Dr Archana Verma
On this World Environment Day, some crucial thoughts come to mind. One is, how to reverse the damage we have caused to the planet. Second is, whether it is really possible to reverse the damage we have caused.
First question is somewhat easy to respond to. By now, most educated people who have gone through high school know that plastic is bad for the planet. We are dumping a lot of junk into our seas, oceans, rivers and lakes which must stop. We must stop using petrol and diesel. Further, coal is bad for the environment. Industries are spewing out a lot of poisonous gases into the atmosphere which must stop. We must stop wearing synthetic material and start using natural fibres and so on and so forth.
The second question is the difficult one. Is it really possible to reverse the lifestyle that we have left behind in our mad rush for the fast lane? Are we prepared to forsake this lifestyle and go slow? Are we prepared to leave petrol, diesel and coal and go for sustainable energy sources? True, governments have committed to make the transition from petrol, diesel and coal to the more sustainable energy sources. Certain countries have taken the lead in building solar power systems and to manufacture E-vehicles.
India has always had a glorious tradition of handwoven textiles, which consume very little energy and are very beautiful and comfortable to use. There was a time when Indian textiles ruled the global market for thousands of years. So why do the Indians today not recognise the value of their ancient textile traditions and why are they running towards synthetic imports from abroad, which consume a volume of energy in manufacturing?
Is it possible to begin using wooden-terracotta-recycled material houses with solar power on a large scale? They are all over the place on the internet. So why are people still spending millions to build the conventional, energy consuming houses that run on coal-powered electricity?
Why are we dumping the industrial wastes and gases into the earth, seas, oceans, rivers and into the skies?
I feel that the environmental damage can stop only if we consciously make a choice to change our lifestyle, if we consciously prepare to ride on the E-rickshaws, if the government allows E-rickshaws on all roads and makes them the preferred mode of transport, if we consciously go for the handwoven, natural fabric and forsake synthetic, factory-made fabrics, if we consciously invest in solar-powered, refurbished houses rather than expensive, energy consuming cement and mortar buildings.
Unless we make a conscious decision to change our lifestyle, we can't win the environment race.