Protecting the environment: “Whose job is it anyway?”
- December 7, 2015
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Uncategorized
Scene 1 (In a posh café in a developing country): “I don’t understand what the government is doing? I mean climate summits and all is very well but…you know…who’ll handle the situation at ground zero?” He finished eating the bag of chips and threw it on the street. While the others gaped at him, he said, “What? It’s eco-friendly paper! And what are those cleaners responsible for anyway? It’s their job.”
Scene 2 (In a posh café in a developed country): “We must all take responsibility for what’s going on with the environment and climate change, at equal footing. Anyway, we’ve done more than enough over the years by keeping our streets and surroundings clean. Now they think we have to clean the whole planet! It’s not the developed countries’ job only, you know.”
While both these scenes take place in very different geographical settings, the common thread binding them is a portent to our very existence- apathy towards the environment. Starting this week in Paris, as the leaders of the countries in the world brainstorm for a solution towards mitigating and managing climate change, it is time that we look at the issue not just at the macro-level but also at the micro-level.
Firstly, as illustrated in scene 1, citizens have to take responsibility at a personal level for the environment, for climate change is a tangible reality now and its effects can be seen in the dangerous levels of smog in Delhi and Beijing or floods wreaking havoc in Chennai which many opine is partially due to mismanagement, and lack of adequate infrastructure and preparedness to deal with such a situation. What is happening currently is counter-productive and redundant- we are razing trees to the ground ceaselessly to build concrete structures that promise us life‘in harmony with nature’. And to get rid of the guilt, we buy groceries in a cloth bag instead of plastic. It is very much like binging on fried chicken (or pakoras, if you please) all day and then skipping dinner because we want to stay healthy. Both scenarios lead to the same destination- nowhere, and we are none the wiser for it.
Secondly, as shown in scene 2 above, developed countries and developing countries must work in tandem for a solution to the environmental crisis. Having said that, it cannot be denied that developed countries have not balanced development with sustainability so far. A report released by Oxfam recently shows that the richest 10% of the world emit 50% of the fuel emissions that harm the environment. No doubt that developing countries are home to some rich people too but it is also true that they are home to a larger segment of the poor, who are affected by climate change more than others, because of lack of resources and infrastructure. Therefore, moral commitment for acting on climate change must be equally vehement from all nations but the assistance and resources have to be proportionately divided, such that the developed countries which are better equipped with technology, resources and finance bear a larger share of it and help developing nations reach a similar level in future.
So next time we read about a climate summit, let us not be left wondering, “Whose job is it anyway?”