We MUST Start the Fire!

people.jpgScores of articles have been written, heated debates have ensued and fingers have been pointed to various organisations, activities, policies and methods that have caused a furthering of the pitiable state of affairs that the environment is gloomily in now. Global warming, species extinction, habitat destruction, coral bleaching, desertification, ozone depletion, eutrophication… These are just to name a few of the grossly overpowering complaints that have reduced the environment to such drastically depraved conditions. Wordsworth lamented, what man has made of man, and these cries seem to fall on deaf ears as we steadily continue to mercilessly exploit the increasingly depleting resources that nature offers us.

True, much has been done in the area of conserving the environment and its resources — but it is much too late and much too little. Though scientists steadily work to bring to us new inventions that promise miraculously to not require much energy or power (and China, which manufactures 70 percent of the world’s light bulbs, has made a commitment to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs—a move that could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 500 million tons annually), the fact still remains that change is not taking place fast enough and we seem to be progressively hurtling towards a grim tomorrow.

As word after word is written in excited rejoinder, there is a certain nihilism that seems to set in. We rant and rave but the initiative is almost always for someone ‘higher up’ to take or needs to be begun on a massive scale. So thoughts like, “How would I alone bring about a change?” or, “What do I do about this?” cause greater non-participation in a concern that is universal. If people were given simple and everyday methods to help contribute in their own manner towards the welfare of the environment, work would accelerate into motion and participation would be more enthusiastic. Reducing the usage of polythene bags by urging people to carry their own cloth/jute/environment-friendly bags was a good initiative; however there was a principal error in this scheme: retailers were not provided with a feasible alternative to offer their customers who did not carry their own bags. What we need, in order to encourage more individual movements, which are as necessary as mass organized movements, is to give people a simplistic and regular way of helping to reduce environment-related issues.

People need to feel that they are part of a significant change in order to be more enthusiastic in their participation. They have to be ‘in the loop’ and need to feel a responsibility that unfortunately they do feel at the moment. It cannot be ignored that things aren’t as dismal as they were, and many initiatives are taking place even as we read this, but there is no contesting the fact that much more has to be done, and in much greater haste.

Indrani Basu