Many countries struggle to attain development and to supply the bottomless pit of man's endless demands at the expense of nature. This has brought about the conditions we are now bitterly experiencing: the greenhouse effect, the shrinking of grasslands, the hazardous effect of pesticides and other chemical pollutants, nuclear power, the ozone depletion, denuding the forest lands, the endless exploration and sucking out of mineral ores and fossil fuel, and the displacement and exploitation of indigenous people. There seems no end to the list of atrocious crimes against Mother Earth.
The tug-of-war between the environmentalist and economist have often qualified the parameters of sustainable development. For economist, sustainability denotes the guarantee of profitability. For its part, the Brundtland Commission of the World Commission on Environment and Development, who solicited opinions and facts world-wide from 1984-1986 on the common endeavor and new forms of behavior, says: "The sustainable development program must meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations just so the present will meet their own needs"
Sustainability, however, must be viewed in terms of economics which, in the first place, has no limiting principle. Sustainability should be focus on the care of the ecosystem - an irreplaceable, unreconstructed resource.
Imagine the repercussions of sustainability in terms of agriculture from the perspective of economists. Economic returns on the yardstick. With an intensive agricultural program, forest are burned down, to plough in and chemical spraying are done just to ensure high yields. Taken to the extreme, what if by such a worldwide practice the global environment becomes unlivable? It should be disastrous. The ecosystem would be muddled and skewed, you wouldn't be around to answer this.
J. Stan Rowe of the University of Saskatchewan has aptly made as analogy between the economic system in Mother Earth and the fetus in mother animal. He says, "Just as a size limit exists for the fetus that a 64kg woman can support without undermining her health, so there must be a limit to the size of the human economy that the health ecosphere can support. In both instances, the subsystem can threaten the health of the larger enveloping system in two ways: by appropriating materials and energy faster than the parent can renew them; and by poisoning the host system - expelling wastes in quantities and at rates that exceed the detoxifying capacity of the parent."
But isn't this already occurring? Isn't the fetus slowly gobbing up the mother?
Taking the microscopic view of the environment crisis, it is apparent that human beings - not dolphins, trees, or plastics of CFS - are mistreating the earth. We, who wanted the to economically prosper, are all contributors to the cause of environmental crises, through many would like to point accusing fingers at the capitalist, economists, and politicians.
It is a question of setting clear-cut priorities. J. Stan Rowe has hit the nail on its head when he said; "Humanity will destroy the world and inadvertently itself. The idea that the two pursuits-economic development that looks after the welfare of the people, their needs and wants, and environmental conservation that attends to the welfare of the world - can go merrily hand in hand as equals is false. The first priority has to be the welfare of surrounding ecosystem, for without their healthy functioning, no ecosystem can last. The world religions all condemn selfishness in individuals. We must now go one step further and recognize that species selfishness, hitherto condoned, is not only stupid, it is criminal."
Now consider this popular environmentalist slogan; "The earth is our only home so Save the Earth." If we are to accept this philosophy, this means "I am this material body and the earth is my only home. So my natural function, or what will make me happy, is to enjoy the earth." This is the very consciousness of the people who are destroying the earth: to satisfy their endless needs with endless material consumption, leading to problems of over consumption.
Selfishness id an inevitable fruit of this materialistic outlook in life, the goal in life is essential pleasure: and sensual pleasure is such that it can only be experienced by you. My enjoyment does nothing to you - you cannot taste it.
Man endless craving for more and more has taken such a heavy toll on and is so burdensome for Mother Earth is caused by lust. In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna ask Krishna, "By what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force? The Blessed Lord says: "It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of the world."
This is the exact reason for the cause of environment crises. In the matter of endless consumption, nobody ultimately consumes anything. Everything that comes in goes out sooner or later. It's not really endless attempts at sensual gratification.
Many solutions have been proposed by environmentalist. But for problems to be eradicated, we must strike at the root cause. Otherwise, proposed solutions will merely be band-aid-solutions - superficial. Before striking at the root, we must know the cause. An internal change, a change in consciousness or outlook in life in each of us must happen. This is not about happiness. Instead of searching for happiness in endless material consumption which only brings emptiness, frustration and loneliness, why don't we focus on satisfying our endless desires on seeking the sweetness of an eternal loving relationship with God. In this way, being full within our hearts, exploitation and unnecessary violence towards man and the whole ecosystem will be superseded by compassion, respects, and wisdom in our actions.
Finally, as Jagad Guru reminds us: "People cannot remain as materialistic, selfish people, and have peace and harmony in the family, society, or world. For the world to be peaceful, we have to be peaceful within ourselves." Happy Earth Day!