Class 11 Economics

Environment and
Sustainable Development

NCERT Solution

Question 1: What is meant by environment?

Answer: The total planetary inheritance and the totality of resources is called 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 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. 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.
  • Illiteracy

    Answer: Many people continue to pollute the environment because of ignorance. The illiterates comprise a major section of such people.
  • Industrialisation

    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.
  • Urbanisation

    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, 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.
  • Poaching

    Answer: In spite of many rules and regulations and active vigilance by the forest department, poaching still continues in Indian forests. Killing of wild animals disturbs the environmental balance.
  • Global warming

    Answer: High level of air pollution means 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 exploration of alternate resources. The environmental pollution results in bad quality of air and water which results in many diseases; like asthma and cholera. Prevention and treatment of these diseases involved 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, 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 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 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 exhaustion of resources in many countries. It has also resulted in high levels of environmental pollution. Hence, it can be said that 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 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 of 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 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 is 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.