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The Ailing Planet

• Green Movement
• Sustainable development
• Zoo at Zambia
• Brandt Commission
• Four Principal biological systems
• Article 48 of Indian Constitution
• Population Explosion (consequences, the best contraceptive etc.)
• Era of Responsibility

2 marks
1. Locate the lines in the text that support the title ‘The Ailing Planet’.
The following lines in the text support the title ‘The Ailing Planet’:
• Are we to leave our successors a scorched Planet of advancing deserts,
impoverished landscapes and ailing environment.
• A three years study using satellites and aerial photography conducted by the
United Nations warns that the environment has deteriorated so badly that it is critical
in many of the 88 countries investigated.

2. What does the notice ‘The World’s most dangerous animal’ at a cage in the
zoo at Lusaka, Zambia? Signify.
The notice signifies that there is depletion of resources and deterioration of
environment. Man is responsible for this and his own survival is threatened.

3. Why does the author agree that the growth of world population is one of the
strongest factors distorting the future of human society?
The population of India was estimated to be 920 million in 1994. Overpopulation
upsets all plans of development and puts a severe strain on the earth’s principal
biological systems. This leads to poverty and unemployment and development is

4. What causes endless anguish to common man?

The endless anguish is caused to common man, when laws are constituted but are
never enforced or respected in our country. Evils like casteism, untouchability, and
bonded labour still exist and need to be abolished by strict laws.

5. What are the unusually alarming statistics about the population that the
author talks about?
The author says that the population explosion has distorted the future of human
society. Mankind took a million years to reach the first billion. The second billion was
added in just another 100 years and the twentieth century has added 3.7 billion more.
The present population is over 5.7 billion. Every four days the population increases by
one million.

6. Why is the Green Revolution important?

The Green Revolution is important as the signs of the earth which are connected with
life shows the earth as a patient. We have moral obligations. We must become good
stewards of the planet and act as responsible trustees of the legacy for future
7. What is the concept of sustainable development?
Sustainable development is that progress which is made to meet the needs of the
present and takes care not to endanger the future. This means we must not deprive the
world of its resources and protect our endangered species.

8. What is the role of industry in the new era of responsibility?

Industry is the main source of environmental pollution. In the new era of
responsibility, the industrialists must become conscious of their responsibility towards
environment. They should remain environmental friendly even when they exist as
leading manufacturers.

9. Justify the title of the essay.

The author has depicted the planet earth as someone who is suffering from a disease.
The green movement takes a holistic view of the situation and seeks to maintain and
conserve the environment and maintain it.

10. What is the holistic and ecological view of the world that has emerged in
recent times?
The view about the world in the recent times is that it is an organism which has
become ailing and needs looking after. It also has metabolic needs and vital processes
which have to be nurtured and preserved. We have to save the earth for our

11. What is the concept of sustainable development?

The concept of sustainable development means that the development which is meant
to meet the demands of the present generation keeping in mind the fact that the
environment and resources have to be preserved and conserved for future generations.

12. What is the status of the earth’s forest systems?

The earth’s forest systems are rapidly depleting. We are eroding our tropical forests at
an alarming rate of 40-50 million acres in a year. We lose one and a half acre of
forests per second.

13. Explain the statement ‘forests precede mankind; deserts follow’.

Forests have helped to nurture mankind from times immemorial but man has
destroyed these forests ruthlessly and deserts have taken their place. Man is
destroying himself by destroying forests.

14. Has the growth of world population contributed to the bad environment
situation today?
Yes, the growth of population has led to a degradation of environment. Natural
resources are rapidly depleting due to growing demands. The forests and fuels are

15. What is the role of industries in the preservation of environment?

Industries and industrialists have to exercise control in use of natural resources. The
top officials need to become the guardians of our environment if we have to think
about our future generations.

16. What did Mrs. Thatcher say about man’s lifespan on the earth?
She says that a human life is like a life tenancy on the earth and not a free hold
possession. Therefore, the need arises for controlled actions and the necessity to look
after the earth in order to prolong its life span.
17. What are the four principal biological systems that the author refers to?
The author refers to fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands as they form the
foundation of the global economic system. They provide raw materials for industry.

18. How are the earth’s principal biological systems being depleted?
Earth’s principal biological systems are being depleted by excessive use. Over fishing
is quite common. Forests are being destroyed to obtain firewood for cooking.
Grasslands are turning into deserts and produce from croplands is decreasing.

10 marks
19. How has the growth of world population affected the environment? Support
your answer with suitable arguments?
The author Nani Palkhivala enumerates some alarming statistics to suggest how the
growth of world population has tremendously affected the environment. The
population which took a million years to reach the first billion took just another
hundred years to reach the second billion. Another century passed it and reached the
alarming figure of 3.7 million. Presently it is over 6 million and there is a huge
demand on resources, natural or man made. The resources worldwide are under a lot
of stress and pressure.
The four principal biological systems i.e. fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands
which form the foundation of the global economic system and provide raw materials
to the industry are facing a lot of stress. The human demands on these systems are
increasing at a rapid speed. Hence, sustainability and productivity are both hampered.
When this happens, fisheries collapse, forests disappear, grasslands become
wastelands and croplands deteriorate.
The need of the hour is to become sensitive towards the needs of the environment to
get affected; we will leave behind nothing but an ailing planet for our future

20. We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it
from our children. Discuss.
Earth’s resources are limited and will not last for ever. In the twentieth century, there
has been a revolutionary change in human perception. We cannot take the planet for
granted. We are mere custodians. We have to take a holistic view of the very basis of
our existence. The earth is a living organism of which we are parts. It has its own
metabolic needs to stay alive and must be respected and preserved for the future
What is required is sustainable development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the destiny of future generation. There are four biological
systems, namely fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands. They form the
foundation of the global economic system. They supply us food and raw materials for
industry. In larger areas of the world, these systems are reaching unsustainable levels.
Their productivity is being damaged.
The growth of world population is another factor distorting the future of our children.
Development is not possible if population increases. In this era of responsibility
towards our future generation, population must be controlled. Industries must become
environmental friendly. Now many industrialists, politicians and writers have realized
their responsibility in preserving the non renewable natural resources for the future
Why does Nani Palkhiwala call the Earth an ailing planet and what is the role of
the Green Movement?

Nani Palkhivala in his essay ‘The Ailing Planet’: The Green Movement’s Role’,
calls man ‘the worlds’ most dangerous animal’. How does he defend his
viewpoint and at he same time holds out hope for the world?

Extra questions
2 marks
What do you understand by the Era of Responsibility?
Why is development the best contraceptive?