It is a wonderful world we live in. Or it was. Or it could have been. And it still could be.
It is up to us to make the world we live in a wonderful world. Its very simple really. All we need to do to make this happen is to stop assuming that we are in-charge. We, humans, have to come to the realisation that we are not superior to anything else on Earth. Earth and its resources are not at our beck and call. Earth and everything on our planet is not meant to serve our needs. We have to serve Earth.
All of us humans, animals and everything in nature are closely connected and co-dependent on each other. We are all part of what is called the web of life - similar to a spider web. The web of life is the interdependence and interaction of the lives of various creatures on earth within an ecosystem. And just as in a spider web, if one strand breaks, the whole web starts to unravel.
Yet, with no moral justification whatsoever, man has assumed dominance over nature - over animals, trees, birds, amphibians and reptiles; over mountains and forests and over water and air. We have presumptuously inferred that we can do what we want with nature. And so, we have arrogantly commandeered the right to control nature.
What we really do well - is destroy! It is man’s disposition to destroy. We destroy forests, lakes, rivers; we pollute the air we breathe.
We cause acid rain, smog in our cities, climate change, and environmental pollution. We degrade our forests, and so lose vast expanses of forests, we convert habitats for so-called development and agriculture.
We use fertilizers and destroy soil, we pollute water and we emit pollutants. We are a species threat - killing and reducing species. And because we fear animals, we kill them. We also kill for fun! For sport! Because we can! And not just that, we are also good at land grabbing, rainforest destruction and human-rights abuses!
Though 70% of Earth’s surface is water; only a tiny amount of freshwater is suitable for consumption by animals, humans and plants. 97% of Earth’s water is salty, in seas and oceans. Of the remaining freshwater, or unsalted water, almost 2 % is in polar ice caps and glaciers, and, just 1% of this fresh water is accessible to us for consumption, from flowing rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and underground aquifers.
Yet we are overconsuming this precious natural resource, and drying it up, due to use in – agriculture, industry, domestic use, drinking and energy generation. On top of that, we are pollute rivers, streams and the air with industrial wastes. We erode wetlands. Water bodies – oceans, rivers, lakes and streams are being polluted with toxic effluents. And we are damming (damning) rivers.
The Dams that we build to supposedly create better distribution of water, and for power and energy supply, disturb natural fluctuations in water flow; disrupt deposits of nutrients, as well as the lifecycles of aquatic species; block migratory fish from their spawning and feeding sites and affect the transportation of sediment along the river. Over time, sedimentation build-up in reservoirs reduce a dam's capacity and operational lifetime and water-flow. Reduced water-flow affects the riverbed and downstream floodplains leading to increased flood risk, lower groundwater tables and the accumulation of toxic materials. Entire ecosystems are affected including coastal deltas, which can, over time, increase salinity and make the water unusable for drinking and irrigation. Dams in reality damn rivers and entire ecosystems.
We are killing oceans too with the release of Industrial effluents and toxic wastes which effect sea creatures and kill corals near the coast lines.
Corals are very important to our planet, because they control the carbon dioxide in ocean water which if left to increase, affect all living things. Corals also act as barriers between the ocean and the shore, slowing down strong ocean currents and protecting coastlines.
We are destroying Wetlands & Mangroves - Wetlands are areas such as swamps, marshes and bogs that are filled or soaked with water at least part of the year and are a habitat for a variety of plants, trees, grasses, shrubs or moss and are amongst the most productive ecosystems in the world. And at the intersection of land and sea, nature has provided a shoreline ecosystem, ‘mangrove forests’.
Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants of tropical and subtropical intertidal regions and estuaries of the world, and play a vital role in trapping sediments, thereby stabilizing coastlines, protecting coral reefs, acting as a catalyst in reclaiming land from seas, preventing soil erosion, saving lives and property during ntural hazards such as cyclones, storm surges and erosion.
Wetlands act like kidneys for other ecosystems. They absorb wind and tidal forces, collect and hold flood waters, and filter, clean and store water. Yet man clears wetlands to build residential buildings, or for salt harvesting, aquaculture, agricultural and to build harbours and docks and industrial zones.
We are systematically destroying Earth’s natural ecosystems bit by bit. Forests are sources of water. Forests soak up water like a sponge and conserve, retain and distribute it in the form of rivers and lakes, ponds and aquifers which are our source of fresh, potable water, and, with which, nature renews itself and keeps the ecology in balance.
It is never too early to learn to live in peace with Earth.
. Cruelty is acted out only by those of us who suffer from the illusion that we are separate. We must therefore come to the realisation that we are not separate, individual people who exist in isolation from our world - from animals, and from the abundant biodiversity that sustains us.
. We must eschew the belief that human beings have a higher moral status, superior intelligence or a ‘value’ higher than that of other creatures on the planet.
. We must be mindful and considerate about the impact of human interactions and its effect on biodiversity that surrounds us and learn be aware of our impact on our soils, forests, fresh water, atmosphere and oceans.
. We must come to the realisation that Earth is not a resource for humans. And resources, whatever they may be, are not inexhaustible. They are finite .
. We cannot persist with our consumption-induced environmental degradation, as conspicuous consumption/consumerism has major environmental impacts and is not ecologically sustainable
. We must develop an awareness, understanding and consciousness of the fragility of the environment and of the interdependence between the environment and mankind, and ourconnectedness, co-dependence and co-relatedness with it.
. We must inculcate within ourselves humility and eschew arrogance, and in the words of Rinpoche Duboom Tulku, Founder and Managing Trustee of the World Buddhist Culture Trust, “live with love, compassion, and responsibility”.
Pratap Antony, Passive activist.Active pacifist