There was a time nature determined if humans lived. The wild thrived and we only took what we needed from them. And when we returned, there was enough to carry home again.
Today, superior as we feel, we now determine if nature should thrive. Blame it on population growth, but it is this ‘boss’ attitude that has seen us make decisions that have enabled imbalance in the ecosystem due to excessive loss of biodiversity. And now the clarion call is ‘Save Mother Earth’.
But who really needs saving?
Our intelligence should enable us to recognise that the way we treat nature and use land is not sustainable. Unchecked felling of trees to create space for farming, industries and construction leaves us in conflict with plants and animals in the wild. Some now invade our homes; a conflict.
Destroying land to extract oil and gas is not sustainable, compared to exploiting renewable sources such as wind and solar.
We fail to realise that the same trees we cut are the ones supposed to attract rain to feed the farms, then blame God when rains fail, or flooding occurs.
Every living organism, on land and in water, is first a stakeholder in Mother Earth. Each one, however, small the role they play, is important. A lot of the organisms are irreplaceable. You can compare each to a finger, say the thumb, without which even buttoning a shirt, holding a toothbrush, or tying a ponytail will be a headache.
Who can, for instance, play the role of bees in pollination, a very important thing in food production? How much would we pay to have such technology that aids pollination? If that technology were to be available, how soon and accessible would it be for poor countries?
Directly translated from my mother tongue, “we are just passersby on this earth”. We are tenants on the surfaces we occupy. The air we breathe is borrowed, the natural resources that feed and water us, and even help light our living rooms are not ours. We will come and go. Nature will be here.
Yes, we need to manufacture and develop infrastructure so we can live better. But we can have limits. Why not use resources equitably to allow nature to thrive and give back to us? Destruction of water towers will not only reduce rainfall received, but when crops fail, there will be conflict even over little food on a plate. Then someone will die or be hurt, and a retaliatory attack by an aggrieved unit will happen, and before you know it, it will be a community fighting another. There will be climate-induced conflict, and migration. This has happened.
When Covid-19 struck and we had to be indoors, the wild had a field day. They grew in numbers and roamed more freely. The pandemic did not hinder them. Life was better without humans.
We can blame our thirst for land on the need to feed the fast-growing populations, but with technology, we can also have large-scale food production in smaller spaces.
The Earth Day celebrated yesterday should remind us to do what is right for the environment, for our good. Nature does not need us to survive. We need it.
- The writer is an Editor at The Standard Group.
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