I write this today from the earth, a planet currently besieged by a global pandemic, climate crisis, and biodiversity collapse. The sad news of deaths caused by the pandemic, destruction caused by cyclones, wildfires, and several other concurrent issues around the globe, how did we arrive at a place where humanity and nature suffer so severely? What did go wrong?
Human arrogance and exploitation has pushed nature to the brink.
The Living Planet Report of 2020 highlighted several grave concerns concerning global biodiversity loss. The report mentioned that the evidence against the global biodiversity loss is unequivocal; the rate at which it is being destroyed is unprecedented. According to the data provided by the report, freshwater ecosystems are the most vulnerable globally; more than 90 percent of the global wetlands have been lost by 1700. Further, out of 3741 monitored populations-representing 944 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fishes have declined by an average of 4 percent since 1970. The report also mentioned the changes in the ecological structure of the plant biodiversity, increasing risks towards their existence.
Similarly, the special report of 1.5 degrees by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted several severe impacts of global climate change on humanity and natural systems. The report further added that of 105,000 species studied, 6 percent of insects, 8 percent of plants, and 4 percent of vertebrates are projected to lose over half their climatically determining geographic range for the global warming of 1.5 degrees. Similarly, the forest ecosystem, the Arctic, the terrestrial ecosystem, and others are also vulnerable to climate change.
These reports painted a very worrisome picture without the global loss of natural systems, biodiversity, and even suffering humanity. One thing central to all this is the notion of “human dominance” over all other beings and systems on the planet. The never-ending greed of humanity has brought us to the brink of crisis. What makes it even worse is that we are not ready for a change even though we know what we have done.
Currently, the solution for everything is money; everything is measured on the scale of finance. Alternatively, there is a conceptual separation between human beings and nature. Unfortunately, the role of nature is limited to something which can be exploited for the well-being of humanity. The ideas of separation between humans and nature have forced the indigenous and forest dweller communities to be forced out of their natural habitats to save the verdant forest in its pristine form. These communities have been taking care of these forests for ages. It is their home; no matter what they do, they would never end up harming it the way we will.
While we are destroying the natural system, we clearly understand that there will be repercussions. These repercussions in the form of increased frequency of disasters will ultimately have impacts that are not equally distributed along the strata of the society. Once again, the one who is least responsible for the cause will have to pay the most considerable price. This injustice is the real evil of the society; unless removed from the society, the path of destruction would continue.
The global environmental crisis is nothing but the arrogance of humanity about its superiority over nature. We must treat the planet with the same compassion with which the planet treats us. Because if we do not, humanity and nature are going to suffer inevitably.
To fight the global crisis, we must, among other things, start with fighting from small things. We must start by fighting against injustice; we must fight for sustainability; we must fight against the economic benefits of a certain set of individuals; we must fight for the well-being of mother Gaia. She is not separate from us; she is a part of us; if she dies, so will humanity, and the only ones who can change this status are “we”. With these words, I, with watery eyes and a heavy heart yet filled with hope; wish you ‘A Happy Environment Day’.
Remembering Rachel Carson and Sunderlal Bahunguna Sahab,
“Man is a part of nature and his war against nature is inevitably a war against him”
“Ecology is Permanent Economy”