Some might inculpate the developing and emerging countries for massively destroying the environment and neglecting environmental protection with the aim to compete with the industrialized countries. However, who is really responsible for the ecological dilemma we are in?
The Greendex, an Annual Survey made National Geographic Society showed the most environmentally friendly countries in the world in 2010.
And the Greendex goes to...India!!
The objective of the survey Greendex is the establishment of regular quantitative measures of consumer behavior and the promotion of sustainable consumption. Within the framework of this study, 17,000 consumers were interrogated in 17 countries. They were asked about their behavior in relation to energy use, conservation, transportation preferences, food sources, the use of green vs. traditional products, attitudes regarding the sustainability and awareness of environmental issues.
As in 2008, the most environmentally friendly economies are India, Brazil and China. The six lowest scores were all achieved by consumers in industrialized countries. India? One might ask? You might think of the Ganges in India which is being polluted with chemicals, sewage water and even human and animal remains which is posing major health risks for the population. Knowingly, developing and emerging countries are obliged to concentrate on their economic development, giving low priority to environmental protection. This has led to problems regarding water quality, heavy air pollution due to vehicles that emit high levels of sulfur dioxide and suspended particulate matter, the pollution of waters through chemicals and agricultural activities and water shortages. As major problems in developing countries are still the access to safe drinking water, food and medical and health services, the progress of environmental protection can hardly be addressed.
Considering this, why is India considered to be the most environmentally friendly country among the countries included in the survey?
These are the real facts:
India placed 1st for the 2nd time in a row. The reason for this is that a large part of the Indian population still does not have access to heating systems and hot running water (42%). Indians tend not to have large vehicles (49% do not own or lease cars or trucks) and if they do have a vehicle, 13% do not drive alone. Indians prefer motorcycles or scooters (67%) and 81% of the population uses public transportation at least once a month. Indians prefer to live close to their destinations and many of them walk or cycle to their destinations (63%). 35% Indians grow their own feed on a weekly or even daily basis, which represents a percentage higher than in any other country in the world. Indians do not consume a lot of meat. (Meat is a major contributing factor to pollution). Indians prefer to buy used items rather than new ones (42%) and they are more likely to repair their objects than replace them by new ones (68%). In general, Indians are becoming more concerned about environmental problems (76%) and they feel increasingly guilty about their impact on the environment. They are more likely than other nations to worry about climate change, global warming, water shortages or the loss of species and habitats.
The unintentional eco-friends
We can see that people in emerging countries such as India have been living unintentionally environmentally friendly for centuries. Hence, instead of accusing the developing and emerging countries of neglecting environmental protection, industrialized nations should serve as a role model. They are the ones that have to show what they have done since the industrial revolution was essential for their economic development but wrong with regards to many other aspects that affect our health and life on this planet today. They are the ones that have been majorly responsible for the consumption of the Earth’s resources and the pollution of the environment. Industrializing countries have the economic power to invest in environmentally friendly products, try to raise awareness of the destructive lifestyle they have been leading for decades and try to reverse the devastation they have caused. If today's eco-paradises are called India and China, then that shows us who the real culprits are and who the ones are that have to get us out of this mess.
What needs to be done?
Industrialized nations need to serve as a role model by supporting developments such as the promotion of environmentally friendly business practices, the gradual change from conventional products and services to eco-friendly products and services, the growth of ecovillages, the integration of particulate filters into vehicles and the ban of highly polluting vehicles from streets, amongst others. Before looking down on developing and emerging countries, the industrialized nations have to prove that reducing and minimizing the human's carbon footprint on Earth is possible and realistic.
Currently, industrialized countries are not yet doing their job, with the majority of cars powered by conventional fuel, highly energy-consuming electronic products on the market and general overconsumption on a global scale. While developing countries need to learn from the mistakes industralized countries made and try to promote and make use of eco-friendly practices while expanding, industrialized countries need to become more active and invest in the implementation and use of eco-friendly practices, goods and services on a larger scale. Only then can we achieve our mission: an eco-friendly Planet Earth.