Our children and their children’s grandchildren have the right to hold us to a high standard of accountability when their future—and maybe their survival—is hanging in the balance. They  too deserve something more than a generation of political leaders who look at the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced and then sit on their hands.

– Human Development Report

          As the survival crisis of our planet reaches a critical stage, increasingly the most important task just now is to protect the basic life-nurturing conditions of earth for future generations. This task has to be accomplished within a framework of justice, peace and democracy.

We all care deeply for our children. So imagine how high should be the concern of parents who have come to know that their small children, when they grow towards teenage and youth years, are likely to face some very serious life-endangering threats? Surely they should give up everything else to try to do what they can to eliminate these threats, or reduce them as much as possible.

But the reality today is that millions and millions of parents know that their children will be facing such threats in the next two or three decades (as well as beyond this) and yet the potential of the combined strength of these millions and millions of parents is somehow not being realised to check the serious threats which await these children in the next few decades.

This is extremely sad, and will prove very costly. There needs to be much greater realisation of the enormity of the very serious threats and hazards we face and our children are likely to face more than us. These threats are so serious that these can be called a survival crisis.

To understand the very critical times through which all  inhabitants of planet earth are passing, the concept of a survival crisis is of crucial importance. Briefly, this concept refers to a range of serious problems which taken together can badly disrupt the special life-nurturing conditions of earth due to which such a wide diversity of life has flourished here. This disruption can take place within the 21st century, in fact as early as within the next few decades. Several very senior scientists have argued along these lines in several statements in recent times.

The serious problems which constitute the survival crisis include nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction including robot or AI weapons, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater crisis, air pollution , disruption of food safety and around half a dozen other serious environmental and safety problems. Most discussion on these dozen or so survival problems takes place in isolation from each other but in the practical world we are more likely to face the combined threat of several of them taken together, increasing the risks .

From the point of view of the welfare of all living beings on earth this survival crisis constituted by all these problems taken together is clearly the  most important issue. This is true for this generation but this is even more true regarding the welfare of future generations, our children and grandchildren as well as the next generations of other life-forms.

The present world leadership and international institutions have miserably failed to find timely and credible solutions for this survival crisis taken as a whole. There are several statements by leading scientists, experts and statesmen testifying to this. In fact some of the problems which constitute the survival crisis have worsened rapidly in the recent past.

Where then can we find hope? In my recent books on these issues titled Survival Crisis–Planet in Peril; People’s Response the Only Way Forward (Vitasta Publishers, Delhi), and One Decade to Protect Life (Published by our own cottage scale publishing effort called Social Change Papers, Delhi) I have argued that the greatest importance must now be accorded at world level to finding solutions for the survival crisis within the framework of justice, democracy and peace. While very significant reforms in governance at world level are needed to find and implement solutions which work, these can come only if there is a great resurgence of people’s movements at the grassroots and a yearning for social values in tune with the big challenges ahead. More specifically I have suggested the coming together of the movements of justice (including gender justice), peace, environment protection, democracy and sincere spirituality to make it  possible for people to respond adequately to the challenges ahead. It is tough, it is possible.

A very encouraging recent development has been that a large number of school students started coming out in many countries to protest against lack of adequate action to check climate change. Thousands of scientists and researchers issued statements supporting these children.

This inspired me to write two new books in which I took forward the concerns of my previous books but with more focus on specific solutions which can create a safer future for the generations to come. The first book is appropriately titled ‘Protecting Earth for Children – Crucial Role of New Decade’ while the second, smaller companion book is titled ‘Earth Without Borders – One  World for Protecting All.” (both published by Social Change Papers). A Gandhian perspective on such issues was provided in another book ‘Man Over Machine’ (Vitasta). This was followed by a Hindi book which brought together the concerns of all these books written in  English (Dharti Ki Raksha Ke Liye Nirnayak Hoga Agla Dashak, Social Change papers).

One particular idea which I advocate very strongly in some of these books  and on which I have been campaigning in recent times is to declare the decade of 2021-31 as the Decade of Saving Earth at the world level. This is the most immediate demand at present  of the ‘Save the Earth Campaign with SED Demand ( Demand for declaring next ten years as the decade for saving earth’  which I am co-ordinating. This will help to focus attention on the most urgent tasks of resolving the survival crisis issues  within a framework of justice,peace and democracy. (Campaign statement can be seen at bharatdogra.in)

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements.


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