Friday, June 11, 2010

Eco literacy abysmally low

Eco literacy abysmally low

Only 3.5% of city population is aware of the degradation of environment

Comprehensive conservation strategies are needed for sustainable management of our forests, lakes, rivers and grasslands at regional, national and global levels

Dr TV Ramachandra. Bangalore



A survey carried out recently in Bangalore on environmental awareness among residents brings out revealing facts. In the Garden City of India, only 3.5% of sampled population possesses environmental literacy. As pollution in the city increases day by day, it has become necessary for Bangaloreans to be environmentally literate.
To realise this vision, ecological and environmental education must become a fundamental part of the education system at all levels of education. Coupled with these, scientific and social-scientific expertise is to be augmented to develop and promote eco-friendly technologies in energy, water management, housing, and transportation. Currently, it is even more critical than ever before for the humankind as a whole to have a clear understanding of environmental concerns and to follow sustainable development practices.
The degradation of our environment is linked to unplanned urbanisation (632% increase during four decades in Bangalore), enhanced levels of pollution, lack of appropriate regulatory measures to mitigate pollution, loss of vegetation (78% during four decades), encroachment of lakes, disappearance of lakes (79% loss during four decades), removal of green cover, indiscriminate disposal of solid waste, and issues related to food as well as ecological security.
Consequences of unplanned urbanisation is evident from lack of basic infrastructure, higher levels of pollution, changes in local climate (temperature in the city has increased by 6ºC to 7ºC during the last decade), flooding even during normal rainfall, changes in social behaviour, etc.
The main objective of governments should be to stimulate worldwide awareness of environment and enhance political attention and action. The theme of this year's Environment Day is 'Biodiversity — ecosystems management and the green economy'. The year has been declared as the International Year of Biodiversity to celebrate life on earth and to understand the value of biodiversity in our lives.
Biodiversity refers to the range of variations among a set of entities and is commonly used to describe variety and variability of living organisms in terms of genetic diversity (heritable variations within populations), species diversity (species richness in a habitat) and ecological diversity (biophysical diversity).
Conservation of biodiversity is important to mankind for various reasons. It facilitates ecosystem functions (carbon exchange, watershed flows, soil fertility, climate, etc.), offers aesthetic, scientific, cultural and other values and forms the basis for foodstuff, fibres, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, etc.
The accelerated rate of extinction of species has prompted a need for comprehensive conservation strategies for sustainable management of ecosystems – forests, lakes, rivers and grassland at regional, national and global levels.
— The author is faculty at Energy and Research Group Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc

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