NCERT Textbook - Environment and Sustainable Development Commerce Notes | EduRev

Economics Class 12

Commerce : NCERT Textbook - Environment and Sustainable Development Commerce Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


162 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 After studying this chapter, the learners will
? understand the concept of environment
? analyse the causes and effects of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘resource
depletion’
? understand the nature of environmental challenges facing India
? relate environmental issues to the larger context of sustainable
development.
ENVIRONMENT AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9
2020-21
Page 2


162 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 After studying this chapter, the learners will
? understand the concept of environment
? analyse the causes and effects of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘resource
depletion’
? understand the nature of environmental challenges facing India
? relate environmental issues to the larger context of sustainable
development.
ENVIRONMENT AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9
2020-21
163 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.1 INTRODUCTION
In the earlier chapters we have
discussed the main economic issues
faced by the Indian economy. The
economic development that we have
achieved so far has come at a very heavy
price—at the cost of environmental
quality. As we step into an era of
globalisation that promises higher
economic growth, we have to bear in
mind the adverse consequences of the
past developmental path on our
environment and consciously choose a
path of sustainable development. To
understand the unsustainable path of
development that we have taken and
the challenges of sustainable
development, we have to first
understand the significance and
contribution of environment to
economic development. With this in
mind, this chapter is divided into three
sections. The first part deals with the
functions and role of environment. The
second section discusses the state of
India’s environment and the third
section deals with steps and strategies
to achieve sustainable development.
9.2  ENVIRONMENT — DEFINITION AND
FUNCTIONS
Environment is defined as the total
planetary inheritance and the totality
of all resources. It includes all the biotic
and abiotic factors that influence each
other. While all living elements—the
birds, animals and plants, forests,
fisheries etc.—are biotic elements,
abiotic elements include air, water, land
etc. Rocks and sunlight are examples
of abiotic elements of the environment.
A study of the environment then calls
for a study of the inter-relationship
between these biotic and abiotic
components of the environment.
Functions of the Environment: The
environment performs four vital
functions (i) it supplies resources:
resources here include both renewable
and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are those which
can be used without the possibility of
the resource becoming depleted or
exhausted. That is, a continuous
supply of the resource remains
available. Examples of renewable
resources are the trees in the forests and
the fishes in the ocean. Non-renewable
resources, on the other hand, are those
which get exhausted with extraction
and use,  for example, fossil fuel (ii) it
assimilates waste (iii) it sustains life by
providing genetic and bio diversity and
(iv) it also provides aesthetic services
like scenery etc.
The environment is able to perform
these functions without any interruption
as long as the demand on these
The environment, left to itself, can continue to support life for millions of
years. The single most unstable and potentially disruptive element in the
scheme is the human species. Human beings, with modern technology, have
the capacity to bring about, intentionally or unintentionally, far-reaching
and irreversible changes in the enviornment.
Anonymous
2020-21
Page 3


162 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 After studying this chapter, the learners will
? understand the concept of environment
? analyse the causes and effects of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘resource
depletion’
? understand the nature of environmental challenges facing India
? relate environmental issues to the larger context of sustainable
development.
ENVIRONMENT AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9
2020-21
163 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.1 INTRODUCTION
In the earlier chapters we have
discussed the main economic issues
faced by the Indian economy. The
economic development that we have
achieved so far has come at a very heavy
price—at the cost of environmental
quality. As we step into an era of
globalisation that promises higher
economic growth, we have to bear in
mind the adverse consequences of the
past developmental path on our
environment and consciously choose a
path of sustainable development. To
understand the unsustainable path of
development that we have taken and
the challenges of sustainable
development, we have to first
understand the significance and
contribution of environment to
economic development. With this in
mind, this chapter is divided into three
sections. The first part deals with the
functions and role of environment. The
second section discusses the state of
India’s environment and the third
section deals with steps and strategies
to achieve sustainable development.
9.2  ENVIRONMENT — DEFINITION AND
FUNCTIONS
Environment is defined as the total
planetary inheritance and the totality
of all resources. It includes all the biotic
and abiotic factors that influence each
other. While all living elements—the
birds, animals and plants, forests,
fisheries etc.—are biotic elements,
abiotic elements include air, water, land
etc. Rocks and sunlight are examples
of abiotic elements of the environment.
A study of the environment then calls
for a study of the inter-relationship
between these biotic and abiotic
components of the environment.
Functions of the Environment: The
environment performs four vital
functions (i) it supplies resources:
resources here include both renewable
and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are those which
can be used without the possibility of
the resource becoming depleted or
exhausted. That is, a continuous
supply of the resource remains
available. Examples of renewable
resources are the trees in the forests and
the fishes in the ocean. Non-renewable
resources, on the other hand, are those
which get exhausted with extraction
and use,  for example, fossil fuel (ii) it
assimilates waste (iii) it sustains life by
providing genetic and bio diversity and
(iv) it also provides aesthetic services
like scenery etc.
The environment is able to perform
these functions without any interruption
as long as the demand on these
The environment, left to itself, can continue to support life for millions of
years. The single most unstable and potentially disruptive element in the
scheme is the human species. Human beings, with modern technology, have
the capacity to bring about, intentionally or unintentionally, far-reaching
and irreversible changes in the enviornment.
Anonymous
2020-21
164 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Work These Out
Ø Why has water become an economic commodity? Discuss.
Ø Fill in the following table with some common types of diseases and illnesses
that are caused due to air, water and noise pollution.
functions is within its carrying
capacity. This implies that the resource
extraction is not above the rate of
regeneration of the resource and the
wastes generated are within the
assimilating capacity of the
environment. When this is not so, the
environment fails to perform its third
and vital function of life sustenance and
this results in an
environmental crisis. This
is the situation today
all over the world. The
rising population of the
developing countries and
the affluent consumption
and production standards
of the developed world have
placed a huge stress on the
environment in terms of its
first two functions. Many
resources have become
extinct and the wastes
generated are beyond the
absorptive capacity of the
environment. Absorptive
capacity means the ability
of the environment to
absorb degradation. The result — we
are today at the threshold of
environmental crisis. The past
development has polluted and dried up
rivers and other aquifers making water
an economic good. Besides, the
intensive and extensive extraction of
both renewable and non-renewable
resources has exhausted some of these
Air Pollution Water Pollution Noise Pollution
Asthma Cholera
Fig. 9.1 Water bodies: small, snow-fed Himalayan streams are
the few fresh-water sources that remain unpolluted.
2020-21
Page 4


162 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 After studying this chapter, the learners will
? understand the concept of environment
? analyse the causes and effects of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘resource
depletion’
? understand the nature of environmental challenges facing India
? relate environmental issues to the larger context of sustainable
development.
ENVIRONMENT AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9
2020-21
163 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.1 INTRODUCTION
In the earlier chapters we have
discussed the main economic issues
faced by the Indian economy. The
economic development that we have
achieved so far has come at a very heavy
price—at the cost of environmental
quality. As we step into an era of
globalisation that promises higher
economic growth, we have to bear in
mind the adverse consequences of the
past developmental path on our
environment and consciously choose a
path of sustainable development. To
understand the unsustainable path of
development that we have taken and
the challenges of sustainable
development, we have to first
understand the significance and
contribution of environment to
economic development. With this in
mind, this chapter is divided into three
sections. The first part deals with the
functions and role of environment. The
second section discusses the state of
India’s environment and the third
section deals with steps and strategies
to achieve sustainable development.
9.2  ENVIRONMENT — DEFINITION AND
FUNCTIONS
Environment is defined as the total
planetary inheritance and the totality
of all resources. It includes all the biotic
and abiotic factors that influence each
other. While all living elements—the
birds, animals and plants, forests,
fisheries etc.—are biotic elements,
abiotic elements include air, water, land
etc. Rocks and sunlight are examples
of abiotic elements of the environment.
A study of the environment then calls
for a study of the inter-relationship
between these biotic and abiotic
components of the environment.
Functions of the Environment: The
environment performs four vital
functions (i) it supplies resources:
resources here include both renewable
and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are those which
can be used without the possibility of
the resource becoming depleted or
exhausted. That is, a continuous
supply of the resource remains
available. Examples of renewable
resources are the trees in the forests and
the fishes in the ocean. Non-renewable
resources, on the other hand, are those
which get exhausted with extraction
and use,  for example, fossil fuel (ii) it
assimilates waste (iii) it sustains life by
providing genetic and bio diversity and
(iv) it also provides aesthetic services
like scenery etc.
The environment is able to perform
these functions without any interruption
as long as the demand on these
The environment, left to itself, can continue to support life for millions of
years. The single most unstable and potentially disruptive element in the
scheme is the human species. Human beings, with modern technology, have
the capacity to bring about, intentionally or unintentionally, far-reaching
and irreversible changes in the enviornment.
Anonymous
2020-21
164 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Work These Out
Ø Why has water become an economic commodity? Discuss.
Ø Fill in the following table with some common types of diseases and illnesses
that are caused due to air, water and noise pollution.
functions is within its carrying
capacity. This implies that the resource
extraction is not above the rate of
regeneration of the resource and the
wastes generated are within the
assimilating capacity of the
environment. When this is not so, the
environment fails to perform its third
and vital function of life sustenance and
this results in an
environmental crisis. This
is the situation today
all over the world. The
rising population of the
developing countries and
the affluent consumption
and production standards
of the developed world have
placed a huge stress on the
environment in terms of its
first two functions. Many
resources have become
extinct and the wastes
generated are beyond the
absorptive capacity of the
environment. Absorptive
capacity means the ability
of the environment to
absorb degradation. The result — we
are today at the threshold of
environmental crisis. The past
development has polluted and dried up
rivers and other aquifers making water
an economic good. Besides, the
intensive and extensive extraction of
both renewable and non-renewable
resources has exhausted some of these
Air Pollution Water Pollution Noise Pollution
Asthma Cholera
Fig. 9.1 Water bodies: small, snow-fed Himalayan streams are
the few fresh-water sources that remain unpolluted.
2020-21
165 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
vital resources and we are compelled
to spend huge amounts on technology
and research to explore new resources.
Added to these are the health costs of
degraded environmental quality —
decline in air and water quality (seventy
per cent of water in India is polluted)
have resulted in increased incidence of
respiratory  and water-borne diseases.
Hence the expenditure on health is also
rising. To make matters worse, global
environmental issues such as global
warming and ozone depletion also
contribute to increased financial
commitments for the government.
Box 9.1: Global Warming
Global warming is a gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s
lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the
Industrial Revolution. Much of the recent observed and projected global
warming is human-induced. It is caused by man-made increases in carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and
deforestation. Adding carbon dioxide, methane and such other gases (that
have the potential to absorb heat) to the atmosphere with no other changes
will make our planet’s surface warmer. The atmospheric concentrations of
carbon dioxide and CH
4
 have increased by 31 per cent and 149 per cent
respectively above pre-industrial levels since 1750. During the past century,
the atmospheric temperature has risen by 1.1°F (0.6°C) and sea level has
risen several inches. Some of the longer-term results of global warming are
melting of polar ice with a resulting rise in sea level and coastal flooding;
disruption of drinking water supplies dependent on snow melts; extinction of
species as ecological niches disappear; more frequent tropical storms; and an
increased incidence of tropical diseases.
Among factors that may be contributing to global warming are the burning
of coal and petroleum products (sources of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous
oxide, ozone); deforestation, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere; methane gas released in animal waste; and increased cattle
production, which contributes to deforestation, methane production, and use
of fossil fuels. A UN Conference on Climate Change, held in Kyoto, Japan, in
1997, resulted in an international agreement to fight global warming which
called for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialised nations.
 Source: www.wikipedia.org
Thus, it is clear that the opportunity
costs of negative environmental
impacts are high.
The biggest question that arises is:
are environmental problems new to this
century? If so, why? The answer to this
question requires some elaboration. In
the early days when civilisation just
began, or before this phenomenal
increase in population, and before
countries took to industrialisation, the
demand for environmental resources
and services was much less than their
supply. This meant that pollution was
within the absorptive capacity of the
2020-21
Page 5


162 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 After studying this chapter, the learners will
? understand the concept of environment
? analyse the causes and effects of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘resource
depletion’
? understand the nature of environmental challenges facing India
? relate environmental issues to the larger context of sustainable
development.
ENVIRONMENT AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9
2020-21
163 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.1 INTRODUCTION
In the earlier chapters we have
discussed the main economic issues
faced by the Indian economy. The
economic development that we have
achieved so far has come at a very heavy
price—at the cost of environmental
quality. As we step into an era of
globalisation that promises higher
economic growth, we have to bear in
mind the adverse consequences of the
past developmental path on our
environment and consciously choose a
path of sustainable development. To
understand the unsustainable path of
development that we have taken and
the challenges of sustainable
development, we have to first
understand the significance and
contribution of environment to
economic development. With this in
mind, this chapter is divided into three
sections. The first part deals with the
functions and role of environment. The
second section discusses the state of
India’s environment and the third
section deals with steps and strategies
to achieve sustainable development.
9.2  ENVIRONMENT — DEFINITION AND
FUNCTIONS
Environment is defined as the total
planetary inheritance and the totality
of all resources. It includes all the biotic
and abiotic factors that influence each
other. While all living elements—the
birds, animals and plants, forests,
fisheries etc.—are biotic elements,
abiotic elements include air, water, land
etc. Rocks and sunlight are examples
of abiotic elements of the environment.
A study of the environment then calls
for a study of the inter-relationship
between these biotic and abiotic
components of the environment.
Functions of the Environment: The
environment performs four vital
functions (i) it supplies resources:
resources here include both renewable
and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are those which
can be used without the possibility of
the resource becoming depleted or
exhausted. That is, a continuous
supply of the resource remains
available. Examples of renewable
resources are the trees in the forests and
the fishes in the ocean. Non-renewable
resources, on the other hand, are those
which get exhausted with extraction
and use,  for example, fossil fuel (ii) it
assimilates waste (iii) it sustains life by
providing genetic and bio diversity and
(iv) it also provides aesthetic services
like scenery etc.
The environment is able to perform
these functions without any interruption
as long as the demand on these
The environment, left to itself, can continue to support life for millions of
years. The single most unstable and potentially disruptive element in the
scheme is the human species. Human beings, with modern technology, have
the capacity to bring about, intentionally or unintentionally, far-reaching
and irreversible changes in the enviornment.
Anonymous
2020-21
164 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Work These Out
Ø Why has water become an economic commodity? Discuss.
Ø Fill in the following table with some common types of diseases and illnesses
that are caused due to air, water and noise pollution.
functions is within its carrying
capacity. This implies that the resource
extraction is not above the rate of
regeneration of the resource and the
wastes generated are within the
assimilating capacity of the
environment. When this is not so, the
environment fails to perform its third
and vital function of life sustenance and
this results in an
environmental crisis. This
is the situation today
all over the world. The
rising population of the
developing countries and
the affluent consumption
and production standards
of the developed world have
placed a huge stress on the
environment in terms of its
first two functions. Many
resources have become
extinct and the wastes
generated are beyond the
absorptive capacity of the
environment. Absorptive
capacity means the ability
of the environment to
absorb degradation. The result — we
are today at the threshold of
environmental crisis. The past
development has polluted and dried up
rivers and other aquifers making water
an economic good. Besides, the
intensive and extensive extraction of
both renewable and non-renewable
resources has exhausted some of these
Air Pollution Water Pollution Noise Pollution
Asthma Cholera
Fig. 9.1 Water bodies: small, snow-fed Himalayan streams are
the few fresh-water sources that remain unpolluted.
2020-21
165 ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
vital resources and we are compelled
to spend huge amounts on technology
and research to explore new resources.
Added to these are the health costs of
degraded environmental quality —
decline in air and water quality (seventy
per cent of water in India is polluted)
have resulted in increased incidence of
respiratory  and water-borne diseases.
Hence the expenditure on health is also
rising. To make matters worse, global
environmental issues such as global
warming and ozone depletion also
contribute to increased financial
commitments for the government.
Box 9.1: Global Warming
Global warming is a gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s
lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the
Industrial Revolution. Much of the recent observed and projected global
warming is human-induced. It is caused by man-made increases in carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and
deforestation. Adding carbon dioxide, methane and such other gases (that
have the potential to absorb heat) to the atmosphere with no other changes
will make our planet’s surface warmer. The atmospheric concentrations of
carbon dioxide and CH
4
 have increased by 31 per cent and 149 per cent
respectively above pre-industrial levels since 1750. During the past century,
the atmospheric temperature has risen by 1.1°F (0.6°C) and sea level has
risen several inches. Some of the longer-term results of global warming are
melting of polar ice with a resulting rise in sea level and coastal flooding;
disruption of drinking water supplies dependent on snow melts; extinction of
species as ecological niches disappear; more frequent tropical storms; and an
increased incidence of tropical diseases.
Among factors that may be contributing to global warming are the burning
of coal and petroleum products (sources of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous
oxide, ozone); deforestation, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere; methane gas released in animal waste; and increased cattle
production, which contributes to deforestation, methane production, and use
of fossil fuels. A UN Conference on Climate Change, held in Kyoto, Japan, in
1997, resulted in an international agreement to fight global warming which
called for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialised nations.
 Source: www.wikipedia.org
Thus, it is clear that the opportunity
costs of negative environmental
impacts are high.
The biggest question that arises is:
are environmental problems new to this
century? If so, why? The answer to this
question requires some elaboration. In
the early days when civilisation just
began, or before this phenomenal
increase in population, and before
countries took to industrialisation, the
demand for environmental resources
and services was much less than their
supply. This meant that pollution was
within the absorptive capacity of the
2020-21
166 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Box 9.2: Ozone Depletion
Ozone depletion refers to the phenomenon of reductions in the amount of ozone
in the stratosphere. The problem of ozone depletion is caused by high levels
of chlorine and bromine compounds in the stratosphere. The origins of these
compounds are chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), used as cooling substances in air-
conditioners and refrigerators, or as aerosol propellants, and
bromofluorocarbons (halons), used in fire extinguishers. As a result of depletion
of the ozone layer, more ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes to Earth and causes
damage to living organisms. UV radiation seems responsible for skin cancer
in humans; it also lowers production of phytoplankton and thus affects other
aquatic organisms. It can also influence the growth of terrestrial plants. A
reduction of approximately 5 per cent in the ozone layer was detected from
1979 to 1990. Since the ozone layer prevents most harmful wavelengths of
ultraviolet light from passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, observed and
projected decreases in ozone have generated worldwide concern. This led to
the adoption of the Montreal Protocol banning the use of chlorofluorocarbon
(CFC) compounds, as well as other ozone depleting chemicals such as carbon
tetrachloride, trichloroethane (also known as methyl chloroform), and bromine
compounds known as halons.
Source: www.ceu.hu
environment and the rate of resource
extraction was less than the rate of
regeneration of these resources. Hence
environmental problems did not arise.
But with population explosion and with
the advent of industrial revolution
to meet the growing needs of the
expanding population, things
changed. The result was that the
demand for resources for both
production and consumption
went beyond the rate of
regeneration of the resources; the
pressure on the absorptive
capacity of the environment
increased tremendously — this
trend continues even today. Thus
what has happened is a reversal
of supply-demand relationship
for environmental quality — we
are now faced with increased
demand for environmental
resources and services but their
supply is limited due to overuse
Fig. 9.2 Damodar Valley is one of  India’s most
industrialised regions. Pollutants from the  heavy
industries along the banks of the Damodar river
are converting it into an ecological disaster
2020-21
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