The balance between Environmental Laws and Human mentality has been a subject of massive debates and discussions over the past decade. Numerous experts and environmental gurus around the globe have stated that the success or failure of an environmental policy depends greatly on the human mentality and how people personally perceive the environmental issues and act towards mitigating the effects. In the end, it is all about maintaining the perfect balance between the environment and human psychology.

History and evolution of Earth’s environment

We have countless sources that claim and debate about the Earth’s age and formation. The most concrete researches state that the Earth was formed roughly around 450 million years ago. It is also concluded along with these theories that the Earth’s environment is as old as the Earth itself. Though no theory to date has been able to prove how life on earth exactly started or what was the earth’s environment like when it was formed, but numerous researched in the field of science, biology, botany, paleobotany and more have strongly claimed that the earth’s environment has changed and evolved constantly with every period, age and species dwelling on it since its formation. The environment for the first microbes and plants during the Cenozoic period were different. It was different for the Jurassic period when the dinosaurs ruled the world. It evolved when the first apes appeared and it is different today in the 21st century.

The environment is everything that is around us. It can be living or non-living things. It includes physical, chemical and other natural forces. Living things live in their environment. They constantly interact with it and adapt themselves to conditions in their environment. Studying the environment means studying the relationships among these various things. An example of interactions between non-living and living things is, plants getting their minerals from the soil and making food using sunlight. Predation, an organism eating another, is an example of interaction between living things.

The most crucial aspect of the environment today and through the centuries has been the natural resources. For example; Air, water, sunlight, and forests. These are renewable resources because they come back naturally when we use them. Non-renewable resources are important things in the environment that are limited, for example, ores and fossil fuels.

Humans VS The Environment

Environmental Laws and Human mentality

In the race for rapid urbanization and employing the latest technologies to achieve large-scale development, we utilized, over-utilized and exploited almost every resource available on earth, whether renewable or nonrenewable. So much so that we are already facing a scarcity of resources and the resources that are available in abundance are highly contaminated, polluted and unfit for use. Concerns for the future include climate change through increased concentrations of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, depleted nutrients from soils, and acidified surface water and soils.

Surface water

First, humans have dammed rivers to create reservoirs, resulting in increased evaporation and infiltration of surface water into aquifers. Second, we have removed vegetation from many areas so infiltration into the soil, transpiration, and return of water to the atmosphere have all slowed, increasing runoff and erosion. Third, our agricultural methods, such as flood irrigation, have resulted in the depletion of surface waters. Finally, we emit pollutants into the atmosphere that subsequently come down in rainwater.

Groundwater

The greatest concern for the future will be shortages of potable water. Shortages in specific areas of many countries are already evident. Groundwater is being removed at high rates due to agriculture and manufacturing in this country. Water tables in previously plentiful aquifers are dropping at rapid rates and may ultimately limit agricultural production and manufacturing, as well as the availability of clean, fresh water supplies for people worldwide. Fracking is the method of retrieving natural gas from the earth’s surface. Fracking uses chemically saturated water to release the gas. However, after the fracking is completed, the chemical and water mixture is then pumped back into the ground. This pollutes nearby water supplies and in turn, creates a negative externality for nearby communities.

Air

Air quality was not thought twice about a couple hundred years ago, because it was not at that time anything to be concerned about. Humans have spent a great deal of money on producing and distributing nitrogen and have doubled the amount of nitrogen available for use by plants. The Haber-Bosch process allows us to fix nitrogen into usable molecules. We have increased the amount of nitrogen that makes its way into waterways, mostly as runoff from fertilizer. This has caused alterations in terrestrial community composition and eutrophication in water systems. We have also increased the distribution of nitrogen through atmospheric pollution, primarily from nitrogen oxides resulting from burning fossil fuels, that then comes down as acid rain.

Environmental Policies

Environmental laws and policies pertain to our interactions with our environment. The main goal of environmental policy is to regulate resource use or reduce pollution to promote human welfare and/or protect natural systems. The tragedy of the commons is the process by which publicly accessible resources open to unregulated use tend to become damaged and depleted through overuse. Those who use the resources are motivated by self-interest and have no incentive to take care of the source, thus the source then becomes depleted. It is especially problematic for resources like underground water and air that apparently have no easy means to assign responsibility.

Environmental Laws and Human mentality

Over that past decade, countless landmark policies, laws and protocols have been written and undertaken to take stringent actions in saving the environment. These policies have encouraged and forced countries to look for environmentally friendly alternatives and practices (such as recycling, solar energy, organic produce, and the like) that are both powerful and cost-effective. 

EXPECTATIONS

  • Various laws and Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) have been deduced that lay down strict guidelines and limits for nations, organizations, communities, and individuals to control their environment degrading activities and emissions to mitigate the ongoing impacts on nature and improve their environmental performance and responsibility.
  • If those who deplete the earth’s open pasture of resources are not held responsible or given restrictions, earth’s resources will soon deplete. There needs to be more of a focus on polluted-pay principles, which is when parties are responsible for covering the costs of pollution they caused. Taxing polluting industries and subsidizing environmentally friendly industries can aid in the protection of natural resources. Subsidies for research on alternative fuels and water conservation can discourage waste of fossil fuels and water. Laws can protect natural places from degradation.
  • Political ideology and laws can affect attitudes toward environmental issues as well. Politicians have different views on environmental issues based on political party, who lives in their districts, and what industries and resources are in their districts. Different politicians can set different policies based on these factors, which can either harm or protect the environment.

REALITY

  • The normal human society today has developed a mentality that they would care for the environment and take the environmental issues seriously only if the government enforces strict laws on them. Today most humans care for the environment only because they have to follow the stringent laws enforced by the government. Most humans have not imbibed the right environmental ethics and values in them to take personal initiatives to save the environment. 
  • These days if a country has abundant resources, consumption often increases and wastage of essential resources may occur. In many places, clean water may be abundant, which could encourage misuse. A renewable resource such as water could become scarce if demand exceeds Earth’s capacity to renew it.
  • A nation’s economic situation may also affect attitudes toward environmental issues. Providing food, shelter, and jobs to citizens have often involved exploitation of resources. A limited supply of resources may drive prices up. Improper planning and distribution of essential resources like land and water have also caused ecological imbalance and unrest within the human societies.
  • Culture and religion have also greatly affected attitudes toward environmental issues. If a culture has certain food or shelter preferences, for instance, this may deplete particular resources (such as land for vegetation or cattle grazing, and/or forests for wood shelters and cooking). In many places, Earth may be an integral part of religion. For instance, it is important in Aboriginal culture to take long walks in natural areas for spiritual renewal.

A GOLDEN MESSAGE!

As the human population continues to grow, so does our impact on the environment. In fact, recent research has shown that three-quarters of Earth’s land surface is under pressure from human activity. In this short film, the spoken word artist Prince Ea makes a powerful case for protecting the planet and challenges the human race to create a sustainable future.

It is high time to take the grave consequences of environmental degradation seriously and deduce measures to control, mitigate and possibly eliminate the “Endangered” status of the environment itself!