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Analyzing Environmental Ethics Throughout The Ages

Updated: Jan 18


When a man ravages the environment, he commits nothing less than a matricide. This famous aphorism was given by the apex court in the case of T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad .v. Union of India. Most of the countries have Environmental laws and regulations but very few of the countries abide by them. Humans are one of the biggest beneficiaries of nature who have not just harnessed the environment for basic needs but exploited mother nature to fulfill their avarice. Researches have shown that if we compare the unconditional services by the environment with monetary value then that environmental service will be more than 33 trillion USD. Interestingly, this amount is nearly twice that of global gross national product which is approximately 18 trillion USD. We take these services for granted because they are free and without conditions. There is a dire need to preserve the environment and the ecosystem of this planet. Every single organism plays a key role in making up the environment and every single organism is equally important. One can come up with a question; “Why do we need to conserve every species? This question can be reposted with the help of the “Rivet-Hopper” Hypothesis which was given by Paul Ehrlich. According to this hypothesis, if we assume that the whole ecosystem as an airplane that is joined by millions of rivets, every single rivet is representing a species. If every passenger of the airplane starts removing the rivet with a preconception that nothing will happen if some rivets are removed, the debilitation and collapse of the airplane (ecosystem) will be the result.

Altering Concept of Environment-From Puranas to Law

The concept of laws to prevent the exploitation of nature is not new. It can be traced back to Vedic times. The “Aranyani Sukta” of Rigveda informed the deity of the Forest and also warned that forests should not be exploited. In “Matsya Purana”, it is asserted that “One tree is as important as ten sons.” In Atharvaveda too, the importance of plants and trees is given in such a way they were treated as life forms. The whole family of ‘flora and fauna’ is given importance and earth is said the “keeper of life forms.” The most important part is that the Vedas not only provides the significance of plants and animals but they also personifies air, ocean, forest, sun, and earth, etc as the gods, which are called as Vayu Deva, Samudra Deva, Vana Deva, Surya Deva, and Prithvi Mata respectively.

Our constitution was not far behind in bolstering the protection of the environment. The 42nd Constitutional Amendment which was made in the year 1976 came up with some of the environment inclined provisions such as 48-A and 51-A(g). Article 48-A talks about the protection and safeguard of forests and wildlife and the improvement of the environmental conditions. This article gives the principle on which the policy of the government should be based upon. Article 51-A(g). This article is one of the fundamental duties provided in the constitution, which puts an obligation upon the citizens of India to protect the environment which includes lakes, forests, rivers, the wildlife, etc, and this article also promotes compassion towards living creatures.


There is a lack of Stringent Environmental laws and leniency in the implementation of established Environmental Laws. These are some reasons why people are ignorant about the obligation they carry towards the environment. There is an innumerable number of statutes for the protection of Environment like ‘The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986’, ‘ The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981’, ‘The Indian Forest Act, 1980’, ‘The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980’, ‘The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972’, ‘The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981’, ‘The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010’, etc. At the end of the day, it cannot be negated that it is not the law that hinders the man from exploiting the environment. Rather than that, it is the moral values and ethics that are inculcated and ingrained inside the intellect of the person. It is pathetic that a country with a high moral and righteous attitude toward the environment is now showing a benighted attitude towards nature.


Nagesh Pal Singh is currently pursuing Law at Jamia Millia Islamia .

They can be Contacted at www.linkedin.com/in/nagesh-pal-singh-b185041a6

Edited by: Swathi Ashok Nair


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