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Chapter 9 - Environment and sustainable development class 12th Commerce

Meaning of Environment

Environment is the sum total of external forces which surrounds us.


Provide resources for production

Provides resources for production: Environment supply renewable and non –renewable resources.

Renewable resources are those which can be used without the possibility of the resource becoming depleted or exhausted, like trees, fishes, etc.

Non –renewable resources are those which get exhausted with extraction and use; like fossil fuel.


Environment assimilates waste

Environment Assimilates Waste: The process of production and consumption activities generates a lot of wastage, which is absorbed by the environment.


Environment sustain life

Environment sustains life: Some basic necessities of life (sun, soil, water and air) are part of environment. So, environment sustains life by providing these essential elements.


Provide aesthetic services

It provides aesthetic services: Environment -includes land, forests, water bodies, rainfall, air, atmosphere etc. People enjoy the scenic beauty of these elements (like that of hill stations). Such elements help in improving quality of life.


The environment is able to perform these functions without any interruption as long as demand on these functions is within its “Carrying Capacity”.

‘Carrying Capacity’ implies two things;

Resource extraction should remain below the rate of resource regeneration.

Generation of waste should remains within the absorption capacity of the environment.



Reason for environmental crisis

The various reasons for environmental crisis are summarized as under;

The population explosion and advent of industrial revolution has increased the demand for environmental resources, but their supply is limited due to overuse and misuse.


extinction of many resources and continuous rise in population has also resulted in environmental crisis.

Due to affluent consumption and production standards of the developed world, the wastes generated are beyond the absorptive capacity of the environment.


The development process has polluted the atmosphere and waters and there is decline in air and water quality (70 per cent of surface water in India is polluted). It has resulted in increased incidence of respiratory and water – borne diseases.


The intensive and extensive extraction of both renewable and non –renewable resources has exhausted some of the vital resources. Due to this, huge amount of money is spent on technology and research to explore new resources.


Question. What do you mean by environment? Briefly discuss its various functions.


Global Warming

An increase in the average temperature of earth’s atmosphere and oceans is known as global warming.

Causes of global warming

Increase in green house gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane in the atmosphere.


Burning of coal and petroleum product.

Deforestation which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Methane gas release in animal waste

Increased cattle production which contributes to deforestation, methane production and use of fossil fuels etc.


Effects of Global Warming

  1. Ice is melting worldwide specially at the earth’s poles. It has led to a steep rise in sea level and coastal flooding.
  2. Hurricanes and other tropical storms are likely to become stronger
  3. Increased incidence of topical diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya etc.
  4. There are thousands of species in danger of becoming an extinct forever like polar bears.

Ozone Depletion

The ozone layer or ozone shield is a region of Earth's stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation.

Ozone depletion is a major environmental problem because it increases the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reaches Earth's surface, which increases the rate of skin cancer, eye cataracts, and genetic and immune system damage.


Causes of ozone depletion

ozone depletion is caused by the high level of the chlorine and bromine compounds in the stratosphere.

Chlorofluorocarbon CFCs which is used as cooling substances in AC and refrigerators.

Bromoflurocarbon which is used in fire extinguisher.


Effect of ozone depletion


  • phytoplankton UV radiation is responsible for skin cancer in human being.
  • UV radiation lower production of phytoplankton, which affect the aquatic organisms.
  • UV radiation can also influence the growth of terrestrial plants .


Montreal Protocol

Montreal protocol is a treaty designed by the members of the union nation to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion like CFCs. Under the montreal protocol, all the signing members agreed to freeze the consumption and production of Chlorofluorocarbon  CFC’s by the year of 2013 and India signed the Montreal protocol on 17-09-1992.


State of India’s Environment Gangetic

India has abundant natural resources in terms of rich quality of soil, hundreds of rivers and tributaries, lush green forests, plenty of mineral deposits, etc.

The black soil of the Deccan Plateau is particularly suitable for cultivation of cotton, leading to concentration of textile industries in this region.

The Indo –Gangetic plains spread from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal are one of the most fertile, intensively cultivated and densely populated regions in the world.

India’s forests, though unevenly distributed, provide green cover for a majority of its population and natural cover for its population and natural cover for its wildlife.


Challenges to India environment

  • Land degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Soil erosion
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Air pollution
  • Land degaradation
  • Vegetation condition


Land Degradation

Land Degradation refers to a decline in the overall quality of soil, water or vegetation condition, commonly caused by human activities.


In India, land suffers from different types of degradation, mainly because of unstable use and inappropriate management practices.

Such kind of degradation leads to the loss of invaluable nutrients and lower food grains production.

Poor land use practices are responsible for the rapid land degradation in India.

Causes of land Degradation

Some of the factors responsible for land degradation are;

Loss of vegetation due to deforestation.

Overgrazing, i.e., grazing of natural pastures at stocking intensities above the livestock carrying capacity.

Improper crop rotation.

Improper planning and management of irrigation systems.


Shifting cultivation.

  • Deforestation
  • Soil erosion


Deforestation refers to cutting, clearing and removal of rainforest, where land is thereafter converted to a non –forest use.

Deforestation is rising at such a rapid scale that it has totally disturbed the ecological balance of the country.

The per capita forestland in the country is only 0.08 hectare against the requirement of 0.47 hectare to meet basic needs.

There are very serious and dangerous consequences of forest depletion, like chances of more floods, soil erosion, and changes in climate.


Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil.

Soil erosion takes place when the surface soil is washed away through excessive rains and floods.

Deforestation is one of the major reason for soil erosion.


As per the estimate, soil is being eroded at a rate of 5.3 billion tons a year, which is in excess of the recharge capacity. As a result, country loses 0.8 million tons of nitrogen, 1.8 million tons of phosphorous and 26.3 million tonnes of potassium every year.


The quantity of nutrients lost due to erosion each year ranges from 5.8 to 8.4 million tonnes.

India supports approximately 16 per cent of the world’s human and 20 per cent of livestock population on a mere 2.5 per cent of the world’s geographical area. The high density of population and livestock and the competing uses of land for forestry, agriculture, pastures, human settlements and industries, exert an enormous pressure on the country’s finite land resources.


Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part.

Conservation and sustainable, use of biodiversity is fundamental to ecologically sustainable development.

many plant and animal species are severally threatened by the destruction of their habitat and over –explosion of resources. So, there is an immediate need for biodiversity conservation.


Air Pollution

Air pollution is the presence of materials in air in such concentration, which are harmful to man and the environment.

In India, air pollution is widespread in urban areas where vehicles are the major contributors, and in a few other areas, which have a high concentration of industries and thermal power plants.

The number of motor vehicles increased from 3 lakh in 1951 to 6.7 crores in 2003 and 14.18 crores in 2011. Personal transport vehicles (two –wheeler vehicles and cars only) constitute about 80 per cent of the total number of registered vehicles, thus, contributing significantly to total air pollution load.

India is one of the ten most industrialized nations of the world. However, this achievement comes with unwanted and unanticipated consequences like unplanned urbanization, pollution and the risk of accidents. The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) has identified 17 categories of industries (large and medium scale) as significantly polluting.

Some Ways to Control Air Pollution         


Promotion of public transport like use of Delhi Metro instead of private vehicles. Steps should be taken for effective traffic planning and management.


Promotion of cleaner fuels in vehicles, like use of CNG instead of petrol and diesel.

Use of cleaner fuels such as LPG in households to reduce indoor air pollution.


Mark Question

1. --------------- is the main reason for soil erosion

  1. ozone depletion
  2. air pollution
  3. deforestation
  4. none of the above

Answer - c deforestation

Which one of the following is a cause of land degradation?

  1. loss of vegetation due to deforestation
  2. overgrazing
  3. enroachment into forest lands
  4. all of these

Answer d all of these


Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the idea that human societies must live and meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The basic aim of sustainable development is to ensure that present generation should leave stock of “Quality of life” for the next generation, which is no less than what we have inherited.

Environmentalists have used the term ‘Sustainability’ in an attempt to clarify the desired balance between economic growth on one hand and environmental preservation on the other.

The term ‘sustainable development’ has its origin in the International Union for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IUCN) 1980 World Commission Strategy report.

According to the commission, sustainable development refers to the development that meets the need for the present, without compromising the ability of future generations, to meet their own needs.

Sustainable development is a development, which:

  1. Meets the basic needs like energy, water, housing employment, food etc., of all the people particularly poor people.
  2. Ensures growth of agriculture, manufacturing and service sector, to meet their needs. 


How to Achieve Sustainable Development

  • Restrict use of renewable resources
  • Substitute non-renewable with renewable resources
  • Become Input efficient
  • Control Pollution
  • Control the growth of population


Restrict use of renewable resources

Renewable resources should not be extracted on a sustainable basis it means rate of extraction should not exceed rate of regeneration.


Substitute Non-Renewable with Renewable Resources

Non-renewable resources rate of depletion should not exceed the rate of creation of renewable substitutes. technological progress should be input efficient and not input consuming


Control Pollution-

Inefficiencies arising from pollution should be corrected.


Control the growth of population-

Human population should be controlled to a level which is within the carrying capacity of the environment.


Strategies of Sustainable Development

  • Use of Non- Conventional Source of Energy
  • Use of cleanser fuel
  • Establishment of mini -hydel plants
  • Traditional knowledge and practices
  • Use of bio compost
  • Control of biopest
  • Change in unsatainable patterns of consumption and production
  • Use of non -conventional source of energy …


Use of Non-conventional Sources of Energy: India, is hugely dependent on thermal and hydro power plants to meet its power needs. Both of these have adverse environmental impacts. Thermal power plants emit large quantities of carbon dioxide which is a green house gas. It also produces fly ash which, if not used properly, can cause pollution of water bodies, land and other components of the environment.

Non conventional sources like Wind power and solar rays are cleaner and greener energy sources but are not yet been explored on a large scale due to lack of technological devices.


Use of Cleanser Fuel

LPG, Gobar Gas in Rural Areas: Households in rural areas generally use wood, dung cake or other biomass as fuel. This practice has several adverse implications like deforestation, reduction in green cover, wastage of cattle dung and air pollution. To overcome this problem use of LPG and Gobar gas is being promoted as they are cleaner fuels and helps in reducing household pollution to a large extent


Establishment Of Mini -Hydel Plants

In mountainous regions, streams can be found almost everywhere. Mini-hydel plants use the energy of such streams to move small turbines. The turbines generate electricity which can be used locally. Such power plants are more or less environment-friendly as they do not change the land use pattern in areas where they are located; they generate enough power to meet local demands.


Traditional Knowledge and Practices

Traditionally, Indian people have been close to their environment and demand for irrigation has been going up year after year. All practices relating to agriculture system healthcare system, housing, transport etc., used to be environment friendly. The shift from the traditional system has caused a large-scale damage to the environment and to our rural heritage. This system should be adopted to Avoid environmental loss.


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