The major problem faced by us today is global warming and other disastrous consequences of environmental and ecological imbalance. It is because of these problems that we see the extinction of many species from the surface of our mother earth and the occurrence of frequent natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, soil erosion, and sudden melting of glaciers. Despite tremendous scientific and technological advancement, we have not achieved any significant breakthrough either to forecast or to prevent them. The forest fires raging in many parts of the world are taking heavy toll of our green gold before our helpless eyes. Landslides occurring so often mock our engineering capabilities. On top of it, the depletion of the ozone layer and the global warming paint a grim picture which poses a question mark on the survival of humanity on this planet.
The exploitative and expansionist burden on the available resources and the greed to have more territories and hegemonic, political and military influence by the strong over the weak, undermining their self respect and human rights and draining of their resources, is a blot on the face of humanity. This is a sad state of affairs, no less than a disaster. It is man-made and can be avoided. If we look at the damage done by wars fought on this earth, we find that they have done more harm to us than any natural calamity ever has.
All this shows that our survival is at stake unless we do something for conserving what is left of our healthy eco-system. This is our pious duty and a responsibility towards our coming generations who will, otherwise, hold us accountable. Our forefathers have cared for us and preserved this earth for us. Let us also care for our coming generations and take every possible step to make this world worth living.
This is a serious issue. The sooner we realise it the better it is. War, hunger, exploitation and poverty are some of the injustices that exist in today’s world. We can’t afford to ignore them and must view them as big challenges to be overcome. These are the result of the social structure that has existed since man set foot on this planet. The gap between rich and poor has been there from times immemorial. However, in the past it was limited to man versus man or man versus other living beings. Primitive man lived in caves. His needs were limited. His economy was hunting-based. His three basic needs were food, shelter and clothing, and these were available to him naturally. He dressed with leaves of plants and obtained his food from plants and by hunting wild animals. The increase in his day-to-day needs gave rise to the exploitation of resources and there was a gradual shift from hunting to agrarian-based economy and also to domestication of animals. The consumption of resources substantially increased. Growth in population also resulted in more economic and social problems, so much so that alternatives had to be sought to narrow down the gap.
Thus the environmental and ecological balance of the earth was disturbed. The situation further deteriorated when the economy again shifted from agrarian to industrial one. This resulted in the creation of greater gulf between different classes of people, and especially between the rich and poor. The exploitative nature of the industrial economy affected the whole society and also the environment. Natural resources faced more exploitation than ever. This is what needs to be stopped. We must change our priorities and our economic system in such a way that life becomes free from exploitative ways. Ensuring equitable sharing of resources is one way to do that. We should be prudent enough to not exhaust the resources of the whole ecosystem on which we depend for our survival.
Over-exploitation of resources of the earth disrupts other multiple processes which are responsible for supporting life on this planet. Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural calamities as mentioned above are the result of such over-exploitation and need to be taken by humanity as a wake-up call.
Colonial exploitation occurs when one group invades another group’s homeland and seizes control of territory and resources for itself. Forced labour, slavery and racial discrimination are other such forms of exploitation. Although forced labour and slavery are not prevalent now, its offshoots, like working against the will and getting less or delayed wages, still persist and can be traced to the mindset which prevailed earlier. We may also include the denial of freedom and social justice to it.
Just as agrarian economies entailed the exploitation of land, water, animals, labour, etc, the industrial economies did the same but on a larger scale. This brought with it problems like global warming, pollution, and the problem of industrial waste disposal. Exploitation of land also means exploitation of good soil, water, timber and minerals. Depletion of ozone layer and global warming are the greatest danger to humanity from industrialisation.
For sustaining human civilisation on earth, we must ensure that no harm is done to the environmental balance by industrialisation and try to minimise and eliminate its harmful effects. This is the only way by which we can save ourselves and humanity from the scourge of natural calamities and their disastrous consequences.
According to Leo Tolstoy, “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” Let us all serve humanity by saving our environment.
The writer is a retired telecom engineer.
Peerzada Abdul Rashid is a retired telecom engineer