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Datta Banik, S. and Basu, S. K. (eds.) 2009. Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century. A. P. H. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, India. Hardbound. ISBN 978-81-313-0660-4 xii, 384 p.: ill.; 23 cm; US$ 61.55

Reviewed By Pradip Sarkar

Guyana Journal, March 2010

This book Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century edited by Sudip Datta Banik and Saikat Kumar Basu covers a wide range of issues related to varied aspects of environmental perspectives and human responses in a global context.

Individual article provides the author's background, abstract, introduction and conclusion and a comprehensive bibliography. This gives the reader the scope to understand the issues in a much better way and also provides the necessary background to appreciate different issues raised and discussed in this volume.

It is a pleasure to note that current volume accommodates authors from different parts of the world representing a wide diversity of specializations related to environmental studies. The volume showcases articles of different tastes ranging from highly scientific and technical discussions to spiritual overview of the environment. Thus a wide diversity of readers will be able to access research information, enjoy reading different views, philosophies and cross cultural studies - all coherent in one single volume.

Some of the environmental issues of importance discussed in the volume are as follows: The Kenya problem of Lake Victoria requires intervention on the land catchments as per the author Ambrose Obong'o Mbuya, which is well focused in the article. Another author Onosemuode Christopher from Africa has tried to establish that “industry had been more exploited than benefited” in his article: Solid Mineral Exploitation and the Nigerian Environment.

The suggestion by researchers like Christie Kim and Jennifer Van der Lane to conduct more research to determine the length and severity of water stress required to initiate adaptive long-term plant systematic response to prolonged water stress opens the doors of research in that field.

Equally thought provoking is the conclusion of examination of different potential impacts of gene technology and GM crops in the article: “Environmental Impact of Gene Technologies” by Pankaj Kumar Bhowmik. “Global Warming with an Indian Perspective” by Pallav Mukhopadhyay suggests the capture and storage at coal-fired power plants; the dominant power source is a matter to be understood by power plant organizations. The causes and effects of Global Warming have been very well discussed in this article. Another very technologically thought provoking insight has been provided by Sanjib Nandy in his article “Rice QTL Mapping: An Emerging Platforms for Green to Evergreen Revolution”. The author has done an excellent job in reviewing the interaction between QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci) and environment for rice and could serve as a pathfinder for researchers interested in perusing research in this direction and how sustainable it is to the environment and human society in the long run.

Pricing of water with reference to Kolkata Municipal Corporation by Prantik Chakraborty is an interesting article. Water is a national resource and one has to pay a certain amount of price and the gap between source and end use can be in terms of physical distance or lack of appropriate distribution network or both. The author suggests that a study should be carried out to design a suitable structure to take into account the cost of production of water and the ability to pay.

The paper on “Recycling and Utilization of Wastes Towards Optimistic Agricultural Production and Environmental Protection” by Dipak Sarkar and Abhijit Halder suggests the composting of urban and rural wastes which may result in the availability of plant nutrients, destruction of pathogens, elimination of undesirable odor and easy handling. To that end another quite interesting study has been the article “Economic Forestry in Thailand is the key Answer for Achieving Sustainable Development” by Chittiwat Silapat. The author gives a figurative model representing the basic concepts of “Sufficient Economy” philosophical framework which is indeed an excellent model and approach for establishing a more environment friendly and sustainable global society.

The article: “Is Green Religion the Answer to the Ecological Crisis? A Reflection in the Context of the English-Speaking West” by Steve Douglas and Mirian Pepper on religion and environment is mind bogging because of the concept of ecologically informed (or biosensitive) spirituality that effectively addresses the ecological crisis. To my delight this has been a new approach and philosophy that is slowly gaining ground and is indeed a new platform to stand upon and look back on how we look into the interaction of religion, philosophy, environment and human society.

The article on “The 'Ecological' Stock” by Vicente Rappaccioli Navas concludes by saying that the main driving force of the market system of the global economy of today is the integrated factor of individual freedom and the free enterprise jointly with participative democracy.

Vito De Lucia in his article “Common but Differentiated Responsibility for the Global Environment” points to the judicial reasoning as a guiding negotiation process to share a normative vision as a common ethics may be urged to act in genuine solidarity. While Ruth Thomas-Pellicer has advocated enthusiastically on the laws of harmony and discord and the suggestion is to keep our mind and eyes open to sort out the issues in the article “Reconstructing Cultures of Sustainable Consumption and Climate Justice: Towards A Deconstruction of the Global Polity”. This paper is meant for serious and more advanced readers. However, the essence of the message towards new global order and its roles and responsibilities towards global environment is clear and comprehensive.

Two very important articles that worth special mention are the article on how women can contribute to the environment is well focused in “The Role of Women as Conservationists” by Bhaswati Sarkar. She draws the attention of women to educate young ladies on how to sustain the natural balances by not necessarily depleting them as they fulfill their traditional tasks. To that end the article: “Teaching Eco-Ethics” by Olga Osadchuk rightly stresses the need to teach ecological ethics in the early stage of the children's development. Often women and children related issues are missed out in several competing titles. I must thank the editors for being cautious enough to accommodate such important issues in their edited volume.
Lastly the article “Climate Change: A Marxist Analysis” by Norman Dixon gives the reasoning for adoption of the concept of Marxism for a better Environment. The author states: “As society's total disposable time social wealth expand so too the ability of all members of the society to increasingly participate in running, planning and solving its problems including finding solutions to the more intricate environmental or technological problems.”

After reading the articles in the current work “Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century” one will amass deep knowledge from different angles and develop consolidated knowledge for the protection of the ENVIRONMENT.

I thank the authors for their well written papers and specially Sudip Datta Banik and Saikat Kumar Basu for their excellent editing works. This book will cater to students, researchers, academicians and environmental enthusiast alike for the depth of the contents, information provided in the articles and the new philosophy and politics discussed with varied aspects of environment and how it is impacting our daily life, thoughts, events and history. I have seldom come across a volume so well document, captivating and thought provoking in the area of environmental studies. The volume bridges a wide gap between agricultural and environmental studies, humanities and social sciences and more specifically between arts and sciences in a comprehensive and engaging fashion.

*Pradip Sarkar, PhD
External Examiner, Pune University, Pune, India
Adviser, Post and Telegraph Dept, Govt of India, Bihar Circle
Ministry of Finance, Currency and Coinage Division, Govt. of India (Retired)