“There are enough resources for everyone’s need but not for anybody’s greed” – Mahatma Gandhi An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck the Pacific Ocean off the northeast coast of the Tohoku region of Japan’s Honshu Island on 11th March 2011, and was later named the ‘The Great East Japan Earthquake’. It triggered a massive tsunami that flooded more than 200 square miles of coastal land. An estimated 20,000 people were dead and around 5, 00,000 were forced to evacuate.
Quite similarly, an earthquake in India, well known as ‘The Bhuj Earthquake‘, occurred on 26th January, 2001, India’s 52nd Republic Day. It measured a 7.7 on the Richter scale, killing more than 20,000 people, including a few in Pakistan. The Indian Heat Wave 2002 and European Heat Wave 2003 occurred in their respective regions in different years, killing over 1,000 and 70,000 people respectively.
The 2002–2004 SARS Outbreak (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) caused by SARS-Coronavirus, was first identified in Foshan, in the Guangdong Province of Southern China, in November 2002, affecting over 8,000 people from 29 different countries and resulting in at least 774 deaths.
Extremely Severe Cyclonic storm ‘Nargis’ was a drastically destructive and deadly tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar during the early 2008 May. Nargis developed on 27th April, 2008, in the central area of Bay of Bengal, resulting in a death toll of over 130,000 people.
Post the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, Typhoon Bopha was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to ever affect the southern Filipino island of Mindanao, during the early December of 2012, killing around 2,000 people. About a year later, Typhoon Haiyan harmed the Philippines as well as Vietnam and China, killing over 6,000 people.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a contagious, sometimes fatal, respiratory illness that was first reported in 2012 as a MERS-CoV case in Saudi Arabia, eventually affecting countries including South Korea and Kenya among others. Since then, there have been over 2,500 reported cases of MERS-CoV and over 800 associated deaths globally.
In 2014, Western Africa was hit by the epidemic ‘Zaire Ebolavirus’. It started with cases of EVD in the forested rural region of south-eastern Guinea, as reported by the WHO on 23rd March, 2014 with over 2,000 cases reported. This was not the first outbreak of the disease, as Ebola has been infecting people from time to time, especially in African countries. Currently, the Democratic Republic of Zaire Congo is facing this epidemic since 2018.
In April 2015, Asia was yet again hit by an earthquake in Nepal, known as the ‘Gorkha Earthquake’ killing about 9,000 people and injuring over 22,000. It measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale, and was the worst disaster in Nepal since the Nepal-Bihar earthquake in 1934.
Intense Tropical Cyclone ‘Idai’ is one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to have hit Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, leading to a humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing. Numerous national disasters including the Kedarnath Tragedy, Kashmir, Kerala and Chennai floods where faced by India and similarly in other countries as well.
Finally came the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019, having originated in a Chinese wet market in Wuhan. Till date, the world records about 12.5 million confirmed cases, with 6.8 million recovered and 560,000 deaths (as of 12th July, 2020) and more cases expected. Could this be due to the previous ‘known calls that we failed to answer’ and instead, kept repeating the atrocities on the environment?
These calls were like warning signals for the misuse of our natural resources and taking nature for granted due to our greed and over-modernisation. This kind of situation was sure to happen one day or another, and it happened in the form of COVID-19. We have seen family diseases including SARS and MERS, yet, we could not protect ourselves from the novel coronavirus.
Today, when we look at nature, when the whole world is in a standstill situation of a lockdown, we find that the most satisfied on our planet is our ‘Mother Earth’ — no pollution from vehicular and factory activities, no mining or extraction activities, no polluting elements in the rivers, and wildlife in their habitat enjoying life with no disturbance from mankind.
Today, we are using nature only for our basic requirement, and not for our greed. The situation can be explained through a certain preaching in our Holy books — in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Shloka 08, Lord Krishna says “O Arjuna, I create all beings again and again according to their karma, I have the power to kill them”, in the Bible, Isaiah 54:16 says, “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc.”
Whenever we abuse nature and don’t listen to its warning, God will take their most vengeful look and come to Earth in the form of a pandemic or disaster, where no one will be left unaffected — be it the poor or the rich, regardless of their religious beliefs and personal affiliations. Let us pray to the All-Mighty in this mayhem and take a pledge to never mis-utilise or take nature for granted.