What will we do when this SARS Covid-19 lock down is over? Will we go back to frantically doing what we were doing before…, rushing madly towards meeting our goals of livelihood without thinking of the damage we have been doing to the environment which had a short respite from us?

Will we go back to doing with a vengeance what we had stopped doing for a short time – destroying ourselves along with our planet?

In response to my ‘Earth Day’ message in Countercurrents, on April 23 2020, my friend Bipin said, “The only problem is once we get back to normal, we will all forget the distress we went through and get back to our old ways of destroying the earth again“. He’s right. We have short memories and we don’t think enough about anything else except our own gratification.

Yet, there is hope for us in this pandemic moment. Being sequestered the way we have been, gives us the time to reflect on how we could heal our environment from the damage we have done to it, and how we can help nature restore itself. We also have the time to recognise our common humanity with people of different faiths, communities, regions and cultures; appreciate our differences with kindness and compassion, and resolve to live in peace and harmony when we are out of this forced seclusion.

We could look at this Isolation and self-quarantine as an opportunity to reflect upon how we could co-exist with nature and as a time to think, ponder, empathise, and spark ways of caring for each other and for the well-being of the planet we live on.

We can educate ourselves to be caring and compassionate, and be a society that takes responsibility for ourselves and our fellow inhabitants on our small planet. Earth. Our one and only home.

We can examine our capacity to care and connect with the world and realise how interdependent we are on our environment. Interdependence is not just a word. It is a fact of life. We are part of the ecosystem and part of the biodiversity on this planet – just one of the interlocking pieces in this jigsaw puzzle.

Dr James Lovelock, many years ago coined the term ‘Gaia’ to describe how the air, the ocean and the soil are as much part of life itself as every living thing. He understood that the combination of everything creates a single giant living system that keeps the Earth in the most favourable state for life.

We humans have evolved from nature. Nature is the source of all our food, air and water. And though we have grown to believe to the contrary, nature, and the biodiversity on our planet, does not exist to serve the human species, humans are dependent on nature for our survival.

Though we have been colonising and destroying nature and its biodiversity for ages, in reality we do not have more rights than any other entity in our system. We are dependent on our environment; the environment is not dependent on us. We are co-dependent on everything around us and if the natural systems that support life on earth collapse, then humanity is going to collapse.

Climate over the last few decades appears to be changing more quickly than it would naturally. 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 flooding and cyclones in others.

Climate change is taking place due to human intervention, largely as a result of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation; greenhouse gases in the atmosphere cause surface temperatures to rise. Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surfaces are warming; sea level is rising; and mountain glaciers and the Arctic sea ice are shrinking. Most scientists accept, and the evidence is indisputable, that changes in the climate of planet Earth are strongly influenced by our actions.

This time of seclusion and confinement is the time to think about how we could protect our planet from not just environmental destruction and climate change.

And develop an awareness, understanding and consciousness of the fragility of the environment and of our connectedness, interdependence and co-dependence with it.

For our own safety as a species, we have to evolve towards a simpler way of life; consuming less, sharing more and striving to make life simple. We cannot persist with our consumption-induced environmental degradation, as our conspicuous consumption/consumerism has major environmental impacts and is not ecologically sustainable. It would do us a lot of good if we increase our awareness about global warming and climate change, and, prevent pollution by consuming less, wasting less, and by, reducing, reusing and recycling.

It is in our own interest to preserve habitats instead of destroying them for so-called development. We must seek alternatives and go towards economics that is humane, people-oriented and equitable to people, especially the less privileged, and save our forests from the government’s perverse extractive economic policy by which economic and monetary valuation of nature become the criteria for decision making. Money does not buy the beauty and biodiversity of forests, and money does not compensate a forest dwellers traditional home and livelihood.

Self-reflection is a process by which we grow our understanding of who we are, what our values are, and why we think and act the way we do. Let us hope we don’t go back to our destructive ways.

Beneath our feet, above our heads,/ We feel it tremble and sigh./ It holds all life within its hands,/ And carries us through the night.’/ But hurt and havoc have we wrecked,/ On all its beautiful sights./The Earth is ours to have or lose,/ All depends on if we fight. Anon

Pratap Antony writes on ecology and environment, social justice and pluralism, management ideas and issues, jazz and western classical music and Indian classical dance.           


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