The present mode of development threatens societies both in the present as well as future. Everywhere environmental resources are being openly destroyed on a colossal scale in search for endless economic growth. The world is daily becoming more and more resource-poor. How long can the planet withstand this massive assault which has been going on for centuries ever since the industrial revolution began five centuries ago ?
Natural resource use must not compromise the security of present and future generations. It is for those in positions of power to realize their obligations to future society. The reason for Third World ecological degradation is escalated through demands from western lending nations through economic trade conditionalities. Meanwhile these industrialized countries lead a wasteful life supported by trade and imports from the poorer nations of the south, long broken by earlier colonization.
These super powers trade their technology with the poorer nations in return for cheap natural resources careless of what it is doing to these poorer nations and the displacement it is causing and the natural resources which are being destroyed. The planet exists now on paper treaties and conditionalities heedless of the living realities made up of humans, earth, water and air on the ground. Thus, economic colonialism continues unabated.
Environmental degradation cannot be the price for human development according to western materialistic society. While the West is shifting to exploiting alternative energy to keep its environment clean and tidy the South remains strapped with cumbersome coal-fired energy and outdated polluting industries. Water is going to be the biggest resource shortage in the coming future in countries like India where water-intensive agriculture, drying glacier-fed rivers, and failed monsoons due to climate change are increasing.
Climate change is the biggest driver of poverty in agriculture and natural environment dependent economies. Contrarily the Indian government is madly promoting a consumer uirban lifestyle and industrialization of remaining natural resources and destroying the last environments left intact such as the Northeast, Western Ghats, Central India. Recent news of the rapidly escalating impacts of climate change have not as yet been digested by a largely knowledge illiterate society in their full implications for the immediate future. Heavy industries and coal-fired power generation and heavy industries are outdated. The West uses high-technology intensive lighter industries.
Alternative energy generation technologies are urgently required in India in particular the rapid development of wind and solar power – in which Karnataka and Gujarat have taken the lead (and which model Jharkhand should quickly follow). Yet the media and advertising keep on stressing the immediate “benefits” of a high-consumer lifestyle as if it was a status symbol of some sorts (which the ignorant nouveau-riche think it is). This life-style is is based on energy from fossil fuels and apart from destroying the natural environment and displacing millions they are polluting the earth beyond all measure. Basically these are the root cause for global warming and climate change.
Our production and consumption models are outmoded by western standards and completely unsustainable. Lifestyles in Indian villages had been the global ideal for a post-industrial world (and still remain so) but our successive governments for the past sixty-five years have worked systematically through Five-Year-Plans based on expenditure and not achievement for the destruction of the village and its replacement by urbanization, and the destruction of the natural environment through mines, dams, industries, highways and new railway lines in hitherto virgin territories. All this has been in the commercial interests of foreign governments, banks, multinational corporates and the corporate State itself.
Throughout the world it is today recognized that world security and peace are threatened by the ongoing war being waged against Nature for extraction of natural resources, and resulting in Nature’s war against man through Climate Change which is the result of global warming caused through the industrial burning of fossil fuels, primarily coal, and oil. Nuclear power and thermal power stations consume enormous quantities of water.
Hybrid agriculture since it was introduced in India through the so called Green Revolution has done the same, draining the soil of nutrients and causing salination, putting up the need for groundwater irrigation hundredfold (creating new industries), and creating new pests (which create new industries), as well as reducing underground aquifers to such a state that recently the United Nations ‘ World Water Development Report-4 (UNESCO) stated that if current rates of water exploitation continue in India 60 percent of the sub-continents aquifers will run dry by 2030.
The loss of indigenous seed varieties through monopoly by multinationals by monoculture seeds has trashed the huge seed-bank of Indigenous seed grains. India had twenty thousand indigenous varieties of rice not very long ago. The farmer is now dependant on companies for seeds, water and power. Farmer suicides have risen astronomically recently. Man is no longer in control of his natural production systems nor is he capable of handling industrially caused climate change.
Water tables have not only fallen but chemical dependent crops have increased and the farmer is in a conundrum as to what to do when the seasonal rainfall patterns – I refer to the recent monsoon season – have changed, at the cost of over half the rice crop in Jharkhand…No alternatives or disaster management measures seem to have been made on a competent scale, and a complacent government and equally complacent people are drifting in the dark on a veritable Titanic as the iceberg of climate change looms directly ahead.
The moral and ethical aspects of such governance and incompetence are made worse through increasing industrial projects which are forcibly displacing the common folk as well as wiping out Nature. Forced displacement makes way for still more mines, big dams and power stations and India is in a state of civil war from end to end. The natural andsocial environments, forests and tribals in particular, are under attach from the Northeast, to Orissand the rest of Central India (including Jharkhand) to Maharashtra and the Western Ghats. Recently Greenpeace filed an important report titled How Coal Mining is Trashing Tigerland (http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/How-Coal-mining-is-Trashing-Tigerland.pdf) which is easily accessible on the internet on Google http://www.junglistan.org/ . The future conflicts over waterboth national and international (i.e. Indus river viz-a-viz Pakistan; Brahmaputra river, viz-a-viz China) will become hot points of conflict as these glacier-fed rivers dry up by 2030 with the melting of the glaciers that feed them.
The crisis of the environment being currently faced by the planet is a massive threat not only for India but for the planet and all its inhabitants, in particular the weaker and unprotected societies whom nobody cares about. The worst threatened will be the most vulnerable coastal populations depending upon fisheries for survival.
There is an urgent need for a new vision in humanity and a new model of social development which can fulfill human needs without destroying the natural resources upon which those needs depend. Those experiments which have failed must be rejected irrespective of the losses already incurred. The world is currently in the grip of criminalization of power as human authority over the less privileged has reached a scale never before known in human history, and when the criminalization of both the law and authority have been turned to personal gain.
Harmony between man and his environment, the basis of human ecology, must be restored to balance as a prerogative for mankind’s continued existence on the planet otherwise the future of our species is at an end and the harm to future generations will be incalculable.
But we are already woefully aware that modern humans have lost the gift of reason won through evolution and that what was modern man – Homo sapeines sapiensis – has turned into a new specie in the present age fit to be taxonomically called Homo nomadicus economicus. This new species is an aberration and is on the verge of being turned out of the Garden of Eden which was the planet we live on because he abused the trust reposed in him and abused his stewardship and responsibility for protecting his only home in a dark and hostile cosmos.