Health emergency

The Indian Medical Association, the largest non-official body of doctors, has declared a Health Emergency in Delhi, in view of air pollution in the national capital reaching toxic levels, far above the permissible level of toxicity defined by the World Health Organization. The entire capital remains enveloped in a very thick fog or smog which has reduced visibility considerably and made inhaling dangerous. Air and railway traffic has been greatly disrupted. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has ordered the closure of all schools in Delhi till Sunday. People have been advised not to step out of their homes though for the vast majority of citizens who earn their keep by working outside their homes, this is just not possible.
The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution provided for three types of emergency: internal emergency, external emergency and financial emergency. They could not visualize a health emergency because they never thought that the rapid transition of a colonial country to a modern industrialized one that they wanted carried with it the danger of air and water pollution. The number of motor vehicles registered in Delhi now stands at 1.05 crore. In addition, thousands and thousands of vehicles – from two wheelers to four-wheelers including light passenger cars and heavy goods trucks – enter and leave Delhi every day from other States of India. This gives an idea of the extent to which Delhi’s air is being polluted every day. Air pollution may have reached a very high level in Delhi, but the condition in other metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai is no better.
Power and speed are the two legs of the modern industrial civilization. Both require burning of fossil fuels. Burning of fossil fuels releases enormous quantities of greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane – into the atmosphere, accelerating the rate of global warming. The future that looms large is fearful. According to astrophysicists, the sun will become a red giant in 500 crore years, scorching the Mercury, the Venus and the Earth, and then become a white dwarf. That’s a long way to go, and the humans should not worry much about themselves. But pollution is hastening the doomsday. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking says that the human race will become extinct from the Earth in just 600 years due to population explosion and massive power consumption. Unbeknown to us, every vehicle that we are riding is taking us actually to our extinction. The pity is that things will not change even if we know that our lifestyle is hastening our own doom.

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017