Individual’s role towards the environment is paramount even when the current discussions on calamities deflect from the narrative of symbiosis between humans and their surroundings and instead make an enemy out of everyone else but themselves
By Bilal Bashir Bhat
A majority of us want a cleaner and safer environment but none of us want to make major changes in our lifestyles that could contribute towards it. Recently, Kashmir has seen not only major changes in climate conditions as well as patterns but has also witnessed the threats from wildlife creating a direct unpleasant rift between man and nature — a relationship which was otherwise supposed to be harmonious.
Instead of cultivating a conducive relationship between man and environment, human actions have caused many environmental problems. There are many serious environmental threats that the world is facing at the moment like globally rising temperatures or global warming, climate change, deforestation, air and water pollution, species extinction by which the earth is changing. All of us are equally responsible for these problems in one way or the other. However, this also means that all of us can do our bit to fix these problems if we understand our roles and responsibilities as far as protection of the environment is concerned.
Our personal activities/ actions can either improve or deteriorate the environment’s quality. Gluttonous consumption is hardly sustainable for humans who think comfort at the cost of the environment is a given. On the contrary, human existence is quite impossible without the presence of a healthy environment.
There are actions people can opt daily to protect the environment like recycling, reusing, composting, and the use of green fuels and vehicles. Remember our earth can fulfill our needs but not will not heed much to our greed.
If we are to respond to environmental issues properly, we need to recognize that each of us is individually responsible for the quality of the environment we live in.
The same people who demand clean water and block the roads during its unavailability are the ones who waste it as well as pollute water bodies by dumping waste into these. Until and unless we recognise that we owe it to the resources we use, to see to it that we create a feasible environment for them to sustainability exist, we remain vulnerable.
Something as little as using fans instead of ACs, using public transport instead of private ones, using own water bottles instead of buying bottled water, using and carrying own recyclable bag instead of buying daily items in plastic bags, using of washable and reusable diapers among children, can go a long way. These little changes and habits at individual levels can bring about a huge change — technology and policy can do nothing without individual civic sense. Environmental problems cannot be solved alone with quick technological fixes. Decisions and actions taken by individuals to a very large extent determine the quality of life for everyone. This necessitates that individuals should not only be aware of various environmental issues and the consequences of their actions on the environment but should also make a firm resolve to develop environmentally ethical lifestyles.
The fundamental duties enshrined in the Indian constitution impose a duty on individuals to protect the environment in order to provide each and every human a clean environment and a life with dignity and harmony. Article 51A(g) states that the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen is, “to protect & improve the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers & wildlife & to have compassion for living creatures”.
Kashmir is also lagging behind in waste management. Some of the waste from our households can be diluted, decomposed and recycled by natural processes indefinitely as long as these processes are not overloaded. Natural processes also provide services of flood prevention, erosion control at no cost at all. We must therefore learn to value these resources and use them sustainably.
By creating a culture of environmental consciousness and teaching our friends and families that the physical environment is fragile and necessary, we can begin fixing the problems that threaten it. Only environmental consciousness and awareness make people realize that our actions help in restoring the damages caused by us.
Every year the quality of the environment is deteriorating instead of improving. But the good news is that there is a lot we can still do as individuals to change this. In order to tackle the menace of these growing environmental problems, urgent steps should have to be taken not only at global or national levels but also at local or individual levels. In fact, the role of individuals in prevention of environmental problems is of critical importance, because it is the individuals that make a community or country. Effort by each individual at his or her level can snowball into a significant effect on the global level.
Indeed, “Charity begins at home” and environmental conservation stands to benefit all of us equally. It is taking care of oneself and our community as well. This education can spread from an individual, to a family unit and to the community at large. Environment conscious and inspired individuals are thus the strongest tools to tackle environmental problems especially at local levels. This is because individuals can tackle environmental problems more effectively as they are more familiar with the problems persisting at local level and they can find relevant ways to mitigate these.
It’s of no use pointing fingers at each other when it comes to facing the wrath of environmental issues. If we start with ourselves, these issues can be resolved gradually. This kind of education will cultivate a culture wherein individual responsibility will be a compulsory service to the society at large.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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