The breath of death

Latest reports confirm that in air pollution, Kolkata has now ‘beaten’ Delhi. The air here is more poisonous than Delhi’s. A number of factors have contributed to the aggravation of the problem. Wanton felling of trees which goes hand in hand with any ‘development’, be it road or house building or building new routes of Metro rail, is a major cause. The ever rising number of motor vehicles consuming fossil fuels is another. The rise in population is accompanied by the rise of accumulation of garbage, some of these like plastic or polythene products are non bio-degradable. Electronic waste produced by discarded computers and mobile phones since the mid-1990s is another factor contributing to pollution. Modern metropolitan cities cannot do without rapid transit systems. The industrial civilization demands consumption of more and more energy, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels. All these are irreversible processes.
As urbanization grows and villages are urbanized, the menace of pollution grows in proportion. More than the present generation, the future generations will suffer more due to pollution. Most city-dwelling people suffer from a wide variety of diseases that come under the heading COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Suspended particulate matter or SPM in the air causes respiratory troubles, sometimes leading to lung cancer. Unless the mode of living is drastically changed this process cannot be halted. Less use of motor cars and turning to public transport will have a visible impact on air pollution. A high pollution tax on owners of private cars may do what mere persuasion will not. The ever-increasing number of flights is contributing in no small measure to air pollution. If more people travelled by train, air pollution will be less.
But to bring in these changes the mindset has to be changed first of all. Mere lamenting over pollution will achieve very little. Unless people are prepared to change their lifestyle and learn to live in harmony with nature, far worse will befall the humans. Accustomed as they are to the present-day lifestyle, they are not likely to do this. Global warming due to carbon emission will change temperatures and bring about climate changes which will be irreversible. The Doomsday seems nearer than we think it is.

Sunday, 24 December, 2017