28th July- World Nature Conservation Day… Let this be a wake-up call!

Our planet has a finite number of resources that we have been exploiting mercilessly for centuries. And we are aware of it too. We notice the negative impact man-made activities have on the environment. And every country is taking numerous measures to control this negative effect. But is it enough?
You must have heard your grandparents say “When we were children, summers weren’t as hot as they are now” or that “It was way colder in winters than it is these days.” Large-scale flooding, cyclones, heat waves or droughts were never unheard of in nature but these calamities are growing in number; are occurring more frequently and are certainly not always natural now. It is not just the older generation but even those after them that notice the great variations in climate that are occurring ever so often.

World Nature Conservation Day is celebrated annually on 28th July with a vision in mind- to conserve what is left on the Earth for mankind to be able to thrive peacefully now and in future.
It is a day when we must vow to do everything possible to reduce our carbon footprint, to minimize harmful by products of industrial activity, to change consumption patterns and avoid polluting more and more. But seeing the planet’s current condition, it is not just enough to stop spoiling the natural balance of the environment but it is also imperative that we take drastic measures to conserve as well as to add to existing resource reserves.
A healthy and safe environment is a necessity for a healthy and productive society. Global environment organizations have pointed out that in the last fifty years alone, the pressure that we exert on Earth has doubled and the resources that we depend on have declined by more than 30%. Many scientists and nature experts have predicted mass extinctions in the coming future.
When we come to know that a particular resource that we heavily depend on is getting depleted, we find alternative resources and then over-use those. This is not a solution in any way. We are just prolonging the inevitable. One day, all the resources will be over and there will be nothing to replace with.
Rise in global temperature, melting of polar ice, rising sea levels, extinction of certain animal species, complete depletion of some minerals, disruption of the water cycle, pollination problems, pollution of air, water and land, increasing health issues, spread of diseases and lifestyle related disorders  are only the tip of the iceberg. Though the list seems long, climate change consists of many other man-made problems and we are not equipped to deal with them. Neither is any other planet.

Mankind is now in search of life elsewhere in the solar system, and looking at possibilities to start life on Mars. Whether that is feasible or not can be discussed at length, but ending life on one planet by finishing every consumable on it and then moving on to another to do the same all over again is not a solution at all.
Unsustainable practices and abuse of natural resources is leading us towards an early apocalypse. Human health and well-being, community living and global economy- everything is in danger.
Governments are spending millions on research for alternative options to scarce resources; for protecting endangered areas with round the clock vigil; or for creating natural cycles artificially like cloud seeding to induce rainfall. This is a vicious circle where we keep pumping money into the system, first to harness natural resources and use them; and then to protect them from exploitation or to reverse negative man-made impacts on the environment.
Recent initiatives by every government to reduce pollution and activities harmful to the ecosystem are commendable and of course, necessary. Large scale afforestation, promoting use of solar energy, rain water harvesting, ban on the use of plastic or on pesticides during farming, effective waste management, segregation of garbage, large scale recycling are all indispensable today if we are to save the environment for tomorrow. But it is imperative that every citizen of the world support the government by following these initiatives at the grass root level. Only then will there be a noticeable change.
Unfortunately, the seriousness of climate change has not seeped in at a personal level. We see it as a problem that is happening in another country, in another state, in another city but not to us. We feel we are immune to it. We live in a bubble if climate change has not affected us directly yet. Only when our own child suffers from an epidemic passed through polluted groundwater or when he/she has to wear a mask to walk to school, will we realize the gravity of the situation. By then, it will be too late.

Finally, we must realize that our planet has finite resources while our needs are infinite. There will never be enough for everyone, no matter how much we try. Population explosion is the last; or some may say first cause of environmental degradation. Unless we address it, other initiatives and efforts are almost useless.
This World Conservation Day, let us pledge to start saving the environment in our own way. Here is a list of small-scale measures that will result in a large-scale change.

  • Avoid using plastic
  • Don’t waste water
  • Recycle paper, glass and other materials
  • Conserve electricity
  • Switch to solar energy
  • Compost your garbage
  • Use public transport
  • Plant trees

When each person does his/her bit for nature at a personal level, it will automatically turn into a global effort.
If we are to conserve and protect our planet for the generations to come, we can never forget that,
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”- Mahatma Gandhi

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