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We, Indians, have to wake up to Climate Change! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Tanuj, India Dec 29, 2007
Environment , Education   Opinions


There is a Native American saying that, “Only when the last tree has died and the last rivers been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” This saying may finally come true. Human greed has affected Earth’s ecosystem at such a horrendous scale that we stand today at that crucial juncture where our present actions will decide the fate of this living planet and all of us in it.

But are people aware of what is going on? I have noticed that people’s awareness and attitudes towards environmental conservation range from region to region. People in developed nations that are mostly near the melting polar caps seem to be the most concerned as they will be the first to face the wrath of nature’s revenge. Countries near the equator, which mostly fall in the Third World category, seem to be the least bothered, as their immediate focus is economic progress.

This is an unfortunate and a dangerous trend as, not only are the economies of Third World nations like China, India and Brazil growing at a rapid pace, but so too are their populations. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West... keeping the world in chains. If [our nation] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.”

My biggest concern is the attitude of Indians toward this problem. Whoever is connected to the outside world through information media knows that our planet is facing a grave problem that has been created by us, humans. It is thus shocking to see so few people here in India concerned about it and even fewer actually doing something to reverse the damage; but one can see why.

In this Bollywood and cricket-obsessed country, Global Warming and Climate Change hardly get a mention in the nation’s television news media. Even nowadays when Climate Change has finally gotten global attention, instead of creating awareness on this issue in India, the television channels are dedicating slot after slot of endless discussion time to cricket, Bollywood celebrities and sensational news items. Only the good old Doordarshan, India’s government channel, takes some responsibility in making people aware of this issue. I was surprised to see a programme dedicated to Global Warming and Climate Change called Earth Matters being telecast in the prime time slot on Sunday; but that is certainly not going to be enough.

India has a population slightly smaller than China’s. Together the two countries make up one third of the world’s population, and their economies are growing at a scorching pace. China is already on its way to surpassing US in becoming the world’s biggest contributor of Greenhouse gases. India will catch up soon. Together, they will wreak havoc on our planet’s ecosystem, which has already suffered immensely because of the developed nations.

But this can be stopped. All that is required is a change in our attitudes and a concerted effort on our parts to reverse the damage caused to the environment so far. We can then plan on sustained, environment-friendly, future developments.

Environmental conservation is not just the job of governments; it is the duty of each one of us. However, we ignore this duty because, even if we know about the phenomenon, we excuse ourselves for being too busy (read lazy) to do anything about it. But it cannot go on like this any longer because our lives will always be as busy as they are today. There will always be pressures of family, job, social obligations and aspirations to fulfill, but the opportunity to save this planet will not always be there.

We have to take some tough decisions and act now because we can’t just hide our heads in the sand like an Ostrich and hope that this impending doom will somehow pass by. And let’s not make the mistake of assuming that somebody else will do the needful. There is no “somebody else” here! It is just us who can do this. And the sooner we understand, the better for us and for our children, who shall inherit this world from us tomorrow.

We have to seize this moment and deliver now because if we fail there will be no second chance. Our great country, which has some of the richest and most diverse flora and fauna in the world, and the oldest of civilizations, will turn into an inhospitable world made up of hot and arid lands in a few decades if we do not act now.

If we fail to do anything about it, a few decades from now, Bollywood and cricket may still be around, but the news channels will be covering the catastrophe that will have befallen us. Think about what you are going to do then, because the chance to avert that damage will be long gone.



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