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Our Senseless Consumerism Hurting Environment

Let’s pledge to restore our pale and sickly environment to its vibrant greenery.

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Fireworks, environmentalists
SC permits bursting of only green firecrackers. Pixabay

By Salil Gewali

The festival of light – Diwali – representing the symbolic good over evil, light over darkness, and victory of righteousness and knowledge over ignorance is approaching. Well, the colorful displays of fireworks are popular traditions during major celebrations, not only in India but also in advanced countries. Despite its popularity, the air and noise pollution emitted by fireworks contribute to the degradation of our precious environment. Also, the harmful effects of chemicals and metallic particles used in firecrackers adversely impact human lives.

Although fireworks are a part of celebrations of almost all countries in the world, their use is limited to occasions. But, in India, particularly during Diwali, we celebrate this popular “festival of lights” predominantly by bursting fireworks. We set off rocket bombs thinking they vanish into thin air but Newton’s law gravitation brings them all back in the form of smoke and toxic ashes.

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We have to reform our culture and tradition for the sake of saving the beautiful creation of God.

India is one of the most polluted countries in the World. Our extended periods of use of fireworks cause irreparable damage to our whole animal kingdom. In the name of Diwali, our children, with all merriment, play with various types of fancy firecrackers almost two weeks in advance causing deadly pollution, both sound, and air. For newly born babies, each burst of firework is a “nightmare”. They can’t even cry against the frightful noise.  This is nothing but our uncaring cruelty towards them.

Fire hazards are common occurrences. Needlessly to say, smoke from fireworks containing metallic particles causes severe health risks. Is it the “price” one has to pay for this mockery of enjoyment by bursting crackers? Are we aware that the different colours and light effects produced in the firework displays are achieved only by mixing “poisonous” metal powders to gunpowder? Cases of burn injuries are very common during fireworks displays among our children, as they do not keep safety tips in mind while playing with deadly firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers.

Fireworks
For newly born babies, each burst of firework is a “nightmare”

The rotten egg smell that one gets during fireworks emanates from burnt “sulphur” which is the main ingredient of many fireworks. The fireworks that explode producing purple colour basically contain some amount of explosives and potassium compounds that cause extensive pollution in a very short period of time. Barbarous fireworks leave metal particles, harmful chemicals, smoke, and toxins in the air. These dangerous toxins do not disintegrate or break up for several days. They remain in the environment, poisoning the surroundings. People vulnerable to lung and respiratory illnesses are at a high risk of complication. Children fall sick with fever, skin irritation, vomiting, etc. The noise pollution is more dangerous than air pollution. Noise limits beyond 120db on all consumer fireworks are illegal in many countries, but in our country, since there is no voice of protest from any quarters, the products sold here are far above the permitted decibel.

Is it not a sheer stupidity that dangerous bangers, air bombs, and jumping jacks are indiscriminately produced and set off senselessly, thereby turning the festival of lights into the festival of disaster? Is it the way we welcome our Goddess Lakshmi and seek Her blessings?

Fireworks, environmentalists
The ban would be in force throughout the year. These conditions would also be applicable to marriage festivities. Pixabay

Yes, with a bang, the firecracker industries have been put on notice by the Supreme Court through a verdict on the 23rd of October, 2018 restricting them from manufacturing harmful fireworks. We all should welcome it. Further, the judgment on the “reduced time” of two hours between 8.p.m. and 10 p.m. for bursting crackers during festivals like Diwali and 11.55 p.m. and half past midnight during Christmas and New Year is doubtlessly a very positive move. But when will Supreme Court announce the strict regulation to restrict the plying of motor vehicles on ever-increasing roads and setting up of factories and industries which are only “blackening” the very face of Mother Earth. Since the environment has been intensely battered by the toxic heat from our senseless “consumerism”, now is the time that a “clause” should be incorporated within our “CONSTITUTION” that Government, each and every citizen and the business houses should ensure the sincere participation in cleansing the environment. We have to change our lifestyles. We have to reform our culture and tradition for the sake of saving the beautiful creation of God. HE will be very happy and bless us with more bountiful and nourishing vegetation. So, let’s pledge to restore our pale and sickly environment to its vibrant greenery. We can’t throw the caution to the wind and our “activities” ending up in smoke any longer!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.  Twitter: @SGewali.

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Countries Across Globe Unite For Establishing Legal Laws To Reduce Plastic Polluting Environment

The agreement is likely to lead to customs agents being on the lookout for electronic waste or other types of potentially hazardous waste more than before.

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A man guides a raft through a polluted canal littered with plastic bags and other garbage in Mumbai, India, Oct. 2, 2016. VOA

Nearly every country in the world has agreed upon a legally binding framework to reduce the pollution from plastic waste except for the United States, U.N. environmental officials say.

An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged Friday at the end of a two-week meeting of U.N.-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals.

Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceans and rivers and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.

Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” agreement linked to the 186-country, U.N.-supported Basel Convention means that countries will have to monitor and track the movements of plastic waste outside their borders.

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Countries will have to figure out their own ways of adhering to the accord, Payet said. Even the few countries that did not sign it, like the United States, could be affected by the accord when they ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal. Pixabay

The deal affects products used in a broad array of industries, such as health care, technology, aerospace, fashion, food and beverages.

“It’s sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world — to the private sector, to the consumer market — that we need to do something,” Payet said. “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground.”

Countries will have to figure out their own ways of adhering to the accord, Payet said. Even the few countries that did not sign it, like the United States, could be affected by the accord when they ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.

Payet credited Norway for leading the initiative, which first was presented in September. The time from that proposal to the approval of a deal set a blistering pace by traditional U.N. standards for such an accord.

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“It’s sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world — to the private sector, to the consumer market — that we need to do something,” Payet said. “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground.” Pixabay

The framework “is historic in the sense that it is legally binding,” Payet said. “They (the countries) have managed to use an existing international instrument to put in place those measures.”

Also Read: House Democrat Issues Subpoenas for U.S. President Donald Trump Tax Returns

The agreement is likely to lead to customs agents being on the lookout for electronic waste or other types of potentially hazardous waste more than before.

“There is going to be a transparent and traceable system for the export and import of plastic waste,” Payet said. (VOA)