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OPINION

Connecting people to nature

Time to think about how we are all part of nature and how intimately we depend on it
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
Srinagar | Posted : Oct 13 2017 1:50AM | Updated: Oct 12 2017 11:28PM
Connecting people to nature

“Since its beginning in 1974, World Environment Day has developed into a global platform for raising awareness and taking action on urgent issues from marine pollution and global warming to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. Millions of people have taken part over the years, helping drive change in our consumption habits as well as in national and international environmental policy. ‘Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the earth that we share. This year’s theme invites people to think about how they are part of nature and how intimately they depend on it. It challenges people to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship. In recent decades, scientific advances as well as growing environmental problems such as global warming are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being. For example, the world’s oceans, forests and soils act as vast stores for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harness nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s astounding biological diversity. Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation. Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a Himalayan valley. In the age of asphalt and Smartphone and among the distractions of modern life, connections with nature can be fleeting. But with everyone’s help, World Environment Day can make clearer than ever that human being need harmony between humanity and nature so that both are able to thrive.”

Almighty Allah created the Mother Earth and appointed man His agent-(khalifa) and inheritor on it. Earth does not belong to man but man belongs to Earth. It has been not only man’s abode and a fertile source for his sustenance, but it has also been for him venue for the development of his physical and mental powers. Mother Earth is a living being, pulsating with life. She had been man’s guide and teacher. Almighty Allah ordered man to show reverence to the Mother Earth and it is incumbent on us to submit to His will and prove to be worthy of the charge entrusted to us. However,

“The bitter truth is that those human actions which violate the laws of nature, the harmony of the biosphere, threaten to bring disaster and this disaster may turn out to be universal. How apt then are the words of ancient Oriental wisdom: live closer to nature, my friends, and its eternal laws will protect you!”

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Mother Earth befalls her sons also. To harm Earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. It is then very much obligatory on man to take utmost care for his living Mother.

According to a Greek theory, the whole Universe is made up of four elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. These elements maintain balance. Nature struggles constantly to maintain balance. This is the Law of Nature.

Later one more element of Space was added. Man is a part and parcel of nature as the human body is also made of 5 elements: Earth element (Bones and Muscles), Water element (Blood), Air element (Breath), Fire element (Heat), and Space element (Emptiness within). If any one element is taken out, body would collapse. However modern science has so far discovered 118 chemical elements existing in the nature with four additions confirmed lately.

Unfortunately, man has inflicted considerable damage to Nature and the environment in the name of progress and prosperity. Man and his relation to Earth is part of the concern of ecology. The Mother Earth’s ecosystem is under increasing stress that cannot be alleviated without regional and global cooperation. However according to PTI, on the global level, the recent Trump’s unfortunate decision to pull the US out of the Paris deal that aims to lower global green gas emissions has been met with strong criticism from various quarters across the world.

The evidence of global change and abuse of nature and its peace is overwhelming – Climate change that caused September-14 worst floods in Kashmir, the 7 decades old Kashmir conflict, and wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria etc. speak of man’s callous attitude. In this scenario, man has to develop and use technology without tress-passing the ecosystem which the Nature has created on the Mother Earth.

The paper was presented on the celebration of the “World Environment Day 2017” at The Institution of Engineers (India) J&K State Centre and also in a 5 day workshop at NIT Srinagar on 25-29 September 2017)

Author is Chairman IEI J&K State Centre.