The Greening of the Archdiocese of Bombay
1st September 2018...
1st September 2018...
- Follow up exposure programme for participants of the 22-23 September 2018 workshop at Nashik on 5-6 January 2019
- Workshop on What is Good Life: Faith Reflection on Creation in Marathi on 13 January 2019
Green Advent 2: A Voice Cries in the Wilderness
Who was the tiger killed most recently in Maharashtra? How many cubs did she have? How many tigers were in the wild 100 years ago? Do you know the same number for India? How many tigers are in India today? What is the annual rate of living species loss? (Answers at the end of this article)
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) postulates that there could be a upper estimate of 100 million species co-existing on this lovely blue-green living planet called Earth. This includes every possible living being: from unicellulars to multicellulars; from ants to elephants; from grass to redwoods; from mackerel to sperm whales; from krill to corals. And all of them exist in a uniquely designed ecosystem, in harmony and synergy with co-existing life forms.
The WWF also postulates that there is a natural rate of extinction by which existing species die out naturally, and that this has been enhanced by 1,000 to 10,000 times simply because of human intervention! What this means, very starkly, is that every year, every short span of 365 days, every time we celebrate our birthdays, 10,000 to 100,000 (0.01-0.1%) species disappear. Poof! Something beautiful never to be seen again!
To make the difference starker, the natural rate of extinction would be around 10 species a year; human intervention has made it 10,000 to 100,000 species a year.
Forest clearing, monocultures, overfishing, hunting, climate change, imposition of dominant food grains over indigenous varieties, overuse of pesticides and herbicides, pollution, human expansion are the greatest factors at play, with the one greatest being habitat destruction for human expansion!
Every Valley Will Be Filled In
The second Sunday of Advent talks of a new era, one in which hurdles and obstacles to salvation will be smoothened, and towards which humankind were called to change as part of the preparation for that event.
Perhaps the words have been taken too literally! Mountains and hills have been “laid low” by incessant quarrying, mining, and levelling. Valleys and seas have been “filled in” for acquiring more commercial property, never mind that the natural flora and fauna are destroyed and sea levels affected. “Winding ways” and “rough roads” have been made straight and smooth, cutting across verdant nature and slicing beautiful hills.
And with a still burgeoning human population at 7.5 billion and growing, more and more of Earth is required to house, feed, employ, and transport one single species, at the very real and tragic cost of the remaining 100 million. Migration, resettling, easier travel possibilities combined with aspirational greed for double houses, larger houses, holiday homes means still more land grabbed from natural residents for human use!
The Way Ahead
The developmental agenda of almost every government is set on ‘destroy-nature’ mode. Longer and broader highways, elitist bullet trains and metros, coastal roads, urban expansion, big storage dams, mining, quarrying, sea transport, big industrial sectors, massive garbage landfills, the list goes on. The developmental agenda is, after all, a response to human aspirations. And every human being aspires. 7.5 billion aspirations on one planet can do a lot of damage! Unless we change those aspirations.
Living a buy-discard-buy-upgrade lifestyle has fuelled industrial growth, one of the benchmarks for determining a country’s progress. India is proud to claim a growth rate of over 7%. For this to be maintained, industrial output has to constantly increase, for which the demand has to be sustained – and we happily supply that demand.
Imagine, just imagine, a state of 0% growth rate. Shocking, right? But what I imply is a state of being where we live sustainably and simply, whereby our needs are met without encroaching on those of other species!
A cursory glance at things in your home will reveal many products which are hardly used; yet they have been bought. To have them produced, nature is compromised in so many different ways, and that compromise pushes one more innocent species towards extinction. Sustainable development, simpler lifestyles, population maintenance, a reuse-repair-recycle-reduce approach are just a few ways in which we can help restore the Earth.
List 10 simple changes you will make to your lifestyle to help reduce your impact on other species. Create a strategy to encourage others to do the same.
(Pop Quiz Answers: Avni; 2; estimated 40,000; less than 2,500; 100-1,000 per million species )
Green Advent Reflections have been prepared by Suren Abreu for the Archdiocesan Office for Environment
- Joseph Gonsalves - Head
- Deepika Singh - Secretary
- Yolanda D'Silva - Staff
- Shawna N Rebello - Website