Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Late night thoughts of an environment minister who never was

·      The concept that wilderness is not directed or controlled by man does not fit the scheme of things as envisioned by this cabinet. These fools cannot understand why cranes are seen now and then in certain habitats, and not always, or why they do not hurry thither when needed. Cranes are not subject to censuses, as humans. They cannot be ordered to stay put because census officials are going to drop in. Their absence does not mean they are non-existent, or have abandoned the area just because they are not present when required! A census of cranes has to occur during crane time, or it is bound to fail.
·      These people cannot comprehend why a small population of cranes matters, or why a place of their intermittent occurrence is as important as that of so called iconic species. That an entire world can exist amidst an ecologically interrelated environment is beyond their ken, whose myopia restricts their vision to a world created by man and fuelled by the dread of the bottom-line; by the balance that weighs success or failure annually rather than in cycles of years that suit the longer, ecological view of our lonely planet. Tragically, such visionary, long views are in short supply.
·      My colleagues have intellects that are hard wired to the short-term view. That is the limit of their horizon. The longer view, one that considers earth time—that believes in the cycle of seasons that modify landscapes—in its constant tick towards ecological stability, is, well, Greek and Latin to them. Now, if even the babus, those with the sharpest intellects, bend towards the dangerous concept of measuring the worth of wilderness areas, and what that wilderness should ‘serve’, there is something seriously wrong with our education system for one, and with us, as humans, for another, for lucre is the maya that blindsides us from rationality.
·      These people need to understand that the environment cannot be restarted, like some sick industry, with a dose of capital. It cannot be restricted to a five-year development cycle. Artificial time limits cannot govern natural time cycles; artificial inputs do not easily return predictable results from ‘natural’ applications.
·      And, unlike capital, land cannot be created, for one cannot print topsoil, mint water, or write a cheque to substitute trophic diversity; but protect these judiciously and the country’s natural capital will boost her commerce among the nations of the world.
·      How do I drill it into their thick skulls that the natural wealth of a country is a gigantic fixed deposit fund that is self-perpetuating. It has come free to us and therefore needs to be assiduously protected and thriftily allocated.
·      In the country’s balance sheet, its environment health is its primary intangible asset. If only governments monetized it and weighed its annual loss, they would see the one-way drain on the exchequer. Once this reaches a tipping point, no amount of restorative packages will salvage the economy.
·      Wilderness works without leave or license from mankind, and even despite us. Nature cannot be forced to work to our time schedules. Look to our children; are we able to make them adults before two decades? If we allow them that time, then surely we can plan an environmental revival that spans at least that time span as an incontrovertible investment in their future.

·      By now you must have got the hint why I never made it…

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