The Ailing Planet Summary by Nani Palkhivala

The article critiques the dangers of the unsustainable path of modern development and incessant abuse of nature’s gifts. The irrational and unrestricted use without judicious mitigation strategy and conservation has led to a point where the safety of our planet is critically jeopardized and its ability to self-regulate hampered immensely. 

He supports the urgency by giving UN data which shows the critical state of natural systems in most of the 88 countries observed.

Table of Contents

Green Revolution

He points at the rise of global consciousness caused by the Green Revolution in the last century and a wave of urgency and inevitability of the need to develop a long term plan of action to replenish and recover the various natural ecosystems.

The change from a human-centric approach to a grander scale where humans become agents of positive change for the entire system with various other species closely linked to each other for ensuring the livability and survivability of the planet itself.

Over-Use of Resources

He criticises such progress that is using resources for fulfilling the needs of the present time and argues for preserving them for the future generation. Present developmental goals must include the estimates of future essentials and needs.

The four biological systems; grasslands, agriculture land, forestland and aquatic system serve as repositories for all the food and material supplies that humans require to feed and produce commodities and utilities.

However, in the race to attain a higher rate of progress, humans have caused massive devastation and destruction of all the four systems. The croplands have been damaged due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides and the presence of natural fertilizers like urea applications and faunal health of the fisheries has deteriorated due to protein heavy diet.

Forest cover has been fast decreasing without adequate reforestation and compensatory afforestation. This is on contrary to the constitutionally enshrined directive principle of state policy (Art 48A) which encourages the preservation of natural heritage.


The author then puts forward the need for education and the spread of family planning information. He considers the population as the biggest cause for such abuse of natural wealth. Therefore, immunization of population control through information and awareness drives is important to sustain the health of the planet and its systems.

He also points out that the massive role industry leaders must agree to deliver environmental costs of their unhindered production. The industrial wastes are the primary contaminant of the Earth’s flora and fauna.

The article ends with a revision of our responsibility towards our progenies and generations with constant resolve to improve the natural health of the planet.