Monday, 26 April 2021 | in Guest Column
Global resource extraction rates have been rising tremendously over the years. According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), competition among nations for accelerating economic growth has put the world in a position where it will need 1.7 earths to meet its current demands of renewable natural resources. In the era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG), the term economic development literally means using more and more resources and increasing carbon emissions as much as possible.
We have only one earth enough to meet all our needs; the 1.7 earths are needed to fulfill our greed. We can generate everything we need from the earth, but we cannot generate another earth. The earth is the most amazing planet in the universe. Our living planet is prospering with life ranging from about 10 kilometres below sea level to about 12 kilometres above the earth’s surface. There was always a curiosity in our minds: how would it look if we looked at our earth from a distance? And when we saw it from space, we were stunned to see that it was more beautiful than we had even imagined. We named our most beautiful planet as Blue Beauty.
The most distinguished member of the solar system – our earth – orbits the sun at the rate of 30 kilometres per second, rotating once in 24 hours on its axis. In its one-year-long orbit, the earth creates different seasons and establishes a climate system in which countless organisms thrive, a dense biodiversity blooms, and all living organisms develop their natural tendencies. A unique climate system of the earth is a unique system of biosphere that keeps life processes intact and full of vitality.
Today, the biggest crisis prevailing on earth is the climate crisis. The average temperature of the planet has exceeded one degree Celsius, with the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaching 420 ppm in the month of April of the year. If the concentration of carbon dioxide increases in this way, warming of the planet by the end of the century will bring life to a turning point. In order to curb global warming processes, a number of treaties have been signed by the governments of the world. According to the much-talked about Paris Climate Treaty, global warmth will be restricted well below two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But given the rapid emission of carbon by human activities, it seems that such a temperature rise will be recorded before 2050. Then what would happen by the end of the century can only be imagined. According to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, the earth will become a ball of fire in 600 years. He had also advised us to find another planet to escape to.
This crisis has not arisen all of a sudden. Indiscriminate and ruthless exploitation of natural resources, excessive pollution of the environment and unfair and ecocidal behaviour of human societies towards natural systems are the main reasons for this. In other words, man is behind the current messy state of the planet. Today, we see that due to the adverse changes in the climate, the glaciers are melting rapidly, the water level of the seas is rising, the resources generating livelihoods are on the verge of collapse, many species of organisms have disappeared and innumerable are on the verge of extinction. Our food production process is getting affected to such an extent that our ushering in a safe and sustainable future is being questioned.
Natural evolution is a unique feature of our earth. Nothing on earth and nothing in the universe can remain unchanged. Evolution is actually the law of the universe. Riding on the chariot of time, the whole universe is embraced by the evolution, leaving the footprints of change with a rhythm. Emergence of human species in the embrace of natural evolution is comparatively a recent event on geological scale. With the passage of time, humans reached the pinnacle of the physical and intellectual capabilities. We are blessed that we are made up of the unique and miraculous energies of the galaxies. Understanding this aspect of our existence deeply, we must hold on to the feeling of extreme joy and treat Mother Earth as we do to our own mother.
The consumerism-oriented lifestyles that we have developed to live are at the core of the gloomy scenario that has emerged on earth. A question is echoing in our minds: would our earth stay as a living planet or not?
Today, virtually the entire biodiversity on earth depends on the compassion of our own species. Every seed of plants is in our fist. The seeds that give us bread, pulses, rice, vegetables and fruits have become the weapons of the corporate sector. There is probably no ecosystem left on earth that humans have not transformed or shattered. The processes that weave life on earth and ensure the integrity of life are being badly affected by us. But there is also a bright aspect of the whole situation. We have amazing abilities to understand natural justice and all life aspects and look across the future. The feeling that the earth is our mother is planted within us. The feeling that the earth is the mother of all living beings is also within us. The greatest need is to behave positively towards all living beings on earth, to absorb the existence value of all life forms into mind, to keep life processes intact and to make the life processes of the Earth more alive and to dedicate ourselves to the true service of Mother Earth.
The process by which solar energy is converted into bio-energy, the process by which life-energy flows into all organisms, the process by which existence is valued, the process in which wonderful consciousness develops in human beings, and the process by which our Mother Earth is filled with living diversity and exquisite beauty is photosynthesis. It is only in taking photosynthesis to its peak that the climax of life on earth lies. If we take photosynthesis to its peak, we will be able to solve all the crises of the earth and human beings. And attainment of such a situation requires dense greenery on most of the earth’s surface, fertile soil, clean air and water and our genuine love for our Mother Earth.
(The author is a former professor of Environmental Science in GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology)