Recently there were some mild up-heavels from the developing economies saying that they cannot be deprived of the economic growth that the so called developed economies have already achieved. This development was made possible by ecological destruction , rapid industrialisation and massive urbanisation. Urbanisation is only part of the parcel of growth envisioned by the developed/developing economies. Developing economies thrive for a platform of growth, eradication of poverty and basic amenities to all.
A recent report on the “Frontline” magazine mentions large scale mining for oil in Ecuador in the sensitive rainforest area of the Amazon. Now, there was a suggestion by their leader that the Ecuador would stop pursuing oil exploration in the area if some agency could give them money equivalent for the opportunity cost. Oppotunity cost in economics is the possible income possible if a path of action is followed. The Ecuador government even quoted a price that was far below the opportunity cost. No funding agency could come ahead and tell them “preserve the forest we will pay you for it”. This is only one example by which humans are forced towards urbanisation, industrialisation and “development”.
Some philanthropic biologist’s may claim that destruction of megapolis of the animals, the rainforest, may be a necessity for human advancement. What advancement are the humans going to achieve if the human race cannot live in harmony with the nature.
When the harmony of nature is at a threat the might of nature would crush the ego of the humans through natural calamities and disasters, an epitome of which is the Uttarakhand floods in 2013.
Of course, we have science and scientifically trained human brains that could predict, study and suggest ways to improve the human life. We have the Meteorological Department, Forest Departments and Urban and Town Planning facilities. Somehow , due to greed or mere ignorance, intolerance or lack of broader vision, the human beings and the platforms of development or urbanisation that they hope to achieve are thrashed. Every child would have written an essay in his schooldays about the topic “The nature has everything for man’s needs but not for his greed”. While we develop intellectually and physically the idea is lost somewhere in between. Lost in growth, or by sheer lack of methods to drive the point straight to the heart, humans live a urban life, a forgetful life.
After the World Wars the humans society , and war mongers specifically, have gained some insights into the reality of the life. It is of lucid meaning without the intellectual and spiritual extravagancies of the erstwhile programs meant to preserve nature. Finally, humans have learned some lessons that are practical. A movement was in place for urbanisation that provided jobs, that helped people to earn their living, and satify their basic human needs viz. food, fodder, shelter, clothing. Water was not in the list of essentials. It was taken free for granted. Such freely available resources on which no one really has control was then hoarded and taken up by the greedy. Sometimes over usage of resources and non scientific and unpredictable consequences of urbanisation has resulted in resource shortages or absolute lack of it in some places. An example of it would be the ever dimnishing water table in Chennai and other similar cities. Drinkable water comes in cans and bottles. Erstwhile rivers are now canals, drainages or encroached real estate.
Some positive signs were seen in Tamil Nadu where restoration of some lakes which were dump-yards and encroachments were rejuvenated with the help of local people. As the existential philosophers would uphold everything is possible by human, we decide our destiny. Some became totally positive to bring back the ecological shades through sustained care and preservation .
Human understanding and knowledge about nature is growing, we call it science. Atmospheric and Oceanographic studies duly facilitated by high end rocket science and cartography all made possible by high performance computing and human instinct has helped us understand the nature more. However, the knowledge may not be bearing a desired result. Hence, we are still troubled by disasters which cannot be predicted, disasters for which human help is just not enough.
In waste treatment humans have learned to use biological specimens to help in water recycling. Some form of the Cana plant is being used in various apartments in Chennai to recycle the used water. Science about biomimetics have widened the horizons of human imagination. Humans have started to learn from nature.
Ancient kingdoms of high renown have withered away. Ancient knowledge about life and matter is lost to present civilisation. Human beings are in a constant path of rediscovery.
In fact, it was an Indian scientist Jôgodish Chôndro Boshu (J.C.Bose) who hypothesised that plants can “feel pain, understand affection etc.”. Even after the loss of great ancient wisdoms we still see bits and pieces about truth of nature and nature of truth through eminent people like J.C. Bose. Nevertheless, we also have incidents such as the Chernobyl, Union Carbide tragedy in Bhopal, Fukushima Nuclear Plant Failure and many example that keep a check on human knowledge and test our perseverance.
Ecological Conservation has gained importance in the urban mindsets. We are definitely headed towards a better future.
PS: This post was written for a contest and rejected.It finds a place in my blog 🙂