NCERT Textbook - Environment and Natural Resources Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 12

Created by: Uk Tiwary

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Environment and Natural Resources Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


OVERVIEW
This chapter examines the growing
significance of environmental as well
as resource issues in world politics.
It analyses in a comparative
perspective some of the important
environmental movements against
the backdrop of the rising profile of
environmentalism from the 1960s
onwards. Notions of common
property resources and the global
commons too are assessed. We also
discuss, in brief, the stand taken by
India in more recent environmental
debates. Next follows a brief account
of the geopolitics of resource
competition. We conclude by taking
note of the indigenous peoples’
voices and concerns from the
margins of contemporary world
politics.
Chapter 8
Environment and
Natural Resources
The 1992 Earth Summit has brought environmental issues to
the centre-stage of global politics. The pictures above show
rainforest and mangroves.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


OVERVIEW
This chapter examines the growing
significance of environmental as well
as resource issues in world politics.
It analyses in a comparative
perspective some of the important
environmental movements against
the backdrop of the rising profile of
environmentalism from the 1960s
onwards. Notions of common
property resources and the global
commons too are assessed. We also
discuss, in brief, the stand taken by
India in more recent environmental
debates. Next follows a brief account
of the geopolitics of resource
competition. We conclude by taking
note of the indigenous peoples’
voices and concerns from the
margins of contemporary world
politics.
Chapter 8
Environment and
Natural Resources
The 1992 Earth Summit has brought environmental issues to
the centre-stage of global politics. The pictures above show
rainforest and mangroves.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
118
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
IN GLOBAL POLITICS
In this book we have discussed
‘world politics’ in a fairly limited
sense: wars and treaties, rise and
decline of state power, the
relationship between the
governments that represent their
countries in the international
arena and the role of inter-
governmental organisations. In
Chapter 7, we expanded the scope
of world politics to include issues
like poverty and epidemics. That
may not have been a very difficult
step to take, for we all think that
governments are responsible for
controlling these. In that sense
they fall within the scope of world
politics. Now consider some other
issues. Do you think they fall
within the scope of contemporary
world politics?
Throughout the world,
cultivable area is barely
expanding any more, and a
substantial portion of existing
agricultural land is losing
fertility. Grasslands have been
overgrazed and fisheries over-
harvested. Water bodies have
suffered extensive depletion
and pollution, severely
restricting food production.
According to the Human
Development Report 2006 of the
United Nations Development
Programme, 1.2 billion people
in developing countries have no
access to safe water and 2.6
billion have no access to
sanitation, resulting in the
death of more than three
million children every year.
Natural forests — which help
stabilise the climate, moderate
water supplies, and harbour
a majority of the planet’s
biodiversity on land—are
being cut down and people are
being displaced. The loss of
biodiversity continues due to
the destruction of habitat in
areas which are rich in
species.
A steady decline in the total
amount of ozone in the Earth’s
stratosphere (commonly
referred to as the ozone hole)
poses a real danger to
ecosystems and human
health.
Coastal pollution too is
increasing globally. Although
the open sea is relatively clean,
the coastal waters are
Politics in forests,
politics in water,
politics in
atmosphere! What is
not political then?
Around the Aral Sea, thousands of people have had to leave their
homes as the toxic waters have totally destroyed the fishing  industry.
The shipping industry and all related activities have collapsed.
Rising concentrations of salt in the soil have caused low crop  yields.
Numerous studies have been conducted. In fact locals joke that if
everyone who’d come to study the Aral had brought a bucket of
water, the sea would be full by now. Source: www.gobartimes.org
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


OVERVIEW
This chapter examines the growing
significance of environmental as well
as resource issues in world politics.
It analyses in a comparative
perspective some of the important
environmental movements against
the backdrop of the rising profile of
environmentalism from the 1960s
onwards. Notions of common
property resources and the global
commons too are assessed. We also
discuss, in brief, the stand taken by
India in more recent environmental
debates. Next follows a brief account
of the geopolitics of resource
competition. We conclude by taking
note of the indigenous peoples’
voices and concerns from the
margins of contemporary world
politics.
Chapter 8
Environment and
Natural Resources
The 1992 Earth Summit has brought environmental issues to
the centre-stage of global politics. The pictures above show
rainforest and mangroves.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
118
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
IN GLOBAL POLITICS
In this book we have discussed
‘world politics’ in a fairly limited
sense: wars and treaties, rise and
decline of state power, the
relationship between the
governments that represent their
countries in the international
arena and the role of inter-
governmental organisations. In
Chapter 7, we expanded the scope
of world politics to include issues
like poverty and epidemics. That
may not have been a very difficult
step to take, for we all think that
governments are responsible for
controlling these. In that sense
they fall within the scope of world
politics. Now consider some other
issues. Do you think they fall
within the scope of contemporary
world politics?
Throughout the world,
cultivable area is barely
expanding any more, and a
substantial portion of existing
agricultural land is losing
fertility. Grasslands have been
overgrazed and fisheries over-
harvested. Water bodies have
suffered extensive depletion
and pollution, severely
restricting food production.
According to the Human
Development Report 2006 of the
United Nations Development
Programme, 1.2 billion people
in developing countries have no
access to safe water and 2.6
billion have no access to
sanitation, resulting in the
death of more than three
million children every year.
Natural forests — which help
stabilise the climate, moderate
water supplies, and harbour
a majority of the planet’s
biodiversity on land—are
being cut down and people are
being displaced. The loss of
biodiversity continues due to
the destruction of habitat in
areas which are rich in
species.
A steady decline in the total
amount of ozone in the Earth’s
stratosphere (commonly
referred to as the ozone hole)
poses a real danger to
ecosystems and human
health.
Coastal pollution too is
increasing globally. Although
the open sea is relatively clean,
the coastal waters are
Politics in forests,
politics in water,
politics in
atmosphere! What is
not political then?
Around the Aral Sea, thousands of people have had to leave their
homes as the toxic waters have totally destroyed the fishing  industry.
The shipping industry and all related activities have collapsed.
Rising concentrations of salt in the soil have caused low crop  yields.
Numerous studies have been conducted. In fact locals joke that if
everyone who’d come to study the Aral had brought a bucket of
water, the sea would be full by now. Source: www.gobartimes.org
© NCERT
not to be republished
119
Environment and Natural Resources
becoming increasingly polluted
largely due to land-based
activities. If unchecked,
intensive human settlement of
coastal zones across the globe
will lead to further
deterioration in the quality of
marine environment.
You might ask are we not
talking here about ‘natural
phenomena’ that should be studied
in geography rather than in political
science. But think about it again.
If the various governments take
steps to check environmental
degradation of the kind mentioned
above, these issues will have
political consequences in that
sense. Most of them are such that
no single government can address
them fully. Therefore they have to
become part of ‘world politics’. Issues
of environment and natural
resources are political in another
deeper sense. Who causes
environmental degradation? Who
pays the price? And who is
responsible for taking corrective
action? Who gets to use how much
of the natural resources of the
Earth? All these raise the issue of
who wields how much power. They
are, therefore, deeply political
questions.
Although environmental
concerns have a long history,
awareness of the environmental
consequences of economic growth
acquired an increasingly political
character from the 1960s onwards.
The Club of Rome, a global think
tank, published a book in 1972
entitled Limits to Growth,
dramatising the potential depletion
of the Earth’s resources against the
backdrop of rapidly growing world
population. International agencies,
including the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP),
began holding international
conferences and promoting
detailed studies to get a more
coordinated and effective response
to environmental problems. Since
then, the environment has
emerged as a significant issue of
global politics.
 The growing focus on
environmental issues within the
arena of global politics was firmly
consolidated at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and
Development held in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992.
This was also called the Earth
Summit. The summit was
Collect news
clippings on
reports
linking
environment
and politics
in your own
locality.
Global Warming © Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
Why do you think the fingers are designed like chimneys and the
world made into a lighter?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


OVERVIEW
This chapter examines the growing
significance of environmental as well
as resource issues in world politics.
It analyses in a comparative
perspective some of the important
environmental movements against
the backdrop of the rising profile of
environmentalism from the 1960s
onwards. Notions of common
property resources and the global
commons too are assessed. We also
discuss, in brief, the stand taken by
India in more recent environmental
debates. Next follows a brief account
of the geopolitics of resource
competition. We conclude by taking
note of the indigenous peoples’
voices and concerns from the
margins of contemporary world
politics.
Chapter 8
Environment and
Natural Resources
The 1992 Earth Summit has brought environmental issues to
the centre-stage of global politics. The pictures above show
rainforest and mangroves.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
118
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
IN GLOBAL POLITICS
In this book we have discussed
‘world politics’ in a fairly limited
sense: wars and treaties, rise and
decline of state power, the
relationship between the
governments that represent their
countries in the international
arena and the role of inter-
governmental organisations. In
Chapter 7, we expanded the scope
of world politics to include issues
like poverty and epidemics. That
may not have been a very difficult
step to take, for we all think that
governments are responsible for
controlling these. In that sense
they fall within the scope of world
politics. Now consider some other
issues. Do you think they fall
within the scope of contemporary
world politics?
Throughout the world,
cultivable area is barely
expanding any more, and a
substantial portion of existing
agricultural land is losing
fertility. Grasslands have been
overgrazed and fisheries over-
harvested. Water bodies have
suffered extensive depletion
and pollution, severely
restricting food production.
According to the Human
Development Report 2006 of the
United Nations Development
Programme, 1.2 billion people
in developing countries have no
access to safe water and 2.6
billion have no access to
sanitation, resulting in the
death of more than three
million children every year.
Natural forests — which help
stabilise the climate, moderate
water supplies, and harbour
a majority of the planet’s
biodiversity on land—are
being cut down and people are
being displaced. The loss of
biodiversity continues due to
the destruction of habitat in
areas which are rich in
species.
A steady decline in the total
amount of ozone in the Earth’s
stratosphere (commonly
referred to as the ozone hole)
poses a real danger to
ecosystems and human
health.
Coastal pollution too is
increasing globally. Although
the open sea is relatively clean,
the coastal waters are
Politics in forests,
politics in water,
politics in
atmosphere! What is
not political then?
Around the Aral Sea, thousands of people have had to leave their
homes as the toxic waters have totally destroyed the fishing  industry.
The shipping industry and all related activities have collapsed.
Rising concentrations of salt in the soil have caused low crop  yields.
Numerous studies have been conducted. In fact locals joke that if
everyone who’d come to study the Aral had brought a bucket of
water, the sea would be full by now. Source: www.gobartimes.org
© NCERT
not to be republished
119
Environment and Natural Resources
becoming increasingly polluted
largely due to land-based
activities. If unchecked,
intensive human settlement of
coastal zones across the globe
will lead to further
deterioration in the quality of
marine environment.
You might ask are we not
talking here about ‘natural
phenomena’ that should be studied
in geography rather than in political
science. But think about it again.
If the various governments take
steps to check environmental
degradation of the kind mentioned
above, these issues will have
political consequences in that
sense. Most of them are such that
no single government can address
them fully. Therefore they have to
become part of ‘world politics’. Issues
of environment and natural
resources are political in another
deeper sense. Who causes
environmental degradation? Who
pays the price? And who is
responsible for taking corrective
action? Who gets to use how much
of the natural resources of the
Earth? All these raise the issue of
who wields how much power. They
are, therefore, deeply political
questions.
Although environmental
concerns have a long history,
awareness of the environmental
consequences of economic growth
acquired an increasingly political
character from the 1960s onwards.
The Club of Rome, a global think
tank, published a book in 1972
entitled Limits to Growth,
dramatising the potential depletion
of the Earth’s resources against the
backdrop of rapidly growing world
population. International agencies,
including the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP),
began holding international
conferences and promoting
detailed studies to get a more
coordinated and effective response
to environmental problems. Since
then, the environment has
emerged as a significant issue of
global politics.
 The growing focus on
environmental issues within the
arena of global politics was firmly
consolidated at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and
Development held in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992.
This was also called the Earth
Summit. The summit was
Collect news
clippings on
reports
linking
environment
and politics
in your own
locality.
Global Warming © Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
Why do you think the fingers are designed like chimneys and the
world made into a lighter?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
120
attended by 170 states, thousands
of NGOs and many multinational
corporations. Five years earlier,
the 1987 Brundtland Report, Our
Common Future, had warned that
traditional patterns of economic
growth were not sustainable in the
long term, especially in view of the
demands of the South for further
industrial development. What was
obvious at the Rio Summit was
that the rich and developed
countries of the First World,
generally referred to as the ‘global
North’ were pursuing a different
environmental agenda than the
poor and developing countries of
the Third World, called the ‘global
South’. Whereas the Northern
states were concerned with ozone
depletion and global warming, the
Southern states were anxious to
address the relationship between
economic development and
environmental management.
The Rio Summit produced
conventions dealing with climate
change, biodiversity, forestry, and
recommended a list of development
practices called ‘Agenda 21’. But
it left unresolved considerable
differences and difficulties. There
was a consensus on combining
economic growth with ecological
responsibility. This approach to
development is commonly known as
‘sustainable development’. The
problem however was how exactly
this was to be achieved. Some
critics have pointed out that
Agenda 21 was biased in favour of
economic growth rather than
ensuring ecological conservation.
Let us look at some of the
contentious issues in the global
politics of environment.
THE PROTECTION OF GLOBAL
COMMONS
‘Commons’ are those resources
which are not owned by anyone
but rather shared by a community.
This could be a ‘common room’, a
‘community centre’, a park or a
river. Similarly, there are some
Are there different perspectives from which the rich and the poor
countries agree to protect the Earth?
© Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


OVERVIEW
This chapter examines the growing
significance of environmental as well
as resource issues in world politics.
It analyses in a comparative
perspective some of the important
environmental movements against
the backdrop of the rising profile of
environmentalism from the 1960s
onwards. Notions of common
property resources and the global
commons too are assessed. We also
discuss, in brief, the stand taken by
India in more recent environmental
debates. Next follows a brief account
of the geopolitics of resource
competition. We conclude by taking
note of the indigenous peoples’
voices and concerns from the
margins of contemporary world
politics.
Chapter 8
Environment and
Natural Resources
The 1992 Earth Summit has brought environmental issues to
the centre-stage of global politics. The pictures above show
rainforest and mangroves.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
118
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
IN GLOBAL POLITICS
In this book we have discussed
‘world politics’ in a fairly limited
sense: wars and treaties, rise and
decline of state power, the
relationship between the
governments that represent their
countries in the international
arena and the role of inter-
governmental organisations. In
Chapter 7, we expanded the scope
of world politics to include issues
like poverty and epidemics. That
may not have been a very difficult
step to take, for we all think that
governments are responsible for
controlling these. In that sense
they fall within the scope of world
politics. Now consider some other
issues. Do you think they fall
within the scope of contemporary
world politics?
Throughout the world,
cultivable area is barely
expanding any more, and a
substantial portion of existing
agricultural land is losing
fertility. Grasslands have been
overgrazed and fisheries over-
harvested. Water bodies have
suffered extensive depletion
and pollution, severely
restricting food production.
According to the Human
Development Report 2006 of the
United Nations Development
Programme, 1.2 billion people
in developing countries have no
access to safe water and 2.6
billion have no access to
sanitation, resulting in the
death of more than three
million children every year.
Natural forests — which help
stabilise the climate, moderate
water supplies, and harbour
a majority of the planet’s
biodiversity on land—are
being cut down and people are
being displaced. The loss of
biodiversity continues due to
the destruction of habitat in
areas which are rich in
species.
A steady decline in the total
amount of ozone in the Earth’s
stratosphere (commonly
referred to as the ozone hole)
poses a real danger to
ecosystems and human
health.
Coastal pollution too is
increasing globally. Although
the open sea is relatively clean,
the coastal waters are
Politics in forests,
politics in water,
politics in
atmosphere! What is
not political then?
Around the Aral Sea, thousands of people have had to leave their
homes as the toxic waters have totally destroyed the fishing  industry.
The shipping industry and all related activities have collapsed.
Rising concentrations of salt in the soil have caused low crop  yields.
Numerous studies have been conducted. In fact locals joke that if
everyone who’d come to study the Aral had brought a bucket of
water, the sea would be full by now. Source: www.gobartimes.org
© NCERT
not to be republished
119
Environment and Natural Resources
becoming increasingly polluted
largely due to land-based
activities. If unchecked,
intensive human settlement of
coastal zones across the globe
will lead to further
deterioration in the quality of
marine environment.
You might ask are we not
talking here about ‘natural
phenomena’ that should be studied
in geography rather than in political
science. But think about it again.
If the various governments take
steps to check environmental
degradation of the kind mentioned
above, these issues will have
political consequences in that
sense. Most of them are such that
no single government can address
them fully. Therefore they have to
become part of ‘world politics’. Issues
of environment and natural
resources are political in another
deeper sense. Who causes
environmental degradation? Who
pays the price? And who is
responsible for taking corrective
action? Who gets to use how much
of the natural resources of the
Earth? All these raise the issue of
who wields how much power. They
are, therefore, deeply political
questions.
Although environmental
concerns have a long history,
awareness of the environmental
consequences of economic growth
acquired an increasingly political
character from the 1960s onwards.
The Club of Rome, a global think
tank, published a book in 1972
entitled Limits to Growth,
dramatising the potential depletion
of the Earth’s resources against the
backdrop of rapidly growing world
population. International agencies,
including the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP),
began holding international
conferences and promoting
detailed studies to get a more
coordinated and effective response
to environmental problems. Since
then, the environment has
emerged as a significant issue of
global politics.
 The growing focus on
environmental issues within the
arena of global politics was firmly
consolidated at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and
Development held in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992.
This was also called the Earth
Summit. The summit was
Collect news
clippings on
reports
linking
environment
and politics
in your own
locality.
Global Warming © Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
Why do you think the fingers are designed like chimneys and the
world made into a lighter?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
120
attended by 170 states, thousands
of NGOs and many multinational
corporations. Five years earlier,
the 1987 Brundtland Report, Our
Common Future, had warned that
traditional patterns of economic
growth were not sustainable in the
long term, especially in view of the
demands of the South for further
industrial development. What was
obvious at the Rio Summit was
that the rich and developed
countries of the First World,
generally referred to as the ‘global
North’ were pursuing a different
environmental agenda than the
poor and developing countries of
the Third World, called the ‘global
South’. Whereas the Northern
states were concerned with ozone
depletion and global warming, the
Southern states were anxious to
address the relationship between
economic development and
environmental management.
The Rio Summit produced
conventions dealing with climate
change, biodiversity, forestry, and
recommended a list of development
practices called ‘Agenda 21’. But
it left unresolved considerable
differences and difficulties. There
was a consensus on combining
economic growth with ecological
responsibility. This approach to
development is commonly known as
‘sustainable development’. The
problem however was how exactly
this was to be achieved. Some
critics have pointed out that
Agenda 21 was biased in favour of
economic growth rather than
ensuring ecological conservation.
Let us look at some of the
contentious issues in the global
politics of environment.
THE PROTECTION OF GLOBAL
COMMONS
‘Commons’ are those resources
which are not owned by anyone
but rather shared by a community.
This could be a ‘common room’, a
‘community centre’, a park or a
river. Similarly, there are some
Are there different perspectives from which the rich and the poor
countries agree to protect the Earth?
© Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
© NCERT
not to be republished
121
Environment and Natural Resources
areas or regions of the world which
are located outside the sovereign
jurisdiction of any one state, and
therefore require common
governance by the international
community. These are known as
res communis humanitatis or
global commons. They include the
earth’s atmosphere, Antarctica
(see Box), the ocean floor, and
outer space.
Cooperation over the global
commons is not easy. There have
been many path-breaking
agreements such as the 1959
Antarctic Treaty, the 1987
Montreal Protocol, and the 1991
Antarctic Environmental Protocol.
A major problem underlying all
ecological issues relates to the
difficulty of achieving consensus
on common environmental
Very soon we will
have ecological
degradation of the
moon!
The Antarctic continental region extends
over 14 million square kilometres and
comprises 26 per cent of the world’s
wilderness area, representing 90 per cent
of all terrestrial ice and 70 per cent of
planetary fresh water. The Antarctic also
extends to a further 36 million square
kilometres of ocean. It has a limited
terrestrial life and a highly productive
marine ecosystem, comprising a few plants
(e.g. microscopic algae, fungi and lichen),
marine mammals, fish and hordes of birds
adapted to harsh conditions, as well as the
krill, which is central to marine food chain
and upon which other animals are
dependent. The Antarctic plays an
important role in maintaining climatic
equilibrium, and deep ice cores provide
an important source of information about
greenhouse gas concentrations and
atmospheric temperatures of hundreds
and thousands of years ago.
Who owns this coldest, farthest, and windiest continent on globe? There are two claims about it. Some
countries like the UK, Argentina, Chile, Norway, France, Australia and New Zealand have made legal
claims to sovereign rights over Antarctic territory.  Most other states have taken the opposite view that the
Antarctic is a part of the global commons and not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of any state. These
differences, however, have not prevented the adoption of innovative and potentially far-reaching rules
for the protection of the Antarctic environment and its ecosystem. The Antarctic and the Arctic polar
regions are subjected to special regional rules of environmental protection. Since 1959, activities in the
area have been limited to scientific research, fishing and tourism. Even these limited activities have not
prevented parts of the region from being degraded by waste as a result of oil spills.
ANTARCTICA
© NCERT
not to be republished
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