Views & Reviews
Why Should We Care For Our Environment and For Whom?
The debate on Climate Change (CC) continues among the global super powers. Some say it is a hoax (hardly talked about by media) and others say it is unprecedented (over hyped by media). While, developing nations have been blamed and burdened with the major task of combating CC; irony is, after years of adopting thousands of acts, laws and policies, the wealthy nations allegiance to CC remains only in black and white (in most cases their contribution towards CC is miniature). Sandwiched are the poor and the needy whose lives solely depend on forest and land for their livelihood.
The quake of CC has awakened even the tiniest and remotest of place like Nagaland. Tossed in transition between old and the new, failing to find a grip on either, yet in the midst Nagas are exposed to a myriad of global issues of which CC has assumed a central role. Perhaps Nagas are yet to face the wrath of Multinational Companies (MNCs) and other mega industries but enough is felt in our land to realise the impact of CC. Government agencies, villages, civil societies and organisations have pledged their allegiance and Churches in unison had heeded to the call. As such, thousands of trees planted along the roads only to be destroyed by nature and other developmental projects; so called unfeasible eco friendly dustbins have been distributed; few shirts have been printed with environmental quotes followed by some other cleaning projects. Yet trees continue to fell, rivers continue to be bombed, animals and birds continue to find their way in the dinner table, the dust continues to beautify the sky and we say “all for the sake of culture and development”.
In the name of Sustainable Development (SD) (a step to encounter climate change) economic plantations (which is a monoculture afforded only by the rich) are encouraged while local people’s livelihood practices such as shifting cultivation-which is their only source of livelihood is discouraged even branding it as slash and burn (not knowing that it is more than slash and burn). Strange enough, many Nagas have sided with the outsiders and are shouting that Shifting Cultivation (SC) is bad, to them I argue “we need rice more than KFC, Pepsi or any other branded products” (let alone the amount of environmental hazards caused by these MNCs which is beyond repair). SC is a system of cultivation developed through trial and error and has been passed down for generations. If at all there is a frailty in SC then it is our inability to innovate and evolve SC according to time and circumstances.
Today, the battle of survival of the fittest is fought between the environmentalist and develop-mentalist whereas the working class continues to struggle for livelihood. In the process the capitalist continues to exploit while the poor Indigenous People (IP) conserves. It is evident from the fact that 80% of the global biodiversity is found in the lands of the once mighty IPs who occupy less than 22% of the entire global land surface comprising 5% of total population. Meanwhile, SD has deceived us in many ways with its sugar coated definition however, the question remains on how much exploitation is sustainable enough when greed is the need of the so called Homosapiens. On the other hand, IPs are already experiencing a “faceoff between the Law and indigenous people’s rights” (for instance hunting is a part of our culture, under law it is a punishable offence). In the process, countless IPs lives are lost today. Can a culture be revoked or law be broken and development be stopped?
The truth is “climate and nature” was meant to change and it will keep on changing. How much of the change is unprecedented or can be controlled? Only God knows. It was created by God to meet our needs, displaying His might and creativity. We have the right to utilise and extract the available resources to meet our needs. However, human wants have superseded needs; as such unless we install the love of creation for the love of creator through the creator in our heart then it is beyond impossible for anyone to leave a lasting impact on CC.
But we as humans, created in the image of the creator need to “tend and keep” His creation for it is God’s commandment unto us. In such a scenario, our response as Christians to climate change should be for the Creator through the Creator. The call to be a Christian is a call to live a Christ centered life. In other words, every word and act of us should be for Christ through Christ. We need to care for the environment not because of climate change but because of our love and obedience towards the Creator.
God has promised reward for giving even a cup of cold water in His name, then surely He will reward us for taking care of His creation. Not even a sparrow dies or a plant withers without His knowledge. I believe that God is pleased when a woman combs her hair or when man sweeps the floor for His glory, for He cares for everything. As such He is equally pleased when we water a plant or tame a dog for His glory.
As Nagas, God has entrusted us our own share of responsibility to take care of His creation; “from the picturesque valley of Dzuleke to the serenity of Dzukou, from Footprint Lake to the snow capped Saramati, from the oil fields of Changpang to limestones of Mimi and Salumi, from Dhansiri to Zungki river, from the once hottest chili to the tallest Rhododendron in the world” it is our inherent duty to care, protect and conserve while drawing our needs out of them.
Perhaps it is time to grow beyond planting a superficial tree for the sake of CC to faithful stewards of Christ. Gus Speth (2015) stated, “I use to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy…and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation…and we scientist don’t know how to do that”.
I believe that God will bring back all that is lost from His creation, from prehistoric to modern extinctions, be it the extinct flora and faunas like the Dodo from the island of Mauritius east of Madagascar, the Golden Toad from Costa Rica or the Gastric brooding frog from Australia (the only frogs that incubated their young ones in the stomach) at the time of restoration. Till that day, we should keep caring for all His creation like a true Christian should and in the midst, one must be consciously aware not to let environmental stewardship supersede the gospel of salvation and the great commission. For what gain it is for a man to save the world and yet lose his soul.