Economics Notes (Class 11)

CBSE Class 11 Economics Chapter 9 Environment and Sustainable Development

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Environment and Sustainable Development 

Environment and Sustainable Development

Environment and Sustainable Development


The environment is defined as the total planetary inheritance and the totality of all resources. It includes all the biotic and abiotic elements that influence each other.
  • All living elements-the birds, animals, and plants, forests, fisheries etc. are biotic elements.
  • Abiotic elements of the environment include non-living elements like air, water, land, rocks, and sunlight etc.

Functions of Environment

  • Environment supplies resource (both renewable and nonrenewable resources) for production.
  • Environment assimilates waste,
  • Environment sustains life.
  • Environment enhances quality of life.
The environment is able to perform these functions without any interruption as long as demand on these functions are within its carrying capacity.
Carrying capacity implies two things:
  1. Resource extraction should remain below the rate of resource regeneration.
  2. Generation of wastes should remain within the absorption capacity of the environment.


If these two conditions are not fulfilled, then the environmental crisis occurs.
Absorptive capacity of the environment means the ability of the environment to absorb degradation.
The various reasons for the environmental crisis are as under:
  1. Population explosion and the advent of industrial revolution.
  2. The intensive and extensive extraction of both renewable and nonrenewable resources.
  3. The affluent consumption and production standards of developed countries.

Renewable & Non-Renewable Resources

  • Renewable resources are those which can be used without the possibility of the resource becoming depleted or exhausted. That is, a continuous supply of resource remains available for e.g. trees in the forest and the fish in the oceans.
  • Non-renewable resources are those which get exhausted with extraction and use. For example, fossil fuel.

Basic Problems of Environment

Two basic problems related to the environment are
  1. The problem of pollution.
  2. The problem of excessive exploitation of natural resources.
Pollution is the contamination of useful things such as air, water, land etc. with undesirable or harmful materials like foul gases, smoke, poisonous chemicals, etc.
The major forms of pollution are as follow
  1. Air pollution
  2. Water Pollution
  3. Noise Pollution
  4. Land Pollution

Global Warming

Global warming is a gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere.
Global warming is caused by the man-made increase in carbon dioxide (Co2) and other greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Some of the long-term results of global warming are as follow:
  • Melting of polar ice with a resulting rise in sea level and coastal flooding.
  • Extinction of species as ecological niches disappear.
  • More frequent tropical storms and
  • An increased incidence of tropical diseases.

Ozone Depletion

Ozone depletion refers to a reduction in the amount of Ozone (a protective layer) in the stratosphere.
The problem of Ozone depletion is caused by high levels of CFC used as cooling substances in air conditioners and refrigerators or as aerosol propellants and Bromo fluoro-carbons used in fire extinguishers.
As a result of depletion of the ozone layer, more ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes to earth causing damage to the living organism.
The threat to India’s environment poses a dichotomy-threat of poverty-induced environmental degradation and, at the same time, the threat of pollution from affluence and rapidly growing industrial sector.
Air pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, deforestation, and wildlife extinction is some of the most pressing environmental concerns of India.
The priority issues identified in India are:
  1. Land degradation
  2. Biodiversity loss
  3. Air pollution with special reference to vehicular pollution in urban cities.
  4. Management of fresh water.
  5. Solid waste management.
Land degradation refers to a decline in the overall quality of soil, water or vegetation condition, commonly caused by human activities.

Factors Responsible for Land Degradation

  • Loss of vegetation occurring due to deforestation.
  • Forest fires and overgrazing.
  • Improper crop rotation.
  • Encroachment into forest lands.
  • Shifting cultivation.
  • Indiscriminate use of agrochemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Improper planning and management of irrigation systems.
  • Extraction of groundwater in excess of the recharge capacity.
  • The poverty of the agriculture-dependent people.
  • Non-adoption of adequate soil conservation measures.
Chipko and Appiko movements are related to protecting forests.
In order to address two major environmental concerns in India, viz, water and air pollution, the government set up the central pollution control board (CPCB) in 1974. Board investigates, collect and disseminate information relating to water, air, and pollution lay down standards of sewage/trade effluent and emissions.

Functions of the Central Board at the National Level

  • Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning prevention and control of water and air pollution and improvement of the quality of air.
  • Plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the State Board and resolve disputes among them;
  • Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigation and research relating to problems of water and air pollution, and for their prevention, control or abatement;
  • Plan and organize training of persons engaged in the programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Organize through mass media, a comprehensive mass awareness programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water and air pollution and the measures devised for their effective prevention, control or abatement;
  • Prepare manuals, codes, and guidelines relating to the treatment and disposal of sewage and trade effluents as well as for stack gas cleaning devices, stacks, and ducts;
  • Disseminate information in respect of matters relating to water and air pollution and their prevention and control;
  • Lay down, modify or annul, in consultation with the State Governments concerned, the standards for stream or well, and lay down standards for the quality of air; and
  • Perform such other function as may be prescribed by the Government of India.
India’s rapid economic development has made us aware of two realities:
(i) Economic development has lifted millions out from poverty.
(ii) Economic development has been accompanied by accelerated depletion of natural resources and rapid deterioration in environmental quality.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is that process of development which meets the needs of present generation without reducing the ability of future generation to meet their own needs.
Main Features of Sustainable Development
  1. A sustained rise in Real per Capita Income and Economic welfare.
  2. Rational use of natural resources.
  3. No reduction in the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs.
  4. Check on pollution.


For Achieving Sustainable Development
  1. Limiting the human population.
  2. Technological progress should be input efficient and not input consuming.
  3. Renewable resources should be extracted on a sustainable basis, that is, the rate of
  4. Extraction should not exceed the rate of regeneration.
  5. For non-renewable resources, the rate of depletion should not exceed the rate of creation of renewable substitutes.
  6. Inefficiencies arising from pollution should be corrected.


Strategies for Sustainable Development
  1. Use of non-conventional sources of energy.
  2. Use of cleaner fuels: LPG, Gobargas in rural areas and CNG in Urban areas.
  3. Use of Solar energy and wind power.
  4. Shift to organic farming.
  5. Recycle the wastes
  6. Public means of transport.
  7. Traditional knowledge and practices.
  8. Establishment of Mini-Hydel plants.
  9. Biopest Control

NCERT Solutions

Question 1: What is meant by the environment?
Answer: The total planetary inheritance and the totality of resources is called the environment. In simple language; our surrounding is called our environment. The environment is composed of two types of components, viz. biotic and abiotic. The biotic components include all the living beings, while the abiotic components include non-living things like air, water, soil, etc.
Question 2: What happens when the rate of resource extraction exceeds that of their regeneration?
Answer: When the rate of resource extraction exceeds that of their generation, the resource gets exhausted. This diminishes the carrying capacity of the environment which is a potential threat to the existence of life.
Question 3: Classify the following into renewable and non-renewable resources: (i) trees (ii) fish (iii) petroleum (iv) coal (v) iron-ore (vi) water.
Answer: Trees, fish, and water are renewable resources, while coal, petroleum, and iron-ore are non-renewable resources.
Question 4: Two major environmental issues facing the world today are ____________ and _____________.
Answer: Global warming and ozone depletion
Question 5: How do the following factors contribute to the environmental crisis in India? What problem do they pose for the government?
Rising population
Answer: About 17% of the world population lives in India which has only 2.5% of the total land in the world. This means there is more pressure on land resources which results in large-scale deforestation.
Air pollution
Answer: Air pollution is very high in most of the cities and towns. The increased vehicular population is the major reason of air pollution in cities. Even in villages, burning of firewood and cow dung cakes contributes to air pollution.
Water contamination
Answer: Most of the sewage is discharged into the water bodies without being treated. This contributes to water pollution. Most of the rivers and ponds in India are heavily polluted. Increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has polluted the groundwater as well.
Affluent consumption standards
Answer: Over the six decades after independence, India has progressed a lot. The disposable income has grown significantly among the middle classes; which has resulted in increased consumption. This has also resulted in increased levels of air pollution.
Answer: Many people continue to pollute the environment because of ignorance. The illiterates comprise a major section of such people.
Answer: India is now among the top ten industrialized nations in the world. While industrialization has resulted in developments in various aspects, it has also resulted in increased levels of pollution. The major industrial belts in India have highly polluted air.
Answer: Urbanisation has increased in India. Many places which had rural characters in the past have become urbanized. More and more people are migrating towards cities and towns in search of livelihood. This has created pressure on cities which are major economic hubs.
Reduction of forest coverage
Answer: Due to increased population, the forest has been continuously cleared to make way for human settlements and activities. At present per capita, forest land is just 0.08 hectare, while it should have ideally been 0.47 hectares.
Answer: In spite of many rules and regulations and active vigilance by the forest department, poaching still continues in Indian forests. The killing of wild animals disturbs the environmental balance.
Global warming
Answer: High level of air pollution means a high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases and hence results in global warming. The effects of global warming can be seen in changing weather patterns, flash floods and droughts in our country also.
Question 6: What are the functions of the environment?
Answer: Following are the functions of the environment:
  • Environment supplies resources
  • It assimilates wastes
  • It sustains life by providing biodiversity
  • It also provides aesthetic services like scenery
Question 7: Identify six factors contributing to land degradation in India.
Answer: Six factors responsible for land degradation are as follows:
  • loss of vegetation due to deforestation
  • unsustainable firewood and fodder extraction
  • shifting cultivation
  • encroachment into forest lands
  • non-adoption of adequate measures for soil conservation
  • improper crop rotation
Question 8: Explain how the opportunity costs of negative environmental impact are high.
Answer: Negative environmental impact has long-term opportunity costs involved. When the rate of resource extraction is higher than that of its renewal, many resources get exhausted or become on the verge of extinction. As a result, we are forced to invest too much in the exploration of alternate resources. The environmental pollution results in the bad quality of air and water which results in many diseases; like asthma and cholera. Prevention and treatment of these diseases involved a huge cost to the society. Thus, it can be said that the opportunity costs of negative environmental impact are high.
Question 9: Outline the steps involved in attaining sustainable development in India.
Answer: Following are the steps involved in attaining sustainable development in India:
  • Use of non-conventional sources of energy: This will help in reducing our dependency on thermal power and hydel power. Thus, the use of non-conventional sources of energy will help in ensuring sustainable development.
  • LPG, Gobar gas in rural areas: Use of LPG and gobar gas in rural areas will help in reducing the extraction of firewood for fuel. Thus, it will help in reducing air pollution and the felling of trees.
  • CNG in urban areas: As the example of Delhi shows, increased use of CNG in urban areas can help in improving air quality.
  • Wind power: Wind power is a renewable source of energy and can be harnessed with available technology. Many wind farms are already operational in India.
  • Solar power through photovoltaic cells: Solar panels are being used for powering traffic lights and hoardings in many cities. Solar cells are also being used in water heaters and for lightning purposes.
  • Mini-hydel plants: Mini hydel plants can be ideal for hilly areas which have a large number of streams. Mini hydel plants can help in supplying electricity to remote areas and also in preventing transmission losses.
Question 10: India has abundant natural resources—substantiate the statement.
Answer: India has a unique geographical location and hence it is endowed with plenty of natural resources. Most of the minerals are found in abundance in India; except petroleum. Some of the major rivers are in India and thus a vast portion of India has highly fertile land. India gets plenty of sunshine throughout the year which makes it an ideal place for harnessing solar energy. The vast area of the Thar desert is ideal of harnessing wind energy. A very long coastline of India means we can get plenty of resources from the ocean.
Question 11: Is environmental crisis a recent phenomenon? If so, why?
Answer: Before the industrial revolution, the rate of extraction of resources was very low and it was less than that of renewal of resources. But after so many years of industrial revolution and subsequent development, the rate of extraction of resources has grown manifold. This has resulted in the exhaustion of resources in many countries. It has also resulted in high levels of environmental pollution. Hence, it can be said that the environmental crisis is a recent phenomenon.
Question 12: Give two instances of
Overuse of environmental resources
Answer: Overuse of fossil fuels and minerals
Misuse of environmental resources
Answer: Wastage of drinking water, wastage of paper
Question 13: State any four pressing environmental concerns of India. Correction for environmental damages involves opportunity costs—explain.
Answer: The four pressing environmental concerns of India are; air pollution, groundwater pollution, pollution of rivers and soil erosion.
It is indeed true that correction of environmental damages involves opportunity costs. Let us take the example of air pollution. For minimizing air pollution, we need to fit vehicles with catalytic converters which means increased cost of the vehicle. For rectifying the pollution of water bodies, we need to clean up our rivers which is a gargantuan task.
Question 14: Explain the supply-demand reversal of environmental resources.
Answer: Before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the supply of natural resources was higher than demand. But after many years of Industrial Revolution, there has been a role reversal. At present, the demand for natural resources is higher than supply.
Question 15: Account for the current environmental crisis.
Answer: The current environmental crisis is because of our unsustainable practices. We are overusing and misusing the natural resources. As a result, many resources have either exhausted or are on the verge of exhaustion. The excess use of natural resources has created a huge amount of waste which is beyond the waste absorption capacity of the environment. This has resulted in a situation in which our environment’s ability to sustain life has been compromised. This situation is called the environmental crisis.
Question 16: Highlight any two serious adverse environmental consequences of development in India. India’s environmental problems pose a dichotomy — they are poverty induced and, at the same time, due to affluence in living standards—is this true?
Answer: One of the serious consequences of development in India is air pollution and another is heavily polluted rivers. Ganga; the holiest river of India; resembles a dirty drain near most of the cities it passes through. It is absolutely true that India’s environmental problems are poverty induced as well as due to affluence in living standards. The poor people continue to fell tree to obtain firewood because they cannot afford LPG. Felling of trees has serious environmental consequences. On the other hand, the affluent lifestyle means increased consumption of fossil fuels which also causes serious damage to the environment.
Question 17: What is sustainable development?
Answer: The development which ensures a good quality of life for the current generation and also ensures that the future generation would get at least the same quality of life is called sustainable development.
Question 18: Keeping in view your locality, describe any four strategies of sustainable development.
Answer: The following strategies can help in ensuring sustainable development for any locality:
Switching to alternate sources of energy; like solar energy and wind energy
Promoting afforestation to recover the loss of greenery.
Promoting the use of CNG in vehicles
Building better public transport facilities
Question 19: Explain the relevance of intergenerational equity in the definition of sustainable development.
Answer: Intergenerational equity means whatever natural resources are available to our generation should also be available to the coming generations. In fact, this is the basic premise of sustainable development. If the development can be sustained in a way that many generations to come would be in a position to enjoy the bounty of nature then only we can say that we are practicing sustainable development.


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