Self-interest is one of the defining features of human nature. There is an impulse in all of us to strive for pleasure and happiness and avoid pain and suffering. The pursuit of prosperity is fundamental in everybody’s life. However, being part of a society which is inhabited by many, we have certain moral and social responsibilities towards others. We have to strike a balance between our self-interest and our duties towards others. Often we lose sight of our social responsibilities as a result of our desire to satisfy our self-interest. This is manifested in many of our actions, one of which is the damage we do to the environment, which is not a private property but a common asset of all.
In view of the current harvesting season which has just started, it is imperative to write about the burning of stubble in the open, for it has devastating effects on the environment. Whenever the harvesting season begins, the deterioration in the air quality can be easily seen across Kashmir. This deterioration is the result of stubble burning, which pollutes the air with harmful gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur dioxide. These gases have many serious consequences for our health. Apart from causing a burning sensation in the eyes and making it difficult to come out in the open, inhaling the poisonous smoke affects our health in many adverse ways.
Apart from polluting the air, the burning of this agricultural biomass does not spare the soil as well. The stubble burning leads to the loss of many essential nutrients in the soil, thereby reducing its fertility. The essential microbial activity in the soil is affected badly, worsening the quality of soil further. To compensate for this loss, farmers have to use more quantity of fertiliser. So, apart from affecting our lungs, the stubble burning also puts an additional economic cost and further damages the fertility of soil.
It is clear that what we do to our environment is tantamount to what we do to ourselves. Our reckless and negligent behaviour towards our environment results in harmful consequences for ourselves. In addition to the impact on human beings, pollution of environment spells disaster for all living beings. Animals, plants, microorganisms, birds all are affected, adversely, as a result of our negligent behaviour. Because of our carelessness, we encroach upon not just the right to life of fellow human beings but also that of other creatures.
Let us take a pledge that this year we will not burn stubble in the open. We must find some alternative means of managing this agricultural biomass. It is a step not only for our environmental protection but for our own protection and well being. It is also a step to honouring the rights of other creatures that live on this earth. We must not act as masters of this world but we must act as partners of all other creatures. Let us commit to protecting our environment. Better to be responsible at present than regret in future.
— The writer is a student at Govt Degree College Bijbehara