World Environment Day: Man versus Environment

Man is not only a dweller in nature, he also transforms it.

Liji Varghese

God created the universe, creatures and birds of all kind, he separated day and night, filled the earth with vegetation and in the end of it all he created `MAN` and gave him dominion over all other created things.

Little must have God known of his own creation then. Man had the entire earth as a gift, predestined by a divine decree, he was once the `noble savage` who dwelled in harmony and peace with nature and could have continued to live so, but slowly yet subsequently he used his intelligence and authority not only to transform the environment for his own progress but also made all kinds of incursions to make it more fragile.

Nature that has nurtured man since his very evolution has been exploited ad infinitum by him time and again. The primitive man who feared nature’s wrath was completely dependent on nature for his mere survival. Being gifted with intelligence, the power to reason and analyse situation, man subjugated the environment and attained results in his favour. However, subsequently the activity that started as a means of rational survival turned irrational in the name of civilisation.

The ancient Indian theory rightly defines the human body as a universe in miniature, composed of air, water, fire and earth controlled by the laws of nature governing the universe. The interrelation and interdependence of man and nature is such that, any alteration or rather relatively small changes in the environment can not only detriment normal existence but can also pose a threat to the very existence of the entire human race.

The question is not, whether or not man should use what has been given to him by nature thus impeding his progress. The question is how far will he go in using these resources that are limited and the excess use of which would result in a radical change in the ecological system.

It`s said that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children, which means that excess use of any natural resource will deprive our future generation of what is rightfully theirs.

Water, food, energy, oil crisis are not something new to us. The scarcity of these things have already started showing up, which is quiet evident from the fact that the global economy is under the pressure of constantly rising inflation due to the growing demand and declining supply of essentials. Not only is man using the resources in excess but he is making the environment more and more fragile by dumping the synthetic wastes produced in abundance by the ever increasing demand of the already overflowing population.

The waste produced by the synthetic products turn into hazardous agents when dumped thus causing a natural imbalance in the eco system.

Water which is already facing a global endemic shortage is further affected by the rising global temperature, leading to melting glaciers. Though earth is composed of water yet the fresh water required to sustain humans comes up to only 3%, the remaining 97% being saline water. The current situation is a clear indicator that if ever another world war would be fought, it would be for water.

Another essential for human survival is food, which is far less in supply than the actual demand. Increasing population and requirement of land for human settlement has considerably affected agriculture land.

The surplus use of non-renewable sources of energy by the modern man will result in the future living in dark as the pace of consumption is far more than what the nature can replenish.

Man with his unique capability to thinking has no doubt built opulence for himself but his rapid growth has resulted in the disorganisation of the system evolved by nature.

Summits like Copenhagen and Cancun are in fact a proof that man very well knows what he is doing to the nature. What is important, however, is that he starts acting rather than just acknowledging what is already known. As the ecological situation is a global problem, it is important to have a holistic framework for optimal function of the system. It is obviously not possible to go back into the primitive era, but a shift in attitude, rather than turning a blind eye to the situation and a controlled use of the available resources can definitely help in sustaining an ecological balance.

As Albert Einstein said- "A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few people nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. “

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