By Fayaz Ganie
According to scientific estimates , the age of the earth is more than 4.5 billion years old and life on this planet originated around 3.8 billion years ago. Moreover, during the entire course of history of life on the earth one species replaced the other and the other was replaced by the still other. This is true about those species also which ruled the earth and seemed invincible during the course of their domination.
Man is always curious to know about the rise and fall of the species, and rightly so, to gain insights and ingredients about how human life could be made more successful and sustainable. From this curiosity, man has drawn many lessons but the main lesson of interest is the one where it has been found that somehow almost every species is responsible for its own downfall, destruction and extinction. And, in biological succession, where we study the development of an ecosystem on places where there were none previously, that the pre-existing species is the main cause behind its elimination from the biosphere. The new species that replace the earlier one are advanced and able to withstand the changed conditions and circumstances. These species are also more sustainable but only as long as they do not follow the paths of their predecessors.
Now the question arises can this be true about the most advanced species that has inhabited the earth, the humans? The answer that comes to the mind at once is yes. Yes, the deeds and misdeeds of humans are leading this species towards the same end and prognosis as has been the case with the species which existed once on the earth and subsequently got extinct. The human species has fiddled enough with the fine balance of the nature and created sufficient of destructive forces that anything untoward can signal the end this species.
In almost every case of destruction wittingly or unwittingly , the species crossed the limits imposed by the nature around those species thereby the same nature which sustained them eventually disowned them. And, in respect of humans also it is the exploitation or manipulation of the nature beyond its regenerative powers with the same potential consequences and repercussions that the previous species have faced. The humans, therefore, are treading the same beaten path that has been tread by the now extinct and forgotten species, if they were ever remembered. There though is a difference, in case of the earlier species their habitats were confined to very minute geographical locations but man is making every habitat and niche uninhabitable for the human species.
The lower species excreted wastes from their bodies which got accumulated in the surroundings and eventually these wastes turned into toxin for the same species. The humans likewise are generating so large quantities of wastes where to dump them big mountains and hills have created exclusively of these wastes. Some wastes are dumped on the seabed and there is no place in the world where the wastes cannot be found with their adverse impacts on the environment, with potentials to jeopardize human life.
Some higher species preyed so much on their victims that the preys got extinct and once there was no prey to feed on the predators faced the same fate as the preys faced. Humans have not stopped hunting, and their hunting has been on the larger scale. It is only due to legislations that the extent of hunting has come down. Anyhow hunting by human has already caused the extinction of many species which were vital to maintain the balance of the food webs and food chains which play crucial role in human nourishment which could prove too costly eventually.
Some species progressed, and grew in number, so much that the resources available in their ecosystems fell short to feed them. The human population has also progress and today the number has reached around 7.5 billion. Feeding a population of this proportion could have been an impossible job had men not been with the means and wherewithal to spread to the remotest of the corner of the earth and exploit the environment and resources for human consumption by using the advanced technologies and techniques. But even with these means and modern technology there are millions, if not billions, of people who go to bed, if there is a bed, empty stomach every day. The stress on the resources of the planet is growing to feed this population and there are all chances that after a critical point is reached doing that won’t be possible anymore.
In the past natural disasters and catastrophes were responsible for the extinction of many species. These natural disasters were exclusively of the nature’s making, there was no hand of the species concerned towards those calamites. Unfortunately, humans have exploited nature so much and disturbed the balance so gravely that the natural disasters could be the outcome of the human actions. The environmental degradation, global warming and other types of pollutions and disturbances caused by humans have the potential to create such disasters which could be unparallel, with the past catastrophes, in their magnitude and destructive capabilities.
The condition today is that in place of regenerating jungles and forests, which used to play crucial role in renewing the vital resources necessary for human life, there are jungles of concrete which require the expenditure of the same very resources in abundance thereby putting extra burden on the fast depleting resources. One of the most important of these resources is water. The same places which used to play important role in conservation of water now require to be provided water from the other sources. This precisely is the reason where scarcity of water is taking the shape of a crisis, if that is not already a crisis in many parts of the world.
It is rightly said that the future wars may not be fought for anything but water. There are enough of indications of that in the present day world order. As an example India and Pakistan, two nuclear power states, which are already on a war path on account of unresolved disputes and issues, may avoid a war on account of these issues and disputes but avoiding the war on account of sharing of water, in view of the rising needs of water in both the countries, may not be possible for them if immediate measures are not initiated to provide a workable solution.
Coming to the overall situation of all the challenges that human race faces the imbalance in the world order makes it ever more difficult for man to deal with them. The imbalance where few exploit the major chunk of the resources of the earth and the rest are denied any such rights. The humanitarian crisis in the world, violations of human rights, exploitation and discrimination, conflicts and wars and hunger and poverty etcetera are the outcomes, and potential outcomes, of this imbalance.
About the exploitation, the resources and components of the ecosystems which are genuinely of the less developed and underdeveloped countries of the world are used and misused by the powerful and more influential ones. These less developed countries face the repercussions of the environmental degradation committed by the deeds, and misdeeds, of the powerful countries. The powerful countries present it as their right to exploit whatever thing they drop their hands on thereby robbing the deserving what is due to them.
The above mentioned instances, and challenges, that humans face and which are of their own making, make it explicit how humans are committing the same very mistakes which the species of the past committed and which resulted in their ouster. The difference in case of humans is that the previous species committed only one or few mistakes and yet they perished. Humans painfully commit bundles and heaps of mistakes so what could save them from facing the same very fate, if timely measures are not taken. As for as the outcomes are concerned there could also be a big difference, the earlier species left the earth suitable to be occupied and inhabited by the species more advanced and more equipped to face the changed environment but in case of humans so much of damaged is caused which may leave the earth unsuitable for every species.
And, if we take the nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction into account even there would remain no earth, if God forbid these marvels of destruction are used! There is still some time left with the humans to initiate corrective measures in right earnest and with all sincerity. It is never wrong to take a step back if taking that ensures a smooth journey and sure desired destiny.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]