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As various economies of the world develop, there are accompanied by effects on the environment and Asian countries have not been an exception. In most of those countries, there have been economic policies put in place to facilitated economic efficiency and growth.
As industries develop, little attention is given to their effects on environment. The fact that environmental damage can lead to a decline in the overall economic position tends to be overlooked. This paper is going to have a look at the key environmental issues in Asian countries as well as the policies put in place by various agencies to address the issues. Discussion Deforestation and desertification
As industries increase in Asian countries, deforestation is inevitable both as a way of expanding on land as it becomes scarce and also as forest cover functions as a source of raw material for industries. Asia has some of the poorest regions in the world which means there are a lot of peasants who primarily depend on forests for fuel and food therefore increasing the rate at which they are depleted.
Farmers in rural areas are not well informed on the best farming practices that are available which leads to a subsequent decline in plant cover because of salinity. As plant cover falls, it is accompanied by other negative effects like pollution. Flooding also becomes eminent and a cause of death especially among the poor Asians residing in rural regions. There are regions such as Cambodia which hold landmines which are a cause of many deaths and injuries.
Some of the injuries are so serious that the affected people have to be amputated. They are therefore not part of the work force and they are forced to become consumers rather than producers. Because of the presence of these mines, it is difficult to carry out large scale projects aimed at developing both the land and the economy at large.
There is need to have laws that discourage people from cutting down forests and a shift to alternative sources of fuel other than depending on forests (Boomgaad 1997 p.10) Pollution in urban centers Between the years 1980 and 2000, there was a 0.7 billion people increase in urban areas in Asia. Rural urban migration is rampant and as it continues to increase, it is accompanied by numerous effects on the environment.
Asian economic policies encourage the development of industries in urban areas therefore people migrate from rural regions in search for employment. As this happens, there are environmental problems because of overcrowding. Industrial activities and motor vehicles also release gasses that pollute the atmosphere.
As governments put in place measures that force food prices to remain law, famers have to look for alternative sources of income which they usually do so by moving to urban areas. In these urban areas, particularly in 3rd world countries, there is a viscous cycle of poverty therefore people are not in a position to protect their environment. Governments should invest in creating industries outside the urban areas in order to push people away from cities (Marcotullio & McGranahan 2007, p.227). Air pollution
As vehicles, industries and power plants emit gasses and pollute the environment, there is lack of up to date technology to deal with the pollutants. This has increased infections among people in different parts of Asia for instance, in 1995; China recorded 175,000 deaths due to diseases caused by air pollution and two million bronchitis infections. At the same time, there was a 30% fall in the agricultural product in Delhi.
Acid rain is very common in Asia and once it is deposited on vegetation, it reduces the amount of farm produce that should be realized. It also damages buildings therefore a lot of resources are spent on renovation. Global warming Countries such as India and China which have high populations have a lot of green house gasses emitted into the atmosphere which have caused global warming. Global warming is directly related to industrialization.
In the normal running of industries, carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. When sun rays hit the earth’s surface, they bounce back leaving some of it in the atmosphere. As these rays combine with methane and carbon dioxide molecules, they increase the heat on the surface. The effects of global warming cannot be over emphasized as it affects not only the environment but also human health.
It supports various diseases such as malaria which kills many in Asia. There are also reported deaths caused by heat stroke because of high temperatures. Other effects of global warming include a fall in the snow level and overall productivity of the ecosystem. Crops are depleted posing a risk of prolonged drought (Schwela, Haq & Huizenga 2006, p.260). Water With an increase in population in Asian cities as well as industrialization, water has become a scarce resource as people compete for it.
Untreated sewage continues to pollute water therefore households have to spend resources boiling water. Research has for instance shown that every year, $20M TO $30M is spent in Jakarta in boiling water for consumption. If the environment would properly protect, this amount would be diverted to other more productive uses. Water pollution has also led to the decline in fish thereby reducing income even further.
The scarcity of this commodity had led to a despite between Bangladesh and India over the Ganges. There is a need for technologies that preserve water to be introduced to these countries. Such technologies should be designed to ensure that no water is wasted and that very minimal water intended for irrigation is lost due to evaporation. This may include an introduction of drip irrigation methods (Bryant 1996, 87).
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Overfishing As population increases and crop farmers lower their farm activities, there has been an increase in the level of fishing in almost all the Asian states. This is because besides being a good source of food, they also act as a source of revenue. Because of high levels of water pollution, there has been a decline in the number of fish available.
People from different regions therefore clash as they compete for fishing grounds therefore weakening relations and in other cases leading to death (Boomgaars, Henley & Ossrweijer 2005, p.68). Biodiversity Asia has some of the best biodiversity with features such as the Himalayas and many coral reefs. Due to the increasing population, there has been need to increase agricultural land in order to feed the masses.
China and Thailand are among the countries where biodiversity has been greatly affected. Natural habitats therefore end up being destroyed to give room to farming. Wild animals that act as a source of tourist attraction have continued to fall. Between the 1961s and the 1993s, 200,000 hectares of mangrove were destroyed in Thailand (Bankoff, and Elston 1994, p.11).
Measures taken to deal with environmental issues
Countries have made an effort in tackling environmental challenges although all the problems have not been solved. Resources that are set aside for environmental conservation at times end up being diverted to other uses due to the increasing economic problems.
For instance, economic difficulties in Thailand since 1997 meant that a lot of the government’s resources were to be used on economic recovery and not on environmental problems. This has worked against the environment. Some of the measures taken to deal with environmental problems are discussed below.
On realizing the effects that the environmental state has on a country, Asian countries have strengthened their environmental laws. China for instance created guiding principles which were aimed at protecting the environment in order to fully enjoy the benefits of having a fully functional environment.
In 1974, it had an environmental group and environmental regulations in place which was to be in charge of environmental protection. In 2007, there was a crack down on power firms that largely polluted cities which led to the closure of four of them. Pressure is exerted of the citizens of china to comply with these regulations (Bankoff 2003, p.122).
In India there has been an enactment of various laws such as the Forest conservation Act, the Air Act and the water Act, all which were aimed at protection of the environment. Pollution control boards have also been created to collect information and maintain records regarding the environment in order to be able to deal with its issues more effectively. The courts have intervened in ensuring that the Pollution Control Boards perform their duties as expected (Bankoff 2003, p.121).
Healthy and sustainable cities program
In 1986, the World Health Program introduced the healthy cities initiative aimed at improving the health status in various cities in the world. This approach was implemented in New Zealand and Japan in the early 1990s and between 1993 to 1994, it had been moved to the other cities in the Asia Pacific region.
This program entails the implementation of public policies which ensure that every party has a part to play in ensuring there sustainability of healthy states (Bankoff, Frerks & Hilhorst 2004, p.42). The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in collaboration with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT) first introduced the sustainable cities program in Kenya and later in parts of Asia like India and China.
The main aim of the program was to ensure that private and public entities had the capacity to properly manage the environment by creating awareness and provision of necessary education (Xie 2009, p.17). Technology Developed economies in Asia have been able to invest in technologies that reduce the amount of pollutants that are released into the atmosphere.
The World Bank in collaboration with the United Nations organizes financial aid for the developing countries so that they can also protect the environment. They have the Global Environment Facility which aids the poor countries deal with the pollutants that they receive from their neighbors (Bankoff, Frerks & Hilhorst 2004, p.42). In order to ensure the effectiveness of environmental laws, the Chinese government has extended the powers of local authorities with regard to implementation of environmental strategies.
Environmental protection bureaus have the duty of ensuring that policies are properly and correctly implemented at the lower levels like towns and counties. They also give suggestions to the higher levels regarding environmental conservation. They have also played a significant role in creating environmental awareness among people (Xie 2009, p.16).
Different regions in Asia have made a collective effort in dealing with environmental issues. This is because sharing of available resources makes the whole exercise cheap. Some of the regions affected by environmental issues spread to more than one country for instance the Himalayas range.
Climate changes have continued to affect glacier lakes that are at the Himalayas making it necessary for both academic and scientific institutions in the affected regions to collaborate and come up with ways of tackling the effects. The scientific institutions in the more developed countries can have in place ways of alerting others in case of fore seen disasters in the environment (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 2005, p.224).
Although much has been conducted in various countries in Asia in protecting and rehabilitating the environment, more still needs to be done. The developing countries require much more funding. Since it is evident that every aspect of society is affected by the environment, environmental problems deserve to be taken care of.
Where there is a good environment, the overall productivity of a country is high. This is because more income is realized as people forming the work force are in a position to reach their full potential. They spend less money on treatment of diseases caused by the environment. It takes the collective effort of transnational organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations and individuals to ensure that environmental policies are guarded.
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