Under the Corona Shadow

This year the World Environment Day silently arrived at a critical juncture searching for some space that corona pandemic has already over-occupied. There are no preparations and reception arrangements of short-lived hospitality in place to offer gratitude towards environment due to lockdown restrictions in vogue at many parts of the world. The reason behind this reluctance is social distancing accentuated by deadly corona virus that has paralyzed the nerves of whole world. Amidst this eerie silence, there are some loud voices echoing across the environment that carry meaning and message for all.

Corona virus – the nano-creature has caught the human society off-guard and has decimated the soaring skyscrapers of human supremacy over the nature reducing the accumulated arrogance of man into the debris of death and destruction. When exploration turns into exploitation, inventions become intimidations, discovery becomes a danger – the whole human society is bound to pay a shared and substantial penalty for the misadventures and manipulative maneuvers of man. From the city of Wuhan to the rest of the world, the journey of corona virus has jeopardized the well-being of people across the globe.

Man is no more the unopposed and undefeated front-runner and boss of the biodiversity kingdom as vindicated by the challenge posed by corona pandemic. A tiny virus has contested man’s claim to rethink and reconsider the mania of might that turned him blind and deaf towards the repetitive warnings of nature. The unmindful and unregulated trampling and trespassing of man over-stretching space and significance of other creatures is yielding detrimental dividends. Man still exists, but it is the existence of man that has led to the extinction of several species of flora and fauna form this planet.

Environment is life and life is environment. This message has to be assimilated within the genome once and for all so that everyone carries the essence of eco-friendliness every time and everywhere. Whether it is the millennium development goals (MDGs) or sustainable development goals (SDGs), preservation of the environment should be the top priority for all countries and should form the global agenda.

Who is accountable for the degradation of our environment? Who is responsible to save and preserve the environment? Should an ordinary man be exempted and left to roam in slumber and ignorance and assign this task for the states and the world bodies to tackle and resolve? The answer is ‘we all’. The individuals as well as the institutions have to mutually mend their ways and develop an amicable alignment in maintaining the quintessential ecological balance that is skewed and scattered endangering the entire ecosystem in general and existence of man in particular.

Be it global warming or climate change, deforestation or depletion of ozone layer, soil, water or air pollution, extinction of rare species of flora and fauna, relentless assault on natural resources – this unending list of human atrocities against natural environment is soaring, suffocating humans to breathe painfully while awaiting for doomsday to dawn upon.

From an ordinary man walking in the crowded streets of a city up to authority holding the highest chair of decision making at global level, everyone has a role and responsibility depending upon the magnitude of influence and intervention, each one of us can contribute in preventing the environment from being polluted and ensuring the well-being of all.

The photo-shows and exuberant exhibitions on environment day carrying an expiry date of just twenty four hours only end up at squeezing the pre-paid newspaper spaces and nothing else. And outside the venue of these much hyped mega events, the nearby waste bins are seen spilled-over with residual trash of consumables cherished during the event. Ironically, apart from the formal vote of thanks, the host and the participants informally exchange thanks giving for the hospitality reflected in the sumptuous menu served during these events.

Being hypocrite is not synonymously and seriously alike being human. Every year the month of June becomes the swivel of celebrations for raising environmental awareness and this effervescence of emotionality eventually evaporates in thin air – a yearly reminder and recapitulation of customary practice has turned into a redundant ritual.

The ever increasing quantum of weapon trade across the world is indicative of the repugnant reality that the environment is now overloaded with warfare ammunition susceptible to self-destruction propelled by war hysterics. Environment is already a critical casualty amidst the preparations for war marathon as the same environment is being used as a testing ground to pretest and predict the extent of destruction that modern day weaponry can unleash upon humans.

Environmental science has generated volumes of academic knowledge decorated all over the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities but there is a world emergency to be declared for Environmental Sense to contain, confine and regulate the limits of human greed to avert and abort all forms of man-made catastrophes. Our young generation must inculcate eco-friendly instincts to exemplify and demonstrate curricular content of environmental education in their conduct and character rather than reflecting their rote memorization potential as dead numbers or marks percentage on degree certificates.

This is the time to replace sermons and speeches with sensitivities and sensibilities to put into practice the perennial principle of live and let live rather than just letting this catchphrase to be a rhetoric graffiti on worn out walls and a dull phrase on the car bumpers. This elixir slogan has to be swallowed, digested and circulated constantly in our cardiac centre in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to appreciate the beauty of harmonious living.

Education about environment and education for environment must become a vision and a mission of all educational policies to imbibe environmental ethics and values in letter and spirit. At a time when environmental degradation is rampant at an exceptional and exponential pace, slow motion steps and monotonous messages as a reaction and remedy to halt the havoc is never an effective deterrent. A ruthless challenge demands and deserves a robust response and roadmap to conquer and convert the adversity into an advantage.

Corona pandemic though lethal has a loud and clear message for human society to learn how to live. The earth has everything to fulfill our fundamental needs and it is our physical well-being that should become a priority than our material well-being. Nature has maintained a threshold for our basic physiological needs and it is safety that supersedes sufficiency. Social distancing has been helpful to control corona virus to some extent, we need to maintain permanent distancing from all acts and misadventures that directly and indirectly are harmful and threaten the bio-diversity and ecological balance that sustains life on this planet. Let us learn to become eco-friendly at least for our own wellbeing.

Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor, Department of Education – South Campus, University of Kashmir.