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Let every day be Environment Day

The earth is warming like never before with consequent damage to life and livelihood.

punjab Updated: Jun 03, 2018 18:03 IST
Dr Ritu Kamra Kumar
Dr Ritu Kamra Kumar
Hindustan TImes, Chandigarh
Environment Day,United Nations Environment Programme,June 5
The World Environment Day is organised by the United Nations Environment Programme on June 5 since 1974. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Have you ever heard the story of a boiling frog? A frog when placed in cold water that is slowly heated won’t realise the danger and will slowly get cooked to death. The same can be applied to our response to global warming.

I think about all the trees under whose shadow we used to play in our childhood. The colossal mango tree, the tall jamun tree that stood in our compound. During summer vacations we would play and eat fruits freshly fallen from trees. These fruits sustained birds and squirrels too. But the trees were eliminated one by one, falling victim to the axe of humans.

STEP BACK

With World Environment Day, organised by the United Nations Environment Programme since 1974 to create awareness on the need to protect the environment, round the corner on June 5, this is the moment to step back and look at what we have done to our planet.

We have completely alienated ourselves from our surroundings, from the natural world. Rain plays truant, temperature touches higher notes, clean water supply depletes and fresh air has become a rarity. The population is increasing ,natural resources are decreasing. Is it not quite dangerous?

Trees are symbolic agents of planet earth, where the root systems of trees entwine into sponges both as checks against excessive soil erosion and for subterranean storage of rain water. A major source of timber, fuel, fodder and foods, trees absorb carbon dioxide and give out life-sustaining oxygen and on ageing decompose to enrich soil. What a shame then to lose millions of trees to commercial greed and other causes such as forest fires.

According to the World Health Organisation’s recently released list of the 20 most polluted cities, 14 are Indian, including Delhi, Faridabad, Kanpur, Patiala etc. Light pollution is disrupting biological rhythms, dumping of plastic material in oceans is choking sea creatures. Water scarcity is a global issue. More than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, a direct result of climate change.Vehicular emissions , use of diesel instead of petrol or CNG is a cause of air and noise pollution

BE THE CHANGE

The earth is warming like never before with consequent damage to life and livelihood. Meanwhile, I believe that we as individuals can do our best by being agents of change. And what better time to start than on the World Environment Day. Reduce waste, try to reuse or recycle, use paper on both sides because trees are cut to make paper, don’t waste water, make it a point to walk or cycle everywhere. My message is, ‘For every happy occasion, plant a tree for a beautiful memory’. In our college, whenever a professor retires, he plants a sapling. The Mexican innovative ‘via verde’ or ‘green way’ vertical garden project started by architect Fernando Ortiz Monasterio has done wonders to clean befouled air and relieve concrete monotony. It is a citizen-led project that aims to fight pollution and beautify the cityscape. About 1,000 columns supporting flyovers and elevated roads have been converted into vertical gardens. The columns are covered by green walls made of metal frames and cloth of special density that allows the roots of plants to interweave with it . Instead of ground soil these plants grow in pockets of soil held in the cloth .Working on a remotely monitored system, they also absorb rainwater.

The plants filter harmful gases, capture suspended dust and particulate matter and produce oxygen.The vertical gardens use soil-less technology which brings into play recycled plastic bottles and other material with properties and density similar to soil to grow plants. Can something like this be done in Indian metropolises?

Derrick Jensen, American author says, “If you want to know what to do, go to the nearest river, the nearest mountain, the nearest native tree, the nearest native soil, ask it what it needs. Ask it to teach you.” Alas! Our river has dried up, mountain levelled, tree felled and native soil converted to real estate. How can we regenerate them? Strong polices and change in the mindset of people is needed to save natural resources . Let us join hands to make earth a place to live in, not a place to violate, to destroy, to devastate, to kill, to maim, let every day be Environment Day!

The author is associate professor in English, MLN College, Yamunananagar

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 17:57 IST