By Dure Nayab
Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘The Earth provides enough for every man’s need but not every man’s greed.’ Our planet might not be a spectacular gas giant or rain diamonds, but its natural wealth has always made many marvel.
After realizing that life could be made much more convenient by utilizing these resources, for centuries, man has reaped ridiculous amounts of rewards by taking what the Earth had to offer. However, humans soon let greed overpower them and in doing so a cycle of chaos was brought to life. But mankind could only disappoint Mother Nature for so long and now it seems she has had enough. Her revenge for our actions is known today as ‘Environmental Change.’
‘Environmental change,’ the meaning of this phrase is just as its name suggests; a physical change or disturbance occurring in the environment. The meat and potatoes of this daunting phenomenon is a series of deadly mistakes on our part, mistakes so great they had the power to make even the Earth, a terrestrial planet, slowly wither. Mankind’s lust for comfort and ease in life blinded and compelled it to go to lengths so great that it created an imbalance drastic enough to even distort the order of nature.
Our thirst for prosperity was quenched by the birth of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions but little did we know satisfying our hunger would lead to Mother Nature being parched and famished. Our advancements in agriculture and industry gave us some unperceived yield along with the desired outputs, a yield that gradually transformed the Earth into a hub of some of the most malignant chemical compounds, like Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Halocarbons etc.
These gases possess properties that enable them to retain heat from the sun, keeping the planet from becoming a ball of ice.
However, practices such as the imprudent utilization of fossil fuels, pesticides, chlorofluorocarbons, deforestation, soil degradation (the list goes on and on) etc, led to a great increase in the levels of these gases in the atmosphere. It’s as obvious as ABC, more gases means more heat, and that means that the level of mercury in our thermometer rose a few notches too many. The greenhouse gas effect, a term for this increase of gaseous levels, has become a gargantuan threat for man and also proved the idiom ‘curiosity killed the cat,’ very accurate.
It is agitating to come across people who manage to fall asleep without a care in the world with this calamity looming over our heads, however,it is even more appalling to realize how large of a number that is. Perhaps the fact that Southeast Asia will be hit hardest by the effects of Climate Change will open our eyes and act as our rude awakening.
The biggest blow, actually, will come to the very thing that has kept Pakistan alive for 70 years now, our agricultural system. This country is highly prone to floods, droughts, irregular patterns of rainfall and cyclones etc, all of which are products of environmental change. The overload of water or deficiency in other cases greatly stresses the crop and reduces the yield. As agriculture is directly linked to our economy, with its decline we are sure to face acute economic predicaments.
If we were to asses other damages, we will discover that the plant and animal diversities are also in great danger. The rise in temperature will cause the tree line to gradually decrease which will result in mass extinction of species. The melting of glaciers in areas like the Karakorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush are also the consequence of the temperature rise, and they in turn will result in other catastrophes like the rise of the sea level. It isn’t far flung to say that environmental change and its effects are much like a spider web, and we’re all slowly getting tangled in it.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as bleak as times may seem. If we were to just do the opposite of all our actions that led us to this mess, there is hope of dodging our demise right on time. It’s as simple as planting as many trees as possible instead of cutting them, making sure the trash reaches its destination, the trashcan, instead of the roads or the rivers, replacing non-recyclable daily items with eco friendly, reusable products, making solar energy our main source of energy. The government can play its part by enforcing laws that control logging, mining, farming and disposal of waste materials in industries. Setting areas like Chitral, Swat, Dir etc (where nature is still flourishing) as an example, traditional practices of life should be adopted so that Mother Nature be slowly revived.
It is crystal clear that every single human holds the strength to stall or overcome environmental change in his own hands, yet we choose to blame or implore the government. It is as if we decide to stay in the prison even with the doors wide open, as said by Rumi. However there is no force powerful enough to thwart time and if we fail to take any action soon, we won’t be able to stand a chance against environmental change either. It is time for mankind to awaken from its slumber, to leave the prison for it’s better to go back to make your fishnet than to desire fish at the river and do nothing.