A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY NARRAYAN RAAM
“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” – Leo Tolstoy
Dolphins spotted in the waters surrounding Sardinia, Italy. Civets and sambars, unheard of for decades, roaming the streets of Kozhikode, Kerala. Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide levels in the air plummeting in the USA, China and India, attaining record lows.
It would be absurd to attribute these phenomena to mere coincidence. Unsurprisingly, they coincide with the occurrence of a singular event – the global lockdown.
It is dumbfounding to witness the profound impact humans have had on the planet by simply observing it in our absence. The Covid-19 pandemic has stunted the progress of mankind and confined us to our homes, which has been a blessing in disguise, albeit a temporary one, for nature.
The highly contagious nature of the disease coupled with waves of alarm drowning the world in panic has forced us to resort to unprecedented measures: a state of worldwide quarantine. This has slowed down, and in some cases halted all industrial activity, trade and travel, confining us to the walls of our households.
Thousands have succumbed to the illness. We may be in for the worst recession in history, possibly putting us years back in the grand scheme of things. However, amidst all this, it is quite easy to ignore one major silver lining. With humans out of the equation, the environment was handed a golden opportunity to rejuvenate and replenish its fast diminishing ecosystems. And rejuvenate it has.
The decrease in size of the massive carbon footprints we leave behind when we tread all over nature to meet our demands, has made the air cleaner and slowed down the insane rate of consumption of resources. Habitat destruction has decelerated, so ecology is dancing to the allegro that is increased flora-fauna interactions. My friends in New Delhi are enjoying the visits paid to their homes by effervescent, mesmerizing peacocks. “Peacocks? In New Delhi?” – you may wonder. It’s incredible, the things that can happen when humans simply stop what they’re doing for a short while.
Nature has nurtured us since our birth in Africa, throughout the evolutionary chain that has moulded us into our current selves. It has always provided us with the resources we required to sustain ourselves. We have become so advanced as a species today because of the favourable conditions bestowed upon us by the earth’s forces. But with technology and advancement comes responsibility. And this is exactly where we need to question ourselves.
We’ve annihilated a third of the world forest cover since the wake of the industrial revolution. We’ve hunted down countless species to extinction just so their fur can adorn our handbags, or their fins can ‘provide texture’ to our soups. Most importantly, we have escalated the rates at which we spew gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere – a consequence of our ever increasing demands and the energy hungry industries we’ve fabricated. Ergo, the earth’s temperature has risen by 1.1°C in the last century and may soon even breach the 2°C ‘mark of doom’.
The devastation we’ve caused is out there for all of us to see. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a chance to introspect, to scrutinize hasty decisions that have led to catastrophic consequences. It has jolted us from our distorted sense of reality and made us truly open our eyes to our profligacy.
I believe that our decisions will change, not of choice but of necessity. After this epiphanic experience, this wake up call, we will have to rectify our blunders and amend our actions. Strict regulations must be exercised; there is no room for error.
As we navigate the murky waters that is the future, we should acknowledge that we may never get another warning, that the next calamity may also be the last. We need to take responsibility and strive to ameliorate the current scenario, or risk facing retribution. In the words of bestselling author David Wallace Wells, “Humans used to watch the weather to prophesy the future; going forward, we will see in its wrath the vengeance of the past.”
Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.
A biomedical engineering student from India, Narrayan Raam has varied interest in a variety of subjects, and strives to make himself and those around him better informed. He believes that ignorance is the root cause of all problems, and is trying to confront it.