A healthy Planet!!


By

Ajay Patwardhan
Management Associate
Geometric Software Solutions Ltd.
Pune
 



Some time back, I was watching a documentary on TV which focussed on the destruction of rain forests in the Amazon river valley in Brazil. The purpose of clearing land was to facilitate Soybean plantation. This Soybean was to be exported to the EU as cattle feed. Huge areas of prime rain forest land, the size of massive football fields have been destroyed to facilitate soy plantation. On doing some research, I found this absolutely appalling fact- "The total forest cover lost (in the Amazon basin) to deforestation in the last decade is almost twice the size of the country of Portugal. Most of this land has been cleared for cattle grazing and farming."

I am not pointing specifically at Brazil, this is the scenario in almost all corners of the earth. What makes the case in Brazil all the more important is due to the fact that the Amazon rain forests are some of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet. Also, it amounts for more than half of the earths total rain forest cover. The ill-effects of deforestation here have already started to show. In 2005, parts of the rain forest saw the worst drought in living history. Experts say that the trend may continue in 2006, and that the Amazon forests are too fragile to sustain such multiple drought periods. Brazil being a major power in the region holds a huge responsibility to stop such senseless activities. The government has taken action, but, the harm is done. It will require enormous efforts (groundwork as well as financial) in order to try and reverse the effects.

As I said, the trend is echoed from all parts of the globe and most of it goes unnoticed or more so, undocumented. Even back home in India, the pace of economic rise has not fallen short of raining havoc on the ecological balance. The city that I live in has seen immense development in the last decade, and has transformed it from a laid back town to a bustling metropolis. This economic boom has proved to be a bane for the city's lush green habitat. Well, I have nothing against development, after all, it improves our overall standard of living. I believe there should be a synergy between economy and ecology. The development of both is equally important to human living standards. Especially in developing countries, the ecological cost of economic development is largely being ignored, to some extent by the government, but to a larger extent by the local populace. The government I feel has played its role through the formulation of eco-friendly policies. However a faint cooperation from the public has tied the hands of the government.

Take for example the ban on plastic bags that was "enforced" in the state of Maharashtra. I completely doubt the success of the ban. How many of us have said no to plastic bags while at the nearby store? Plastic bags are still available freely all over the state at most stores. In fact, some stores have found a business opportunity in this by charging extra for a plastic carry bag. Why does the government need to enforce a rule? Can't the general public voluntarily and pro actively participate in smooth governance? I believe the job of the government is to facilitate development. It should act as a catalyst. It should not take part or interfere in actual implementation. It should only facilitate and monitor the progress. This will eliminate bureaucracy to some extent. Sounds like an ideal scenario, especially considering the fact that corruption is rampant and the power of money rules all facets of ethics and honesty. But to bring about a change for the better we must try to get as close to the "ideal" as possible.

That was a slight deviation from the main subject. The topic of corruption is a never ending debate and I believe corruption is the root to all evil. If each person delivers his or her responsibility honestly then the world would be an ideal place. It will take more than a blog to discuss corruption.

Coming back to the environment, there is an urgent need to shift over to cleaner habits of human existence. Cleaner energy, efficient transport, civic sense, passion, compassion- some of the keywords to a successful fight back. The effects of climate change which were predicted for the years beyond 2050 are being seen today.

Flooding in Mumbai, snowfall in the middle east, disintegration of glaciers in the Arctic/Antarctic, all are classic examples of the ill-effects of mankind's utter neglect for the environment. Also, these events give a glimpse of things to come, only on a much smaller scale. The next ice age is inevitable. But we have only brought it closer in time... a little too close for comfort. It is true that it is impossible to reinstate the full natural glory of the earth. Also it is hard to define the full glory of the earth. If "full glory" means that man would need to again live a pre-historic life, it is highly impractical. According to me, the glory of the earth would mean that when man shares his responsibilities towards economy with those towards the environment and by maintaining a balance between the two would ensure healthy and livable conditions not only for himself but for all living things on the planet.The approach of mankind today and henceforth in future should be towards pushing further ahead, the start of the next ice age.

In short, the end is unavoidable, we have to only hold it as far away as possible. Let us resolve to contribute in our own small ways towards a much more healthy and livable planet.
 


Ajay Patwardhan
Management Associate
Geometric Software Solutions Ltd.
Pune
 

Source: E-mail June 28, 2007

 

       

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