Saturday, May 8, 2021

Conserve nature

A question that haunts not only our present but the future, and call for credible explanations based on realistic facts and not the development or green rhetoric is: What does nature stands for and why conserve it? Semantics aside, nature simply is the Almighty’s creation that exists on this planet earth, and includes both biological and physical objects in our surroundings. Biological means all the living organisms from microbes to higher animals and plants; and the physical implies the non-living things including air, water, rocks, soil, light, etc. Scientifically speaking, both the biological and physical components of nature work in close harmony to offer invaluable natural goods and services on which human existence depends. Unfortunately instead of nurturing, humankind has shown total neglect towards nature. Throughout the world, and Nagaland can be no exception, we have ruined natural resources for achieving immediate material gains. As a fallout of this, slogans of nature conservation echo all over the world; although little heard by the people in power. With this perspective in hindsight, conservation of nature in our state assumes urgent priority. The natural beauty of our state has satiated the cardiac beats and showered solace to the neurons of hordes of visitors in the past. All those who visited the state from time to time had been awe-stricken and admired its beauty. Sadly the so-called development, as everywhere, has sown modern seeds that inherently carry deleterious genes for sheer neglect of nature. The evolution of modern society (as anthropologists would believe) has arranged the devolution of nature. The air and water quality in the state, the two essential elements for existence of life, is day by day sickened with harmful xenobiotics. The air we breathe has abnormally higher proportions of poisonous gases – an outcome of modern-day smoke guzzling automobiles, etc. The incidence rate of chronic respiratory disorders has spiraled to epidemic proportions. Despite bestowed with huge water resources by nature, winter water woes and skirmishes are routine events. Particularly in the pockets of modern development – urban areas – to supply the minimum water requirements for each household has turned out to be the biggest challenge for the government. And while there is scarcity in quantity terms, to aspire and advocate for water quality is too naive. The area under agricultural and forest lands has been squeezed drastically. Modern development in the form of urbanization, infrastructure, road connectivity, tourism promotion, etc. has served as the death-knell for natural landscape. These natural buffers provide immunity against environmental perturbations and regulate climatic balance. Not too distant past, environmental issues were taken as green-fantasy, which are non-existent and without any concrete evidence. Now, we have fully come to terms, as environmental tremors are now severely jolting our daily lives. Search for successful models and therapies are pursued, which can solve to some extent our environmental concerns by maintaining the intactness of nature. But as yet, less success is visible in the horizon. However hope sustains life. It is never too late to mend. Therefore, mending in the right direction at the earliest possible could safeguard and ensure quality life for us and for our descendants. Besides material wealth and the environmental health, conservation movements should champion for emotional and spiritual well-being. The latter are values with universal appeal. It is believed that the actions to protect nature can fructify only when arguments are framed in terms that resonate with combination of imagination, feelings and rationality that guide decision-making in people’s every lives. Reliance on scientific argumentation alone risks alienating those who have other valid motivations for conservation. This can ingrain feelings of powerlessness and fuel notions of imposition by the state establishment. A holistic policy by blending of social, economic, cultural and scientific values can succeed in the long term. It has become increasingly clear that one of the key ingredients to improve success in our efforts to conserve the natural world, and help to ensure wise investment of the limited resources we have available, is open and effective access to data, information, and knowledge on conservation practice. Such an approach will strengthen policy development for nature conservation, improve decision making, and improve our ability to scientifically comprehend the complex integrity of nature and our understanding of effective conservation practice.