The World Environment Day is an annual event for most countries struggling to combat environmental catastrophe. Population explosion and pollution have a symbiotic relation; with rising population humans are programmed for what is called the Life force 8 (desires)-
1) Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension; 2) enjoyment of food and beverages; 3) freedom from fear, pain and danger; 4) sexual companionship; 5) comfortable living conditions; 6) to be superior, winning; 7) care and protection of loved ones; 8) social approval.
Since dawn of times and 2 to 3 million years ago when humans graduated from being hunters and nomads to farming civilizations, the need for socializing developed. Communities began to form; animals were domesticated; the significance of what natural elements like fire, water, rain meant were slowly being comprehended and the fear of not being able to control them made us give them divine and supernatural status; As civilizations evolved forming complex social structures, forests began to be cleared to make way for housing and there was a move towards crude weaponry- stone technology to defend and hunt.
Irrespective of the era, ideology, humans will continue to exploit the environment to suit their basic needs. The sudden apprehension for the environment emerges out of losing control and influence over things; it is s because all this was taken for granted over five to six decades. The Industrial Revolution was a catalyst to current happenings. On one hand we want to shift to paperless offices so that trees are not cut- which means more oxygen is produced and on the other excessive use of electronic devices (mobile, computer) as determined leads to cognitive stagnation, memory loss, feeling of isolation, back and neck complications.
There are no good old days in terms of consumption of goods and services at any point in history; Waste generation (e-waste, human, plastic or numerous others) is a byproduct of consumption; only the quality and quantity of the same oscillates.
Governments hustle to ban environmental unfriendly products like plastics, polythene may backfire if alternatives are not phased in gradually. ‘Ban’ has become a norm and at best cosmetic and for PR purposes.
While one might think that there is no concrete relation between environment and automation, the same cannot be denied or ignored. Governments and administrations want to shift from non-renewable sources of energy (coal and petroleum based) to renewable sources (hydro, wind and solar) which is desirable. A mutual understanding between all stakeholders will assist in a smooth transition between non-renewable sources to renewable sources energy. A change in mindset is needed at all levels from school children to adults.
Electronic devices generate E-Waste and their disposal is as cumbersome as mounds of plastic and other wastes. This irony of transition to automation means shifting from one type of waste to another. The electricity used in these devices further depletes natural resources. We have to think of 50 years from today and tackle this problem when stakeholders meet on the World Environment Day. We need a technology whose disposal is uncomplicated to achieve the goal of sustainable development.
By Aditya Sharma