As we celebrate The World Environment Day on 5th June we must first ask ourselves what is meant by environment. In what way and how are we related to it or it to us? Are we part of it or is it part of us? Why does it require a special attention? Is it an issue or a problem or a very intrinsic part of our life? And many more such questions arise.
Special days are normally observed to celebrate, to commemorate, to commercialize, to carry out rituals, to call attention to express concern for victims and victors, to cater to express our relationship to specific feelings, persons, issues, problem and so on.
Unfortunately, of lately whenever the word ‘environment’ is mentioned the following collocations are carried like joeys of a flyer [female kangaroo]:-issues, problem, concern, degradation, bio-diversity, sustainable growth etc. why?
Are these trends, the result of our perceptions going through prism of preconceptions with which we see nature? Or are these the result of real damage to human and environment relationship? Or are these a manifestation of concerned caution or candid confessions or hyper reactions?
It may be the result of all of the above or any of the above.
Though for all of us, at least, the word ‘environment’ denotes either the whole or some aspect of nature.
Ronald Harvey in his book ‘Our Fragmented World’ write, “The influence of environment begins long before birth. It begins at the beginning, with our genes. Genes do not exist in vacuo. They are part of their environment as we are to our world. They are as it were ‘sewn into’ their environment as we are to ours. No organism ever develops without an environment. It is not inheritance per se but the interaction between inheritance and environment where the responsibility must be placed”. “So our world and ourselves are one, we and our world form part of an organic whole”
So environment is not an issue it is part of our tissue.
It is not a problem but a magnified emblem of elements of which the whole biochemical organism of human body lives.
If we etymologically trace the word to its remotest origin it is from the Old French ‘en’[in]+‘Viron [circle] i.e. things that “environ” us, that encircle or surround us. So originally the whole of nature before human species made different enclosures.
So, it is human nature to look up to nature but humane culture to look after nature. Slogans appeal to everyone than sermons or scientific facts.
In the course of evolution, everything and everyone interacted either consciously or otherwise either with or without the awareness that everything and everyone are interconnected. Vagaries of nature and vicissitudes of human life have both contributed to changes to the environment.
Ancient traditions wonder at nature; some religions worshiped nature; civilization made man work and use it for his comforts; modern technological and economic advancement excessively use it.
In the process of evolution human beings realized that while mentally mighty they were physically weak so to live acclimatizing in naked nature was becoming difficult. Therefore, he started using the natural resources for his shelter, security, comfort etc.
Human population explosion and the concomitant need and greed made him over use nature and this has led to an imbalance in the relationship between humans and environment. This must be and can be rectified by various means or when everything else fails nature takes care.
At the same time resorting to extremism like objecting to every human, or economic growth related activity in the name of environment protection is hypocritical because those who protest must stop using paper, stop living inside houses, stop cooking, stop using any gadget, stop plucking vegetables and fruits as all these also are uses of natural resources; stop talking because that harms many tiny microbes.
We must realize human species has to be in a perennial relationship with the whole of environment. So, instead of advocating a late divorce or ill treatment we must adopt the best possible means of improving our relationship with nature.
Hysteric reactions can never set right any historic blunders.
We all must realize that our relationship with the environment matter more than anything else especially in an era when there are ready made justifications available on the net for all types of actions, reactions and inactions.
René Jules Dubos a French-born American microbiologist, in one of his interviews said long back how a single man in the arid lands of Midi of France used to plant some trees every day and that has become a big forest. Incidentally his book ‘A God within” portrays many probable positive values in man's relation to nature and offers many simple solutions to enhance such a relationship.
Recently in India, Jadav "Molai" Payeng (Assamese born in 1963), a Mishing tribe environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat, India, planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra over several decades and literally created a forest reserve, called Molai forest after him and is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, Assam, India and encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres / 550 hectares and this year [in 2015] he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation makes huge and significant contributions to preserving forests and environment.
I reproduce this piece from an article I wrote in the early 90s as to why and how God created Hell.
“In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Quickly god faced a class action suit for failure to file an environmental impact statement. God was granted a temporary permit for the project, but was stymid with cease and desist order for the earthly part. Then God said let there be light’ immediately the official s demanded to know how the light would be created. Would there be strip mining? What about thermal pollution? God explained that the light would come from a large ball of fire .God was granted provisional permission to make light on the condition that no smoke would result from the ball of fire and that he would obtain building and conserve energy. He would have the light out half the time. God agreed and offered to call the light day and darkness night. The god said let the earth put forth vegetation, plant the yielding seeds and fruit trees. The environmental protection agency agreed so long only as native seeds were used. Then god said let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth. The official pointed out that this would require approval from the department of game coordinated with heavenly wildlife federation. Everything was fine until god said the project would be completed in six days. The officials said that it would take at least 200 days to review the applications and the impact assessment. After that there would be public hearing, then there would be 10 to 12 months before… at this point God created hell.”
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, unravaged 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.
Some of my old write ups on environmental issues.
LIFE WILL CONTINUE ALWAYS NO DOOMSDAY
URBANISATION MANIA CAUSES EL NINO