Another World Environment Day just passed. It will come again in 2019. The recent times have been interesting to a passive watcher. Being a watcher with an active interest, it has been quite chilling to relate, reconstruct and recap. We saw our state go to polls and then come out of it in a confetti of shredded posters and handbills of political leaders looking down on us from where they flew from before the event, and where they lay abandoned after the polls. Thin balance, stretched perilously thinner with our tree cover struggling and policy in the pipeline .
When ideologies become transactional and natural resources become commodities of trade, we probably need to rethink taxation umbrellas they luxuriate in. While Bhutan remains divided on pros and conned of being recognized as the only carbon-neutral people globally and with fervour and bye-word of sustainability still in the air till it comes back again next year, out of the multitude of questions some remain prominent.
Communication and media are gods today but why sacrifice trees and newsprint for such cause in days of Twitter and Instagram? FB charm is slowly stabilizing, but it can still serve a noble cause of spreading the word, the world over. In Corporates, would tabs for visitors replace newspapers and periodicals? Why need to recycle if you cut the source? We have a cause for change management!
Nature conserves and replenishes resources. All naturally. No deceit, underhand motive or covetousness of limelight. No vested interest. We people, have one vested interest for sure, being the continuity of the species. UNESCO has predicted India in the dubious company of nations which will struggle for potable water for subsistence circa 2050 . This may be the turning point for the rally for rivers , if we needed one.
While we also proclaim living the evolution dream and being human, humanity is being left behind in the tenets of sharing space being lip-service on this fast-drying planet of yore. Water is, and will be, but we need to conjure freshwater reserves if we want to see beyond 2050, and not trade blows instead of trading in water. We build to break and make again, but in this scope, we continue to live the ostrich syndrome. Yamuna has become dumping grounds for industrial waste and is disappearing slowly. Lore says Saraswati went ‘back’ – we see this repeating now.
Corporate campuses and the nose-in-air work parks invest heavily in aesthetics and landscaping. One embodiment of it is a well-manicured turf, probably one of the best out of golf courses. The wherewithal is jaw-dropping as it remains art for art’s sake philosophy. Not native doob grass , this lush green import, carefully tended by folks in gardeners garb and tools to do justice like surgeons. And then park signs as ‘keep off the grass’. Compare this with Subhendu Sharma and his team who exhort stop making lawns, but plant forests . In this august a forum it would be preaching to a choir to even attempt listing how many ways a tree-cover outscores a lawn. A three-incher lawn of a pygmy, fed on steroids and supplements being compared to the 30 feet and counting Bahubalis of indigenous trees and their shade is no-contest!
Feel-good factors or ear-wagging to proclaim self-righteousness on the right alignment with ‘external’ influences which devise methods and forums of classifications and bestow honorific, makes good copy and wall ornaments but hark – what is the price we pay for to flaunt these? Were such certification a Noah’s Ark, it would be a tale to reckon with! However, we have some cities where the segregated garbage from certified origins find themselves rebulked and headed together to same common landfills. And plastic embraces degradable paper and they live together, leaching oh-so-slowly into the water table together, leaving a mark that will take time some doing to cleanse.
Blessed are the peacemakers, said some. We, the people, need enforcement like never before. We are thankful for the need of reports and returns to the Pollution Control Board for hazardous waste. A helmet rests today by law on heads of riders. Our helmets of protection, and maybe salvation for the environment, with the chin-strap fastened, are the twitterati generation. This young generation is oft times smarter than the phones we wield. There lies Hope.
This hope springs clean, and ever-aware and growing. They know their three Rs beyond the ‘reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic’, and it extends to Reduce, Re-use and Re-cycle. We in India are a young lot where statistics say our under-25 years population is an astounding 45.24% . It is a matter of time when this juggernaut of change will reach out and claim their right from the policymakers who fall in the bracket of indolence and 41.08% and will demand to know sparrows in nature, and not just in picture books. No waiting to be bequeathed or patience of further tolerance as we fumble with their world of tomorrow.
As word limit and need for brevity score over diatribe, the world and nature at large are capable of taking care of itself. It is for us that we should be selfish and adopt sustainability principles for tomorrow. We hope. We pray and pray for the 45.24% to live and wrest what’s theirs.
Conserve today, sustain tomorrow and not wait for the 2019 World Environment Day to come and go, but celebrate the Earth every day, not just one Earth Hour – it’s the only one we have. Else a line from James Thurber comes to mind when Man conversed with Dinosaur, and the now extinct species remarked: “There are worse things than being extinct…and one of them is being you”.