Written by Brian Onali Nduw
I had just delivered my presentation at a local event, then one youthful comrade caught up with me at the exit. We exchanged some pleasantries before he looked straight into my eyelid and asked:
“Sir, what is the most pressing environmental issue we face?”
The most urgent environmental hassle confronting us! I thought to myself reframing the question.
Not all of us know the major environmental issues confronting us, except for environmentalists and those who care to know and do follow discussions on environmental topics. But all of us know we are in the 21st Century. Correct!
For those who need to be reminded, I will; those with no idea but are willing to know, let me share that climate change, toxic pollution, species extinction, and desertification are the major issues that are confronting us.
Replying to the above question, I gave an honest answer that the above are serious ecological issues that are confronting humankind and no one has any idea on one that can trigger an irreversible and catastrophic collapse in the life support systems on our planet Earth.
And the truth is that there is no single act which will one way or the other keep us away from the looming environmental crisis.
The overarching crisis inheres in the modern and/or urban human mind. I believe so; the valence and beliefs drive much of the destructiveness.
A historian will remind us, our species – human beings – must understand and acknowledge being a part of one nature. Not anything exists in isolation. Everything is pretty connected to everything else.
One may spray insecticides to kill pests which inadvertently might end up affecting birds, fish, as well as human beings. All and each deliberate act carry the responsibility for one to think beyond the immediate issue while considering the whole system.
Nowadays, we humans find it difficult to recognize and appreciate the continuing connection with and dependence on nature.
Let us try out this thought exercise. Are you ready? I guess you are.
Imagine the invention and creation of the time machine by scientists or innovators and we travel back five billion years. Life had not evolved on the planet. In lieu of limitless resources and opportunities, we come across an unfriendly place, inhospitable to human life. The atmosphere is polluted – poisonous, rich in carbon (IV) dioxide and devoid of oxygen.
As a result of no life, water is unfiltered of toxic substances by plant roots, soil fungi, or microorganisms. There is nothing to eat in the pro-life world; every bit of our food is composed of plants, animals, and microorganisms.
We buy or bring up a stash of food, and seeds in the time capsule to enable us to stay a while will be in futility; no place will support the growth of seeds or food for the soil contains a mixture of molecules from life forms having the matrix of clay, sand and silt.
There is nothing to burn to create heat because all fuels – coal, gas, oil, wood, and peat – are created from life.
The absence of oxygen precludes flame at any location on the planet therefore, our papers and wood brought for fire could be regarded as useless.
The four sacred elements – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire – that our forefathers and traditional people apprise/inform us sustain complete life, and involve creation and cleansing or replenishment by the scheme of life that we tend to call nature.
Our picture of the world shapes our actions on and to it. We should perceive a mountain maybe as a deity but not a pile of ore; Espy a river as one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; Descry a forest as a sacred grove, not timber; View other species as our biological kin, not resources; and to the rest of the world, recognize the planet as our mother, not an opportunity – then treating each other with greater and utmost respect will be achieved.
Look at Mother Nature from a different and kind perspective.
Brian is an Environmentalist: Freelance Climate/Environmental Writer, Editor and Storyteller.