Environmental Ethics: 7 Conclusion

Author:  Image of S.M. JainS.M. Jain
Published: 22.02.2012

The conclusion is that fundamental principles of symbiosis and rationality needs to be understood, imbibed and followed. These are cardinal and eternal principles not only time or space specific but are relevant for all time for entire mankind for multitudinous life forms and for all other constituents of environment. This is necessary for peace which every one cherishes. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Environmentalist who has been awarded Nobel Peace Prize 2004 said, "..... the environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources, they become scarce and we fight over that.....". This was endorsed by Ole Danbolt Mjoes, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee ".....peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment.....". The observance of five vows would facilitate this. Optimising of population and consumerism commensurate to the carrying capacity of natural resources is the first and foremost pre-requisite and opposition from any religious or ethnic group must be countered by mandatory laws world over. Every religion is concerned with welfare of its followers and also others. It is not religion if it preaches otherwise. People cannot be happy if population explosion continues and more and more numbers chase shrinking resources as sustainable development is then not possible. It will never be possible to remove poverty, provide proper livelihood, nutritional food, health facilities, shelter and other amenities of dignified living if numbers continue to multiply. It is high time to get rid of the medieval mindset and obsolete obscurantist distorted interpretations of precepts prescribed in a particular context and relevant only in then prevailing socio-political religious conditions. No government however efficient and sincere can fulfil its promises with out controlling population explosion. Governments of diverse political ideologies will go on changing as in the game of musical chairs. The forest based life style will go a long way to solve most of the problems. Wangari Maathai said, "..... tree planting slows desertification, preserves forest habitats, provides source of fuel, building material and food for future generations to combat poverty.....".

While discussing progression (betterment) and retrogression (degradation) it has been mentioned that factors and causes i.e. activities responsible for degradation have to be stopped and the process reversed for progression or betterment. Since the present malaise has its genesis in replacement of forest based model by agriculture and industry based model which caused population explosion and rising consumerism. The process must be reversed gradually in a phased manner, starting with agro-forestry to stop further degradation and then pave wave for pristine symbiotic and harmonious forest based life style. This will restore environment, checking population and consumerism. Of course adherence to principal of utilisation of resources within their respective carrying capacities is must.

The principles of symbiosis and rationality are for all situations at different levels for individuals, groups, societies, nations and between nations at international levels and need be followed in letter and spirit. This would certainly and undoubtedly reverse the trend of deterioration and put it back on path of progression towards better and better, happier and happier situation. It is building castles in air for any individual to think that he can be happy by manipulating things at cost of others. If an individual or a section of people, larger or smaller, is unhappy, poor and deprived because of exploitation by other individual or section or group, it is bound to revolt and make the exploiting people also unhappy, miserable and even completely annihilate them. History is replete with numerous such instances. In order to make happiness even of one's own lasting as against short lived it is necessary to consider happiness of others as important as one's own. In this context all living beings and even inanimate constituents of environment viz. air, water, soil, minerals etc. are important. Likewise happiness cannot be achieved and ensured just by reciting prayers, doing, worship, obeisance to Gods, goddesses, idols or even saints or 'yagna' (burning butter, wood, cereals), sacrifices of innocent animals, pilgrimages or even by just expressing concern for peace and happiness only in thoughts and words. It has to be translated into symbiotic life style, analysis of causes of the problems and evolving appropriate strategies in the given situation. The present trend is suicidal and must be stopped. The human ingenuity is superb with immense capabilities. What is required is to put it in right direction. Human brain is a wonderful computer far more energy efficient and capable than any other electronic super computer invented. The only necessity is to programme it with software of symbiosis and rationality. Symbiosis or mutualism does not have any ambiguous interpretation. It implies simple fair give and take within carrying capacities of all constituents of environment both animate and inanimate. Most of laws and rules have different interpretations. Persons convicted by lower courts are acquitted by higher courts though the facts and laws are same. There is no such failing in law or principle of symbiosis or mutualism. Symbiotic, rational and forest based life style will take care of all aberrations, distortions and retrogratory processes in physical environment as well as in individual, family, social, national and international interactions, ensuring smooth, harmonious, painless and happy transformations or inevitable evolutionary natural changes. Since genes which are inherent in biological systems also interact with ambient environment, mutually influencing and modifying, the genetic manifestations will also be harmonious, free from aberrations and distortions. There will not be harmful mutations. Individuals will be free from genetic defects or disorders both physical and mental and other inherent diseases. Mentally and physically healthy individuals will make up healthy and happy families, societies, nations and the whole world. Mankind will certainly realise the follies and realise it must if it is to ensure its own survival along with all other constituents of nature. Let us hope for the best. After darkness there is light, day after night, new life from fallen seed, growth promoting manure for new shoots from dry, dead leaves. From the prevailing miserable, deteriorating conditions will emerge the realisation and trend will reverse and the needle of time will swing back to progression than retrogression. This will be possible only by human effort and not by any superstitious divine intervention.

There are pessimists of various shades. Many subscribe to only one life to be enjoyed to the full without any consideration for others or environment. They are hedonists to the core and inflict maximum harm to the environment. Then there are extreme pessimists who are under continuous fear and depression anticipating dooms day sooner or later. Some medieval religions have also predicted it. There are others who are fatalists, believing that what ever happens is because it is a so destined and therefore do not care for appropriate efforts to solve problems. If there is an accident, minor or major, the fatalists attribute it to will of God, wrath of spirits or destiny. They negate relevance of traffic rules or importance of careful driving and measures to punish culprits. Some argue about natural calamities of floods, earthquakes, famines, epidemics etc. which occur frequently and on which man does not have control. The facts is that many natural calamities like floods, famines, epidemics are man made and can be avoided by adopting forest based model. There is generally harmony in nature and even the movements of tectonic plates are gradual and incipient as evident from preservation of flora and fauna intact on separated continents. In forest based model there are sufficient advanced bio-signals to warn and allow time to escape damage. If population is limited, hazardous areas will not be populated. Above all most of these exigencies can be better faced by adopting symbiotic and forest based model. All dooms day theories are farcical. Even Big Bang theory of birth of universe is being questioned and there is more and more acceptance of Steady State Theory of Universe which means without beginning or end and there is a continuous process of harmonious change and stability i.e. the old making may for new. Even the ultimate destruction or extinction of matter sucked inside a black hole has been challenged and according to the theory whatsoever goes in must come out and there is continuous recycling. Old galaxies, stars may die after completing their life span but new ones are being continuously born. Even if there is dooms day, what ever be the span of life, short or long, even a day or hour, life will be happy in symbiotic model than in prevailing predatory one.

All humanity irrespective of caste, creed, place, nation should shake off egos, entrenched rituals and superstitions and merge as one organic whole which should then accept itself as one of the multitude of other life-forms and inanimate objects and consider itself being a part and interdependent in the cosmos. It is also necessary to practice five vows to discipline sensuous indulgences of five senses, the mind and also the emotions of anger, vanity (ego), hypocrisy and greed. Presently the monster of consumerism is threatening the very existence. It has to be checked by limiting the wants within carrying capacities of resources. Sensuous indulgence triggers vices which generate corruption of all sorts at all levels. The prevailing social environment of selfishness, greed, consumerism and corruption is affecting all except a few exceptions and even politicians, bureaucrats including judges being conditioned by it, and succumb to the temptation of vices which create a vicious circle generating more and more vices. It must be checked by following the principles of symbiosis, rationality and environment friendly conduct. There will be no sequencing of steps to be taken. All efforts should be made simultaneously as the environment become suitable for further increasing the intensity of efforts. First and foremost step is to control population and consumerism. Simultaneously agro-forestry should be started and forest based model exclusive of agriculture should be established. This would create congenial environment for symbiotic life style. Symbiosis and environment friendly conduct should be part of syllabi at all levels and enforced by voluntary efforts or even by punitive measures, if need be.

Since environment affects all alike it is environmental ethics or environmentalism that should have precedence over other ethnic or religious considerations. It will be relevant to quote from famous Indian epic Mahabharata (Van parva 313/117), "... Religious texts of religions differ, prophets of different religions differ and saints in same religion differ. It is difficult to understand..." However there cannot be any difference of opinion that all need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy, unpolluted soil to produce healthy food and amicable peaceful environment to live in. Mankind has faced problems, has suffered from miseries and calamities throughout the history. The main cause is lack of environmental ethics. Obviously therefore, there is dire need for new modern universal religion. Mankind has tried and lived with several isms and religions. It is now time to adopt Environmentalism.

Sources

Environmental Ethics

Publishers:

Prakrit Bharati Academy, Jaipur

Society for Scientific & Ethical Living, Jaipur

Edition:   

1st edition 2006

HN4U Online edition:

Dr. Rudi Jansma


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  1. Anger
  2. Brain
  3. Consumerism
  4. Discipline
  5. Environment
  6. Environmental Ethics
  7. Fear
  8. Genes
  9. Greed
  10. Mahabharata
  11. Parva
  12. Space
  13. Sustainable Development
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