Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Weather has been the most important thing for the existence of human beings since time immemorial. In recent times the planet “Earth” has been facing a great crisis and its very existence is at stake. Man has lately realized that he has pushed the earth to the brink of disaster. If mankind has to overcome and survive the great challenges from ture, whether it is climatic change or economic deadline, then it is time to bring about a radical change in our activities; not by violence, but by peaceful means.
We are facing multiple crises like climatic change, global warming and energy crisis. They are related to one another and they are based on our unsustaible life style. Climate change is the biggest threat mankind is facing since the beginning of history. India is suffering from this phenomenon, because the tropical countries are most vulnerable to climate change.
The surface of the earth is getting warmer and the temperature is increasing. There are several causes for that. But it is mainly man, who is responsible for the crisis of global warming. It has been said that the present danger to earth has been mainly caused by science and technology. Often a question arises—whether science is a blessing or a curse. People often blame science and technology for the present crisis of earth.
In traditiol societies conservation processes were perpetuated by various social customs and prohibitive measures incurred by both religious sanctions and the laws of the land. But the dazzle of modern science and technology has robbed us of that simple mode by the victory over ture in various ways. Undoubtedly modem life is indebted to science and technology for their amazing achievement in various fields. It has also made life easier and care-free. But the question arises— at what price?
The tremendous speed at which modem technology is developing cannot be compared with any progress made in the past. We have no doubt gained a lot from its progress. But after the initial euphoria, we have now realized that the cost is much too dear. People have learnt lessons from climate change all over our planet. There have been earthquakes, floods, cyclones, dust storms etc. and various flora and fau have disappeared. They are all indicators of excessive interference to the ways of ture. Frequent floods and erosions, global warming and the change in the weather patterns, erratic rainfall are some of the sigls of serious tural calamities. In this disastrous situation man is the main factor to disturb the ecological balance in ture. In an effort to check the ravages on ture, environmental laws have been ected. As usual the poorer countries are victimized more than the rich developed countries, although the latter are more responsible for exploitation of ture for development projects. Traditiol societies used ture for minimum sustence, while developed countries exploit it for massive development projects. The meetings on pollution control have become an expensive fiasco.
Now everybody, including the scholars and the scientists are getting apprehensive about global warming and climate change. It has been said that mankind have been aggressively destroying tural resources, thereby pushing the earth to the brink of disaster. They have cut down trees, ruined forests and destroyed wild life for human consumption. Rhinoceros are killed for their precious horns, tigers are killed for their beautiful skin and elephants are killed for the magnificent tusks, so on and so forth. The list of animals killed by human beings for some gains or for mere sport may be endless.
Then there are innumerable gasoline-powered vehicles, which emit carbon dioxide and destroy the purity of ture. We do not care to honour environmental obligations to preserve the earth for future generations. Besides that human beings deliberately cause extinction of some species for the convenience of humanity. Time has come to ponder over these problems to find a way to save the earth and preserve it for future generation.
To be fair we cannot remain static and human beings must develop along with change of time. Technology is essential for the progress of a tion. The question is—how far we can go with development without considering environment! According to some environmentalists mass access to wild places may destroy the values held in high esteem by the ture Lovers. In ancient era tural flora and fau were treated with respect by the people. But now it is no longer so, since man believes that tural things were created for his benefit. Because of this attitude a new range of moral and political problems arise, including the environmental cost of tourists access to the areas of wilderness and ways to be devised in which limited entry could be arranged to the places of tural beauty and diversity. It is true that in a liberal democracy individual freedom to visit any place of his choice in his country must be granted, but still for the preservation of tural beauty and diversity, some kind of restriction has to be enforced on the tourists. According to some scholars the unrestricted assault on ture caused the tragedy in Uttarakhand in the Himalayan region some time back.
The scientists, development theorists, geographers, economists as well as philosophers have been speculating upon the connection between environmental destructions, unequal resource consumption, poverty, population growth and the global economic order to find out ways to protect our planet. All of them have realized that mankind have to change their ways if they want to survive. The country has to be ready to face the dangerous effects of global warming. As Al Gore, the Nobel Prize winner and chairman of the “Intertiol panel on climate change” cautioned: “The time for debate is over, it is time for action”. The most serious consequence of global warming is the shrinking of fresh water sources and a major change in the weather pattern.
ture seems to have decided that enough is enough and we have been warned to change our behaviour pattern or we will have to face the inevitable end. Lakhs of people are dying annually as a result of floods and other tural disasters. ture has bestowed countless invaluable things for the benefit of human beings. But unfortutely mankind has not appreciated the generosity of ture. From the ancient literature we learn that once ture was venerated as a benign deity in India and man had a close relationship with ture. After a certain age elderly people went to the forests to observe “Vanprastha” and “Sanyas” and they lived in the midst of tural things. There was no question of environmental pollution in that era. But now that ashramite culture is lost to us. With the development of science and technology, man has become ego-centric and arrogant. Mankind have ravaged tural flora and fau and have been trying to domite ture, which has proved to be utterly disastrous for humanity as well as for the entire world.
The degradation of environment has upset the ecological balance of ture. The earth’s “carrying capacity” is said to be under severe strain. If the human beings do not take remedial measures, all development and progress would be ruined. In such a situation it is necessary for the scientists, philosophers and scholars to take a holistic approach. In this case India can show the way to the rest of the world. In earlier times Indians followed a life style which was scientific as well as eco-friendly, even before the rest of the world knew about man’s relation with environment. Man’s desires as distinct from his needs are endless. Modern advertisement gimmicks and free market constantly encourage man’s insatiable desires. But Vedic wisdom teaches that man’s insatiable desires cannot be fulfilled and they remain uttaible. Hence unrestricted desires do immense damage to environment which may lead to the extinction of planet earth as well as the living entities.
There have been many discussions regarding environment and development. The question is not whether mankind can afford to put environment before development but whether they can afford not to do so. If human beings continue to squander their tural heritage, they would do it to their sole peril.
The unchecked exploitation of ture by man since long has threatened the very existence of the planet Earth. Now it has become very important to respect ture and wild life as people in ancient times did. It is very true that it is extremely necessary to utilize ture for practical purposes, but some limits should be imposed in the exploitation of ture. Scientific knowledge should be combined with traditiol wisdom for the development process. But such limits have been systematically ignored for centuries and assaults on ture are going on in full swing. The thoughtless activities of mankind have provoked ture to hit back, which threatens humanity. The warning is so clear and intense that the experts have paused in their destructive progress to pacify ture with new approaches. Environmentalism and Ecology have today become two of the most important sciences, which have the ability to see the Earth. If the wrath of ture is not toned down there is sure to be large-scale death and destruction.
Sustaible development is not a new idea. It implies a return to earlier times when knowledge operated within limits imposed by ture. So many discussions and debates have been held all around the world, yet nothing worthwhile has emerged out of these discussions till now. In certain cases it appears that simple rural people with their deep understanding of ture know more about environmental problems than our experts with their entire scientific and technological knowledge do. For instance, in the turn of the century the farmers developed the knowledge of using municipal waste to grow fish, vegetables and paddy in some places and in the process treated the sewerage free of cost. But it is to be noted that the search for traditiol practices as an altertive knowledge base does not imply random adoption of whatever the local people are doing. They would have to be investigated for ascertaining their scientific validity by the scientists to have the ability to do such work. There is much to be learnt from the developed countries and much to be received from the vast area of local knowledge in India.
Indians have the experience of living creatively with ture and tural resources for generations. Ancient Indian literature provides us with many instances to demonstrate how closely human beings were related to ture in that era. For them ture played a great role in their life style. It is time for the contemporary society and state to incorporate that stock of knowledge and experience in tural resource conservation into the development process of modern era to sustain life and livelihood of people.
It must be realized that it is very important to prevent or check the present pace of climate change. We have to learn from our mistakes so that better approaches can be worked out to save the earth from extinction. The survival of humanity is at stake and it has become crucial for all the tions to pool their energy and resources to lay the foundation of a new, secure and happy life. It is imperative and obligatory for us to save the earth for our own survival and for the future generation. We should regard it as a sacred duty and in the process of making plans to save the earth, everybody, scientists, experts and common people must cooperate to make it a success.
The devastating earthquake which hit Nepal recently, on 25th April to be precise, proved once again that man is no match for ture. It has been seen that despite enormous scientific and technological progress, science cannot tame ture. It is abundantly clear how helpless we are against the wrath of ture. In the Nepal earthquake thousands died, many were injured and quite a large number remained untraced. Though the scientists may not accept the philosophical concept of destiny, there is much to be said about it. From the media we learnt that a four month old infant remained alive and in good health under the debris, caused by the earthquake. I do not know how the scientists would explain the miracle. But for me it is God’s will that saved the innocent infant. I have no idea as to why these tural disasters occur. I believe that science has explations to offer. But philosophically I believe that ture has borne enough. Man has ruthlessly exploited ture for persol material benefit in various ways and it is ture’s turn to hit back. Hence I believe that all these earth-shattering events have occurred.
I know that my views are totally valueless and they cannot claim any authenticity. I am merely saying what I feel. People say that pain becomes bearable if you share it with others and that is what I am doing. We are afraid and suffering a lot. My only hope lies on God. Let us pray for his blessings and beg for his forgiveness for our irresponsible and inconsiderate actions. That is all we can do.
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)