INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY 2010
The reason for writing this now is that THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY 2010 is coming to a close, and till 2000 International Biodiversity Day was observed on 29th December after which it was changed to 22nd May.
Many detailed reports and narrative articles appear on all days of some specific significance like VALENTINE’S DAY, MOTHERS’ DAY, WOMEN’S DAY, and FATHERS’DAY ETC. There are innumerable advertisements wishing and offering many things to the focused groups on these days. These are done not only due to a sudden realization or recognition of love, importance of motherhood, concern for women or respect for fathers but also because of the enormous commercial interest involved. Well, there is nothing wrong in these, but what irks me is the total indifference (especially in the media) for some days which are of greater importance for the entire humanity at present and for the planet in future. One such day is INTERNATIONAL BIODIVERSITY DAY (As per the Calendar of Designated Dates for the Environment PUBLISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA- and this day was sponsored by the UNITED NATIONS )
We need to make use of this occasion and bring to the common man’s reach certain activities which are going to affect him and the planet in the long run. He is totally unaware of these activities. Unfortunately these activities are going on either with the tacit connivance or active cooperation of those in power as well as the higher authorities and institutions of the academic world. This preamble leads naturally to some pertinent questions.
- What are these activities?
They are too many to explain in detail, besides, in this article my intention is to make every young citizen of Bharath to read this and think at least for a day about this and not make them put away reading this by confusing them with subject specific jargons.
- Where they are going on?
Almost in every place. Besides, irrespective of wherever it happens, the repercussion or impact is on every one of us in some form or other. Having said that I cannot avoid or dodge the next inevitable logical question.
- What can we do about it?
Are we to make huge publicity stunts like resorting to reel out reams of pro biodiversity literature with activists voicing their opinions right left and center and feed the news channels and print media one day of free content?
Are we to make it into another ritual of calendared concern of either celebration or moaning? It doesn’t matter if it is either way once it is a calendared ritual, which we do anyway, in every walk of life either for entertainment or for engaging the ego, or for satisfying someone’s earning or for satisfying the society so on and so forth.
Unfortunately the very intrinsic value or purpose for which the ritual is intended gets masked by our over enthusiastic and deep involvement in the different aspects of rituals. Basically in any aspect of life, in any part of the world neither fanatical extremism nor superficial ritualism has ever produced any result of meaningful and lasting value.
- Can we then afford to avoid addressing certain specific facts of importance pertaining to bio diversity by talking only in such general high tones of intellectual ivory towers, or churning out statistical statements or googled research works, or pronounce in patronizing proposals like arm chair advocates of reform, or dodging like diplomatic bureaucrats or spicing up like present day superficial journalistic reporting? No, we can’t do any of these.
- Then, the easiest and best way is to encourage personal responsibility through sensible and simple means without complicating, confusing and confining it as a matter delegated to be dealt by some specialists. Damage to biodiversity is a diagnosis of some small or big imbalance somewhere in nature as is the case with all diseases or damages. Either our perception of the symptoms or the intensity of the symptoms have led us to this diagnosis. Now without any preconceptions let us probe the cause and treat to either control, curb or cure completely whichever is possible. But this can be done only through personal responsibility. Not turning to any specialist. Nothing in nature is the preserve of specialists. By declaring such a statement I am not trying to court a controversy here to boost my personal TRP rating. I am very well aware that, of course, we do need specialists in all realms of life to peep and probe into the many yet unexplored and undiscovered area of life to the extent that I would not even object if I get a nasal pain I am made to consult two specialists one for left nostril and another for the right nostril. But the point is I must avoid banging my nose to create a pain, or avoid doing anything that can cause the nasal pain before seeking a specialist or at least learn not to repeat the mistake once the specialist advises me to follow certain course of action. This is precisely what I mean by personal responsibility . It is easier to resort to criticisms like too much specialization leads to reductionism of several kinds and thereby leads to lack of overall perspective. Let me also add that we need to approach anything without diverting, deviating or dodging from facts and reality but taking realistic steps. Popping ideas, spinning specialist jargons, sprinkling graphs and charts, stocking stalks of statistical surveys, making unloving criticism about all new technologies etc may not lead us anywhere. Here I would like to repeat what I have said earlier neither fanatical extremism nor superficial ritualism has ever produced any result of meaningful and lasting value. There may be some or many areas of our lives wherein damage to biodiversity may be an inevitable and in some cases irreversible part of our life or at least life style. Then we need to tread carefully in those areas and find out how best we can minimize the damage.
6. Personal responsibility coupled with realistic approaches can reap at least reasonable results bit by bit as life itself is being lived byte by byte.
Haven’t we evolved as a species from the time of Menicus who remarked “people are of supreme importance, the altar of gods of earth and grain come next, last comes the ruler”. Well, this is not an election slogan. Can we take for granted that human beings have untrammeled right over everything else in environment. Another reality, whether we like it or accept it, is that many factors both in nature and human beings are neither meaningfully quantifiable nor measureable and therefore not easily manageable.
7. Then why must give undue importance to human factor over the rest?
It is because we are concerned with and we can control only the impact on the environment caused by human activities. We cannot do anything about incomprehensible or mostly hitherto unperceived or unpredictable havocs caused by nature on the environment we have failed to remember what our own Gandhiji said, ‘nothing should and can be done without the involvement of the people.
8. These entire thing apart, if we bother to delve deep into and make an unbiased review of human –environment relationship, it is human beings who have wondered at nature, worshiped it, worked it up and wrecked it.
9. These are most natural and normal manifestations of the unique characteristic of human species, which alone can consciously think, understand, reflect, record, recollect, redo, remove, rectify and above all respond verbally. It is precisely this characteristic that makes life a constant process of becoming. What we become is determined by who we are, and who we are, is determined by what we become, a sort of obverse. Therefore, it is both being and becoming that decides our life and environment. This involves personal responsibility i.e. serious perception of the inner self and the inner perception of life’s seriousness and its sequence in the scheme of things. It is this very responsibility that has enabled and ennobled us to understand better the interdependence and interaction with the environment.
10. This very personal responsibility goads humanity to try constantly to understand human life and the environment and the relationship of humans to other human beings and nature and search for a meaning and purpose of life.
11. In the process of constant trial of human emancipation human beings have either knowingly or unknowingly abused, over used or disused all available resources in nature to its enhancement.
12. Personal responsibility also is a process that is constantly undergoing changes depending on varying degrees of ignorance.
13. As Phenol portrays very well in ‘THE UNWRITTEN COMEDY’
“To be ignorant of many things is expected.
To know that you are ignorant of many things is
The beginning of wisdom.
To know a category of things of which you are ignorant is
The beginning of learning.
To know the details of that category of things of which you were ignorant
Is no longer to be ignorant”
14. Personal responsibility as a first step must, therefore, honestly and humbly acknowledge that it has been ignorant about not looking at alternative modes of life and many of its relished and revered developments have been the causes damage to biodiversity- the beginning of wisdom.
15. Personal responsibility as a second step must accept the responsibility of narrowing life into rigid reasons and fanatically homogenizing variety and standardizing the non standard items and prescribing these as the panacea for all human ills and on top of it all, enforce all these on the entire globe by constant indoctrination, war, propaganda, cultural invasion, now terrorism etc. This has been a curse of human race, this tendency to homogenize everything be it religion, political system of governance, health care, economic methods. Now we know the category of things of which we were ignorant.
The beginning of learning
16. We are not getting into fault finding or finger pointing exercise but getting to know the causes, that is, to know the details of the category of things of which we were ignorant to emerge out of ignorance. These indoctrinations used with psychological emphasis, religious fervor, social respect, political sponsors, logical justifications enforced with incentives and punishments suppressed the natural, unbiased and unqualified sensitivity and sense of sharing and belonging of the inner self which helps to relate without psychological and social bias human beings with other human beings with other species, with the environment, with the spiritual world etc and instead developed the conditioned and indoctrinated mind as a second nature which provided socially hassle free survival.
17. So human race in most parts of the world which were penetrated by these armies of indoctrinators under various identities manipulated every aspect of life and ensured that the very pattern of human behavior was operating only based on certain conditioning whereby human beings, if they wanted to lead a respectable and dignified living, were allowed to operate all their six senses only based on this second nature. So, now it is too difficult or impossible to wish away the rot created by indoctrinations of so called civilization. But what we can do is to slowly and steadily place a different indoctrination through that very second nature, because as a species most of the human beings have forgotten their roots, thanks to the expert and successful indoctrinators of homogenization and hegemonization. This new indoctrination must, out of sheer bitter experience of the previous indoctrinations, ensure that it is devoid of any self limiting conditions, homogenizations, realization that the very hope of biological survival of all species and environment, and the emancipation of dignified living of human species rests on what Ross Ashby writes in ‘Law of Requisite Variety’, “Only variety can absorb variety”. Thank god, that India which has nurtured variety as an excellent pluralistic society in all aspects because of its ancient culture is also blessed with more than 100 temperature zones. As Lady Luck has a preference for the eager and hardworking, Nature’s bounty has a preference for the honest and humble whose culture and ethos, I mean obviously the great unspoiled children of Bharath, do not operate with hidden agenda, lurking suspicions, simmering discontent, manipulative motives, fanatical faiths etc but welcomes every human being as a loving guest of her motherland with a warm heart and hearty welcome without any inhibition. I can be excused for expressing my heartfelt feeling for my motherland.
18. There is something called SAPIRWHORF HYPOTHESIS according to which “the words available in our vocabulary influence the way we think about things”. Conversely it also means the world may not benefit from our thoughts, however great or good they may be, if we are not able to communicate them in a comprehensible capsule through any medium be it language, painting or music. Till this is done, as for as the world is concerned our thoughts are of no use. It is like winking at a girl in the dark. It does not serve the purpose. So we must be adequately equipped with relevant, I cannot say correct, information about biodiversity which must be available or made available to our Personal responsibility so that it can produce the necessary and reasonable changes.
19. How to go about it?
Gregory Batson says ‘in Biology there is a quantity which has an optimum value. Too little Calcium is a deprivation; too much is toxic”. In the age of coercive indoctrinations through various means like colonialism, cultural invasions etc there was deprivation of information, lack of documentation, lack of means of communication. Now on the contrary due information explosion through too many ‘Windows’ and though too many holes in ‘Net’ there is toxicity due to excess. But it is a welcome toxicity as its geographical spread has the twin contradictory effects while it has shrunk the world it has also enhanced awareness and improved appreciation of different cultures, ideas, religious practices, traditions, philosophies, policies of governance and the many systems of life outside one’s conditioned and indoctrinated ideologies. Above all, it has the greatest advantage of giving enough room for everyone to express freely without fear or favor which can be used to promote harmony and help.
20. Conrod Hopman, of New Caledonia writes in his ‘ Book Of Future changes, living in balance in the electronic age’,
“In a sense, the whole Universe is an exchange medium. Observable reality can only be observed because it is information. Information is meanings and meanings define each other in context…there is a constant process of exchange in the form of different and varied strata of manifestation of energy continuously taking place….Plants breathe in what the animals breathe out, animals consume plants and each other. So species keep each other healthy; Herbivores do not over breed and over graze; Carnivores develop keen sense. The interplay of evolution, eliminating the superfluous, like a sculptor, creates humans-who continue the exchange process again on more complex, subtle levels”.
Unfortunately, this exchange process has got struck or blocked, for a longtime, in human greed of all sorts due to various reasons [I do not want to generalize many particular causes and reasons or particularize something general] and has lead to imbalance in biodiversity. But with Personal responsibility this problem can be easily overcome. Most programs and reforms have failed because of the presumption that human beings need to be directed, whereas, in reality people want to and like to direct the course of events, and to do this effectively we need to go beyond the logical and illogical to the psychological aspects. Heroic deeds need to be simple but sustainable and for this you do not need paradigm-busting ideas of scholars or tags of PhDs to your name, you do not need to be either a great visionary or a big missionary All that you need is a heartfelt concern for the future of the planet and ensure to make personal changes in that direction everyday lifestyle. Many of the world problems happen and many of world population is manipulated with two major factors i.e overreaction to risks and ignorance caused by irrelevant facts or overemphasis on selective aspects.
21. All forms of exchange have always been taking place unnoticed, unnamed and unassociated. It was labeling that enabled us to attach values to them. The human brain likes to objectify everything, and likes to perceive only objects or objectifiable abstractions, concepts, ideas etc, a weakness of the Cortex which likes to swirl within the few circuits at the maximum where it has comfort level while there are many, both known and unknown, circuits referred to ancient Indian tantric texts.
22. So all our inputs to motivate and activate the Personal responsibility preferably must play within the ambit of these predominant and preferred ranges of perceptions so that it produces some pleasant and positive results gradually.
23. Now we must get into preparing a list of such motivating materials or activities. We have looked up to nature all these years and she has never disappointed us and now it is our turn to look after nature. Especially, we must take a resolve to do something this year as United Nations has declared it as International year of Biodiversity followed by 2011 as International year of forests. For, after all, forests are for rest of the species so we need ensure their due.
24. Then there must be review of the results with fixed targets.
25. We must consciously and carefully make subtle and silent changes into the very psychological approach of individuals and make it sink into their subconscious level without putting too much pressure to change present lifestyles.
26. I am tempted to quote from an article titled GENE DREAM written by NIKKI VAN DER GAAG in the excellent magazine THE NEW INTERNATIONALIST , “ Biotechnology actually reduces the world's biodiversity by promoting certain species over others. Of the world's 220,000 plant species, only 150 are grown commercially and just 20 provide over 90 per cent of the world's dietary energy. We are already massively over-dependent on a fraction of the species available. Genetically-engineered (and transnational-controlled) seeds will reduce this active stock even further. Farmers in countries such as India are setting up their own seed banks in order to preserve the existing variety of seeds rather than having to use those promoted by the biotechnology corporations, for whom the Third World is a huge potential market”.
27. Beyond everything else, anything psychologically and subtly injected and socially encouraged will enhance optimism and pride in individuals based on their personal involvement in a good cause. Subsequently the collective of this personal optimism will result in a very important social resource. If we carefully study history this is how all leaders, organized religions and new political ideologies have worked out. Human beings need sense of belonging and identity. This has been well described by Lionel Tiger in his work ‘Optimism-The Biology of Hope’, “Private optimism is a public resource. Public optimism is a private facility. When in myth various forces of life escaped from Pandora’s Box, one remained at the bottom-HOPE. Atlas no longer holds up the world…….even if Gods and other forces have fallen, or become slogans, what Pandora rescued maintains its claim on our attention-That is HOPE. So, let us hope humanity takes care of biodiversity.
28. Make children to know and learn lot of details pertaining to biodiversity from sites , through several projects, literature, power point presentations and educative You Tubes like the following :-
29. What they need to know basically about biodiversity in simple terms?
All life on earth is part of one great, interdependent system. It interacts with, and depends on, the non-living components of the planet: atmosphere, oceans, freshwaters, rocks, and soils. Humanity depends totally on this community of life--this biosphere--of which we are an integral part. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety of the world's organisms, including their genetic diversity and the assemblages they form. It is the blanket term for the natural biological wealth that holds human life and well-being. The breadth of the concept reflects the interrelatedness of genes, species, and ecosystems. Simply stated, biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the sum total of all life forms on Earth. It is the variety and variability of all species of plants, animals and microorganisms, as well as the ecosystems they compose.
30. What is the necessity to maintain maximum biodiversity?
Maintaining maximum biological diversity assumes far greater urgency as population increase, as the demand on various energy resources also increase due to increasing development activities and all these in turn increasing the rates of environmental. Diversity in genes, species, and ecosystems provides the raw materials with which different human communities will adapt to change, and the loss of each additional species reduces the options for nature -- and people -- to respond to change conditions.
31. What direct and indirect economic benefits biodiversity provides?
Biodiversity provides ecological services such as water purification and oxygen production, which serve and sustain our lives in countless ways. In agriculture, disease- and pest-resistant crop varieties are continually derived from wild relatives of domestic crops.
Nearly half the prescriptions worldwide are for medicines based on compounds extracted from wild plants, animals or microorganisms. Major resource-based industries, such as fisheries and eco-tourism, depend heavily on biodiversity. Earth’s ecosystems and its peoples are bound together in a grand but tenuous symbiosis. Ecosystems are the productive engines of the planet, providing us with everything from the water we drink to the food we eat and the fiber we use for clothing, paper, and lumber
32. Make a list of fundamental environment requirements to protect the biodiversity which are indispensable for the healthy survival of species and which also ensure availability of natural resources and good environment for posterity. This must be used as an E-score and strictly enforced with incentives and penal actions.
33. What must be the goal of biodiversity conservation? And how to go about it?
Successful action to conserve biodiversity must address the full range of causes of its current loss and embrace the opportunities that genes, species, and ecosystems provide for a development that does not jeopardize the environment by preventing further degradation of key natural ecosystems and protect them effectively. This program must also address the problem of many of the world's habitats that have been modified for such human uses as agriculture. This program must include measures to maintain diversity on lands and in waters that have already been disturbed along with measures to restore lost species to their former habitats and preserving species in gene banks, zoos, botanical gardens etc. This program must make an in depth study of biodiversity and document its composition, distribution, structure, and function; the roles and functions of genes, species, and ecosystems taking into consideration the complex links between modified and natural systems.
34. This involves engaging small communities by providing them with necessary, unbiased facts and making individuals realize that biodiversity and environment are as important a matter to be attend to as food or shelter. Once such a level of personal responsibility gets into the individual psyche, then the automatically environment would be taken care of. Otherwise, with our present system of functioning with pre-conditioned perceptions, corrupt academicians, selective scientific statements publicized by mass opinion molders-the multiple media, vacillating values and zigzagging zeal we cannot protect biodiversity.
35. Finally I would like all concerned citizens to ponder over the following
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION of the RIGHTS of POSTERITY
Which was drafted by the UK council for posterity initially by a gentleman called Professor Scorer and a group of other concerned people like ecologist Herbie Girardet, Tanya Schwarz of the Forest Peoples’ Support Group, Guy Dauncey environmental consultant and Nicolas Albery of the Institute of Social Inventions.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF POSTERITY
(DRAFT, JULY 1989)
Whereas our descendants’ generations, although likely to prove far more numerous than ourselves, have no voice or vote in any of our political systems, we therefore declare that all the generations yet to come, for as far into the future as human life survives on this planet, are entitled by natural justice to the following rights, which those alive today have a duty to respect and uphold:
1. The right to inherit a planet that has been treated by its human occupants with the utmost respect. And more particularly:
2. The right to inherit a planet with oceans, lakes and atmosphere undamaged by human activity, with safeguards for planet’s climate, such as rainforests, still intact.
3. The right to inherit a planet with an undiminished diversity of species.
4. The right to inherit adequately maintained reserves of fossil fuel and other mineral resources.
5. The right to be born into world of human-scale societies, undamaged by population excess.
6. The right to inherit a world unmarred by nuclear or chemical wars, incidents or wastes.
7. The right to expect that previous generations will have cleaned up their pollution, repaired their damaged environments, on land, sea and in the air ( including outer space), and protected places of natural beauty.
8. The right to inherit political, legal, technological and social systems that respect individual human dignity, such as those laid out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
9. The right to inherit the full uncensored cultural heritage bequeathed by former generations, as expressed, for instance, in their art, history, literature, libraries and museums.
10.The right of future generations to have their interests considered and, where appropriate, represented by a competent advocate, in any present day tribunal or assembly that is deciding courses of action that might have harmful log-term consequences.
In short, for reasons of practicality, in terms of positivity, on the basis of reality and as a matter of absolute necessity we need biodiversity for our very survival.