Earth Pangs

Published on Jun 29, 2002 08:02 PM IST

Daryll D?Mountain constitutes one section of the increasingly fragile ecosystem of earth-savers. Theirs has been a long and arduous battle.

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None | ByBachi Karkaria

Daryll D’Mountain constitutes one section of the increasingly fragile ecosystem of earth-savers. Theirs has been a long and arduous battle. In their bid to save the forests, their own crown cover has been seriously depleted. Which is why many of them have acquired the hairline of another of their pet causes, the Bald Eagle. Yet, they soldier on undeterred. For, what matters if you lose the world as long as you gain an invitation to the next global warming seminar?

Earth Day tomorrow is likely to be observed with more noise pollution and toxic emissions than a Delhi taxi. Considering the shortages that it warns against, perhaps we might have to change its name to Dearth Day.

Unfortunately, Earth is not quite the cause with the designer label that it was some 10 years ago. You can’t Blame it on Rio, where thousands of earnest environmentalists had such a tar ball in 1992. The vast quantity of paper needed at this global conference converted at least one Canadian pine forest into a never green one. This jamboree witnessed a never-before gathering of forest virgins, slick chicks, wizards of Ozone and other constituents of the ‘fragile fringe’. This phrase was coined for coastal wetlands, but it as appropriately describes the entire spectrum of Rainbow Warriors.

Now, alas, globalisation has overtaken this as everything else, and, bar the occasional teargas-strength demos, Greenpeace has a lower market-cap than Alan Greenspan. Ironically, ‘eco’ is an abbreviation of both their opposite concerns, though hopefully later rather than sooner, the global economy will pay the price for downsizing ecology.

Everyone sickened by the toxic smog of our cities, or the choking filth of our once pristine rivers agrees that we need to do something about environmental degradation throughout the year, instead of hearing the usual bleeding-heart pontifications on Earth Day Unfortunately, instead, pollution has become a bogey of convenience.

Nothing has demonstrated this more disgustingly in recent times than the infamous controversy over what the Amul hoarding called the Pedder Rok flyover. Speciously, its opponents have tried to show that it will turn this strip of expensive Mumbai realty into a ‘gas chamber’. The reality is that it will, in fact, clear the air as traffic flows faster instead of coughing past in fuel-consuming low gear. The fossils out there don’t seem to get this.

The effluent classes have of course never been overly concerned about anyone else. This is the case individually and globally. Attempts to make Asha Bhonsle warble ‘Flyover tu ab to aaja’ may turn out to be as futile as the efforts of environmentalists to make the West’s consumer society adopt the Polluter Pays Principle. Rio’s PPP has become as irrelevant as Benazir Bhutto’s.

While the Woodstock generation of flower children were naturally closer to the Earth cause, their yuppie successors don’t give a damn if they can’t see the trees for the hoardings. The fully-paid-up members of the Brown Rice Brigade in their Laura Ashley (or Fabindia) peasant skirts have been replaced by urban trendies with a very different understanding of the clichés of global warming. For them, eco-friendliness is limited to not changing five-star towels with each shower; a Cyclone is only a disco; and Habitat is a Terence Conran wicker chair or the preferred hang-out of Dilli NGOs. Yes, these rainbow-haired warriors indulge in rain dances with lots of acid floating around. And, armed with a Bacardi cocktail, they believe they are quite ready to handle the cry of ‘Apocalypso Now’.

While the fickleness of youth is only to be expected, there is one class that has shown a consistent affinity to the 4-D effects of environmental-abuse. I refer to the hardy breed of politicians. Degradation of our sacred institutions has been their trademark. If they sense a depletion of power, they think nothing of desertification of their original party. As for diversity, unlike the Greens, the Saffron Parivar definitely does not want to preserve it. In fact, it doesn’t like any shade of green.

Politicians are associated with every kind of pollution. Noise: they make a racket at every forum as much as they convert every opportunity into a racket. Water: the temple issue continues to spread awareness of ‘Ram Teri Ganga Maili’. As for the murky atmosphere, MPs are so polluting that some people actually believe that SPM stands for suspended parliamentary matter.

* * *

Alec Smart said, “Where does Indian cricket get the Mom of all victories? At Trini-dad.”

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