Piecemeal Efforts will Not Protect the Planet or Its People


With increasing realization that the earth’s basic life-nurturing conditions are threatened by man-made factors, the world has responded in a number of ways ranging from climate change commitments to treaties to reduce weapons of mass destruction. While each and every sincere effort should be welcomed and appreciated, there is clearly need for a frank evaluation of where we have reached so far despite the undoubted value of each and every sincere effort, no matter how small, that has been made.

All the available evidence indicates that in terms of checking climate change, the world has fallen far short of what it ought to have achieved by now. Despite important success stories here or there, similar is the case of several other life-threatening environmental problems. More of the planetary boundaries are being transgressed, or else the situation is very close to this. In the context of disarmament the situation is even more worrying as instead of progressing further, some of the existing treaties and agreements relating to weapons of mass destruction have not been renewed or have collapsed. Meanwhile there is increasing threat from new weapons like AI weapons and there has been increased talk during the last two years of the possibility of a nuclear war or a third world war compared to earlier years.

Nearly 80 years have passed since the first possibilities of earth’s life-nurturing conditions being threatened were heard. During the last 35 years or so there has been more evidence of this and more concern over this. However all the efforts made so far have not led to reducing this threat which has actually increased during this time. This is despite so many learned scientists and scholars pointing out the seriousness of the threats and near consensus existing now on this this.

Clearly something is seriously missing in whatever efforts that have been made so far. In fact the efforts exist only in a reductionist sense of responding to various component of the crisis. There is no comprehensive or integrated response at the world level which captures all dimensions of the crisis. There is not even a ‘UN Agency for Man-made Threats to Basic Life-Nurturing Conditions’ to at least think of and conceptualize this issue in an integrated way, even though this is certainly the most important issue facing humanity (as well as other forms of life). This is a reflection of the fact that any comprehensive approach to resolving the most important issue facing humanity in an integrated way simply does not exist at the international level. Can there be a bigger example of how far our precariously perched world is from the most important and urgent priorities?

Even if we examine only the reductionist approach that is being followed with all its limitations of looking only at various individual components of the crisis, what we see at best is only very limited progress and at worst even a roll-back of some of the limited gains achieved earlier.

Some attention has already been drawn to these failures on various fronts, but the larger and more serious failure to evolve a very well thought-out world-level program based on a proper conceptualization of multi-dimensional survival or existential crisis has drawn very little attention.

This failure is on the one hand a reflection of the inability to comprehend the close relationships between peace and environment protection issues, while on the other hand this failure contributes further to segregation and isolation of such crucial issues.

At the same time such failure is also a reflection of the reluctance of dominant powers to subject their militarization and military-industrial complex to the binding of any international agreements or negotiations.

On the other hand from the perspective of the world’s people it is important to very firmly seek a future of peace as well as of environment protection. In addition they also want this to be achieved within a framework of justice and equality so that basic needs of all people are met and their dignity and human rights are respected, while all life-forms get protective conditions.

As the dominant powers are not enthused by this, their response may be to somehow secure the safety and continuing privileges of only the elites without bothering much about the increasing threats to the majority of people ( a possible scenario which this writer has explored in his novella ‘A Day in 2071’).

As this is unacceptable, the most urgent task ahead is to work for evolving a truly hope-giving, time-bound worldwide program for resolving the man- made problems which threaten the life-nurturing conditions of earth before it is too late, bringing together the most important issues of environment protection, peace and disarmament as well as justice and equality. This is the most important protective issue for humanity as well as for other forms of life.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and Man over Machine.   

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