Be responsive to environmental concerns

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By: Dr Firdoos Ah Wani

The majority of us want a cleaner and safer environment, yet none of us are willing to make significant adjustments to our habits to achieve this goal. Kashmir has recently undergone not just significant changes in climatic conditions but the bio-diversity seems to have taken a hit.

The acts of humans have resulted in a number of difficulties for the environment, rather than fostering a connection that is advantageous to both man and environment. There are a multitude of environmental challenges that the world is currently confronted with including rising temperatures across the globe, also referred to as global warming, climate change, deforestation, air and water pollution and the extinction of species as a result of how the earth is changing.

One way or the other, each one of us has to take some degree of responsibility for the current state of affairs. On the other hand, this also indicates that everyone of us is capable of contributing something toward the solution of these issues, provided that we are aware of our respective roles and obligations with regards to the preservation of the natural world. Our actions and behaviours may either enhance or degrade the quality of the environment.

Humans who believe that comfort at the expense of the environment is a given can barely maintain a gluttonous lifestyle. In contrast, human life is essentially impossible without a healthy environment.

There are actions people can take on a daily basis to protect the environment like recycling, reusing, composting and opting for green fuels and vehicles. Remember our earth can fulfil our needs but not 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 individuals who demand clean water and block highways in its absence are also the ones who squander it and harm water bodies by throwing rubbish into them and encroaching upon water bodies. We will remain susceptible until we recognise that we owe it to the resources we consume to ensure that an environment sustainably is achieved.

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 etc can go a long way in achieving the goal. 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.

Each year, the quality of the environment declines rather than improves. The good news is that we can still do a great deal as individuals to alter this. In order to combat the threat posed by these escalating environmental issues, immediate action should be done not just at the global or national level, but also at the local or individual level. In actuality, the role of the person in preventing environmental issues is of the utmost significance, since individuals constitute a community or nation. Each individual’s efforts at his or her own level may snowball into enormous global effects.

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 is useless to point fingers at one another while confronting the fury of environmental challenges. If we begin with ourselves, these concerns may be progressively remedied. This kind of education will foster a culture in which individual responsibility is a mandatory social obligation.

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