Sethurathnam Ravi - We are Killing our Future

We are Killing our Future

“Climate change is no longer a far off problem: it is happening here, it is happening now.” Barack Obama

We have reached a pivotal point in our lives where we have just a few moments to choose our present day toxic comfort or a healthier future for our children & Mother Earth. Doomsday is no longer just a story in the science fiction section but an inevitable reality as the threat of ‘climate catastrophe’ looms over our heads.

With the invention of plastic & its limitless usage. We have pushed the limit of the use of this miracle material, choking the life out of our ecosystem. The growth of plastic production has far outstripped the ability of waste management. About 40% of more than 448 million tons of plastic produced each year is discarded within minutes of its purchase. New surge for the production for disposable plastic has further escalated concerns, especially in growing economies of Asia where garbage collection system is still underdeveloped.

India alone generates about 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day but, 83% of the waste is collected & only less than 30% is treated, with solid waste ending up in dump yards along with its chart-topping pollution index ranking. India is doing a terrible job at taking care of its waste & the environment as a whole. Experts believe that India is following a flawed system of waste management. This is not only sad but also a hopeless move towards a cleaner & greener future. The underlying dilemma of developing countries to protect the environment is always present too. Can such countries develop at an optimum pace while keeping all the environmental norms in mind? Can we find a middle path? If not, developmental gains will be lost, the foundation of our society & economy will be threatened.

In India the ‘kachra wala‘ plays a major role in waste management, recycling whatever it can, & ensuring less waste reaches the dump yards. The civic bodies certainly need to redraw efficient solid waste management & rework their strategies along the way. But most importantly, the community participation has a direct efficient impact on waste management.

Climate change is not only contributing to the spread of diseases & premature mortality, but also affecting the economies too. In recent years, many countries have lost almost 2% of GDP in weather related disasters. Ignoring it will only cost us more than we could ever afford.

An action plan for a healthier earth is the need of the hour. If we fail at saving Earth, we fail humanity. It is quite understood that climate change is everyone’s problem, however, in India not much heed is given to this concern. Unfortunately, there is no strong public opinion in the favor of a climate action. The authorities have introduced initiatives, but like most initiatives in India, they too have lost the momentum. It is clear that climate change is not taken seriously in India, with no political leader even briefly mentioning about it during their campaigns. Why cannot waste management, and climate change become a part of the school curicullum? The present mention of these crucial topics is very sporadic and noncontinous. We need to start early with our children, with a daily class which teaches and reminds them about how we need to treat our nature and natural resources, and only then, I believe we can think of a revolution.

Similarly, unless climate is spearheaded as a political concern it may never catch the momentum to the fast approaching war, that we are most likely to lose.

The biggest challenge now is to gain political consensus on climate, recognise the problems which have affected the country the most. With a minimal change in the thought process of the people, the governing bodies seems to have little or no regard towards climate change.

Will a country with majority of its population unhealthy, flourish?

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