The old Chinese proverb certainly applies to modern civilization, particularly to Manipur and its relationship to world resources that support it. There is mounting evidence that humans are exploiting the earth support system upon which their depend on their existence. The major effects of human activities on Earth have taken place within a short period of time relative to the time that life has been present on the planet. The emission of carbon dioxide and other green house gases that goes into the atmosphere is causing global warming. Discharge of toxic pollutants has degraded the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the geosphere in every part of the world. The effect of pollution operates across national boundaries and therefore requires joint co-operation and partnership across all stakeholders involved in thinking and action.
Natural resources have become stresses and depleted. The productivity of agricultural land has diminished due to soil erosion, deforestation, contamination of fresh water. Wildlife habitats have been destroyed or damaged with many species of animals and plants on the verge of extinction.
But it was until the 1960's, the use of fossil fuels, chemically controlled agriculture, deforestation and depletion of marine resources was thought to be not in dangers. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), released a summary report called "our Common Future" which cause widespread concerns on world deepening environmental degradation(WCED 1987). And this pushed sustainable development on the forefront. Sustainable development is defined as the development or progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. And the key aspects of sustainability is the maintainance's of earth carrying capacity, that is, its ability to maintain an acceptable level of human activity and consumption over a sustained period of time.
Natural capital is particularly pertinent to sustainability. In addition to providing natural resources such as mineral ores, it provide diverse ecosystem services such as protective stratosphere ozone layer, interaction of ecosystems with natural environment to maintain conditions conducive to life and human comfort, and even pollination function of bees and other animals. Natural capital can be described as "common" in classic work. This was a term used centuries ago in England to describe a common pasture used by residents of a village for grazing cattle, sheep and horses. Each family could gain more wealth by putting more animals into the commons. For example, a family with 1 sheep could acquire a second one and double its wealth in sheep. Let say the commons (natural capital) could accommodate perhaps 100 head of sheep, this individual action would detract from the commons by only few percent ( 1 to 3%). But each family seek to increase its wealth by adding more animals and, over time, in aggregates, the carrying capacity of the commons became grossly exceeded, and the green pasture was ruined from over grazing. This practice was widespread in many villages during the 14th century that the economies collapsed with whole population no longer able to meet their basic food needs.
Examples abound of the counterproductive attitudes of people towards resources and of their disregard for the commons upon which ultimately their own live hood depend. Electricity consumption can be used to illustrate a modern tragedy of the commons. When an individual household used electricity to meet their own basic needs, it adds to that person's possession and enhances lifestyles by making life easier. This sustainable used of electricity makes a small impression on the environment in terms of resources used to produce electricity, material for distribution and pollutions for power productions. However, as more and more people aspire for modern lifestyle and wealth, electricity is over used. This put a strain on the machinery, fossil fuels to keep them running that the demands becomes so heavy that the machinery losses it carrying capacity, at some places at some times, that the whole grid distribution collapses. This is also due to wrong pricing of electricity by the regulating authority.
This attitude persists in different guises. Examples of the modern tragedies of the commons include vast amounts of land unwisely cultivated and turned into barren land, over fishing in many rivers and over exploitation of forest for timber. All these examples make a strong case for collective actions in the public sector to ensure the well being of ourselves and future generations. It also illustrate the limitations of unregulated " free-for-all" economic systems in achieving sustainable developments. This poses a major challenge for government to devise a system in regulations act to preserve and protect the support systems on which economies ultimately depends. Public policy/response is needed urgently to alter individual behaviour in a manner that minimizes the difference between social net benefits and private net benefits.
Following strict rules and regulation is not good enough. For sustainability, the three pillar of environment sustainable: social, economic and environment should be placed in high priority and all should be strictly followed and adopted. There should be strong directive from the regulating agencies to move towards sustainability, supported with strong incentives. The challenges now is not just for policy maker, but for different stakeholder as well, across the state, to voluntarily modify the way we managed our environment or run the risk of compromising the climatic system and business to a great extent.