“There are enough resources for everyone’s need but not for anybody’s greed” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Recent incidents of the bombing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala was a perfect example of our deteriorating humanity. The whole nation was in outrage and wanted justice for the elephant but now those voices have lost in the rush of life. There have been numerous incidents of barbarity against animals, forests, and the environment across the nation which revealed the levels that humanity has stooped to.
According to a Traffic report, during Lockdown there have been about 88 cases of poaching in India, an increase of 151% compared to the Pre-lockdown period.
All this Chaos and misery this year has brought humankind a golden opportunity to introspect where humanity is heading. If we learn from the sufferings that we endure today, tomorrow will bring us a future that is serene cheerful and sustainable.
We need to decide what is the cost we are willing to pay for all the materialistic development that we seek? Is mankind’s progress worth encroaching the natural habitat of all other species?
We have a complex yet crucial relationship with every living being that live along-side us. From the delicate relationship between snail and crops, we consume to the fascinating relationship between Cheetah and guzzle, all life forms are product and contributor for sustaining life on the Earth. This complex web of life has taken millennia in making while we humans are of such great potentials that we have managed to bring disharmony to this complex relationship in a matter of a few centuries
We have to realize that these interconnections of life forms are fragile. We have history to witness the shattering interconnection of this sophisticated web of lives. from dinosaurs to the exhumed fossils of all long-gone creatures. Events were so severe that most of the species just could not adapt to and simply died-out.
With the beginning of human civilization n, the transformation that has emerged proved to be too difficult for many species to adapt to, and as a result, they are extinct. We need to know, Earth has already witnessed extinction five times in the last 500 million years.
- The first extinction was called Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, It came after a stretch of 30 million years of a diversified blossom of species in the Ordovician period from 485 million year-444 million years ago from and it nearly wiped out 60-70% of all life forms on Earth.
- The second extinction happened nearly 375-360 million years ago is known as the Late Devonian extinction and nearly 70 percent of all life perished. This extinction event perhaps lasted for about 20 million years.
- The third known as the Permian–Triassic extinction event took place approximately 252 million years ago and annihilated about 90-96% of all life on Earth. Scientists believe it to be the greatest event of mass extinction.
- The fourth Extinction occurred around 201 million years ago was called as Triassic–Jurassic extinction event which killed almost 70-75% of all species. In the aftermath of this extinction, Dinosaurs emerged as the most dominant terrestrial species on the Earth.
- The most recent one Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event which happened somewhere around 66 million years ago in which nearly 75 percent of all species were entirely exterminated. The once-dominant species of Dinosaurs were wiped out in this extinction event which paved way for mammals to emerge as the dominant species.
Most ecologists believe that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, the Holocene Extinction. Humanity’s impact on nature, they say, is now comparable to the five previous catastrophic events over the past 600 million years, during which up to 95% of the life on Earth that ever existed, perished. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, no less than 40% of species of animals, insects, and plants are at the risk of extinction across the globe.
The one common phenomenon of all previous extinction was climate change over a period of time, the reason for these changes ranged from volcanic eruptions to asteroid doom yet they were accidental, but the climate change that we witness today is man-made and can be averted by merely changing our lifestyle.
India is an extraordinary nation in terms of its biodiversity. It contains 4 bio-diversity; the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the Indo-Burma region, and the Sundaland (Includes Nicobar group of Islands). These hotspots host life forms that can exist only to these particular geographic areas. Inia has just 2.4% of the world’s geographical area but accounts for 11.4% of the world’s plants (about 48,000 species), and 7.5% of its animals (about 96,000 species), according to government data.
But the dilemma is that we are not delicate with our magnificent heritage. We have taken our biodiversity for granted and put unprecedented pressure on wildlife habitats and the environment, which are being lost and fragmented due to infrastructure projects, industry, mining, expanding urbanization, etc.
We commemorated the National Endangered Species Day exactly a month ago on the 15th of May and World Environment Day of the 5th of June but the question is how educated are we about the crisis, we might face in a foreseeable future. The path we walk on leads to inevitable destruction yet we deny to acknowledge it.
In India, we continue to clear no less than 135 hectares of forest–equivalent to 189 soccer fields–a day, diverting it for various projects such as highways, mines, and cement factories, etc. But with habitat destruction and poaching, 25 species of animals and 77 plant species are critically endangered, 205 animals and 172 plants are endangered, while 385 animals and 138 plants are vulnerable, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In the constitution of India, it is clearly stated that it is the duty of the state to ‘protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country’. It imposes a duty on every citizen ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife’. Reference to the environment has also been made in the Directive Principles of State Policy as well as the Fundamental Rights. The Department of Environment was established in India in 1980 to ensure a healthy environment for the country.
In India, we have are many laws to protect and conserve the environment and nature like the Indian Forest Act-1927, Wildlife Protection act-1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act-1960, National Green Tribunal Act, etc. but the extent to which these laws are enforced is contentious.
The purpose of the law is to defend and punish for the offenses and set an example that those activities won’t be repeated in the future but the toll on the ecosystem just can’t be compensated with these punishments. A tougher law yes that’s for sure but the priority should be to address the root cause and for that, we need to develop the value of morality and humanity from an early age in children.
In 2015, PM Narendra Modi said that India will lead the world in the fight against climate change. Our nation is a competent contender to do so because of our history that has always revered nature. Although to win this battle against extinction we have to act now while every individual across the globe will have to enlist as a soldier in this fight.
There are only two outcomes in this battle, Either we Win or Perish.
This is not a story of despair but hope. A hope that seeks understanding. A hope that seeks responsibility towards all. Above all, a hope that seeks humans to be humane!