For the Love of Nature
Questioning our ignorance towards our natural environment
Yuval Noah Harari, a renowned world historian, in his book Sapiens –a brief history of humankind wrote, “Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to extinction. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of biology, and if we knew how many species we’ve already eradicated, we might be more motivated to protect those that still survive”.
In fact, this reminds us of the critical stage we have come to. It is true that over the years of its evolution and revolutions humans have caused immeasurable damage to the environment. We have changed the course of nature with all the scientific advancement that we call technology. All the comfort that hi-tech offers are but polluting and degrading the natural environment. Perhaps, we have endangered species, driven them to extinctions, and worst, we still seem to be at a point where we are yet to realise what we have caused and what it may cost us humans.
Sadly, even today, many of us don’t seem to notice the dying nature around us. Our rivers are drying up, and our forests have very few–our ecology has been imbalanced. There are no more trees to store rainwater, and consequently we are ravaged by floods during rainy seasons (which happens every year but we still refuse to learn and change), and scarcity of water during winter–we cannot even sustain ourselves for a year anymore. But we still don’t seem to realise or otherwise we are still gripped by selfishness with a little sense of social responsibility. What will it cost us ?
In a few years from now there will be no more freshwater but gallons of treated water. We will go inside our rooms and turn on some kind of machine to give us fresh air instead of going out in the open for it. Or someday the air will become so polluted that we have to walk around with gas masks. We will turn to our record-players, and will have mobile applications to listen to the sounds of nature; of flowing streams and of the sound of birds and breezes hustling with the trees because we will have no more of them in reality. It’s not impossible if this trend of pollution and degradation continues with a little effort to turn it around. In fact, we already have a few of such applications that play the song of birds. Where are we getting at ?
We’d rather not talk about the entire world and the whole impact of global warming, and of the rising sea levels and the depleting ozone layer. But let’s look at our State as the least we can do. What have we done to prevent flooding ? What have we done to prevent the depletion of natural forests ? What have we done to preserve our ecosystem ? If it is Jhum cultivation that destroys our forests, what alternative have we offered ? If it is the avoidable emission of gases from burning of plastic wastes or other harmful materials, how much awareness have we given ? How much effort have we taken to safeguard our natural environment ? When crores and crores of rupees are spent on other sectors, how much has been granted to restore the environment, or for afforestation and reforestation ? Are we simply ignorant ?
An average tree takes at least 7-10 years to grow to its matured height, and another 7-10 years to grow to its full size. How many of those today are being destroyed in less than a minute with machines ? Or how many trees are cut without planting another, which too is the least alternative we have. In fact, we need those trees for furniture to beautify our homes, but we also need them to survive to give us clean and pure air and to regulate the availability of water. What about plastic wastes and industrial wastes ? Those rivers filled with dirt and poisonous substances ? These are simple sciences we have learnt in high school. What must we do ? This is a challenge to the people and the Government as well to start being responsible towards the environment. We need a convention that would agree on a certain set of laws and the Government to take the initiative while the people must as well engage responsibly. We cannot leave it to a handful of activists anymore because the seriousness calls for a more collective action and a more well-thought out consensus otherwise which certain consequences could harden our lives as well as threaten our very existence. We must now realise the necessity and urgency.
We should no more lose our mind. We are speaking of high-end technologies and the wonders of science but we are forgetting the necessity to preserve the very essence that makes our lives possible. It’s time now to go back to saving the natural environment. Protection alone cannot do anything anymore, because there is the least left to be protected. We need now to rebuild the environment, plant trees and safe-guard the little that we have, for good and for the entire human race.
The writer is from Manipur Theological College, Mission Compound, Kangpokpi.