A new United Nations report recently revealed that the earth’s protective ozone layer, which is responsible for shielding us from sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, is finally starting to recover.
The reason for the rapid depletion of ozone layer was CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), the chemicals widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners. These chemicals resulted in a massive hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica and the damage was poised to spread further north. Without the protective layer, more people would be exposed to the harmful UV rays increasing the risks for skin cancer. When the experts found the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer in the 1970s, world leaders agreed to phase out the CFCs under the 1987 Montreal Protocol despite the industry warnings that abolishing the chemicals would impose steep costs. Without the Montreal Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050.
Extreme climatic changes are another threat to be brought in control. There has been a surge in the concentration of green house gases like carbon dioxide and methane which lead an increase in global warming. UN has warned about the drastic changes in the climate and would be holding a climate summit organized by the Secretary General, Ban Ki- moon in New York on September 23 to discuss the issue. The World Meteorological Department urges the international community to take a concentrated action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change blamed mainly on human activities like burning of fossil fuels.
The devastating Kashmir floods were compared to the Uttarakhand floods, better known as the Himalayan tsunami which claimed the lives of thousands. More than 200 people in India and the adjoining areas of Pakistan were killed in the heavy floods and landslides which hit the Jammu and Kashmir region and were triggered by torrential rainfall. Union minister of state for environment Prakash Javadekar had said that development projects would not be halted because of the environment clearance stressing that the government would be taking care of the environment.
The Minister’s remark is not acceptable since environmental changes should be evaluated and analysed before pushing for the development procedures. The forest and wild life protection acts should be preserved properly and the Gadgil Committee report, which was criticised for being more environment-friendly and not in tune with the ground realities, should be reassessed. The nature and the environment should be preserved and taken care of for any slight damage of these would harm the humanity as a whole. Over population and technology had brought about the degrading of the environment, sometimes permanently. Let the Uttarakhand and Kashmir floods be our driving force to halt the human activities that destroy the atmosphere and the earth we live in. Efforts should be initiated not only by the government but also by the people along with stringent law enforcement.