The Urgent Need for Environmental Sustainability and Human Responsibility

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Environment or more so the eco system as we know it in common parlance is the habitat of human being and its surrounding flora and fauna, in which human being lives, interacts in multiple ways; which in turn seriously impacts and affects the human lives and living being by its response and reaction. Until recently, environment was mostly perceived as a passive one, an inanimate being not much in store in response to offer to human activities. With manifold increase in consumerism and depletion of resources and occurrence of catastrophes like Sunami/Typhoon/Super Cyclones causing massive unprecedented flood, unanticipated earthquakes and the consequent loss of lives and property, massive displacements leading to traumatic experience, the environment was taken seriously and its sustainability became “the” core agenda.

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Environment sustainability many a times weighed in as a purely technical concern. Renewable energies and energy-efficient technologies are developed to solve the problem confronting human world, but finally it is for the end-users to “decide” how much and what kind of energy they are going to consume. Research and development in technologies are oriented towards energy efficient, cost-effective, profit-generating and ‘environment’ is in the process assigned a secondary role. Most of the time the energy efficient technology and tools have a serious and adverse effect on environment though immediately not apparent on the surface. The technology like organic farming, milking and rearing of traditional varieties of cows, fishing from natural reservoir are often perceived as backward; the tribal who live and die in the lap of natural forest and unless and until required never cut a tree and kill an animal are treated as savage and primitive.

As highlighted by Amitabh Ghosh in ‘The Great Derangement’, when climate change appears in the pages of literary journals or periodical reviews-it mostly appears in relation to non-fiction and can be a rarely visible as short story or novels. But one cannot forget those moments when something inanimate turns out to be dangerously alive, like harmlessly drifting log turns out to be a crocodile. He hints it to the incident encountered by him i.e on 17th March, 1978 when he witnessed the fury of nature in the form of a severe cyclone in north Delhi, when he was a student. The first meteorological recorded tornado left an everlasting impact in his mind, and subsequently influenced his writings. He knew that nature does not take leaps but changes gradually, but by this incident he realised nature may certainly jump, if not leap! For example, the sudden extinction of dinosaurs or occurrence of catastrophes may change earth/individuals at unpredictable intervals and in the most improbable ways! A recent data released by UN shows that global emission are estimated to be at a peak by 2030, which calls for slashing of emissions to half from now to avoid devastating heat waves, flooding and loss of species.

Environmental planners and thinkers have tried to explore and explain the gap between knowledge and action, including psyche, model, system and symbol. Faulty planning and unhindered consumerism has led to disastrous consequences. Even when one is aware of the adverse impact, it does not follow that her action would be environmentally friendly and compatible and she will be able to sacrifice her comfort items like electronic gadgets, personal motor vehicle/ daily use items like washing machines and refrigerators, the first one leading to uncontrollable electro-magnetic radiation and the latters in emission of CFCs and carbon. In recent years, in India we have experienced earthquake in unexpected Latur (Maharashtra) and Bhuj (Gujarat) landslide in Uttarakhand and Super Cyclone in coast of Odisha where whole city/villages submerged under water and thousands of people perished. The planning under disaster management has been systematised by now and we are happy that we are able to save human lives and mobilise relief materials efficiently. But we are putting a blind eye to the root problem. Perceptibly our generation is more interested in self-comfort and habituated to access of immediate information and comfort, part of a nucleus family, grown up mostly in urban areas, with schooling in convent schools having little connection with forest, greenery and village, far away from the natural environment. Heavy demand for housing, road and railways have seriously depleted forests and mountains, requirement of household articles similarly put pressure on trees and plants. Similarly faulty planning and our desire for everything from café, cinema halls to shopping malls everything to be located in our neighbourhood and within our reach and averse to physical exercise. Our failure in appreciation in free flow of water, has led to choked drainage with choked cities, as if these are not cities but conglomeration of villages baring their natural sewerage and drainage systems. Poor drainage has led to artificial flood in cities like Mumbai and landslides in Uttarakhand. Electro-magnetic radiation has seriously impacted our fauna and more than half of the animal species have been extinct by now and birds like sparrow, crow, eagles and vultures and animals like lion are on the verge of extinction as a by-product of rapid industrialisation and information revolution. Fishing on commercial scale without providing gestation period for replenishment had similarly affected the aquatic world. Unhindered use of plastic has posed a serious threat to animal and aquatic world and through them human world. Depletion of diversified animal world has its toll on the plant and aquatic world and thinning of forest resources reduce precipitation and global heat, consequently thinning of ozone layer and global warming, the threat of melting of glaciers and submergence of coastal cities. What Darwin propounded in his Origin of Species was natural selection with survival of the fittest, adaptation, heredity; presently human being is acting as a catalyst and negative agent. In place of diverse flora and fauna we prefer mono-culture (and term it as green revolution) and in place of organic farming we prefer genetically modified seeds and plants. Even we have genetically modified animals and human babies. It is born out of psychology of human greed and sometimes of a psychology to gain self-recognition and popularity (ego).

Thus it's high time human minds should be trained to perceive how far we can strain our eco-system and ensure sustainability of our future generations by cohabiting in our eco-system. Instead of treating environment as an inanimate commodity, it’s high time we realise the inherent life that flows through it and sustained by it and the dangerous response that it may lead to, when disturbed! 

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