FRS 136: Living in a Polluted Greenhouse
Quantifying Perfection: Biodiversity in India and Finding the “Optimal Solution”
Perfection is an attribute that cannot be “measured,” in the most specific sense of the term. I do not
propose that I will be prove how to accurately measure an entity such as perfection in this essay; the
philosophical implications of such a presumptuous statement are unimaginable. What I
however, is to find an approximation for the “optimal” solution to an environmental problem. And
this will, naturally, involve some degree of quantification of an abstract entity such as perfection.
While this is in no way an absolute measure of such an entity in its philosophical sense, it
, I will
demonstrate, offer the best possible solution that can be obtained realistically, and thus acts as an
indicator for policy-makers to take the right step.
To begin with, I will define what a “perfect” solution is. A “solution” to a problem, first of all, is
defined as the collection of policies pertaining to that particular problem, together with their
implementation and effects. Any environmental issue, however simple it might seem on the outset, is
actually a complex interconnected web of several strands. A number of elements or groups, that I will
call “parties” henceforth, are directly or indirectly affected by any environmental issue. So any
solution to an environmental problem affects these parties as well, either positively, or negatively. For
instance, building a dam on a river has a number of merits – it stores water for consumption as well
as for hydel power. But it may affect the natural course of a river adversely, and more importantly it
is always accompanied by displacement of a non-negligible fraction of the local population. These
two parties are, therefore, negatively affected by the construction of this dam. A “perfect” solution is
defined as a solution that does not adversely affect
party involved in the issue, directly or
indirectly. Such a solution is a theoretical entity that essentially does not exist in reality. Any solution
invariably affects at least one involved party negatively, because of the complexity of any such issue.
At best, what we can hope for is the “optimal” solution, the solution that has the fewest negative
effects on the involved parties. That is the closest to a perfect solution we can possibly get.