As Uttarakhand celebrates the ‘Harela Festival’, it is time not just to go out and plant trees, but also to understand that the malaise is deeper than just loss of green cover. It is about restoring and maintaining the balance nature requires to survive as a viable entity. This was an intrinsic part of India’s worldview, which is why so many of the festivals are related to veneration of nature. However, even as scientific advancement has taken place and an understanding become available of the deepest processes of existence, the interlinking of all things with each other has become more evident. There is a life force, which if tampered with beyond a certain point will lead to destruction. Nature hits back for its survival in many ways, as the ongoing corona pandemic emphatically underlines.
The modern age has opened the doors of technological advancement, thereby raising the ‘quality’ of human life. The ‘industrial revolution’ increased manifold the exploitation of natural resources to an unsustainable level. The ‘processing power’ of Planet Earth’s environment has become incapable of dealing with the imbalance created in its systems. The increased ‘toxicity’ of many kinds is already destroying many species at a mindboggling pace. As a result, many of the systems are simply shutting down. It is not just the drying of the precious spring in the village; it is also large scale pollution of the mighty rivers. Forest, river and ocean life is dying away.
The increased awareness of these factors, now, has led to harnessing science and technology to address these problems. ‘Green’ technologies are being increasingly invented and adopted. Lifestyles are also changing where there is the choice available. Unfortunately, the enormous increase in human population has meant that a large section of it lives in dire poverty. The effort by governments to raise their standard of living has the adverse impact of increasing the burden on nature’s resources. For long, it has been the opinion of planners that a better quality of life would ensure lower population growth. That principle works, but given the exigencies of the present situation, not fast enough. So, it is imperative that population growth be checked by enforcing strict laws against having more than two children, no matter which section of society one belongs to. Much of China’s ‘development’ can also be attributed to its ‘one child policy’, even though there have been social repercussions. It has been calculated that the world’s population growth will begin to reverse by 2067, but will it be soon enough? Is it not more likely that nature will forcibly do what human beings are refusing to do willingly? There can be no existence, no better life, unless the burden humanity places upon the planet is reduced. Till then it will just be ‘too many people on this earth and more on the way’.