Jan 23, 2020 in Exploratory

Ecosystem

The environmental pollution has a history that is almost as long as the history of the humanity itself. For a long time, a primitive man was not different from the other species, being in equilibrium with the environment. However, the human race stood out among the others as its activities have presented a potential threat to the balance of nature. Moreover, since the appearance of a highly industrialized society, the dangerous human interference in nature has increased dramatically, and the degree of intervention has increased, resulting in the rapidly progressing environmental deterioration. It is quite difficult to define the ones behind this situation but in most cases, governments of the countries play the role of a scapegoat in this matter. Indeed, they represent the interests of their people and coordinate their activities, meaning that the decisions that affect the environment are mostly made by them. However, there is still a question regarding the extent to which the government of a country can be blamed for the environmental deterioration. Therefore, the following work is focused on defining the guilt of the governments for the environmental pollution.

First of all, the degree of ecological deterioration is directly dependent on the environmental policy that is conducted by the government. In particular, it involves the legal protection of environmental principles, as well as the provision of the material incentives for environmental protection activities, striving to make them cost-effective for the businesses. Basically, the government determines the way in which the environment and the natural resources will be used by the people of the country as well as the various entities. However, the degree of the environmental deterioration depends not only on the quality of its environmental policy but also its ability to make the legal entities follow its postulates. In particular, in case the primary directions of the environmental policy are not realized, the duplication of functions and powers in the field of environmental protection is present , is not clearly defined the responsibility of government agencies, even the most carefully developed environmental policy will not be efficient. In this regard, the government is ultimately responsible for the environmental deterioration.

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Another factor that defines the role of the government in the process of environmental deterioration is its response to the technological disasters that may affect the environment. However, such response does not only include the mitigation of the effects of the disaster but also the provision of comprehensive information about the event. For example, in the case of a fire on the territory of a tank farm that is located close to the residential areas, the authorities may hide the data on the amount of petroleum products that are stored there to avoid a wide-scale panic. However, when the liquid fuels are being burned, they emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere, which lead to the formation of acid rains. Such rains can be dry, i.e. fall in the form of mineral particles, which will pollute the soil and water for a long time. Moreover, the products of combustion of the fuel are often carried over the long distances from the place of an accident. Thus, such initiative of the authorities may also lead to the further environmental deterioration. In particular, the comprehensive information about the type and quantity of the fuel allows calculating the amount of harmful substances that are formed as a result of this large-scale fire. By using mathematical modeling techniques, it is easy to get a clear picture of environmental pollution by various toxic substances and develop a corresponding plan of actions to mitigate their harmful effect. However, in case the data is distorted by the authorities, the precision of the mentioned calculations will be lowered significantly, affecting the efficiency of the developed mitigation plans. Therefore, in this regard, the government may be responsible for the environmental deterioration as much as the entity that has provoked a technological disaster. 

Finally, the overall way of the development of a country, which is primarily established by its government, namely its citizens’ attitude towards the ecological problems, also has a certain effect on the degree of the environmental deterioration. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the Greendex survey conducted by National Geographic in 2012, which has covered 17 countries and was focused on determining their feeling of guilt for the environmental deterioration. The questions concerned the people’s habits, the amount of energy used, their food sources, and their opinions of the environmental issues. The survey has showed that the American consumers are the least green, occupying the last position in the guilt chart for the fourth year in a row. At the same time, China, India and Brazil – the three largest developing economies – have demonstrated the highest values of the guilt indicators. Moreover, they also account for the two-thirds of various environmental protection products, namely in the terms of climate governance. However, it is not surprising that the United States has occupied the last position in the chart, given the love of Americans for everything big – cars, houses, etc., which has emerged due to the constant pursuing of the so-called American Dream. Moreover, such pursuit has been actively supported by the government. As a result, the ecology does not possess a dominant status in the system of social values of an average American citizen. In turn, the wasteful spending of natural resources may also take place, exacerbating the problem of environmental deterioration. In this regard, it is possible to provide the data on the per capita ecological footprint (the environmental space required for a single person) in global hectares (gha) in the several countries.

Per capita ecological footprint by country, 2005.

Country

Per capita ecological footprint, gha

Overall footprint

Footprint due to carbon

USA

9.4

6.3

Australia

7.8

1.8

Canada

7.0

3.4

Japan

5.0

3.8

Germany

4.5

2.5

China

2.2

1.1

India

0.9

0.2

World average

2.7

1.2

Thus, it can be seen that the U.S. is among the largest consumers of the environmental space with its per capita ecological footprint being more than three times larger than the global average one due to its citizens’ irresponsible use of the natural resources. At the same time, the countries with the high feeling of guilt use them responsibly thus requiring much less per capita environmental space. As a result, it is possible to say that in this case, the government is also responsible for the environmental deterioration but in a rather indirect way as its degree primarily depends on the system of social values of the country’s citizens.

As a conclusion, it is possible to say that the government holds the primary responsibility for the environmental deterioration. Of course, it cannot be viewed as the only side that is responsible for it since the environment is affected by a wide array of the external factors that have little to do with the government (e.g. the attitude of people towards nature, the man-made disasters, etc.). Still, the research has shown that the certain actions of the government may not only have an immediate influence on the state of ecology but also lay the foundation for its continuous deterioration for a prolonged period. In order to change the situation, it is required to trigger a shift in the people’s attitude towards environmental issues. The significance of this work lies in pinpointing the fact that the government often stands at the origin of the environmental deterioration, meaning it must be the primary target of the upcoming changes. Indeed, the greening of the legislative and executive authorities is especially important – without it, the calls for environmental protection will be perceived as demagogic by the citizens.

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