Back to nature

July 28, 2018 01:13 AM Ganesh Poudel


Children should be taught subjects like “Moral Value” and “Yoga and Spirituality” throughout their schooling years

Last month a school teacher in Odisha, India, asked for 1001 saplings of fruit-bearing trees as a gesture of “green dowry” with his would-be father-in-law when the latter insisted on giving some dowry. The teacher later distributed the saplings among the villagers. The teacher’s environment-friendly response to the deep-rooted social evil in Indian society quickly made the rounds. Apart from making his wedding party plastic-free, he even avoided firecrackers and DJ music to keep air and sound pollutions at bay and preferred to have conch played instead.  

Skeptics may smell publicity stunt here, but I hail it as a good example of bringing positive changes in society through changing oneself first and foremost. 

At this critical juncture of our fast deteriorating ecology and environment we should sincerely devote our time and energy to engage ourselves in formal and informal discussions on the topic of nature and environment, and actually walk the talk like the school teacher did. Whether the governments of the world make their efforts to tackle climate change and degrading ecologies or not, we the general public should never give up on our efforts to save the planet in every possible way. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated that climate disasters are on the rise and around 70 percent of disasters are now climate related—up from around 50 percent from two decades ago.

Given the current pace of exploitation of nature and environment-unfriendly development works around the world, our planet would cross the Rubicon in some foreseeable future. Scientists suggest that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.  So, no one can deny the fact that almost all aspects of our environment are in urgent need of total care and it is too late for us not to do our bits. 

Raise your voice
Since the successive governments have shown apathy toward environmental issues, we should not stop pressuring the government from whichever way we can and from where we are. People and positivism have great power when it comes to bringing change in the society. For instance, dozens of organizations were working for the betterment of Bagmati River, but we could not perceive it to have been cleaner until famous Bagmati Clean-up Campaign came to the fore. Hats off to those indefatigable campaigners, who were not deterred by the inevitable skepticisms besieging them in the initial days of the campaign.   

We can initiate the change by first realizing the futility of consumerism. It entails the change in lifestyle because flagrant display of consumerist attitude and protection of environment can hardly go hand-in-hand. Then, we should learn to find solutions to our problems in the lap of Mother Nature, not by resorting overtly to artificial means. Disregarding laws and attributes of nature ultimately backfires. 

Take recent wrath of Hanumante River in Bhaktapur which wreaked havoc in its vicinity. Our greed and apathy toward nature is so deep-seated that we encroach upon the land where nature is supposed to carry out its laws and duties. Moreover, illegal and haphazard mining is appallingly taking its toll on environment and society back to back. Exploitations of Chure region and its adverse effect on natural environment and society are open secret. So how can we possibly restore natural order? Many things can be done.

Education for environment 
For one, children should be taught subjects like “Moral Value” and “Yoga and Spirituality” throughout their schooling years. If every individual is awakened to shed avarice and take responsibility of their actions the world will start to be a better place for all creatures all over again. 

Spirituality possesses the power to engender unconditional love for our environment and its components in our heart. Many of us reckon gardening as our post-retirement pastime. This is a deeply flawed notion. Our natural environment has direct effects on us, and caring for our environment should instead be manifested in our day-to-day rituals throughout our lifetime. So, instead of squandering our precious time in idle gossip and unproductive activities, our small talks should be dominated by environmental issues. Our environment can be protected from individual, organizational and governmental levels. We have total control over the first, which is bound to influence the second the third. 

An individual can also make a difference. One of my colleagues, the resident of Thimi, Bhaktapur, has been working for promoting greenery in his neck of the woods. He is battling with the vicissitudes created by those vested interest group people who have been getting monetary benefits from Kamerotaar Land Integration Project in Thimi. Authorities neither want to start and complete the proposed task themselves nor want to provide autonomy to the local people over the land which after all was collectively contributed by every landowner at Kamerotaar. Ever since its inception 16 years ago the project has not been able to progress even a tad bit. But in recent years my colleague has taken it upon himself to do the bare minimum—planting and nurturing hundreds of trees. 

The lone surviving tree (pictured) atop the hillock is the testimony to how the project bigwigs have destroyed the landscape. On the similar note, my heart bleeds for those 2.4 million small and large sized trees that are going to be felled in the name of development, to build Nijgadh International airport in Bara. No development work can and should justify destruction of nature. More so, not in Nepal where we are not being able to fully utilize the existing infrastructures in lack of regular maintenance, mechanisms and policies. 

In the south Indian movie Janata Garage the protagonist says: we are just tenants on this earth. We don’t have a right to anything here. We just live here for free. That’s why it’s our responsibility to pass it on to our next generation, safe and sound.
It sums it up all.  
 
gpbabaje@gmail.com

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