• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Here comes another day, the World Environment Day

5th June, 2024. Here comes another day, the World Environment Day. As usual, thousands of saplings will be planted on this day, and on 6th June onward, these orphan saplings will have to fight on their own the battle for survival. Mother nature has developed fatigue from watching such duality of human behaviour year after year. But it was not supposed to happen like this!

Between the two approaches, ‘Anthropocentric’ and ‘Nature centric’, today’s materialistic world gives more emphasis on the former. The intrinsic value of nature advocates the belief that nature and all its species have specific value, and all have the right to exist, regardless of their utility to humans. Such value is based on the uniqueness of species, ecosystems, and each of them has a role to play on earth. The concept of valuing nature cannot capture the materialistic value alone, which is much sought after by today’s generation. Another fact is that all those values cannot always be converted into price.

The intrinsic values in the environment and all its intricate components assert a compelling moral imperative for their conservation. Thus, for a nation, while it is crucial to assess their contributions within decision-making frameworks, it is equally imperative to recognize that certain elements possess ecological significance that transcends mere valuation. Since indirect use values do not enter directly into human preferences and are often widely and freely available, their values are often ignored and not incorporated into development decisions or a country’s national budget. Nevertheless, as natural habitats and resources diminish, with increasing scarcity, their ecological processes and functions are more and more realized, prompting a shift towards acknowledging their economic worth. Consequently, there arises a necessity to develop mechanisms for giving due weightage to all those invaluable elements and, only at this point, people start thinking about their value, the ecological services that come from all those resources. Scarcity of medical oxygen during CoviD pandemic is one such glorifying example.

Not just for environmentalists, environmental preservation stands as a paramount concern for governments, policymakers, and global stakeholders. During recent decades, amid escalating urgency surrounding climate crisis, the issues related to the environment have taken center stage in international discourse. The environmental challenges like drought, flood, cyclone, tornado or typhoon, forest fire and the likes do not remain confined to the geographical boundaries of any nation, and thus warrant transnational joint initiative to combat all these issues. This is essential to ensure a sustainable future for mankind globally, for the citizens of the lone living planet. Lester Russel Brown, the American environmentalist and author of the book, ‘Plan-B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization once said, “We donot inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

By Parthankar Choudhury

(Author of this article is Prof. Parthankar Choudhury, Dean, E. P. Odum School of Environmental Sciences, Assam University, Silchar. He can be reached at parthankar@rediffmail.com. )

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