Thursday, March 4, 2021

Neglecting nature

Like every year, July 28 was observed as the World Nature Conservation Day throughout the world. It always provides an occasion for us to commit for dire need to protect the Mother Nature for the benefit of generations to come. What does the ‘Nature’ stands for? Why conserve it? These are the questions which haunt not only our present but the future, and call for credible explanations based on realistic facts and not the ‘development’ or ‘green’ rhetoric. 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 the nature work in close harmony to offer invaluable natural goods and services on which the human existence depends. Reality is quite different. Instead of nurturing, humankind has shown total neglect towards the nature. Throughout the world, and we can be no exception, we human beings have ruined the natural resources for achieving immediate material gains. As a fallout of this, slogans of the nature conservation echo all over the world; although little heard by the people in power. With this perspective in the hindsight, the Nature Conservation Day has immediate relevance for our people, as the conservation of nature in this region has assumed an urgent priority in recent past. Our State was known for its natural beauty. We had vast forest cover, natural streams, etc which are quickly disappearing. The so-called development, as everywhere, has sown ‘modern’ seeds that inherently carry deleterious genes for sheer neglect of the nature. The evolution of modern society (as anthropologists would believe) has arranged the devolution of the nature. The air and water quality, the two essential elements for the existence of life, is day by day sickened with the harmful xenobiotics. The air we breathe in has abnormally higher proportions of poisonous gases – an outcome of the modern-day smoke guzzling automobiles, etc. The incidence rate of chronic respiratory disorders has spiralled to epidemic proportions. We are today seeing the ugly face of the modern development. Despite bestowed with huge water resources by nature, summer water woes 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 our planners. In Kohima as in other parts of the State, there is perennial drinking water scarcity, even in summer. Most of our springs have permanently vanished. And while there is scarcity in quantity terms, to aspire and advocate for water quality is too naive. The area under the agricultural and forest lands has been squeezed drastically. The ‘modern’ development in the form of land use changes such as urbanization, infrastructure, road connectivity, tourism, etc has served as the death-knell for the natural landscape. These natural buffers provide immunity against environmental perturbations and regulate the regional climatic balance. Not too distant past, the environmental issues were taken as the ‘green-fantasy’, which are non-existent and without any concrete evidence. Now, we have fully come to the terms, as the 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 the nature. But as yet, less success is visible in the horizon. We have no magic-wand. Hope sustains life. It is never too late to mend. Therefore, mending in the right direction at the earnest possible could safeguard and ensure quality life for us and for our descendants. In the light of global thinking with an eye on the local problems, a brief account on the various strategies presently in vogue can be taken as the blue-print.