A friend of mine was posted in the USA for three years. Rather than keep the house locked up, he had leased it out on Leave and License basis with a view that it would be in lived in and thus, kept clean. Upon his return, on taking back the possession of his spacious flat, he was shocked to see his home in a shabby, ill-used state of disrepair! This happens often. One can conclude, as at micro level, so at the macro level.
Our stay here, i.e. our life on Earth is a lease for few years, few decades – a miniscule period in the cosmic clock. Yet, we misuse our ‘Home in Space’, verging on criminal neglect… I would go so far as to call it blasphemy! Earth is a rare phenomenon in the family of our solar system. It is at the right distance from the mother star – the Sun. it is a habitable planet, sustaining life. Neither too near the sun for its surface waters to evaporate, nor too far away from the sun to be permanently frozen. It has a magnetic field that keeps us warm by insulating the atmosphere. The magnetic field around the Earth also protects our planet from a stream of charged particles emanating from the sun coming via the solar winds.
Though NASA estimated the presence of about two trillion galaxies, many astronomers believe otherwise – there are hundreds of billions of them. Our solar system is situated in the Milky Way Galaxy which has an estimate of over a hundred thousand million stars! Of these, there are about forty billion Earth-like planets orbiting our sun-like stars, called ‘Exoplanets’. It is possible that life might exist there.
Our earth could make-do without any technical development for nearly all of its 4.25 billion years of existence. Over the last hundred years, especially since the Industrial Revolution, we have wreaked havoc upon our home in name of development. Global warming is creating more errant weather with heat waves turning fertile lands into deserts, causing draughts; melting polar ice is causing floods, tsunamis, cyclones and blizzards that occur more frequently with increasing intensities.
We have created an ecological imbalance. The present condition of Mother Earth is due to our lack of sensitivity and excessive indifference which has resulted in an ecological disaster. To resolve this grim picture, we need to go back to the original, the very first environmentalist – Asho Zarathushtra and his teachings which give prime importance to a healthy environment – ‘Good order or Asha is to be observed with reference to the earth, the water and the air.’
Good deeds to a Zoroastrian are not limited to the virtues of charity, hard work, supporting a family, loyalty, faithfulness and preserving the religion. Good deeds are all-encompassing, covering our respect and care for the air, the waters and the earth. The air, which supports life, is polluted with massive emissions of pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxides, sulphur and methane.
Water is held in great reverence in Zoroastrianism, next only in importance only to our holy Fire. Our very life begins in and develops in water – in the amniotic sac in the womb. Man can survive for almost a month without food, but without water he would not last for more than a week. Our body comprises 70% water – just like our Earth is two third part water. We contaminate water, oceans, rivers, lakes by releasing chemical and industrial waste in it – polluting not only the surface water, but also the underground water with chemicals seeping into it, destroying its fertility.
Our holy scriptures lay great emphasis upon the environmental consciousness. Our Kings and emperors, great Shahenshahs, wherever they went, whichever lands they conquered, however arid the areas, they created irrigation systems, waterways, canals and produced abundance of grains, fruits and there were lush gardens everywhere.
Today, with Covid and Corona wreaking havoc, the worst kind of pollution is spread by our complacency – by not adhering to simple rules of personal cleanliness like regular washing of hands, wearing masks, observing social distancing and other covid appropriate behaviour. India is the land of many rivers; we treat these rivers with maternal reverence and yet today dead bodies are found floating in the holiest of the holy Ganges. This is an abomination by our administration.
Over population and lack of lack of hygienic surroundings, unplanned urban expansion, humongous deposits of garbage, urban waste, chemical and nuclear effluents will soon pollute and destroy every creation of Pak Dadar Ahuramazda, if we do not learn to live in harmony with the nature. A new symbiotic eco-morality needs to be formulated for the perpetuation of our Blue planet.
Let us hope that as the 21st century marches on, science and technology will help lead to a greener, cleaner and eco-friendly environment, and the poison-spewing chimneys of uncontrolled industrial and nuclear age will be history. May we learn to leave behind the footprints in the sands of time for the betterment of mankind rather than just Carbon prints.