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India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies with one of the highest populations in the world. As India races to join the list of the top economies of the world, it is imperative that it takes the path of sustainable economic development. Below is a summary of the major issues that the world (and India) faces today – 

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Population

One of the biggest issues facing the environment today is the over population of humans. Most of the major environmental issues stem from the fact that we are over populating the planet. If the population continues to increase at the current rate, we will not be able to maintain or raise our current standard of living without destruction of the environment. Today the population totals almost 7 billion. It is estimated that the world population will reach 8 billion by 2025 and 9.5 billion by 2050
With a 1.3 billion population growing at an alarming rate, India is set to become the world’s most populous country of the world. The environmental concerns that our country faced in the past couple of decades have  aggravated owing to this population. The problems of ecological disruption and climate change will only multiply as the Indian population grows

Climate Change

Climate change as we know it today is characterised by an increase in the earth’s temperature with massive and permanent ramifications. Most of these changes are not caused by orbital variation, but due to human activities. Throughout the years and across the industrial revolution, humans used up the natural resources around them and released a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere causing the earth to heat up
Oceans happen to be one of the biggest victims of climate change. Oceans regulate the earth’s temperature and provide 50% of the Earth’s oxygen. Ocean temperatures have increased by 0.3 degree Fahrenheit in the past 6 decades causing devastating consequences on ocean life. In the past century, ocean levels have risen 6.7 inches because as the oceans gets warmer, they expand and also cause the ice caps to melt. Other effects can be seen in the form of drastic variations in seasons, and sudden floods.
In India, the increasingly severe heat waves are ramifications of the climate change that India is facing. There has been a sharp rise in the number of forest fires, floods and other such calamities in the past 5-7 years

Air pollution
Human activities are the major causes of air pollution, especially in cities. There was a need for industrialisation to support the growing population, leading to a higher need for energy and transportation. Harmful pollutants were released into the atmosphere, causing permanent depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun’s UV rays. It has also given rise to a number of respiratory ailments in the young population
It is predicted that there are likely to be 9 lakh premature deaths in India by 2040 due to the poor quality of air in India, while the average expectancy is expected to go down by 11 months 1. India ranks 141 out of 180 countries in terms of air quality according to the rankings of the 2016 Environmental Performance Index

Garbage disposal and sanitation

This is a pronounced problem, especially in the Indian context. In India, 600 million people lack toilets. Over 72% Indians defecate in the open 2. Lack of safe garbage disposal systems in India make it an extremely unhygienic country. The rural areas are especially worse off than the urban cities in this regard 

Use of plastic

Very high use of plastics is a major area of concerns for India. India’s demand for polymers is estimated to be 16.5 million tonnes in 2016-2017, while the per capita consumption is expected to hit 27 kg by 2020. This problem becomes a high priority because plastic is one of the least biodegradable materials – an average plastic bottle can take ~500 years to decompose naturally

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