How to Protect the Planet

Bharat Dogra

This is a time when senior scientists have been warning increasingly that threats to the life-nurturing conditions of the planet due to climate change, other environmental problems and very dangerous and destructive weapons have been escalating, and yet, despite these warnings, several of the world’s top leaders have gone ahead and created the conditions for several new and high-risk wars to start and escalate, so much so that the talk of the third world war and a nuclear war breaking out has been heard more during the last two years than during the last two decades. At the time of writing Russian President Vladimir Putin issued fresh warning that he would use nuclear weapons ‘if sovereignty is threatened’.

In early 2024, with thousands of people dying in most painful ways on daily basis in dangerous wars and other man-made disasters, and in addition the possibility of all this is rising further due to the world leadership being too busy in escalation of risks rather than in remedial actions. Anyone who doubts this should merely look up the information on how fast the military-industrial complex is growing, how other high-risk and high-hazard industries are growing, how decisions jeopardising human life are being taken for monetary gains and how a small number of persons are accumulating increasing power which they unhesitatingly exercise in ways which increase their power and wealth further but also increasingly endanger the life of this and future generations.

The most important issue of present times is that the basic life-nurturing conditions of the planet are badly threatened and this threat should be checked with a sense of the utmost urgency.Briefly, this threat comes from two sides—firstly, various environmental crises and secondly, weapons of mass destruction. To check these, the most obvious first step is to minimise the possibility of war, to eliminate (or curb in various significant ways) all weapons of mass destruction and check the overall arms race as well.

Ideally, the most powerful countries including the permanent members of the UN Security Council can get together and put their collective strength into securing a no-wars future for the world. With no international wars and the weapons race curbed, the creative energies of the world’s people can be devoted to checking the environmental crisis while meeting the basic needs of all people. People display amazing creativity once the goals and tasks are set out clearly, the dos and don’ts are clear and a system of encouragements and discouragements is in place too. There should be the political will to check powerful polluters, and in addition people should be motivated and educated enough to avoid luxurious, polluting life-styles.

This would be the ideal situation, but this does not appear to be on the horizon at all just now, and with new wars breaking out the already dangerously perched world appears to be moving further and further away from the real solutions, with agencies like the United Nations looking on more or less helplessly.

Environment protection is being promoted in some ways but there is more rhetoric than reality, more lip service than real change, so that the basic factors which cause environmental ruin remain in place or may even be becoming stronger in some ways.

For one thing there must be greater role of people’s non-violent mobilisation and actions for meeting this greatest challenge of present times, and of the next generations, although of course there will be constant need for engaging with the political leadership and world organisations like the United Nations, creating conditions in which they are sometimes encouraged, sometimes compelled to take bigger decisions for protecting the planet.

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Vol 56, No. 40, Mar 31 - Apr 6, 2024