HUMANITY NEEDS MUCH MORE THAN JUST THUNBERGING…

According to several indicators such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, reduction of forest cover, depletion of the ozone layer, overconsumption of ground water, unprecedentedly high air and water pollution, oceans choked by plastic, global warming and climate change, we seem to be on a high-speed roller-coaster ride towards an environmental holocaust, that could occur sooner than later. However laudable the “How Dare You?” rhetoric of Greta Thunberg at the UNGA meet may have been, sloganeering and talk have their limitations in shaking the conscience of those who can make a difference at the global level. At that level, it is a faceoff between the insatiable greed of nations and enlightened world governance. There are no prizes for guessing which of the two is winning hands down at this moment in history. Can the tables turn? Yes. Will the tables turn? Not until you and I want it to happen.

We are an emotional species. We get carried away by catchy phrases like “we have borrowed this Earth from our children” and “How Dare You?” We feel satisfied organising essay competitions, walks and runs to ‘Save the Planet’. The photographs look good in glossy reports generated to drug some bigwig into an artificial sense of achievement, force a misplaced belief that lots of good work is happening and that ‘All is Well’. Precious little is happening and Sir, ‘All is Certainly Not Well.” We need to alter our understanding about ‘Saving the Planet’ and for a moment, take a look at Humanity from the Planet’s perspective. The Earth has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years and may continue to exist for another 4.5 billion, maybe more. Species have come and gone and Humanity as we know it, has been around for barely 10000 years. So much for resilience of the Planet vis-a-vis Humanity. It may be more sobering to view the future through the prism of ‘Saving Humanity from Itself’ rather than ‘Saving the Planet’. The Planet will surely outlive humans. It is Humanity that is in the self-destruct mode. We have a choice – make a U-turn or continue hurtling towards an assured wipeout.

This is a call to Action. Do not depend on world or national leaders – politics has no sentiment and political statements are more often than not, for optics and short-term gains. Who cares about what happens to the world in 50 years when political uncertainty recurs every 5 years or even less? Global statements, national aims and local objectives are impossible to align and therefore a top-down approach is destined to fail. In the rarified atmosphere of global or even national leadership, there is too much political stake for the global or national good to prevail over narrower vested interests. The answer to my mind lies in shaking our conscience at the individual and local levels and act in every possible way to reclaim our environment in the manner that Nature had designed. Lesser individuals and organisations have little to lose politically or economically and will only gain incrementally with every small action to preserve or restore environmental normals. The collective gains could be substantial. Hopefully, this bottom-up approach would help galvanise public opinion in increasing concentric circles for better sense to eventually prevail and proliferate. Let us therefore reduce consumption, save water, food and resources, recycle waste, shun plastics, turn to Nature for advice on what to correct and very importantly, choose our public representatives carefully – pick those who share our belief that Humanity must be saved from itself.

Prophetic were the words of the Mahatma when he famously said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed”. This greed has brought us to where we stand today – looking at a disaster of unimaginable proportions in the face. If our individual and collective consciences do not awaken from their deep slumber and we continue to act in such hopeless greed, nothing can stop the extinction of Homo Sapiens from Planet Earth.

20 Replies to “HUMANITY NEEDS MUCH MORE THAN JUST THUNBERGING…”

  1. I had written a paper on Global Warming in 2007. The grave danger associated with global warming was looming large even then. Now, after 12 years, global warming related natural calamities have become more frequent.
    There is a school of thought that presume, global warming is now irreversible…Of course that does not imply, that we stop trying to arrest global warming.
    In the recent years I find more awareness and actions towards reducing green house gases. So, it is necessary that we keep our hopes alive and do what it takes. Perhaps we must now consider mitigating measures that are disruptive rather than incremental…

  2. Sir you rightly brought out there is need to save humanity from human. It is famously said that the nature has enough for all humans needs but not enough for their greed. To this we can safely add that uncontrolled greed and ‘breeding’ has brought us to this situation where the nature is crying and humans thinks that they can still win. If we slow down a bit and consciously undertake various activities instead of as a reaction or reflex, we can definitely align with mother nature. At the same time it has to be said that mother nature has her unique way of revealing the secrets which we human claim as huge discovery or scientific achievement. So i belive the time for movement to save nature has now entered the shared consciousness of humanity and it will definitely goad us to follow a course of action to take corrective actions

  3. A very apt article coming from a person who can implement…… well force down the throat many of the difficult yet unpalatable recommendations mentioned above in the previous posts. Why cant we make a start by reducing the number of cars coming in and going out of Sena Bhavan……. senior officers included.
    Paper glasses and those 20/40 l water dispensers can replace plastic bottles in any big meetings or bada Khanas. .
    Those 200 ml botttles continue to flourish though higher level meetings like cc etc have migrated to glass bottles.
    Can we take up the challenge of having a ‘zero plastic footprint’ for this years navy ball and tweet this achievement the next day and tell the world what a role model the IN is.

    1. Lot of CSR activity is also happening now a days and it is good that individuals as well as organisations are trying atleast to arrest this as much as possible. We as a company has taken numerous steps to reduce the use of plastic as a first measure. However cost of inputs are almost 3 X as compared to the plastic and so immediate switch over may not be possible. Again the collection of plastic waste us a eye wash at this point if time. There are many such organisations who have been appointed by the PCBs to collect plastic waste from the environment but whether these are actually collected and sent for recycling is a big question.

  4. You have nicely brought out sir …..Our healthy survival is safe and secure in the future only if each one of us is concerned. May be awareness bring in some positive results.

  5. True sir, …”save humanity from itself’…..is the apt summation as you rightly mentioned that earth will continue to exit in whichever form. I think that some have Incorporated measures in their daily lives few organizations are working towards achieving certain set goals…… but it’s still “some” and “few” only. When it would be accepted by the masses is a difficult guess but I think those conscious people making efforts at personal level have to move beyond themselves and contribute more towards humanity.

  6. Thanks CPS sir, long overdue “call for action”. While each one of us can, and must, do our bit, it doesn’t mean we need to turn the clock back entirely as stated in a comment above, as if asking to go back to living in jungles or back on the trees. There is clearly a middle ground available and if we increase the bandwidth of individuals adopting the small list of actions to reduce wastage at homes and workplaces viz food, water and electricity, it would begin make a huge difference. Wastage currently is huge. Planting of trees, rainwater harvesting and garbage collection and recycling/environment friendly destruction processes at community levels would be the next series of steps. These areas of activity at community levels within the navy will require some changes to be brought into our financial processes and leveraging Min of Environment processes to enlarge the ambit of action to achieve greater traction. The according of ‘PAC status’ to select technically competent vendors involved in plastic conversion plants, sewage treatment plants and its support systems, water recycling processes etc, taking help from MoEF and getting MoEF to fund some large scale projects in our bases rather than our own meagre revenue funds, would need actions at NHQ. We tried a few community level measures at INA, a perfect place to conserve the environment, few succeeded but many failed due intransigent IFA and non aligned financial processes. These need NHQ intervention. Let’s get our act together and keep at it, it can’t be a process of periodic sparks…

  7. Biswajit..absolutely brilliant!

    “Saving humanity from humanity” takes the cake.Of all anthropogenic effects rapid human population growth is the primary driver behind most ecological and even societal threats.It is time we realised that rather than changing the environment to facilitate our needs we need to change ourselves to fit into what we have around us.

  8. Pardon my candour…

    A timely call to act by Dasu Sir.

    I have a suspicion that there is near universal cognitive dissonance at the individual level and the societal level. Somehow most of us think that Global Warming affects the planet but ‘it’s not about me’. We continue to live and work the way we always did, despite the uncomfortable facts and mounting evidence confronting us.

    It’s time to change ‘me’. Let me consider my potential contribution …

    Travel by bus instead of car, reduce my requirement of electronics / electrical equipment in daily life including AC, walk instead of taking a car, don’t wash clothes everyday, stop buying anything that comes packed in plastic (all these satchets are killing animals and environment because we have enough sense not to chew them), have only five pairs of clothes…live a SIMPLE FRUGAL LIFE.

    Can I do that? Can I imbibe a fraction of the ideals of the Mahatma who practiced this unfailingly. (Reference – Gandhi Before India, Ramachandra Guha.)

    Not easy. My scorecard is an F. And I state with conviction that overwhelming majority are all a big F.

    I am barely able to muster the will to even contemplate the above as my kith and kin also has to agree and the youngsters have plans of accumulating wealth, gadgets and garnering material fame.

    So I still feel that the government and our leaders in uniform have to enforce what is good. It’s time that there is dictatorial (however pejorative that word sounds) enforcement of green and simple living and working.

    Neither the powers have the will to implement such fundamental and disruptional changes and nor can ‘me’ change. Eventually the natural habitat suffers our collective crimes, paying with their lives and mass extinctions. That is the unfortunate banality of this epic scale tragedy.

    We need to change the way we work at our offices and live in our homes. And this is not about LED lights and Solar panels only.

    Stop the cars, start buses for all.
    Remove the ACs and start natural ventilation (no harm in sweating).
    Implement GRIHA norms.
    Stop all tins and plastics in our shops, messes, clubs and work places (don’t manufacture the waste that we eventually kill animals with).
    Stop unnecessary refrigeration and regulate it to barest minimum.
    Reduce usage of escalators and lifts. Only medical necessity to dictate use of these.

    That will a tough but the correct Op Directive.

  9. Human memory is too short and within no time people will forget what this young girl said even her slogan How dare you !! Sustainable development and economic growth/greed
    with environmental protection needs to be addressed by both developed and developing countries. In my opinion the UN agencies like UNDP /UNEP need to get their act together and must get whole hearted support from all nations.

  10. Very timely and clear call for action sir. I know that every naval station does do its bit but invariably falls short due to financial and bureaucratic constraints. Maybe its time to produce a roadmap for greening the Navy and get MoD and MoEF onboard. Many green technologies are proprietary and invariably fall foul of the tendering process. Just like we did in the STP process, we could look at an approved panel of manufacturers for all green tech and allow limited tendering within those. We must shift to renewables for captive power over diesel generators wherever possible and look at biofuels for our transports. I know many of these initiatives must already be in the pipeline, but i would be really happy to see the Navy take the lead. And quietly without the tom tomming 😊

  11. A factual & hard hitting punch to each one of us Homo sapiens, specifically in Latin meaning ‘wise man’.
    But unfortunately we are working our way exactly in the opposite direction. Fully agree that conservation must start bottom up and glad to note that that the Gen X is much more aware about the consequences than we were. They must take up the cudgels and show the light to the senior generation who seem to have fallen into a slumber on this extremely serious issue

  12. Agree entirely sir.

    Let us do what we can at our level and not worry about what others are doing or not doing. Each small bit counts and if it does not help it definitely can cause no harm.

  13. Very true sir.
    We can’t leave everything to the government. We must therefore act. Charity begins at home. We should practice simplicity self discipline ;with age embrace spirituality over blind materialism.
    Orient and guide our children to look at life holistically and not just linear graphs and exponential material gains
    Hightime sustainable development become another revolution.

    Thought provoking ….

  14. Couldn’t agree more . Each one of us needs to be an agent of change to reduce the carbon footprints we carry by shunning the use of pollutants and harmful substances and switching over to environment friendly substances. This could mean riding bicycles or e vehicles to work etc, using recycled clothing (as the garment industry is the second biggest pollutant after the hydrocarbons on planet earth today) to name a few. This would need drastic change in our attitudes and call for support from the government. The change and the switch over to sustainable living is happening worldwide incl India but the need of the hour is laying down timelines and legislations to facilitate the change at a much faster pace.
    Regards

  15. Bang on target. Rhetorics have no place in this planet today which needs only action. If only asking questions would have found all answers, then we would not have been left to rue this state of affairs. Human beings are supposed to be intelligent lot. All their actions are well thought out, only difference is for whose good? Greed over need is the sole cause for our predicament today.
    Rightly said Thunbering can get a good press but that is about all, it cannot press home any good.

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