, salinity and water logging; jor cause of air pollution.
v. deterioration in quality of air and water; In fact, development without proper management
vi. pressure of population resulting in unemploy- has become a cause of eco-destruction, of which sustain-
ment and mass migrations; and able development is the only solution. In a report for a
vii. unplanned urbanization and unprecedented sustainable world following steps have been suggested;
growth of urban slums, etc. 1. A production efficiency era of minimum environ-
The environmental problems are multidimensional mental damage costs through energy transi-
and varied in nature in developed and developing coun- tion.
tries. There are global problems which have had their im- 2. Stable world population through demographic
pact throughout the world. On the other hand, transition.
every country has its own development as well as envi- 3. From non-renewable to renewable resource tran-
ronmental problems. Apart from this, regional and local sition.
problems need immediate attention. The problems created 4. By a global mutually agreed objective between
by technology transfer from developed countries to Third South and North-political transition.
World countries have become a cause for concern, be- While all these initiatives are necessary, the critical
cause in the absence of proper shift required, is perception of man. For industrial man
management, it has become a cause of environmental deg- has grown accustomed to thinking that: (a) the worlds
radation. Such alarms are embodied in the unsustainable resources are infinite, and (b) they exist primarily to be
activities which may include. exploited for the benefit of mankind. These assumptions
i. intensive cultivation of land without taking ad- are leading us to disaster. What is required is that we
equate care of soil fertility; replace this outmoded perspective with one that sees us
ii. development of irrigation facilities without proper all as crew members of spaceship earth and fragile life-
water management, which leads to water logging, support system spinning through space.

Preamble by assigning the duties for the State and all citizens
The survival and well-being of a nation depends on through article 48 A and article 51 A(g) which state that
sustainable development. It is process of social and eco- the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the envi-
nomic betterment that satisfies the needs and values of all ronment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the
interest groups without foreclosing future options. To this country and to protect and improve the natural envi-
end, we must ensure that the demand on the environment ronment including forests, lakes and rivers and wildlife,
form which we derive our sustenance, does not exceed its and to have compassion for the living creatures.
carrying capacity for the present as well as future genera- Nevertheless, over the years, there has been pro-
tions. gressive pressure on the environment and the natural re-
In the past, we had a great tradition of environmen- sources, the alarming consequences of which are becom-
tal conservation which taught us to respect nature and to ing evident in increasing proportions. These conse-
take cognizance of the fact that all forms of lifehuman, quences detract from the gains of development and worsen
animal and plant are closely interlinked and that distur- the standard of living of the poor who are directly depen-
bance in one gives rise to an imbalance in other. Even in dent on natural resources. It is in this context that we
modern times, as is evident in our constitutional provi- need to give a new thrust towards conservation and sus-
sions and environmental legislation and planning objec- tainable development.
tives, conscious efforts have been made for maintaining The National Conservation Strategy and the Policy
environmental security along with developmental ad- Statement on Environment and Development are in re-
vances. The Indian Constitution has laid a new important sponse to the need for laying down the guidelines that
trail in the Section on Directive Principles of State Policy will help to weave environmental considerations into the
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 78 ]
fabric of our national life and of our development process. (7 million ha).
It is an expression of our commitment for reorienting poli- Our forest wealth is dwindling due to over-grazing,
cies and action in unison with the environmental perspec- over-exploitation both for commercial and household
tive. needs, encroachments, unsustainable practices including
Environmental problems: Nature and dimensions certain practices of shifting cultivation and developmen-
Environmental problems in India can be classified tal activities such as roads, buildings, irrigation and power
into two broad categories: projects. The recorded forest cover in the country is 75.01
a. those arising as negative effects of the very pro- million ha which works out to 19.5% of the total geographi-
cess of development; and cal area against the broad national goal of 33% for the
b. those arising from conditions of poverty and un- plain areas and 66% for hilly regions. Even within this
derdevelopment. area, only 11% constitute forests with 40% or more of
The first category has to do with the impact of ef- crown cover. According to the State of Forest Report, 1991,
forts to achieve rapid economic growth and development the actual, forest cover in the country was 64.07 million
and continuing pressures of demand generated by those hectares during 1987-89. The loss of habitat is leading to
sections of society who are economically more advanced the extinction of plant, animal and microbial species. Ac-
and impose great strains on the supply of natural re- cording to the Botanical and Zoological Surveys of India,
sources. Poorly planned developmental projects are also over 1500 plant and animal species are in the endangered
often environmentally destructive. The second category category. The biological impoverishment of the country
has to do with the impact on the health and integrity of is a serious threat to sustainable advances in biological
our natural resources (land, soil, water, forests, wildlife, productivity. Gene erosion also erodes the prospects for
etc.) as a result of poverty and the inadequate availability, deriving full economic and ecological benefits from recent
for a large section of our population, of the means to fulfill advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering.
basic human needs (food, fuel, shelter, employment, etc.). Our unique wetlands, rich in aquatic and bird life,
Needless to say, the two problems are interrelated. providing food and shelter as also the breeding and
Population is an important resource for develop- spawning ground for the marine and fresh water, fishes,
ment, yet it is a major source of environmental degrada- are facing problems of pollution and over-exploitation.
tion when it exceeds the threshold limits of the support The major rivers of the country are also facing problems
systems. Unless the relationship between the multiplying of pollution and siltation. Our long coastline is under simi-
population and life support systems can be stabilized, lar stress. Our coastal areas have been severely damaged
development programmes, however, innovative, are not due to indiscriminate construction near the water-line.
likely to yield the desired results. It is possible to expand Coastal vegetation including mangroves and sea grasses
the carrying capacity through technological advances is getting denuded. Our mountain ecosystems are under
and spatial distribution. But neither of these can support threat of serious degradation. Extensive deforestation lead-
unlimited population growth. Although technological ing to the erosion of valuable topsoil is threatening the
progress will add to the capabilities for sustaining a large livelihood security of millions of hill people. Equally seri-
number of population, the need for a vigorous drive for ous is the downstream effects of the damage done up-
population control can hardly be over emphasized in view stream. Indo-Gangetic agriculture, often described as a
of the linkage between poverty, population growth and potential bread basket in the world, is being damaged be-
the environment. yond repair as a result of soil degradation. Some areas are
Even today, over 250 30 million children, women and facing problems of water-logging and rising water tables
men suffer from under nutrition. The scenario for the com- because of poorly planned and ill-executed irrigation. In
ing years is alarming and we are likely to face a food crisis other areas, the water table is receding because of
unless we are in a position to increase crop and animal overexploitation of ground water. Furthermore, the qual-
productivity on a continuing basis, since the only option ity of groundwater is being affected due to chemical pol-
open to us for increasing production is productivity im- lution and in coastal areas, due to the ingress of sea water.
provement. Also, access to food will have to be ensured The excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides impose
through opportunities for productive employment. threat to human health, to the genetic stocks and reduces
A growth in domesticated animal population has the natural soil fertility in the long run. The absence of an
been accompanied by a loss of area under grasslands and integrated land and water use policy for the country is
pastures. Hardly, 3.5 per cent of our geographical area is taking a heavy toll in these basis natural assets.
under grasslands, while our domesticated animal popula- Coral reefs are the most productive marine ecosys-
tion numbers nearly 500 million. The livelihood security tems and provide habitat for diverse flora and fauna. These
of majority of our people depends on land and water based eco-systems are adversely affected by indiscriminate ex-
occupations such as crop and animal husbandry, forestry ploitation of coral for production of lime, recreational use
and fisheries. and for ornamental trade. Similarly, the fragile environs of
Out of the total area of India of about 329 million island ecosystems have been subjected to pressures of
hectares, 175 million hectares of land require special treat- various forms including migration of people from the main-
ment to restore such land to productive and profitable land.
use. The degradation is caused by water and Global atmospheric changes resulting in altered tem-
wind erosion (150 million ha), salinity and alkalinity perature and precipitation and rising ocean levels, are no
(8 million ha) and river action and other factors longer within the realm, of mere theoretical possibilities.
Ph. 011-27658009, 9311958007, 9311958008, 9311958009 [ 79 ]
Combination of local subsidence, greenhouse induced sea even a reduction of such populations and a correspond-
level rise and coastal environmental degradation may lead ing improvement in land use policies, the current trend of
to periodic floods, incursion of salt water, melting of gla- over-exploitation and ecological degradation is not likely
ciers and river flooding. Local changes of average rainfall to improve.
will severely affect agriculture and water supply, espe- Thus, we are faced with the need for accelerating
cially in semi-arid areas. the pace of development for alleviation of poverty which
Compounding these human-inflicted wounds on is, to a great extent, responsible for many of our environ-
natural ecosystems ad life-support mechanisms, we are mental problems. On the other hand, we have to avoid
facing serious problems of pollution and unsanitary con- proceeding along paths with environmental costs so high
ditions especially in urban areas. Pollution arising from that these activities cannot be sustained. Development
toxic wastes and non-biodegradable consumer articles is has to be sustainable and all round, whether for the poor
tending to increase. or the not so-poor or for the village folk or for the town
Lack of opportunities for gainful employment in vil- people. The development models followed so far need to
lages and the ecological stresses is leading to an ever be reviewed.
increasing movement of resource poor families to towns. Actions Taken
Mega cities are emerging and urban slums are expanding. In recognition of the felt need for environmental
Illiteracy and child labour are persisting. There has been a protection, various regulatory and promotional measures
substantial urban growth in the last four decades. This have been taken in our country over the past twenty years.
has resulted in congestion and squatter settlements with These include the following:-
millions of people having no access to the basic needs of Legal
civic amenities. The green cover in our urban centres has The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 amended in
been largely destroyed and once beautiful garden cities 1983, 1986 and 1991.
have become concrete jungles. The man-made heritage in The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
India has been often gravely and even irrevocably dam- Act, 1974, amended in 1988.
aged. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
A large number of industries and other develop- Cess Act, 1977, amended in 1991.
ment projects have been incorrectly sited, leading, on the The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, amended in
one hand, to over-congestion and over-pollution in our 1988.
urban centres and on the other hand, to diversion of popu- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,
lation and economic resources from the rural areas. This 1981, amended in 1988.
has also resulted in the pollution of most of our water The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
bodies which are major constituents of our life support The Motor Vehicle Act, 1938, amended in 1988.
systems. Pollution of water bodies, in turn, has adversely The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
affected the growth of aquatic fauna and flora which is an A Notification on Coastal Regulation Zone, 1991.
environmentally undesirable phenomenon for any eco- Institutions
system. The problems of women in villages are com- Department of Environment in 1980 and the inte-
pounded in this whole scenario of energy, environmental grated Ministry of Environment & Forests in 1985. De-
and developmental imbalance. The incidence of malaria is partment of Science and Technology, Department of Agri-
high in many parts of the country. Safe drinking water is culture and Co-operation, Department of Biotechnology,
still a luxury in many villages. Liver ailments and gastro- Department of Ocean Development, Department of Space,
intestinal diseases are common due to unclean drinking Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources. Energy
water. Management Centre, Council of Scientific and Industrial
It is difficult to clearly delineate the causes and con- Research etc. at the Centre, Departments of Environment
sequences of environmental degradation in terms of simple at the State and Union Territory level.
one-to-one relationship. The causes and effects are often Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollu-
interwoven in complex webs of social, technological and tion Control Boards.
environmental factors. For instance, from a purely scien- Central Forestry Board.
tific and technological standpoint, soil erosion would re- Indian Council of Forestry Research and Educa-
sult from the cultivation of marginal lands. However, from tion with specialized institutions for research in arid zone,
the point of view of a comprehensive environmental im- forestry, moist and deciduous forests, wood technology,
pact analysis, it is important to go further back and ana- genetics and tree breeding and deciduous forests.
lyze the circumstances that force people to cultivate mar- Forest Survey of India (FSI) and the Wildlife In-
ginal lands. Viewed in this light, it becomes clear that a stitute of India (WII) in addition to the existing organiza-
concern for the environment is essentially a desire to see tions like Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Zoological
that national development proceeds along rational, sus- Survey of India (ZSI).
tainable, lines. Environmental conservation is, in fact, the National Landuse and Wasteland Development
very basis of all development. Council.
The overriding impact of adverse demographic pres- National Wastelands Development Board.
sures on our resources and ecosystems due to poverty Indian Board of Wildlife.
and overpopulation of man and livestock has to be high- National Museum of natural History, Centre for
lighted. Unless there is a curb on population growth and Environmental Education, Institute for Himalayan Envi-
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ronment and Development and Centres of Excellence in ity, efficient utilization of forest produce, substitution of
specialized subject areas are among the various institu- wood and peoples involvement for achieving these ob-
tions set up. jectives.
Prevention and Control of Pollution Under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 strin-
Water and air quality monitoring stations in se- gent provisions for preventing diversion of forest land
lected areas. for any other purpose.
Use-based zoning and classification of major riv- Setting up of the National Wastelands Board to guide
ers. and oversee the wastelands development programme by
Notification and enforcement of standards for adopting a mission approach for enlisting peoples par-
polluting industries through the Central and State Pollu- ticipation, harnessing the inputs of science and technol-
tion Control Boards. ogy and achieving interdisciplinary coordination in
Rules for manufacture, storage, transportation and programme planning and implementation.
disposal of hazardous substances. Formulation of a National Wildlife Action Plan.
On site and off-site emergency plans for prepared- An exercise for preparation of a National Forestry
ness against chemical accidents. Action Programme.
Fiscal incentives for installation of pollution con- Establishment of National Parks and Sanctuaries
trol devices. covering about 4% of the countrys area.
Fiscal incentives for installation of pollution con- Eco-development plans for sanctuaries and Na-
trol devices. tional Parks.
Ganga Action Plan to prevent pollution of the Identification of bio-geographical zones in the
river and restore its water quality which could be expanded country for establishing a network of protected areas in-
to cover other major river systems subject to availability cluding seven Biosphere Reserves set up so far.
of resources. Management Plans for identified wetlands, man-
Identification of critically polluted areas and of grove areas and coral reefs.
highly polluting industries. Formulation of National River Action Plan.
Conservation of Forests and Wildlife Land and Soil
Adoption of a new Forest Policy (1988) with the Surveys by the All India Soil and Land-Use Sur-
principal aim of ensuring ecological balance through con- vey Organization.
servation of biological diversity, soil and water manage- Treatment of catchment in selected river valley
ment, increase of tree cover, meeting the requirements of projects and integrated watershed management projects
the rural and tribal population, increase in the productiv- in catchment of flood prone rivers.


Setting the Stage emerged from Rio.

The U.N. General Assembly in 1987 achieved a land- The Five Earth Summit Agreements
mark in global planning by agreeing to hold the Summit. 1. Climate Change Framework This legally bind-
The idea for some type of global meeting on the environ- ing agreement is a first-ever attempt to evaluate and ad-
ment was put forward at the 1972 U.N. Conference on the dress global warming on an international scale. As on
Human Environment held in Stockholm, chaired by August 1992, 154 nations, including the United States and
Maurice Strong. Our Common Future set the tone for the Canada, signed the Convention on Climate Change.
1992 Earth Summit: Initially the goal was to set specific timetables and
The Earth is one but the world is not. We all depend limits for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. The
on one biosphere for sustaining our lives. Yet each com- United States objects to specific targets for controlling
munity, each country, strives for survival and prosperity CO2 emissions throughout the pre-summit sessions, cit-
with little regard for its impact on others. Some consume ing economic uncertainties and unknown costs. The Eu-
the Earths resources at a rate that would leave little for ropean Community, Canada, Japan, and the majority of
future generations. Others, many more in number, con- attending nations favored stabilizing emissions at 1990
sume far too little and live with the prospect of hunger, levels by the year 2000. The Office of Technology As-
squalor, disease, and early death. sessment and National Academies of Science and Engi-
To the detriment of the final agreements that neering in separate assessments concluded that the United
emerged from the UNCED Earth Summit, the United States States could hold to 1990 levels by the year 2015 at little or
administration blocked specific plans for cutting emission no additional cost, Richard Kerr summarized.
of greenhouse gases and timetables for sustainable for- The philosophy that many scientists contacted by
estry goals. It was left to the Japanese and the nations of Science are now espousing amounts to buying some in-
the European Community at the Earth Summit to push for surancein the form of no-cost or low-cost reduction in
timetables to reduce damaging emissions, to exercise lead- greenhouse gas emissionagainst the possibility that the
ership, and to take advantage of the growing economic higher predictions of global warming turn out to be right.
opportunity of marketing environmental technology. With (Science) 256 (May 22, 1992) 1140.
all this in mind lets overview the five key agreements that 2. Biological Diversity This legally binding agree-

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ment is a first international attempt to protect Earths pages of non-binding action program, was a guide for the
biodiversity. It provides more equitable right among na- nations of the world during the remainder of this century
tions in biotechnology and the genetic wealth of tropical and the imminent 21st century. The idea of sustainable
ecosystems in particular. development, as opposed to a business proposal of sus-
Out of 161 signatories, the United States, Vietnam, tainable growth, is examined in Agenda 21.
Singapore, and Kiribati refused to sign the original treaty. Agenda 21 covers many key topics: energy conser-
This was a perplexing stand for the U.S. administration to vation and efficiency to reduce consumption and related
take. Biodiversity is one of the more divisive issues sepa- pollution; climate change; stratospheric ozone depletion;
rating developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere trans boundary air pollution; ocean and water resource
from the predominantly developing nations of the equa- protection; soil losses and increasing desertification; de-
torial and tropical regions and Southern Hemisphere. The forestation; regulations for safely handling radioactive
developing countries want to be compensated for drugs waste and disposal; hazardous chemical exports for dis-
and medicines that are derived from plants and animals posal in developing countries; and disparities of wealth
harvested from the indigenous genetic wealth in the trop- and the plague of poverty.
ics. This return of some profit from transnational corpora- Agenda 21 also addresses the difficult question of
tions and rich nation enterprises would in turn produce a financing sustainable development. Developing countries
potential incentive for further protection of these critical are asking the developed nations to spend 0.7% of their
biomes. gross domestic productapproximately $125 billion per
3. Management, Conservation, and Sustainable yearto assist them in implementing the Earth Charter
Development of All Types of forests This non-binding and Agenda 21.
agreement guides world forestry practices toward a more The Future
sustainable future of forest yields and diversity. Form the Earth Summit emerged a new organiza-
The conflict between industrialized nations and de- tionthe U.N. Commission on Sustainable Develop-
veloping nations is a classic confrontation of a north mentto oversee the promises made in the five docu-
versus south dichotomy. How can the rich nations con- ments and agreements. Most of the participating coun-
tinue to clear-cut their forests, yet turn to the developing tries completed State of the Environment
countries, such as Brazil, and virtually ask them to place Reports (SERs) and gathered environment statistics for
their lands in a national park or biosphere reserve? How publication. These reports are an invaluable
can the industrialized nations continue to produce exces- resource that will direct further research efforts in
sive CO2, far beyond reasonable per capita limits, yet turn many countries.
to the developing nations for a principle sink for CO2? Considering these environmental problems and pos-
The developing countries of the south insist on equal- sible world actions, these are challenging times for hu-
ity (political and economic equality) of forest practice. manity as we ponder our relationship to the home planet.
Along with sustainable timber practices, countries of the Over the long term we no longer can sustain human activ-
north need to begin government-sponsored paper re- ity through old paradigms. The truth is that society knows
cycling and packaging-reform programs. Such recycling many of the economic-ecological solutions to problems.
now is part of the forestry debate. The study of physical and human geography is central to
4. The Earth Charter this is a non-binding this assessment.
statement of environmental and economic principles. Asking whether the Earth Summit succeeded or failed
These 27 principles establish an ethical basis for a sus- is the wrong question. The occurrence of this largest-
tainable human-Earth relationship. All important empha- ever official gathering of Earthlings and the five years of
sis in this charter is the need to include environmental preparatory effort and study that set the agenda are in
costs in economic assessments. Impoverishment of air, themselves significant accomplishments. The challenge
soil, water, and ecosystems sometimes is mistaken for is one of education; the lesson is one of compromise and
progress. The notion that the environment is not an inex- some sacrifice. Members of society should work to move
haustible mine of resources to be tapped indefinitely is the solutions for environmental and developmental prob-
gaining many adherents. In terms of natural capital air, lems off the bench and into play. The Earth Summit pro-
water, timber, fisheries, petroleumEarth is indeed a fi- cess continues as a good beginning.
nite physical system.
5. Agenda 21 (Sustainable Development)This 800

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