Is India acting like a slow boiling frog?

Humans are gifted with the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) in their brain. It is the thick outer layer (cerebral cortex) of the prefrontal lobe. Some of the functions of this region of the brain include – future consequences of current activities, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social “control” (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes). It is because of a well-functioning PFC that most of us will say ‘no’ to a garlic and onion flavoured ice-cream.

However, when it comes to our consumption behaviour, we are not able to predict the outcomes of our actions or take corrective actions. It is partly because the impact is not caused by us individually and does not affect just us personally. And as my very bright and able cousin who lives in the US once told me, I am sure people are looking into this problem and they will come up with something as humans are ingenious. What is that got to do with my behaviour?

slow-boiling-frogGarrett Hardin described this as the tragedy of the commons in his seminal paper in “The Tragedy of the Commons”. Since this does not concern each one of us individually, we are all heading for an environmental catastrophe like a slow boiling frog

According to the latest official study conducted between 2005 and 2013, 16.1% of China’s soil and 19.4% of its arable land showed contamination.  The study that was carried out by the Environmental Protection Ministry has found cadmium, nickel and arsenic as top pollutants.

The study was conducted across the country and covered 6.3 million square kilometers which accounts for two-thirds of China’s land area. The report from the study points out that the pollution is severe in three major industrial zones, the Yangtze River Delta in east China, the Pearl River Delta in south China and the northeast corner that used to be a heavy industrial hub.

According to many sources, there is a growing fear in China over the effect that modernisation has had on the country’s air, water and soil.

It is time to wake-up and jump from the consumption pan and learn from what is happening in China. India is much more densely populated and resource constrained and the consequences of our present actions for reckless growth and modernisation will be more severe than the present soil contamination state of China.


Relevant links

Sources and problems related to Cadmium contamination

Sources and problems related to Nickel contamination

Sources and problems related to Arsenic contamination


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