An antibody is a protein produced by the body’s immune system when it detects harmful substances, called antigens (bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses) and chemicals.
Many of us conceive of nature as a boundless resource to be exploited without any consequence. But, the natural world is vulnerable and our natural resources are precious and finite.
Changing climates are not new on earth – earth’s climate changes over a period of time, but climate over the last few decades appears to be changing more quickly than it would naturally.
Most scientists believe that it is mankind’s actions that have impacted the Earth over the last 200 years. Human emissions, largely as a result of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to increase causing surface temperatures to rise, thus ushering in a new geological age, the Anthropocene, the Age of Man.
Wherever we live, in our own cities and towns, we can’t help noticing the unpredictability of climate. Summers are hotter. Where it was dry, it is now quite humid. Rain, and its onset and intensity are relatively unpredictable, the cold season is shorter or it does not get to be as cold as it used to, or it is colder for a short period than it has ever been.
When we look at global climate, we notice that in parts of the world, winters are getting colder and in some parts summers are warmer and there is a greater frequency of drought in some regions and more flooding and cyclones in others.
The evidence is indisputable. Earth’s biosphere is failing, the Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surfaces are warming; sea levels are rising; and mountain glaciers and the Arctic sea ice are shrinking.
We have just one planet, but we are consuming more resources than ever before. Natural ecosystem’s are being exploited and destroyed to access resources to feed industrial growth and fuel carelessly consumptive lifestyles.
Throughout the globe, we allow reckless corporations to mine and extract minerals and ore, build ports, dams and acquire real estate for State-endorsed industrial Economic Processing Zones (EPZ’s) in collusion with political demagogues who sanction, authorise and enforce these projects.
In the USA, the most notorious is the Keystone fracking (hydraulic fracturing) project. In Australia, it is the infamous Adani mining project. In Malaysia and Indonesia whole regions are under threat due to rapid deforestation for timber and palm oil. In Argentina, Brazil Paraguay and Bolivia, forests are being cut for pasture lands, agriculture, timber, pulp and paper, mining, industrial development and large dams. Across Africa havoc is being wreaked on Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia’s biodiversity, where forest conversion and forest loss have been greatest due to commercial agriculture, oil, gas and mining projects.
In India thousands of square kilometres of forests have been cleared for mining, defence projects and hydroelectric projects, besides which there is illegal removal of forest products and encroachment.
Earth is a living organism, and the entire biosphere is our life support system and we, like any other animal, are entirely dependent upon this ecosystem for survival. However, most of us, do not know, do not realise, or are indifferent to the damage that we are wreaking on the environment. So we do not protest. We
do not do anything while we allow environmental damage to take place.
Those of us who are aware of what’s happening feel powerless and helpless to say or do anything about the ecosystem loss and the damage that these government approved corporations are doing to the surface and atmosphere of our only planet Earth. So we sit back in acquiescence, resigned to accept our fate. We helplessly accept authority without question, because we feel we are not in control and we can never be in control. We wilfully close our eyes to what is in plain sight, and keep ourselves guilt free. Or, we are in complete denial and then convince ourselves and others of the folly of voicing our views and expressing the truth about what’s going on.
But there are people, brave people with integrity and a sense of justice, who see clearly, feel deeply, think incisively and bring to our notice our fundamental rights, our constitutional rights, our right to free expression, and how power is being abused. They tell us about social injustice and social inequities and how environmental exploitation is damaging our locality, our region and our planet. They also tell us what we should do about all these things.
These exceptional people with this intuitive intelligence, extraordinary insight and uncommon knowledge are human rights activists, social justice activists, humane journalists in the independent media, civil liberties and civil rights activists, environmental activists, animal rights activists and so on. They have conscience, a sense of justice, a sense of what is fair and what is not, they know what’s wrong and what to do about it, and they have a strong will to act on their knowledge and represent all of us people who are in denial or are wilfully blind. They take positive steps for the greater common good by challenging, advocating and protesting; by calling for and demanding corrective action and justice, all at great risk of harm to their persons.
We will focus on environmentalists. Environmentalists are earth’s antibodies. Economist Jeremy Rifkin, the best-selling author of seventeen books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment wrote, “We are learning that the earth functions like an invisible organism. We are the various cells of one living being. Those who work to save the earth are its antibodies.” Till 1901 “antibody” referred to any of a multitude of different substances that served as “bodies” (foot soldiers) in the fight against infection. It is for this reason that environmentalists could be called earth’s antibodies. Environmentalists are people like us, from amongst us, who fight for us.
Environmentalists protect plants, animals, people, places and resources that we depend on. Environmentalists detect and fight corrupt corporations, perverse politicians and colluding governments, just like antibodies, the proteins that shore up our immune system and fight infection such as bacteria, virus, and parasites, i.e. venal corporations, politicians and the administration. Environmentalists protect and preserve the environment from destruction, whether it’s climate change, energy issues, waste management, water, food, land use, ecosystems, endangered species, or public health.
Large corporations and their paid employees in government and administration are behind the frontal assault on environmental agencies and regulatory bodies and the anti-propaganda against environmentalists.
Environmentalists are not eco-terrorists as the paid propagandists of the large corporations would have you believe. It is the large corporations who have interests in mining, paper, pulp and logging, dredging, creating Industrial zones or building dams and building commercial areas that destroy and our rivers and forests in the name of development. They are the eco-terrorists. Not environmentalists. It is the Environmentalists that stand up to the sinister designs of large corporations’ reckless attack on the environment
It is the large corporations who influence politicians in Government, yes, sadly, it is politicians in government and administration who issue threats to charities, and dismantle environmental legislation. It is they who pay for and occupy the media to stanch social resistance. It is they who float rumours, misinformation and disinformation and demonise environmentalists. It is politicians, indebted to, or in the employ of corporations, that label environmentalists “utopian gloomy naysayers of progress” and ‘defeaters of development’.
So what do we do? And this applies to people in all countries, environmentalism begins and ends with people like you and me. “It is our collective will that defines what issues we get concerned about, get prioritised for political attention, and how these in turn shape the course of society’s onward development”.
Instead of vilifying environmentalists, support them, because they are fighting for us like antibodies. Resist cunning politicians and venal corporations – harmfulparasites, bacteria and virus. Question our elected representatives and policymakers.
Protest whenever and wherever we can by joining like-minded pressure groups against corrupt, misguided state sanctioned development projects and their nexus with dishonest corporations.
Save our forests from government economic policy, where the monetary valuation and economics becomes the criteria for decision making and policy.
Seek alternatives to the perverse economic valuation of nature, its extractive policy and go towards economics that is humane, people-oriented and equitable to people, especially the less privileged. Money does not buy the beauty and biodiversity of forests.
Teach our children empathy, ahimsa (non harm), and the value of independent thinking.
“You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Anonymous Native American sage.
On a lighter note. I have observed when well known activists are interviewed by the media, the question that is inevitably asked is – When you are so knowledgeable, concerned, passionate and active about the social cause that you are advocating, why don’t you join politics and stand for elections. The answer is simple – the activist/environmentalist/seeker of justice is an antibody – s/he is not a parasite, bacteria or virus.
Pratap Antony is a Passive activist. Active pacifist freelance thinker and writer. Writes on an array of subjects: ecology and environment, social justice and pluralism, management ideas and issues. Music: western classical, jazz, and Indian classical dance.