By Gurmukh Singh | OPINION |
Humans have overrun the planet.
The above dire warning comes from Sir David Attenborough, the world-renowned broadcaster and natural historian. It comes ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties, known as COP26, at Glasgow later this year. About 30,000 delegates are expected to attend.
I recall from own experience working with the aerospace industry that reduction of emissions from planes was high on the research agenda over 25 years ago. However, air traffic too was expected to increase at least five time in the next 25 years. Is it possible that humans numbering about 8 billion and increasing, have reached the point of no return to save planet earth?
Humans have been working against nature than with it. Despite all the talk at global forums, the pace at which humans are destroying the natural environment is increasing. Research has confirmed that the first decade to 2010 marked the hottest decade on record, while the oceans reached their warmest temperature on record in 2019.
Time is not on our side. More so as the politicians keep on delaying radical steps at global level to bring about change. It was over 13 years ago that I participated in a significant European event on behalf of the Sikh faith organised by a UK Jewish group at Windsor Castle on 14 November, 2006. The issues discussed included ecological and environmental damage being done by pollution and overuse of earth resources, the global warming, and conflicts that threaten the future of our planet. Starting with that Windsor conference, I have continued with Gurbani research about related guidance. Our green world is disappearing and looks very different from space now than even a few years ago.
Over 500 years ago, Guru Nanak saw the Creator in the diverse creation wherein He sits and watches over all with joy and satisfaction (chaao). Many passages in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are devoted to nature, the environment, the wind and the rain, day and night, the changing seasons, and the rich diversity of life on earth. The Creator created the air, which, in turn, created water and brought life on earth. (SGGS p.19). On this earth man is at the head of all species (SGGS p.374) but has forgotten his duty (dharam) to serve the Creator and His creation due to lust, greed and consumerism fuelled by commercial interests and advertising.
A relevant point hardly mentioned is the role of women in addressing today’s global issues. We forget that mother is the first teacher of the human child. According to Sikh teachings her role in the human family is of prime importance (Sabh parvaaray mahe sresht). Education of women is important to raise awareness of today’s global challenges at family level – from energy saving, water saving, and want-not-waste-not habits, to family planning, leading on to population control – it all starts at family level where the woman, the mother and the housewife, leads. Equality and education of women should be made a global priority.
Sikhi living gives pointers to next steps in the evolution in our socio-political systems to cope with the environmental challenges. Sikh teachings do show the way if it is not too late.
Gurmukh Singh OBE, a retired UK senior civil servant, chairs the Advisory Board of The Sikh Missionary Society UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The article appeared here.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Legacy of Guru Gobind Singh: Bhagti with Shakti (political power) (Asia Samachar, 12 Jan 2019)
Guru Nanak’s Revolution (Asia Samachar, 6 Nov 2019)