Climate Emergencies wreak havoc throughout the world

India has done well to launch the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan,” “Sab ka Sath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Prayas, Sab ka Vishwas,” “Digital India,” “Make in India,” and a host of other programmes. But unless there is peace and harmony in the country, we shall not succeed.

Climate Emergencies wreak havoc throughout the world
Climate Emergencies wreak havoc throughout the world


The current and heart-wrenching plight of a vast number of people in different countries and particularly India clearly demonstrate how far humanity has strayed from the wise counsel of our sages and seers of the past. They taught us to live a life of harmony with our natural surroundings but we are doing just the opposite. For thousands of years, the human population and human activities were commensurate with the carrying capacities of the natural habitat that provided shelter and sustenance.

Then quite unexpectedly the world began to change dramatically over the last 200 years, thanks largely to the discovery of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. These have provided humankind with cheap and convenient energy, which we use to heat and cool our homes and to run our cars, appliances and industries. In the early stages no one understood that these forms of development and conveniences in our living styles were ultimately going to put our very survival on earth at stake.

Only seven years remain for fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030). Progress reports by the United Nations and independent countries clearly show that we are falling short and with every passing month the challenges before the world community have become more uncertain and complex. What kind of world will we inhabit in 2030? People have started putting such questions to Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT and the answers are quite disconcerting. India has done well to launch the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan,” “Sab ka Sath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Prayas, Sab ka Vishwas,” “Digital India,” “Make in India,” and a host of other programmes. But unless there is peace and harmony in the country, we shall not succeed.

The arbiters of human affairs will have to craft policies and generate resources to meaningfully resolve the manifold crises that have engulfed the planet. One thing is certain – the future will be shaped by the actions and attitudes of all citizens. A dismal view leads to apathy and despair, an optimistic view leads to hope and action. We must all unitedly strive to save our natural environment and adopt ecologically sustainable lifestyles. “Nature in its essence,” Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith, stated: “is the embodiment of [God’s] Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity, there are signs for men of discernment.” Present-day lifestyles of a consumerist society, from the affluent and the middle class to the vast majority of the poor in the world is unsustainable. Far-reaching changes are urgently needed.

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The evolving consciousness of humanity is moving inexorably to the development of a new planetary culture. In an ecological sense, humanity has appeared, in many respects, to be a delinquent species running out of control. Within a larger vision of humanity’s spiritual and social evolution, however, the present environmental crisis and the race’s reaction to it may be seen as portending a momentous transformation. In the emerging knowledge in physics, ecology, psychology and other fields of science lies the promise of a mature cooperative relationship between humanity and the ecosphere that gave it birth. Ultimately, as the writings of the Bahá’í Faith clearly state, if human consciousness is essentially spiritual in nature – as the vast majority of ordinary people have always been intuitively aware – its development needs cannot be understood or served through an interpretation of reality that dogmatically insists otherwise.

The primary disease that afflicts society and generates the ills that cripple present-day society, Bahá’u’lláh has repeatedly asserted, is disunity at all levels of human existence. Rather humankind should distinguish itself by its capacity for collaboration and cooperation. For, upon these virtues rest the healthy wellbeing of the whole world. The new vision of reality is an ecological vision in a sense which goes far beyond the immediate concerns with environmental protection.

To emphasize this deeper meaning of ecology, philosophers and scientists have begun to make distinction between ‘deep ecology’ and ‘shallow environmentalism.’ Whereas shallow environmentalism is concerned with more efficient control and management of the natural environment for the benefit of ‘man,’ the deep ecology movement recognizes that ecological balance will require profound changes in our perception of the role of human beings in the planetary ecosystem. Civilization itself does not arise merely from material progress, but rather is defined by and founded upon the ideals and shared beliefs that weld society together. What uniquely define the human experience are the transcendent components of life. It is this dimension of existence that enriches, ennobles and provides direction to human beings. It is this dimension of life that unlocks the creative capacities within human consciousness and safeguards human dignity. The establishment of an ecologically sustainable and a morally upright world are the two most pressing challenges before us. Civilization develops only where considerable numbers of people work together for common ends. Such unity is brought about, not so much by community of bare ideas as by community of feelings by which ideas are “emotionalized” and become beliefs and motives. Persons who refuse to be educated by ideas are being educated by events.

Recognition of the vital necessity of a world-embracing vision by the highest leadership in every country and the moral strength to translate it into action so that millions upon millions of the people everywhere may be lifted out of their heart-rending miseries is the first step. Next in importance is acceptance of the natural unity of the human family in which the wellbeing of the individual is identified with the well-being of all. Thirdly, ethical principles of themselves have always been ineffective in producing lasting results if divorced from religion and spirituality. The fourth aspect is allegiance to the Law of Harmony as the primary principle of conduct in society. Legal requirements imposed by an external authority of force and power win for themselves only an outward compliance, whereas obedience to an ethical principle would spring from the inner and voluntary choice of the individual.

The universal adoption and application of this law to the global problems would certainly provide the solution to much of the present-day unrest and uncertainty. It would mean the end of greed and selfish exploitation of each other; an end to the scandals and scams that keep battering at the fabric of our present-day civilization. The most important action for achieving the betterment of the world is through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct. I would like to conclude with a highly perceptive observation made by Richard St. Barbe Baker, a distinguished Bahá’í environmentalist, who still holds the record of the highest number of trees planted by any one single human being, and is famously known as ‘Man of the Trees’: “At the moment the real issue facing the world is not whether this or that political system survives, it is not merely a question of maintaining a national status quo. The real challenge is to humanity as a whole. Are we fit to live? Are we fit to exist on the earth?

Can we unite to stem the oncoming tide of destruction which, by our folly, we have let loose on ourselves? The answer to these questions will decide the future of our race – the human race. The tasks which confront us are sufficiently great in themselves to need the thoughtful and concerted action of every country on this globe.

Erosion must be checked; oncoming deserts must be stopped. Air and water pollution must be stopped. Land must be made fertile again with the help of trees of mixed species, and the earth once again be clothed in a green mantle of trees. The balance of nature must be restored. Paradise must be regained.”


*(The writer is a social worker, independent researcher and an active member of the Bahá’í community of India.)