Save the planet, not the humans

Sep 26, 2022

If we do not change our habits and attitudes, we are in for something disastrous. As we talk about creating more comforts for human life, building wealth and luxuries, we forget the amount of offence we load on our environment. Human life cannot remain on earth if we make the planet unsafe to dwell on. 

I know it is hard to digest. Truth is always bitter. It is tasteless. Once you ask me, I will say this is the time we should stop directly addressing human issues. Instead, we must save the planet. If we ruin the planet, we will have no space to live on earth. Our species will vanish, Just a fear, not sure – a hapless soul cannot have better optimism

Let us compare ourselves with other living things. According to us, the first difference between human beings and other living things is wisdom. But I have a doubt, whether we have this or do need this to live a simple life. We have only a limited knowledge of nature, that too something unwanted, though we boast ourselves having reached far in science and technology. We are yet to learn many things. We rarely use our wisdom that could have made our lives safer and better.

It was after billions of years of evolution that earth has come to the shape that we see. Its inexplicable diverse terrains remain livable for billions of living things. Droughts and floods did not shatter the clusters where life remained since time immemorial. For many years the earth was covered by ice. It took many years to evolve an atmosphere suitable for life. After it became a space for life, the human race hasn’t seen the worst, other than man-made disasters. The medieval time was said to be a warm period. But the complete earth is not equally warm. Today we see a change that is man-made. A difference of two degrees Celsius will necessitate a virtual evacuation of living things from the planet to nowhere. Studies say we are already nearer 1.5 degrees Celsius. Such a disaster is not far. From the warmest period, millions of years ago, the earth evolved a change that suited life on this planet. However, we took it for granted to thrive on the grace of nature. For every mortal earth is only a rented place. As we live on this free-rented space, we have misused it and set it on fire, as worst as we burn our house.

That way threatens the earth and habitually hurts mother nature. Our unlimited ambitions and lust for everything from pleasure to wealth and comforts – to an extent several times more than our actual needs – could only contribute to unnatural calamities. We invite it through our senselessness. Nature has given us the warning several times. Still, we became more aggressive. Nature has become helpless as we have crossed all limits in our chase for discovering the modern world. Those who violate the environment know the serious outcome of it. Yet, we continue to do it until we see nature itself becomes helpless.

Look at Canada and California in the US? Both are known as cool places on earth. Today, these places are hot plates, the most affected places due to mismanaged developments. People in this region cannot live at 45-50 degrees Celsius. People die in such high temperatures, which is normal in the periphery of deserts where people, however, live.

But these are seemingly not our issues. We have buried these issues beneath the façade of the ongoing pandemic. Now we are fully engaged with the effort of tackling Covid-19, a disease that couldn’t be dangerous if treated without too many untargeted medicines.

The world is through the fag end of the second year of the pandemic. It is going to be low-grade endemic like common cold and cough. Yet, we waste our precious time on this, either because of our wisdom or protecting someone’s vested interests. Those who are beneficiaries of the pandemic will like to prolong the matter. Aggressive death counting by classifying it as the result of a pandemic terrifies everyone. Death by disease has never been unnatural and shocking. But an aggregate daily count of death may be a piece of shocking news. Death of a few lakh people over a period couldn’t be prevented as a disaster as it is the order of nature in line with the birth. Earth will continue to accommodate life while nature will continue to churn the process of turning life and death into a cycle. When some species disappear, new species will emerge to occupy the leftover space. But humans don’t need to have space here again.

When oceans become warmer, all cold populations die in no time. African lakes are sinking due to the dumping of chemical and sewage waste. Oil mining and the release of waste into rivers like Niger devastated millions of people over many years. Such accidents and industrial activities have been adversely impacting human life directly and indirectly for a long period, perhaps forever.

This year the world saw a flash flood on all the continents. It all started in Australia soon after it was recovering from the ravages of the summer bushfire. In Europe, Austria Belgium Czech Republic Croatia France Germany Italy Luxembourg Netherlands Romania Switzerland Turkey, United Kingdom. The flood devastated Henan province of China killing hundreds of people and destroying assets worth billions of dollars. India also had, but not as worse as China. Africa sees more frequent floods which have alarmed scientists. Hydrologists have found something unique in the African flood. This year, the flood ravaged most of Africa that devastated millions of people. In the US, Nebraska witnessed the worst flood in 20 years. The rising sea level threatens sea walls constructed on the shorelines in tourist rich countries with billions in a loss. The oceans are not at fault. The onus is on human action. The aggregate impact of the floods this year all over the world is not easily quantifiable. Flood is a recurring threat. The prediction of a rapid sea-level rising foretells more floods even with lower rainfalls.

We cannot count the number of reported and unreported industrial and other man-made disasters, besides the devastation by floods. Though disasters like floods are the result of injudicious planning of human settlements, we take them as natural calamities. In recent years, we read reports of China’s Three Gorges Dam that slowed down the rotation of the earth, because of loads of water from the Yangtze River, running in 39 trillion kilograms.

Every country that aspired for building up industries and the colonies of rich emperors where sin industries were set up offended nature so miserably that made human life forbidden.

After every disaster, we talk about corrective measures. Worse, in recent times, instead of taking drastic steps, rich countries have begun to compete with each other to become the world’s biggest environmental offenders. Until a decade ago, the US and European multinationals had notoriety. China is quickly replacing the position not only by air pollution alone but also by altering the structure of geography. We wish India to be cautious.

We have lightened this issue into a challenge of meeting carbon neutrality. We are supposed to address the issue holistically, which is possible only by a complete reform in our lifestyle, countries after countries are called for moving cautiously. However, the talks and concerns remain in papers and conventions because all countries are ready to die for development !!! Instead of sacrificing a bit, we seem to have chosen to die.

Changes can come only by unlearning many things, including the industrialisation process and wealth-creating adventure. Today, if we build a bridge, the next flood will take it away. Still, we don’t recognise the calamity as a calamity caused by our error.

One must look at the recent flood in Maharashtra, a hot subject for the media for two to three days. Local governments announced packages for those who lost their lives. For us, bucks can fill up every burrow so that we feel that we have found a solution. In Kerala, where once upon a time flood was seen only in epics, witnesses flood every year since 2017. People who live on their hard-earned money get everything that floods wash out.

It is startling to know how unnatural calamities become a part of our life. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, till the last person takes the jab, the “world” may frighten the people in the name of the virus. Vaccinating complete people is a matter of prestige for the government, no matter how many human beings may die due to Covid-19. Now almost all deaths are classified as Covid-19 death or death by post-Covid-19 complications. They draw a parallel to our injudicious determination to offend the environment until the last human life on earth.

Environmentalists, who are usually up in arms with multinationals, are yet to respond to the offensive pandemic environment. The situation has changed completely. Most of them are focusing on cleaning the beach, preaching for reduction of plastic uses, calling for replacing fossil fuel, etc  Now we have to change our attitude. It is possible only by opting to cut off from the crazy modern life. The government may have no business beyond tax collection and GDP.

In 2019, as many as 11000 scientists from 153 countries met to discuss global warming. They declared a weather emergency. The scientists pointed out some segments where changes can have an adverse impact. If we check the actual status of the areas now, we may see that almost every sector has become worse. A bioscience journal recently highlighted flash floods, hot waves, droughts, etc. are the signals that could be in store. We have created such a situation by our ignorance and hunger for development. We need to ask our policymakers to stop making more bridges, roads and other developments. People cannot shift their abode to another planet. Only the super-rich can try and test their destiny on Mars.

Life on earth is becoming increasingly difficult. The sinking livelihood and quality of air multiply the adversity. The Himalayas started melting fast. In 15 years, it melted 31 per cent. That shows the depth of the problem that we face.

In 20-30 years, we may see desirable changes if we reverse our passion for industrial activities which offend nature. But returning to our pastoral life is impossible. We may think of it only after we miss our place in an urban world that denies us everything, including water and fuel. Already, our livelihood is shrinking while the calamities like flooding and hurricanes continue to trouble life. Health crises make people think of changing their food habits. Over-boiled Europe has begun to witness veganism. They started to see a change in their lives and return to what nature proposes for human health.