Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy World Environment Day!

Ironic as it is, I write to contribute a celebratory role as an Environmental Scientist on ‘World Environment Day’ and I see my country, currently facing an environmentally critical situation. This is pointed directly towards the threatening ‘Cyclone Phet’ that is about to take its toll on the coastal areas of Pakistan. There is constant updated news about its arrival, the distance left to be covered and the level of destruction it is all set to bring about. The areas under target are being evacuated, that is, the people are being displaced, as it is a matter of life and death. Many people have decided not to leave their land since the emergency services are not providing food and other facilities. Eventually they will have to be forced out. The ones who have left are already complaining due to the lack of provision of food. There is a high-alert situation, particularly in the city of Karachi, that will be facing a series of thunderstorms and flood-like conditions, after the cyclone has hit the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.
The point is that there is no means to combat this upcoming disaster. It has been predicted, thankfully, the people have been informed, now the action required is: ‘Run for your lives!’
You see, it’s one of those Natural Disasters that the superstitious environmentalists like to talk about so that they could inconspicuously drive the government’s attention away from most important matters that relate to Economy and Development, not realizing that where exactly would this Economy and Development end up when they will have no planet left to stomach them. No peace talks/pacts or negotiation could stop them, no boycotts from using any websites or any country’s products or pure indigenous whores could stop them, no economic sanctions against any country could stop them, no suicide bomber could stop them, no civil disobedience movement could stop them, no hunger strikes could stop them, certainly no Obama could stop them and I wish to make this very clear that unquestionably, none of the conspiratorial actions from the political forefront could stop them.
In the year 1972, the United Nations General Assembly marked the date 5th June to be celebrated as ‘World Environment Day’ every year. The objective behind it was to heave awareness and education about Environmental Issues that face us; the planet and its dwindling resources that challenge us. This day is devoted to coerce the public and political attention to such matters so as to develop Environmental consciousness amongst the world’s population who are wholly responsible for the current degrading scenario.
Pakistan and its Punjab government realized the importance of this day on a sudden basis and allocated some land reserved as forested area by law, to be used for agricultural purposes! Whoa HO! Couldn’t get more sardonic a situation than this… eh? This has been done against the advice of the Department of Forestry as such an action would be heinous to the Environment and its safety, its preservation and conservation.
Ah! So this is what we have this year to present to the world what we are doing on World Environment Day: World Environment Day will be marked by a gesture of deforestation on our part. Much land will be cleared away and the already small percentage of forested cover that we have will be much deduced. Where does it leave us then? From nowhere to nowhere.
Maybe voices will be raised and campaigns and ‘tehreeks’ would come into action, but they will be greeted with a deafening silence from the government bodies, not to mention the public sector. Statistics shout that Pakistan is amongst the top ten countries that will be hit by the disastrous effects of climate change. This will leave no mitigation measure at hand for its control at that time. Nothing could be done later.
Without making it sound even more cynical, what needs to be said here more importantly, is that there is still time and we can still do something about it. We could ignore the ruling government and become the rulers ourselves. On this year’s World Environment Day, one can make a personal ‘Environmental Resolution’ to one’s own self just the way we make a ‘New Year’s Resolution’. The difference would be that this resolution will not be forgotten or broken. For example, a simple resolution could be to never feel lazy about turning off the fan and lights when one has to leave a room. Another one could be to try and learn more about the ways of everyday life that impact the environment and thus should be avoided. For those who do not believe in making resolutions, they could try to be more mindful of their actions and educate themselves environmentally. Surely, they themselves would be able to devise ways as to how they could make the environment around them healthy and this planet, a better and resourceful one to live in.
Environmental damage caused will not leave us with options of what is better or worse. The point being that: Prevention is the only way because there is no cure for it later. There are no emergency exits!

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