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Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The Earth speaks but we refuse to listen

Sunderbans/Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

When will society wake up and take climate change seriously?


Remember the three wise monkeys -- Japanese pictorial maxims, embodying the proverbial principle: “See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.”

The three monkeys are Mizaru, who sees no evil, covering his eyes; Kikazaru, who hears no evil, covering his ears; and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil, covering his mouth.

Human beings have taken a weird position regarding the Earth's destruction, which ushers imminent ecological disaster. Unfortunately, the people refuse to listen, to see, and to speak up. 

There is no doubting the scientific and academic evidence and information about climate change -- global warming, deforestation, pollution of water, degradation of soil, and extinction of wildlife are all obvious signs that society has created an unsustainable world for future generations.

Remember when illegal miners extract sand from the river beds, the river, in vengeance, tears down villages and croplands, erodes vast tracts of the banks, and changes its course.

The ancient civilizations on the banks of the Indus and Euphrates vanished after the wise men forcibly exploited the river resources for economic gain to sustain the kingdom.

The civilisations on the Nile and Yellow River ("China's Sorrow") remain in history and archaeological discoveries. Nature does strike back in anger for overexploitation of its natural resources.

Most of the deltas and mangrove forests such as the Sundarbans are endangered because of human interference for economic exploitation. 

The government, politicians, multinational companies, and the bourgeoisie society to get rich quickly are plundering natural resources and there are clear signs of a refusal to adopt a green and sustainable mandate.

Most governments and politicians in developing countries also do not feel the urgency to fix the problem. When state and non-state actors ignore their social responsibility, this threatens humanity, leading towards a dysfunctional society.

The stakeholders also deliberately ignore the warning signs, for which we don’t need a scientist to interpret and get it published in the media to cater the messages to the grassroots. Despite the deteriorating air quality in urban areas, food security, and the crisis of safe drinking water, it appears that it is not enough to shake up humanity.

Interestingly, when a group of people takes time off for the ancient practice of meditation on hilltops under the open skies, they are spiritually connected with the earth. Amid tranquil surroundings, the meditation practitioners can exchange and interact with nature -- feel, hear, and listen to the earth.

It's time for the government, politicians, and the society at large to reconnect with the earth.

Dr Michael A Bengwayan, a practising environmentalist and writer based in New York, writes that nature has been waiting for this connection, this healing, since the moment you were born. “As you reconnect, no matter how many years you have been in your absence, you will find that you will not be scolded, reprimanded, or punished.”

Social scientists have said that when people are disconnected from humanity, they cannot listen, hear, and see that the Earth is groaning in pain.

First published in the Dhaka Tribune, 5 January 2021

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at Twitter @saleemsamad

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