At first sight, that might look like a ridiculous question, but that's only because tons of column inches on newspapers and time on television has told us that anyone who questions the motives of environmentalists are stooges of the "Evil" corporates, who are so greedy that they don't mind ravaging the planet for their benefit. But that kind of attitude doesn't let us examine our actions closely. Yes, I do accept that for the most part that corporates have been insensitive about the destruction that they seem to be causing to our eco-system through their dumping of wastes and indiscriminate use of natural resources. But to generalize that, and say "Man" is responsible for the threat to nature is not accurate. That is because most of the pollution happens because of the developed world, the "Civilized" people, with their cars, factories and homes. People in villages, the "country-brutes", on the other hand, have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years. Yet, when it comes to measures taken to curb and prevent global warming, it is inevitably the villages and other tribal communities that bear the brunt of the difficulties. The foremost example is that of afforestation. It always seems to happen in remote areas rather than in the cities, where, if done, they would be much more effective in curbing CO2 levels( because they are the centres of emission) . The reason seems to be because of the land prices in such cities, which makes it "unviable" for such a measure. Instead, these measures are forced upon communities where cutting the wood from forests have been a way of life for millenia. We also stop them from cutting down trees to create farms, which might become a means of livelihood for them. Therefore, while trying to save endangered species is comendable, it should not come at the cost of endangering the culture of a people.
All of which takes us to the question of the day: How fair is it on our part to keep polluting and expect underprivileged people to pay the price? Who are we to tell them that they cannot look for a means of livelihood even as we increase our personal wealth and aspire to own objects of desire? I find a strange parallel in the USA asking other countries to sign the CTBT. It is very similar to saying "I've got the nuclear weapons first, so I can keep producing them, while you haven't started producing them, so you don't have to right to start now". In our case, we seem to say," We started polluting a long time back, therefore we have a right to keep polluting, while you, who are on the throes of prosperity, cannot do so because you would endanger the future of our children if you start doing what we do". It is of no coincidence that most of the ecology reserves are in and around tribal belts. Nowadays, a tiger mauling a child to death gets only a speck of news coverage when compared to a villager killing a tiger that entered his fields. That's because the tigers have a voice through WWF and the likes, but the villagers don't.
That apart, we are still not sure of what approach we need to adopt with regards to conservation. Do we need to leave alone the wildlife that exist within eco-parks? If so, if numbers of endangered species are still falling( survival of the fittest), would we need to take some steps? If we do, wouldn't we again be interfering in the eco-cycle? And in the first place, wasn't man a part of the eco-cycle itself? For example, in australian reserves, when a forest fire occurs, they would first try to ascertain the reason for the fire. If they find it to be natural, they wouldn't try to control it. Therefore, even if the fire does end up wiping out a large number of animals, they wouldn't interfere. Is that the ethical course of action?
Amidst all these confusing questions, and while I am typing this, I read a news clip which speaks about how the next Ice age, which would wipe out most of the planet's species, has been postponed because of the greenhouse effect. Are we then, inadvertently, the saviours of millions of species?
There are many questions that we don't ask, or are too afraid to ask. If you have any comments, and any rebukes/rebuttals, as I am sure many would, please send in your comments. I am all ears(or eyes, in our case!). The reason it took me this long for my next post was because of a blogger's block(ala writer's block). I want to concentrate on quality, rather than quantity. I don't know what I am going to write about next, but if you want me to talk about something, please send in the topic. What are we as a community if we cannot debate on any issue?