Is there anything we can or should do, to save the environment? Before we answer that question, it would be appropriate to understand why this question is raised in the first place. As the population grows, it has to be compensated by infrastructural development, which means that, more and more uninhibited land has to be utilized for housing and other social necessities. These could be the development of roads and drinking water, schools, colleges and hospitals, and industries to support employment opportunities. A number of developing countries have sold agricultural and barren land to multinationals to establish their manufacturing and production units on them. The concept is very simple; governments buy agricultural and other land from farmers and landowners at a cheap price, and sell them to foreign investors who take advantage of subsidized land rates, cheap labor and raw materials, for establishing their manufacturing or service units there. The government in return, gets not only precious foreign currency, but they also get it at a much higher price than they paid the farmers and landowners; a complete win-win situation for the government. The foreign principles establish their manufacturing plant in that country and offer employment to natives on low salaries. In the process of development, trees from forests are felled, and pollution spreads through air and water. The chemical wastes from industries are directly dumped into streams, rivers, and the sea, which causes contamination of the water. Carbon dioxide is released into the air, causing air pollution, and by felling trees, precious soli is lost through erosion into the sea. In the name of development, little consideration is given to protect or cover for the ecological imbalance created by mass removal of these resources.
A company that works toward developing the community where they exist has the advantage of embracing the moral and psychological support of the people in that community. Therefore, those organizations that engage in environment protection through corporate social responsibilities, sustain their competitive advantage over other market players (Hilton and Gibbons 2002).
South Africa is among the fast developing countries in Africa. Because of its high growth potential, the country faces a number of ecological mismatches. According to Zaloumis and Bond (2011), because of deforestation, the coastal grasslands in north-eastern South Africa, which is home to a number of vegetation-type, plant species, particularly forbs, are threatened. Many of the forbs can re-sprout rapidly even if affected by fire. This piece of land was given special status, and placed under commercial pine afforestation in the 1950s. However, the pine plantations were gradually removed and hastened back to grasslands. Zaloumis and Bond (2011) researched “the effects of plantations on grassland plants, and their functional trait composition by sampling 64 circular quadrats of 5 m radius distributed equally in restored versus natural grasslands.” They found that natural grassland supported 221 plant species compared to 144 in restored grasslands. Of these, the number of forbs in natural grasslands was 163, while in restored grasslands, it was just 73. Natural grasslands were dominant in re-sprout counts, and the effect of fire on the two grasslands revealed the seriousness of removing natural grasslands. The result vindicated the theory that by misbalancing nature, restoring it to its pristine nature would be difficult. They believe that considerable effort should be made in conserving what is left of natural grasslands.
In 2012, in the hilly terrains of the Himalayas in India, a tragedy of unimaginable proportion claimed thousands of lives. The cause; a lightning flash floods that swept away property and people down the river, and buried the remains of the town in dirt and water. This tragic incident comes as a rude reminder of what can happen should deforestation and removal of earth cause ecological imbalance. The Indian government’s decision to construct a hydro power project in the valley overlooking ecological management issues led to the disaster of such magnitude. The state has an important role to play if societies are to be developed to contribute to a nation’s economic development. The Indian government constructed a hydro-electric power plant across the river, by felling trees and removing earth on both sides of the river, letting nature take its due course. The result is there for all to see.
Haller and Murphy (2012), in Corporate Expenditure on Environmental Protection, state that under European regulations, “Ireland agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020,” one of the strictest targets in the world. Ireland has a number of industries that emits pollutants in the air, soil and water. The country is slowly losing its greenery to development, and this mandated earth watchers to notify the concerned authorities to reign in industrial pollutants. Industries are major contributors to climate change and environmental pollution, and “in 2007, the manufacturing sector in Ireland accounted for 23% of CO2emissions.” This figure did not include the huge transportation system there. While regulation has contributed in a massive way to drive a firm’s environmental expenditure and capital investment in equipment for pollution control, it does not put a lid on preventing environmental damage.
On the subject of protecting against ecological and environmental damages, there has to be a serious strategy in place to counter the effects of development activities. There is a growing disparity among developed and developing countries on how to address this issue. Global warming, landslides and hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes are all, effects of ecological imbalance. If there is anybody to blame, it is none other than mankind. While most of the developed countries believe that further industrialization will affect the layers protecting the earth from dangerous ultra-violet rays, they welcome the initiative to compensate those countries seeking rapid industrialization with monetary benefits. This seems illogical as, most of the developing countries feel that without industrialization, development will come to a standstill, and no amount of money can lift them from plunging into a major economic crisis. The biggest issue is the population growth around the world. If population growth can be checked, then further felling of trees or further industrialization may not be required. All the countries can then focus on damage-control initiatives, where afforestation should be given priority. The use of natural energy sources to reduce emission and pollution should be rigorously followed, and initiating a green revolution by planting trees in towns and cities will help check and control global warming.
After reading the articles covered in this paper, it can be stressed that initiating damage control measures is the only solution to control and minimize ecological damage. As seen through the readings of Halle and Murphy; Hilton and Giles; and Zaloumis and Bond, it can said that ecological damage needs immediate attention, and that, organizations and countries need to strategize their developmental activities by giving environmental issues top priority.
Haller, S, A, and Murphy, L, (2012), Corporate Expenditure on Environmental Protection, Environmental and Resource Economics, Springer Science & Business Media, Volume 51 (2), ISSN 09246460, p. 277-296,
Hilton, S, and Giles, G, (2002), Good Business: Your world needs you. London: TEXERE, Publishing Limited, ISBN 9781587991189, p. xviii, 255
Zaloumis, N, P, and Bond, W, J, (2010), Grassland restoration after afforestation: No direction home? Ecological Society of Australia, Austral Ecology doi:10.1111/j.1442- 9993.2010.02158.x, Volume 36, p.357–366