KARACHI: We have an amazing planet, the only one in the universe with a perfect ecosystem. It has enough food and water, amazing species and a nature which has created the perfect balance for long-term sustenance. Human intervention and abuse is unfortunately destroying this fine balance and if we do not take corrective action soon, we may not leave an inhabitable planet for future generations.
Why is Earth hurting? The reason has nothing to do with the fact that humans have passed the 7 billion mark and another 2 billion will be added by 2050; God’s grand design can sustain human population far beyond this number. The reason has more to do with how we treat Earth, how callous we are when it comes to controlling pollution, deforestation and ozone depletion.
Global warming is playing havoc with our planet. Over the last century, average temperatures have increased 1.8o F and ocean levels have risen four to eight inches. All this is the result of the greenhouse effect caused by burning fossil fuels, which releases heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Keeping “The Kyoto Protocol” in limbo for 15 years, which tries to legally bind emissions of greenhouse gases, is a blatant and callous attitude towards Earth ‘s sustainability.
Today, we are seeing its devastating impact in larger-than-life floods, massive hurricanes, widespread droughts and freak weather changes.
Human losses due to pollution cause some 100 million deaths every year. We dump 6 billion kilogrammes of garbage, mostly plastic, into our oceans every day. All of this causes diseases and other ailments with devastating impacts. It is estimated that nearly 7.6 million children in developing and poor countries die before the age of five; one child dies every two seconds. Diarrhea alone kills 1.8 million children every year.
One major reason behind these alarming numbers is increasing poverty, which is augmented by the presence of illiteracy, lack of sanitation, poor healthcare and no financial support.
The richest citizens of the world earn in three days what the poorest earns in a whole year. According to a Human Development study, the richest 20% own 86% of global GDP, while the poorest 20% a mere 1% of global GDP. Unfairness is written all over it.
Remember poverty and illiteracy drive behaviours such as extremism, intolerance and radicalism. The developed and affluent nations have a strong responsibility towards Earth and its sustainability. We cannot just live for today and forget what happens to our future generations. If we are to make Earth a habitable planet, we not only need to address the physical damage we are doing, but also address the wealth and income disparity conundrum.
My humble submission is that while the developing countries like Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Brazil, etc try to get their economies under control, people educated and poverty reduced, the developed nations take responsibility for saving this Earth as well as human lives. We have immense wealth in some nations and barely any in others. Fixing pollution and global warming is not rocket science, it just needs an honest and sincere effort. We have solutions for providing clean water to the entire population and eradicating major diseases. We have enough wealth piled up in a few nations to address issues related to sanitation, healthcare and education.
The key is to feel responsible for our mother Earth and our fellow human beings and help drive sustainability within our own circle of influence.
THE WRITER WORKS IN THE CORPORATE SECTOR AND IS ACTIVE ON VARIOUS BUSINESS FORUMS AND TRADE BODIES
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2013.
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