Drought: A yield of over-exploitation?
Finally the State Cabinet has resolved to recommend the Central Government to declare Manipur as a drought-hit State. We are already in the second half of July and this period should see the height of paddy cultivation activities in the State if not for the parchingly inadequate rainfall. Manipur and drought sound rather ironical given the fact that the whole North East region used to receive abundant and often superfluous rainfall every year. But this is not the case anymore. Climatic conditions of the whole planet are undergoing drastic changes everywhere. Mankind is both the principal force and main culprit of this global climate change. But all living creatures are victims of this human-induced climate change. A number of animal species have already disappeared from the planet on account of the global climate change accelerated a million times by anthropogenic activities. We, mankind, are responsible for the global warming and adverse weather conditions seen everywhere across the globe and it is our responsibility to remedy this global issue, even if we cannot totally undo what mankind had done in the past couple of centuries. One primary reason for the fast degrading environment is mankind’s economic concerns and prioritisation of economic agenda over environmental concerns by almost all the countries. In spite of the ever rising temperature, the imminent threats of melting Arctic glaciers and subsequent rise of sea levels, all the international environmental summits including the latest one could not come up with any effective mechanism to counter environmental degradation. Too often we think and act as if we were not part of nature. Rather than thinking of ourselves as nested in nature and dependent upon it, we think of ourselves as sitting on top of it, managing it. We think there is the human world and the natural world, and we forget that we are ourselves, with all our technology, part of nature. Economic activity, both production and consumption, relates to the environment in two fundamental ways — we draw resources (both renewable and non-renewable) from the environment to produce goods and services, and we emit wastes into the environment in the process of both production and consumption.
So what is the reality? What will happen to our industrial civilization if the supply of natural resources is constantly diminished relative to demand? The answer is not far to seek. Our prosperity will be threatened. And the solution is obvious. We must strive to obtain more goods and services from our finite supply of non-renewable resources, and we must protect — from both extraction and waste impacts — the natural productivity of our forests, fisheries, agricultural and range land, and other renewable resources. It is also obvious that our continued prosperity depends on protecting both extractive potential and waste absorption capacity. Manipur, though a very tiny State, is also contributing its share to the global climate change and one activity which constitutes the lion’s share of the State’s contribution to global climate change is over-exploitation of forest resources. Ignorance, economic compulsion and in some part greed are behind unrestrained exploitation of forest resources. Our people must have clear idea about the roles of forest in environmental protection viz retention of underground water, absorption of harmful carbon emission, balancing seasonal rainfall, prevention of landslides et al. But we doubt how many of our people have a clear idea about total economic value of our forests. The carbon absorptive capacity of our forests has its economic value. We need to upgrade and expand our understanding of forest resources. We must stop seeing forest resources only as firewood and tree trunks for obtaining timber. They are indeed priceless. We must remember that the drought like situation seen today would recur in the coming years too and it may grow worse if we continue over-exploitation of our forest resources.