Well, not a very great title to start the week with; but this is something that I wanted to share and would like each one of you to share further and practice to do what is best possible by you! Climate change is a direct consequence of human greed! Someone said this earlier, “Our planet can fulfill all our needs but there is nothing that can ever fulfill human greed”! With almost 35-40% of human population staying within 50 miles of a coastline around the world and almost 75-80% of all major urban cities and mega-cities under severe infrastructural pressures; isn’t it time that we cared enough and thought about all this chaos around us (at times apparent and at times hidden) with a little more wit?
Scientific data can be quoted and one metric over the other, there can be arguments on the rate of rise of sea-levels world over, there will be claims and counter-claims to decide which of the many environmental problems is a larger emergency over the other, but what people and in fact all of us miss the bigger point is that- one fundamental aspect – reason for this mayhem has absolutely nothing to do with science at all to begin with- it has fundamentally everything to do with a very simple and ancient problem that is so intrinsically woven into our psyche- “Climate change is a problem cause by human greed”- nothing more, nothing less!
This topic, in itself, qualifies for a new best seller to be written, but I will try to share my thoughts as crisply as possible appreciating the limitations of a blog- wanting it to remain a blog!
Pick up any scientific literature and you will be surprised to know that all the bad guys (the pollutants- polluting agents- raw materials/finished products/chemical intermediaries) were at some or the other point in history hailed as the “new wonder”, “answer to energy crisis”, “agents to propel development for human society”; whether it was extensive coal mining earlier on, or the ability to tap into massive hydrocarbon reservoirs of oil and gas fields, rapid development in the field of polymer sciences or innovation of new polymer molecules etc (to enhance their utility and versatility); each and every step that science took in the last 150 years across its fields and sub-fields and inter disciplinarian areas was with a single motive and purpose to make life “easy” and “value driven” for humans! Then where do things begin to go wrong? How did these miracles of modern science (many Nobel awards were given in these or related fields of path breaking research) turn into demons and manifestations from hell, that now threaten to wipe out ecosystems and alter climate in an irreversible and damaging chain reaction? Well lets decipher and simplify the chaos!
Science by it’s very nature is an enabler and a simplifier- No matter which field of science you choose it has only one aim- to enable, improve and simplify complexities of human life and provide mankind with a quality of life which is incrementally better then what it has been before! Even to put it cynically, if science can’t provide you an elixir of eternal life, it can improve the quality of your death by making it quick and less painful! So if this is the noble high ground of science, why is it that we face today a challenge like never before by using the very substances which have originated in research labs few decades ago? Well the answer my friend lies in the fact that it was never a problem with what was innovated- rather with how the innovations were produced post scaling up productions and the deviation of the utility of what was innovated- deviation from the primary reason of scientific research that was conducted in the first place!
Pesticides, Fertilizers were hailed as answers to world’s food problems and a solution to increase yield in limited fertile land tracts around the world to feed the ever hungry people! A closer look into this space will provide you with a few facts- even though yield increased, application of fertilizers and pesticides was not done always as per laid down standards- result food contamination causing new health complications (and the next challenge for science!), simultaneously depletion of soil fertility which further puts pressure on crop growth- further increasing use of chemicals and the cycle just goes on and on- another tweak in this cycle was the new age genetically mutated crops which were supposed to grow fast, in soils and climates where they had no business growing and there by we end up altering food habits and consumption patterns (again which go on cause environmental and health complications– As nature gets compromised and tricked into something that it is not designed or equipped to deal with for that particular geographical area and climatic zone!) One final element to make note of – increasing food consumption- well with advancements in food technology and food processing simultaneously, even as millions go to bed without a single meal all through the day- we have plenty examples of people indulging in gluttony- consuming food for no real reason- just think about the last buffet where you had been or think about the juice that you left half-way or the plate that you did not complete- because you had seriously misjudged your hunger! Well, yes – no matter how insignificant or innocent this instance looks- this is by far one of the leading reasons that go on to contribute the adverse climates that we face- unplanned and unwanted consumption of food- eating when not hungry! Just imagine- if the predators in the wild forests had started to operate on similar lines a few thousands of years back, by now we would have been the meal of their choice because they would have ended up killing all the herbivores just for fun!
If you understood the above example, now try extrapolating this behaviour to every aspect of your life and all that you see around- “consumption – senseless consumption” is the key word which is nothing but repackaged “greed” in its new age form which is the fundamental problem. The ever increasing demand for clothes (read nylon and polymers- micro-plastics), shoes , vehicles, furniture, etc etc… you just think of it- every time you have bought something that you don’t need and already have just because you felt like- well you just drove another nail in your coffin by contributing to climate change!
Science has always solved problems and challenges that were impediments to the development, safety and security of mankind. What we have ended up doing is abusing its benevolence to suit our greed and this gross disregard has lead us to where we are now!
The fact also remains that, by being what it is- science can and does offer solutions and remedies to solve this crisis as well, however what needs to be learnt is that, science cannot and nothing for that matter can ever provide a solution to human greed!
So, let’s do what can we do in our own little ways, simple and effective things; eat and drink as much as is needed to nourish yourself, remember flaunting that burger for an Instagram pose, or holding that beer glass for earning your badge among a group- does no service to your health, unless you have been made to starve sufficiently to assimilate those calories that come along, not to forget the damage that you health faces by overdoing these seemingly cute little fallacies! Whether it is food, the clothes that you wear- get into a mode of mindful and sensible consumption, no one is asking you to be miserly or miss out that big wedding or that party- it is just about being smart in your selection of clothes, apparels and all the paraphernalia that goes with it (to make you socially acceptable- read conformity bias) so that you contribute to a sustainable way of living and make your presence on this planet that much little painful!
It is the incremental values of multiple such contributions done by individuals around the world that will be required to minimize and manage the negative impact of climate change (let alone stop it or reverse it).
I leave you with these thoughts and urge you to get some mind-space to ponder- how you would like to contribute to either mitigate or accelerate climate related challenges that we,as mankind collectively face!