Apr 22, 2021 Letters
A very great mind averred that we should make things “as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I will attempt to follow this precept. Throughout human history, peoples have paid respect to their environment – air, water and earth in particular. I mean the indigenous peoples who have revered this planet with endearing and sacred words: dharti mata, pachamama, ma-ga or mother gaia, iya aye, papatūānuku, maimata, maka ina, and so forth.
Contemplate on this: All life (and thus civilisation) depends on six-inch top soil. The earth provides food; yet humans are abusing it. The same is true for the air and water. This has been going on and is still happening: Pollution in diverse ways, including excessive use of pesticide, herbicide and weedicide, antibiotics and hormones in factory farmed animals, unsustainable deforestation, over hunting, commercial over fishing, factory farming, decline of biodiversity, soil erosion, plastics in the soil, air, water and food, algal bloom, and carbon emission.
Marine biologist Nicklen explains, “When people think of sea ice melting, they think of this lifeless substance, like ice in a glass. But it’s a very complex substrate. You have up to 300 species of microorganism living in the salt brine channels of a piece of sea ice… the sun’s energy penetrates, and you get algae growing under the ice, and seaweed, which provides the food base for zooplankton. Billions of pounds of amphipods and copepods are growing under there, and it’s the same with krill. Then you have the polar cod that feed on the krill, and from there you have beluga whales, narwhals, bearded seals, Greenland sharks. If we lose the ice, we stand to lose the entire ecosystem.” An example of biodiversity collapse in the arctic biome!
The Climate narrative is arguably the most defining and crucial issue of our natural world today. It is identified as an emergency climate crisis, because of the extreme damaging effects on nature. “Human activity has reduced the Earth’s total biomass by an estimated 50%, and destroyed or degraded 70% of the world’s forests over the recent 5,000 years.” The scientific data are overwhelming. Scientific American states: “There is mounting evidence linking increases in extreme weather frequency and intensity to climate change. The year 2020, one of the hottest years on record, also saw extraordinary wildfire activity in the Western United States and Australia, a Siberian heat wave with record high temperatures exceeding 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) within the Arctic circle, a record low for October Arctic sea ice extent of 2.04 million square miles, an Atlantic hurricane season resulting in more than $46 billion in damage, and deadly floods and landslides in South Asia that displaced more than 12 million people.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-climate-emergency-2020-in-review/)
There are literally hundreds of Articles, Reports and Statements from organisations and the press (the Guardian especially in the forefront) drawing attention to this grim crisis. Here are just a few sampling headlines:
*Climate crisis: Earlier snowmelt in Alps means plants lose ‘protective coat, exposing them to deadly frosts.
*The climate crisis can’t be solved by carbon accounting tricks.
*How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates; The New Climate War.
*Iceberg size of Greater London breaks off Antarctica.
*Global oil companies have committed to ‘net zero’ emissions. It’s a sham.
*Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal.
*How to save an overheated planet.
*Naomi Klein: how big tech helps India target climate activists.
*The race to zero: can America reach net-zero emissions by 2050?
*The World’s Worst Oil Related Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of.
*The planet cannot survive our remorseless pursuit of profit.
UN Secretary General, António Guterres, underscored that “Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it.”
Despite the preponderance of evidence, there is so much callous insouciance by governments and culpable corporations directly involved in fossil extractives, and, as reported, by “Big Banks [that] Are ‘Fueling Climate Chaos’ By Pouring Trillions Into Oil, Gas And Coal.”
It is indeed perplexing! It cannot be mindless political or ideological or cerebral sclerosis when basic commonsense dictates reasonableness in addressing such a major concern facing survival of planet earth. Well, there is a tipping point, when there may be no return to life as we know it. Described in Guyanese picturesque language: when boat done gan ah falls; moon ah run till daylight ketch am; wha sweet ah goat mouth does sour he backside. Time to act is now!
Recall Bishop Desmond Tutu’s allegory: “When the Europeans came to South Africa they brought lots of bibles. They gave us bibles and said, ‘Let us close our eyes and pray.’ When we opened our eyes we found that we had a lot of European bibles and the Europeans had a lot of our land.” Now also consider: when the investors come, they bring much money to your land, and after a few years they exploit and take much, much, much more – your wealth and patrimony. This is the essential message of The West on Trial. Guyanese should be well advised that in the pursuit of so-called oil wealth they are contributing to potential colossal infrastructure destruction, environmental devastation, without alleviating poverty and quality of life.
Heed the Cree Wisdom: Only after the last tree has been cut down / Only after the last river has been polluted / Only after the last fish has been caught / Only then, will you discover, that money cannot be eaten.
Nature is full with lessons for life, its accepted wisdom, for sustainable living. Humanity should respect such wisdom, and embrace environmental justice. We should all caution ourselves against the capriciousness of unconscionable immoral and perverse quest of fortune. We should try to find, develop, inculcate, and internalise what Joseph Campbell called ‘bliss,’ or the Japanese ikigai, or the Nakhichevan penchant for cleanliness and order.
The populace (students, workers, academics, NGOs and all others) must wake up, and demand change of direction regarding the committed inglorious push for fossil fuel. If we want to enjoy what is left of our world, we have to be highly aware of our impact upon this Earth and desist from its further despoliation. Thurgood Marshall admonished “Whenever you see an injustice you must speak out. This is the only way we protect our freedom and democracy.” Today is Earth Day. Let us dedicate solemnly to save our Planet. We must strive to ensure an ecological friendly future, or we are all doomed.
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