If a rank list were to be released of the ones who compromise, sacrifice and tolerate the most, our environment, after mother, would’ve stood at the 2nd position! It is taken for granted by almost everyone. We only want to take things from it but don’t want to give anything to it. The status quo of the environment is miserable. These things lead to a mental condition, especially amongst youngsters- Eco-Anxiety.
Eco-anxiety is anxiety about ecological disasters and threats to the natural environment such as pollution and climate change. Recently, the speech of 16-year-old, Greta Thunberg at the United Nations again stirred discussions around this matter. She has admitted that she suffered from depression at the age of eleven because of these things. There are a lot of people like her and that’s why it becomes relevant to keep ourselves aware and at the same time understand that conservation of the environment, really is the need of the hour!
The environmental statistics, melting glaciers, vanishing forests, extinction of flora and fauna, water crisis, rising temperature, ozone hole etc. leaves everyone in the state of shock but only for some time; after that, we forget everything and revert to our “luxurious, happy” lives and this cycle keeps on repeating. Some go beyond this cycle to actually do something for the environment. Some do it without taking much stress and some take a lot of stress. The latter suffers from Eco-Anxiety.
In today’s world, eco-anxiety has gained more prominence because of our over-dependence on non-eco friendly technologies. People don’t want to leave air conditioners, car rides, plastics etc. Unfortunately, in our country, pollution has become normal for people, and the degradation of the environment exhibits itself in the most dangerous forms!
Development has posed a major threat to the environment lately. Why can’t people understand simple facts, which have been laid down in various cases like – Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra V. State of U.P., Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action V. Union of India, Vellore Citizen’s Welfare Forum V. Union of India, M.C. Mehta judgments etc. We have a right to a healthy environment and we can’t ignore the environment in the name of development, there has to be a balance between the two and whoever is polluting the environment has a liability towards the society.
But recent incidents like Aarey, Hasdeo Arand etc. force us to believe that despite these judgments, the environment will always be ignored. The plight of tribals forces us to believe that – conservators will be tagged as destroyers and destructors will be praised. These things contribute a lot to the condition of Eco-Anxiety.
In this modern era, technology has become so advanced that graphics in movies seem so real. Movies like Happy feet, An unconventional truth, Chasing ice etc. left us alarmed. These movies actually make us feel the situations portrayed by them. It further deteriorates the problem for those who are suffering.
The huge amount sanctioned for River Ganga and its deteriorating condition makes me want to cry! Chilling stories and videos of incidents like Uttarakhand floods etc. shock me to the nerve! The impact of nuclear pollution, chemical pollution etc. leaves me numb!
Fascinating stories of dinosaurs, mammoths etc. make us want to go back to those times and try hard to save them! Their stories also induce fear in our minds that this might happen to tigers, vultures, rhinoceros etc. and neither us nor our future generations, will ever get to see them! This thought is frightening!
The ignorant attitude of some world leaders is also to be blamed. They hold summits and conferences but when met with real-life situations like the Amazon fires, they act like nothing is happening. When conservationists protest, they are detained and humiliated by the police (This happened recently in Aarey). How can we not expect eco-anxiety in this situation?
Youngsters are most prone to this because they know that they will reap the crops of destruction sown by their predecessors. And later they won’t be able to do anything! They might not see butterflies, puppies to play with, green landscapes to play around, jungles to go for hiking etc.! All they expect from us is sustainable development and we are unable to fulfil that also! Those who think that this is superficial, trust me, it happens, I have also experienced it; when I was in 4th or 5th standard, there were rumours going that on so and so date, the world will be destroyed because a meteorite has collided with the earth, our doomsday is approaching etc.
We must remember that eco-anxiety must be channelised for positive things. The movements like Chipko movement, Bishnoi movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan etc. are successful examples of channelising this. But, in no way, it must lead to suicide or violent practices against others. Its extremism is very harmful.
No one expects us to be entirely eco-friendly because that’s not possible. All they want from us is compassion and a basic humane approach towards the environment. We need to act upon it right now. We need to follow environmental conservational practices as much as possible. We all, including our future generations, have a right to a healthy environment. Our practices are not only harming nature but are also leading to a whole new dimension of mental health – Eco-Anxiety! Conservation is the only solution. But we must give our youngsters a hope that by our collective efforts, we can still save the destruction and restore it back to the best possible position. This will give them a sense of security and will reduce their anxiety!