saving the planet - a quaint dilemna

Saving the planet is a fashionable conversation piece. It has been so for quite some time. Yet how many of us walk the talk? To once again use Don Rittner words: “Trying to save ecosystems has more to do with changing egosystems."

And there are many egosystems at play.

We are all aware of what awaits us. Nature is making herself heard: untimely rains, no ice in the polar region and more of the same. But are we listening? We seem to be simply busy increasing our carbon footprint by the second. New credit options now available to all have increased the number of bikes, TVs and other energy consuming ware. A short walk though any slum in Delhi is proof of the fact that the one thing that is present in each and every home is a switched on TV, even is not one is watching. perhaps it is the indelible proof of a new success story.

What once was the prerogative of a chosen few, now permeates the lives of the poorest of the poor via the plastic pouch that makes even the most expensive item available to all. At the rate of over 10 pouches per family the load on the environment is difficult to fathom. The recently installed taps ring the newly acquired freedom from long trudges with heavy buckets by spewing water even when not needed.

The new credo of achievement and success in urban slums spells disaster for the environment. At the other end of the spectrum, things are no better. The rich and educated only pay lip service to environmental issues as they continue increasing their carbon foot print with impunity. Everyone is firm in their belief that they have earned the right to do so. A hubristic mood seems to have pervaded one and all. Nemesis looms large but no one seems to care.

In the strange interplay of egosystems lies the challenge of trying to raise awareness on environmental issues. Easier said than done. How does one go about asking people to give up what they have recently acquired after years and generations of want and deprivation. How does one tell the proud and slightly arrogant owner of a gleaming bike to walk rather than ride? How does one tell a family to switch off the TV that they dreamt of for years and whose droning helps alleviate many a harsh moment? The list endless and the arguments few.

And yet we all know that the writing is on wall.

At pwhy we have over the years tried to address these issues without much success. Most of our environmental programmes have not yielded the results we hoped. Though they may have given some short lived effect, we never managed to bring about sustained change. Yet we are aware of the fact that issues like water, plastic, and limiting carbon emissions are as important as the proverbial 3Rs but where does one begin, or should I say start again. Egosystems are hard to change. Perhaps we should just set about walking the talk.