Environment: South and Southeast Asia Hopefully you are studying this lesson before lunch. Imagine a place where the only water there is to drink comes from a nearby river. You become thirsty so you head down there with a pail. When you arrive, there are two things that catch your eye. Upstream, a woman is washing her family’s clothes along the same shoreline. She is using a kind of soap made from animal fat. Between the two of you, there are several cows standing around in the water, drinking. They look like they’ve been there for a long time.
Now, imagine going to the water’s edge and seeing all manner of nasty things swimming around in the water. As disgusting as this sounds, the scene described above is repeated thousands of times a day in many areas of the world. Water that you would never dream of drinking in a million years is the only water available to many people. And this is just one of the environmental concerns. In today’s lesson, you’ll learn about environmental issues in South and Southeast Asia and what nations are doing to combat the problems.
India India and its capital, New Delhi, is composed of land about one-third the size of the United States. Yet, it has a population that is more than three times larger (more than 1. 1 billion). As a result, the environment faces many critical issues, such as: •water shortages; •unclean water sources; •air pollution; •deforestation; •natural disasters from earthquakes, floods, and typhoons; •soil erosion from unwise agricultural methods. An ever-growing population naturally results in more pollution.
As the industrial sector grows and more people drive cars, air pollution becomes an increasingly difficult problem to handle. Due partially to its location, the temperature average in India is increasing, which accounts for changes in weather patterns. Consequently, periods of drought are increasing. As water shortages occur due to drought, the quality of the water becomes a major issue. In addition, many of India’s forested regions are being cleared away for farming and building materials. This leads to major soil erosion, as heavy rains are commonplace.
Because trees help to retain moisture in the soil, this plays a part in the water shortages that do occur. To combat the problem, India is heavily involved in the construction of dams and canal systems. Although this has helped to alleviate the situation somewhat, it has also brought about an increase in some diseases that form in stagnated water. The country’s leadership is actively seeking ways to protect air, water, and land resources. In addition to air and land pollution, India faces losing many of its plants and animals.
Tigers, for example, have been forced from natural habitats, resulting in greater exposure to humans. In an effort to protect these beautiful animals, the Indian government has established a number of natural refuges to keep them from harm. Pakistan The environmental issues facing Pakistan are different in many respects from those of its neighbor to the east. Pakistan has a much drier climate; consequently, it must guard and protect its water supply even more diligently than India. Like other nations in the region, an ever-growing population is taxing the few natural resources that do exist.
The Pakistan Environmental Protection Council, located in the nation’s capital city of Islamabad, is working hard to address the issues facing its citizens. For example, Pakistan lacks many of the agricultural innovations that the United States enjoys. As a result, soil degradation, erosion, and pollution are hampering efforts to feed the people and causing increased desertification of the region. Industrial wastes, pesticides, and raw sewage are polluting water supplies, which severely limits the amount of potable water.
In addition, Pakistan faces increasing air pollution from heavy industry and inefficient automobiles. Bangladesh for more information Due to its location and topography, Bangladesh suffers from extreme weather much of the year. The country is nearly flat and barely above sea level, making it prone to flooding. Major cyclones ravage the countryside, killing thousands and leaving hundreds of square miles under water. These storms wreak havoc on an overpopulated nation that has few resources to protect its people. Like India, the nation of Bangladesh is heavily overpopulated for a country its size.
Consequently, there are a number of major environmental issues related to overpopulation. For those living in the capital city of Dhaka and other locations, the most acute problem centers around lifegiving water. Much of it is polluted in varying degrees, causing numerous diseases, the most serious of which is cholera. The National Environment Management Plan is one of several programs developed by the government of Bangladesh to combat this issue along with other environmental problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, and destruction of wetlands. Indonesia and Malaysia
Due to their proximity to one another, Indonesia and Malaysia share many of the same environmental concerns, and until fairly recently, neither nation did much about them. For example, both countries have large forested areas. For many years, these forests have been used for exporting. In addition, thousands of acres have been cut and burned to make way for more agriculture. The great amount of burning that takes place actually causes a smoky haze that affects not only Indonesia, but many of the neighboring archipelagos. As is the case in other nations, deforestation causes major issues with erosion.
As mountains are stripped of their trees, landslides are more frequent. Damage is often widespread, with some loss of life. Deforestation is also responsible for the displacement and disappearance of many indigenous plants and animals. There are thousands of species that face extinction if forests continue to be slashed and burned. The governments of these two nations are well aware of this environmental issue, but there are problems with bringing such practices to an end. For example, Indonesia has a number of laws in effect that are designed to protect the forests.
However, there is little cooperation between governmental agencies. This results in a near-total lack of enforcement. Unfortunately, the government rewards officials who contribute to the nation’s economic growth. For them, it is essential that the timber industry thrive. Therefore, they are less likely to enforce laws that protect the environment. Besides deforestation, the capitals of Indonesia (Jakarta) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) must deal with the destruction of coral reefs due to poor fishing practices. These fragile ecosystems are overfished and rarely protected.
Unfortunately, fishing is critical to the livelihood of both nations. for more information The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck on December 26, 2004, off the west coast of Sumatra. The 9. 1 earthquake sent powerful tsunamis slamming into the coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India in particular, killing more than two hundred thousand people. Unbelievably, the tsunami traveled all the way to South Africa (5,300 miles away) where eight people were killed. Despite the location of the actual earthquake, the western coast of Chile, in South America, experienced a tsunami.
Finally, Indonesia and Malaysia both have to deal with environmental issues caused by frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and major storms. The 2004 tsunami wiped out coastal ecosystems throughout the region. Volcanic eruptions displace thousands of people on occasion and wipe out entire forested areas. Numerous typhoons also cause a great deal of devastation along the entire length of the archipelagos. Philippines Similar to other nations in the region, the Philippines suffers from two categories of environmental problems: human-caused and natural disasters.
Issues caused by people include: •deforestation due to badly needed agricultural land and timber products; •soil erosion and degradation; •overpopulation, forcing displacement of animal life and destruction of plant life; •increased air pollution from industry and automobiles; •toxic waste being dumped into rivers, which pollutes not only the rivers, but also the ocean they empty into; •waste emptied into the ocean, destroying coral reefs; •overfishing, depleting the number of game fish needed to feed humans. The capital city, Manila, also has to deal with a number of natural disasters.
Many times, the destruction they cause are compounded by the amount of damage done due to mismanagement of the islands’ natural resources. Some of the natural disasters that are faced each year are: •earthquakes and the subsequent tsunamis that sometimes follow; •frequent volcanic eruptions; •landslides and flooding, caused by storms but made worse by deforestation; •numerous yearly typhoons. Due to rapid population growth, the Filipino government has not been able to find decent solutions to the ever-growing waste, water, and air pollution problems facing it.
Consequently, more and more of its citizens are exposed to serious health issues. Other Nations The chart below provides a brief outline of other nations in this part of the world and the environmental issues each faces today. CountryCapitalEnvironmental Issues BhutanThimphusoil erosion caused by deforestation, and little potable water BruneiBandar Seri Begawanmust deal with smoke and haze from numerous fires originating in Indonesia CambodiaPhnom Penhlack of potable water, erosion caused by deforestation, overfishing LaosVietianedeforestation and lack of potable water
MaldivesMalelack of fresh water, coral damage MyanmarNaypyidawsoil erosion and landslides caused by deforestation; earthquakes and tropical storms NepalKathmandudeforestation, soil erosion, contaminated water Sri LankaColombosoil erosion caused by deforestation; industrial and toxic waste pollution ThailandBangkokair pollution, soil erosion caused by deforestation, unclean water VietnamHanoiagricultural deforestation, marine pollution, lack of potable water In times past, little was done to alleviate the severe environmental issues facing each of these nations.
However, as the problems have become more acute, government leadership has become more active. Unfortunately, many of these countries are poor and do not possess the funds necessary to lessen the issues. In addition, governmental corruption is widespread in many cases and needed money is being diverted to other things.