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Man-the most dangerous animal on earth

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March 9, 2017

Man-the most dangerous animal on earth

‘We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children.’
-Lester R. Brown (the famous US environmental analyst)

Of all the phenomena which have occurred on the planet earth over the last century, none has wrought more havoc upon mankind than the issue of environmental degradation and endangered sustainable development across the globe.

The word ‘environment’ conjures up in our mind a holistic scenario of the human and non-human settlements in the warm cocoon of which the flora and fauna get essential ingredients for their sustenance. From this perspective, environment is not only a thought-provoking topic of science or a burning issue of social science but a synonym for sustainability of the universe, existence of all creatures.

Environment, the most significant intermediary agent between the homo-sapiens and the universe, plays the vital role of providing sustenance to nearly eight billion people who live and lust for more and more possessions.

But with the galloping tempo of industrialization and fast upward moving trajectory of modern and sophisticated life style of the 21st century, brought about by the sweeping wave of globalization and liberalization across the countries in the world, the basic inherent nature of environment has undergone a host of bizarrely adverse changes the repercussions of which are widely perceptible in a host of crises the 21st century man is caught in.

The crude oil reserves are consistently dwindling. Coal reserves are fast depleting every day. Forest cover is rapidly plummeting to a new low with each passing year. Smog-ridden and poisonous air is posing heavy threat to the survival of creatures on the earth. Carbon emission in the atmosphere has been rising at an alarming speed. Ozone layer depletion is in the state of wake-up call. Coral reefs, giving shelter and protection to the marine bio-diversity, are on the fast wane. And global warming is perniciously rising to the level of submerging many cities and towns across countries in the world in the years to come.

The number of endangered species of flora and fauna is worryingly dwindling to their record low, not witnessed earlier. The underground water level is depleting and with that the length of the rope tied to the bucket, used to draw water from the well, has been on the constant rise each year.

Air pollution, sound pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, food poisoning and a plethora of other ecological problems are fast reaching the cusp of swallowing humanity and devouring other creatures on the earth.

As per the latest survey of the Global Burden of Diseases, there is an abysmal increase in the air pollution-related deaths in the country. In India it is the fifth leading cause of death. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are the cause of the topmost air-pollution induced premature deaths in the country.

The question arises – After all who is responsible for all these man-made, life-style-induced and technology-driven environmental problems which have started telling on us? We need to honestly ask ourselves – Who is to be held responsible for all the menace which has plagued the otherwise beautiful world of man? We also need to vigorously search for answers and think over them seriously and judiciously – Who is the real culprit – Is it nature or norm of modern life? Is it the environment itself or endless and undying longing of human beings for amassing wealth?

In fact, the answers to all the aforesaid questions are simple and for which one need not be a rocket scientist. It is none other than us humans. In Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, there is a very famous zoo, which has cages with wonderful animals, attracting crowds of visitors from far off places. After observing all the cages when the visitors reach the last cage they get startled to see a very weird notice pasted on it which reads, ‘The world’s most dangerous animal’. This cage is open and it does not have any animals. When the visitors enter the cage, they find a man-size mirror inside. They all see their reflection in the mirror. The message is clear, requires no explanation and does not have any esoteric connotation.

Who can deny that ultra-modern civilization and sophisticated life style of the modern age has incurred irreparable losses on the environment and its different essential components? Blindly chasing material possessions and lusting for pseudo-happiness in terms of faster growth rate of our prosperity has inflicted serious damage on nature and its various resources.

In the wake of miraculous development of science and technology we are now standing on the launching platform of colonising Mars. The most critical question which mankind needs to seriously introspect about is – When and how would the natural resources such as air, water and soil, generously gifted by nature and required by all creatures to survive, be preserved and sustained in the greater interest of the survival of humanity for eternity?

Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Nation, aptly said, ‘There is enough on the earth for everybody’s need, but not enough for everybody’s greed.’

It is shocking that we are exploiting natural resources which we cannot replenish in future. Fossil fuels are fast depleting and this does not augur well for the nations which are vying with one another to reach the pinnacle of growth faster than ever. In a world with nearly 7.5 billion people the importance of conserving the natural resources increases even more.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former US president and great statesman once said, ‘A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.’ But unfortunately the quality of both the soils and forests is on the fast decline. What aggravates the situation is the utter indifference and ignorance of people about the blunders they are committing.

Scientists across the world say that excessive use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides, made compulsory by the green revolution know-how, has started telling on the fertility of the soil. So the charisma of the magic seeds and the chemical fertilizers is over and that is why scientists are professing the urgent need of taking a holistic initiative for the start of what we may call another green revolution.

The famous US photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams had very aptly remarked, ‘It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.’ No doubt the subject as crucial as that of preserving the environment is not the sole responsibility of the government. But the onus of policy formation essential to preserve the priceless resources as well as provide boost to reasonable level of growth of the economy rests with the government.

The famous self-help book author Robert Collier’s confession in this regard can go miles to make people understand the vital role they can play in sustaining the purity and conservation of environment, ‘People blame their own environment. There is only one person to blame – and only one –themselves’. So until people accept the task of keeping the environment intact and sustainable for the generations to come, the state of the environment cannot be restored.

‘There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish’, said Bennis Warren, the noted US scholar. But how are singing, dancing and frolicking possible when the very earth which gives sustenance to us is ailing?

Shree Prakash Sharma holds a post-graduate degree in Economics and a B Ed degree. He has been working as a Post-Graduate Teacher of Economics at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Birauli, Bihar, for the last fourteen years. He writes for a number of magazines in English and Hindi as a freelancer on motivational and socio-familial themes.

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