People who are beginning to be aware of the extent of pollution that the First World countries are responsible for, are also beginning to realize that such avoidable pollution is bound to drastically shorten the time that we can continue to live on this planet. There are quite a few changes that mankind has wrought to the way the planet we live on sustains itself. For instance, the global warming that we talk about so glibly is something that human beings are responsible for. The day is not far off when global warming will result in huge stretches of coastal land being submerged by sea water. When this begins to happen, much of the material assets of all countries that had regarded coastal areas to be the best sites for development would have disappeared under sea water. Many more high-rise buildings along sea coasts would become unusable because of several lower storeys being permanently under water. In other words, much more of the rich coastal areas would cease to be prime land. There are other kinds of mischief too that the residents of Planet Earth are guilty of. We have thinned the ozone layer to dangerous limits and even punctured it in too many places. Human beings, who have no other planet to inhabit with the kind of comfort that they inhabit the earth, are also responsible for the rate at which glaciers are drying up or the rate at which the ice of the Arctic region is thinning out. And much of the harm we do to our planet arises from one form of greed or the other. The inhabitants of First World countries are quite unwilling to give up the lavish use of fossil fuels that result in the emission of polluting gases at a much faster rate than ture is able to reverse the process by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. It is the kind of greed that is related to the crude exhibition of the ability of citizens of First World countries to use fossil fuels even when the prices of petrol and diesel have almost trebled from what they were even in the United States two decades ago. In Third World countries, the price increases have been much sharper than what they have been in First World countries. And the present decline in fossil fuel prices is not to be regarded as anything more than a minor economic aberration that has brought some temporary relief to relentless price rises of essential commodities brought about to some extent by increases in the price of diesel. The dip in fuel prices is unlikely to last.
Many of the changes in our ecology and environment brought about by human cupidity have put the fear of death and destruction in the minds of people all over the world. People are now beginning to ask questions about how much longer our planet will remain liveable or how far doomsday is likely to be at the existing levels of human greed for consumption. Unfortutely, no one can provide reliable answers to such questions. It is like people asking when the next major earthquake is likely to hit a particular earthquake-prone region of the planet. There can be no reliable or scientific answers to such questions. However, the one answer that can make some sense to the inhabitants of this planet and particularly to inhabitants of First World countries is related to how much longer doomsday can be postponed by getting out of grossly consumerist preoccupations to give the planet some chance of recuperating. Countries like Belgium, France and the Netherlands have begun laudable moves calculated to cut the use of fossil fuels. A number of company directors have long been using bicycles to get to their offices. With such initiatives there is still some hope for our planet, and we might just be able to postpone doomsday by a century or two.