Has anything ever remained the same? Everything has to change at a point of time and so have Earth and its environment. The Earth has transformed from being a hot spinning ball of fire, to becoming a cooler, water sustaining, habitable planet. And it will inevitably modify in the future. Even though over the course of time, this change has been independent of its inhabitants, NOW appears to be a different time.
Over half a century, the rise of development has been evidently proportional to the rise in the average temperature of our planet. It is not just surprising but also quite daunting to find out how detrimental our activities have been, to adversely impact a planet this self-sustainable and beautiful. The consequences of those activities have been quite disastrous. We might just need some ordinary heed to rectify an extraordinary deed.
In the light of the assaulted condition of the Earth, the following poem, ‘Besieged Immunity’ evidently brings out the essence of the consequences of anthropogenic activities and has been presented in a metaphorical manner with the earth comparing its sorrows to that of a human body that has been affected with diseases. It is in the form of some simple observations and personal ponderings turned into a complaint.
Do you like, when the tiny creatures on your body, Give you trouble and make you sick badly?
The creatures make assaults,
How am I to overlook all their faults?
I want them to know,
The problems I face and realize to make a vow;
I don’t want to groom,
Just give my trees their own room;
Snatching my ozone blanket while I am asleep,
Will make you drown in my tears when after anger I weep; If my transparent blood will become poison,
That will be your dehydrating reason;
Who would like pimples so discrete,
That too made of concrete?
When your skin is dry, you apply skin care emulsion,
But how do I manage this extreme aridity and soil erosion?
You have blocked my water at several sites by your dam,
My mechanism cannot be mended by a stent that you can cram; You think my seismic interferons could cause an apocalypse, But it’s you, who wants to attack my body and make it a corpse; I let you live with me, so you called me mother,
Now you grow up to technology and not even bother?
Climate change as an issue is older than an old tortoise I know. When it comes to exploitation of our natural resources, it has become a deplorable and an apparently unavoidable hobby of the human race. We do not shy away from saying that this is ours to use and that Climate Change is a hoax. ‘Nature finds its own course; we do not need to be concerned about it.’ This mental ghetto has been a difficult one to come out of.
Through a popular series, ‘The Crown,’ the dramatization of the event of The Great Smog of 1952 in London and the fictitious reaction of one of the greatest political leaders- Winston Churchill to it can serve as a useful metaphor for signifying the acceptance of this issue in the capital and political modern society. In the drama, Winston Churchill is shown ignoring the Pea soup fog of 1952, considering it to be merely an ‘unusual and unfavourable weather,’ until he faces loss. The yellow thick smog, as a matter of fact had been a result of the coal burning that was used to produce heat.
Only until lately, it seemed as if the governments of the world wore a lead apron and climate change had been the gamma rays. The scientific findings never served their purpose. Imagine if at a construction site, a contractor takes up a contract but the workers go on a labour strike saying that they didn’t sign up for this. The denial for caring about our environment has been somewhat analogous: The scientists playing the contractor, his findings, speculations and solutions acting as the contract; and the general population along with the governments being the workers.
The Paris Agreement initiated by the United Nations appears to me as a health advisor which is going to aid industries and people to reform their ways just like a heart patient with smoking and drinking habits adopting a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. The question still is a huge one, who is really willing to meet the requirements of the agreement? The Author of the book ‘This Changes Everything- Climate change v/s Capitalism,’ Naomi Klein immaculately states, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.’ I believe that soon he would have to understand when his employer would have to reduce his salary to pay the taxes for his large carbon footprint and improvise for mitigation.
Giving back to the nature isn’t a selfless deed anymore, its decadence just like that of our Earth, began more than a few decades ago. From the quality of water, the purity of the milk we drink, to the quality of food we eat, everything has changed. And it is not for good. The soil we use for growing our food is likely to be contaminated, the water we use has unidentified harmful pollutants and the milk we have is obtained from adulteration with the above mentioned water, of an already low quality milk from the cows that have consumed the poor quality food crop. Now isn’t that an overwhelmingly disrupted cycle? Sometimes, the conflict of the deeds and conscience is so intense that there is no peace or comfort in realising that a conservative society is the one which has little or no belief in conservation.
Every culture and society of this world is unique. India is one such society. From an Indian perspective, a lot has changed. It had very commonplace eco-friendly things in use until globalisation grew. Repairing and reusing had been the very essence of the Indian society. People used things to the limit that they could no longer be repaired. The siblings used their older siblings’ toys, clothes, shoes, bags and many other things. However, now everyone wants everything new. And different brands from different parts of the world have a variety of affordability to offer. Somehow, this made the repair and reuse concept lose its charm.
The street side cobbler sighted repairing shoes.
Industrialization has had a major role in the economic development of the country but its effect on the environment hasn’t been the most prosperous. Being a developing country, this is a major setback in the quality of air that is available for the people.
The domestic animals have been the least cared for over the years in urban areas. They are not well fed and left on the streets wandering only to produce methane which is one primary contributor of the greenhouse effect. While in rural areas, there have been methods devised to utilise this methane in a way that causes less harm such as Gobar Gas but it hasn’t been the case in the urban areas where the problem of not feeding well actually exists.
Nevertheless, there have been a lot of concepts of sustainability that are so deeply embedded in this society that it is luckily, very difficult to uproot them entirely. And this is a very interesting attribute of a conservative society, the majority population of which is unaware of the issue and its severity.
However, negative speculations and bleak future should not cloud our judgement. We can do a lot! We are a population of 7 billion, even if each of us does a little; it is going to be a lot. If we use a wagon to collect raw materials for extraction of various products, we can use the same wagon to fetch the manure to plant a new tree.
It is still in our hands and they have never been feeble. If we can contribute to the environment adversely, we can definitely do something for its betterment. There are occasions when not the most social people have to socialise, the under-confident have to face and shun their fears; and all of that for their own good. I don’t see why the people cannot come together for the people’s planet.
It took many showers to fill the vast water bodies we see today: some were short, some were long, and some made a significant impact, while the others just added a little. Every shower contributed to make the planet flourish with water. We can do the same, even if we do not make a significant impact. Only if we begin with simple things, we can envision a path for innovations for sustainable development. Planting a tree, turning off the lights and taps when not in need; switching to cloth or paper bags and managing the waste better isn’t going to hurt. It is all a part of the healing process of this Planet, even if it shows the effect of a positive placebo (just like in a clinical trial) when made to match with the entire world. And believe me, placebo isn’t the most unethical thing to do in this Trial.
And then there are people who make a significant impact like an effective therapeutic drug. There have been a lot of people that have made changes that are nothing short of revolutionary. They have been made worldwide and have to be respected and the efforts of some have made people move.
Forty-five years ago, The Chipko Movement was initiated showing that roots of conservation have been this extensive. Another classic example of ‘Faith in Humanity Restored,’ is that of: Jadav Payeng, ‘The Forest Man of India’ who turned a barren land by the River Brahmaputra into a forest with his skills, single-handedly and proved to be a real Brahma Putra. (The son of the God who created the Universe and this man who created a forest) To save a barren land by the bank of Brahmaputra from eroding away, Jadav Payeng has been putting his continual efforts from 1979 to present date, to save the island of Majuli in Northeast India.
Don’t the numbers seem to overwhelm us? The complex multiplication of the produce, the subtraction of the consumptions and the remainder of the left overs, it appears to be a cumbersome problem. Augustine Johnny from the coffee plantations of Coorg solves the problem of waste management. He manages the waste of an entire luxury resort-‘Evolve Back’, using just organic compost and a piggery to help nurture the nature with the care that nature nurtures us with.
The teenage Wijsen sisters vowed to make their island- Bali, plastic-free and were remarkably successful in achieving so. People are adopting Zero Waste lifestyle which is a difficult concept to implement but noteworthy is their determination! With the wide scope of Sustainable development, Topher White, an engineer employed used mobile phones as devices to detect the sound of chainsaws to track down and stop the illegal logging in the rainforests of Borneo. This has been an invaluable aid for the forest guards.
Glacier melting and rising sea level is a key alarming factor of the Climate Change phenomenon. Sonam Wangchuk, an engineer from Ladakh region in the Himalayas chose to apply the concept of Sustainable architecture. He has made an Ice Stupa, a structure that resembles a Stupa, which is a religious structure, so not only would he get aid from Buddhist locals to build it but also solve the problem of water scarcity. In the months of April and May, farmers have had little water to fetch it to their plants while in the winter a stream of water came from the glaciers which used to go waste. So he devised a plan by which, in the winters, the water from the glaciers freezes in the form of this Ice Stupa and is hence conserved for use in the summer, when it begins to melt. This melted ice in the summer is then utilised for the growth of crops.
These contributions have just been a few; there have been plenty that have gone unmentioned. All the efforts have been made in a way that could not only impact the environment positively but also influence people to do something. For we wish not to say in the future that we are opportunity deprived, and elaborate that opportunity is fortune derived, only to realise that fortune was desire driven.
‘When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring.’
-Madeleine M. Kunin
Madeleine M. Kunin’s words in the above quote signify the assaulted condition of the planet and a premature drift in the seasons. Her words have a sense of optimism as she seems to admire spring but she very subtly brings out that there has been a shift in the conditions of the season even if the pattern remains unaltered. So this makes us nothing but hopeful that we would also see a happier spring when the nature is back on its course and has gone through the premonition of winter in the fall and its relent towards spring which can be metaphorically interpreted as a gloomy phase and experience again, the sweet air of spring. And we have known that we are very much capable to set the climate change free from the trap of our misdemeanours and bring it back to its own course.
Care has never been the strongest suit of humans, survival has. Nevertheless, sensitivity evolved and humanity prevailed. What if care becomes survival? What if the care for our trees, animals, oceans, rivers, forests and ultimately ourselves is to become our timely saviour against the fit we had begun against ourselves, involuntarily?
Quote from Madeleine Kunin-
Quote from Naomi Klein-
Klein Naomi, This changes everything, Kindle Edition; Page no. 46 Augustine Johnny’s Story:
Jadav Payeng’s documentary:
The Wijsen Sisters’ Story:
Topher White’s Story:
The Ice Stupa Project:
The images and the poem are of original composition. Besieged Immunity- Ananya Shah, June of 2016